Healing the Mind: The Healing Mind - 4

Healing with Mind. It can be a life-long job

Yours truly at forty-one. My spiritual search began ten years earlier, but I didn't find Vipassana until I was nearly fifty...twenty-four years ago.
Yours truly at forty-one. My spiritual search began ten years earlier, but I didn't find Vipassana until I was nearly fifty...twenty-four years ago.

It begins with a determination to find out what we are and what we are not

In the first three parts of ‘The Healing Mind’ I described how every thought we have arouses an emotional reaction of greater or lesser magnitude, and how these emotions are lodged in our Mind-bodies. Without repeating myself too much, I’ll say that these emotions take on a solidified state (within the subtle spectrum of our Mind-body) and continue to grow. Eventually they cannot be contained and they then leach down through the porous membrane-like boundaries which could be said to separate our unconscious from our conscious. That is, they rise to the surface. As you may know, humankind is said to straddle a frequency, or vibrational gamut of wavelengths, ranging from the dense physical body, then the etheric, (bio-plasmic) astral (emotional) two mental levels, a causal plane, and finally a cosmic plane.

Our humanity covers a spectrum, just as does sunlight falling through rain make up rainbow colours

These names, for the various planes. are simply labels, such as we call the colours of the Light Spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet and indigo.

Using the rainbow as an analogy, we could say that the ‘sankaras’ are contained in the yellow section. They are all crowded in there, expanding growing, with nowhere to escape to. They cannot go upwards into finer matter, it appears. This seems to be against Natural Law. So the only recourse is to ‘overflow’ or ‘leach’ downwards, firstly into the orange and then the red. In other words, lower in frequency, lengthen in wavelength, and become more grose.

You will note, of course, that in a rainbow there is no actual barrier between one colour or the next, rather it is a gradation or graduality of one colour seeming to merge into the next. So, too, with our seven bodies.

 

Our spectrum ranges from the physical to the cosmic

Let us now say that the yellow represents our Astral or Emotional body, the orange, our Etheric or Bio-plasmic, and the red, our Physical body. We are told that the Bio-plasmic body is made up of a sort of interpenetrating-sheaf that actually holds the physical together. It is something like a magnetic field. It is said that when the fabled “silver cord” is broken, the break occurs between Etheric body and the Astral body. The Astral, Mental, Causal and Spiritual Bodies go on. They have immortality. The Bio-plasmic, i.e. the Etheric, disintegrates and, along with it the Physical. From the viewpoint of us who remain alive on Planet Earth, the man or woman is dead, because we have no way of detecting the subtle bodies that have moved on. (Except through various psychic means)

Elephant Seal Pup on MacQuarie Island.

Taken on one of MacQuarie Island's shingly beaches in 1977.
Taken on one of MacQuarie Island's shingly beaches in 1977.

Healing the mind means dealing with its contents - but where are those contents?

This essay on the healing mind is becoming rather long and complex, I realize, but I feel it had to be said to give the reader a better idea of how traumas, hang-ups, phobias and fears are held within us And how they can gradually, not so much transfer, as be ‘copied to’ –to use comuter parlance - our Etheric body, thus disturbing the Etheric’s ability to look after and maintain our Physical, and then, eventually move down into the Physical itself.

We first discipline our attention with a simple but profound concentrative exercise

How to get rid of these deeply rooted sankaras?

Firstly you have to train your mind. This is done by concentrative exercise. The most common and effective of these is to sit down, eyes closes, in a comfortable position and focus entirely on your breathing. This is not easy. The ego-mind rebels to this sort of real-self imposed discipline. The battle starts- and what a battle it is!

 

Young elephant seal being teased by an expeditioner.

A genuine, serious meditation centre is certainly not a holiday camp

I have undertaken no fewer than fourteen ten-day Vipassana Courses in the isolation of a strict meditation centre. In these centres there is no talking, total silence, even looking at another person is banned. You’re up at four in the morning. Into bed a nine-thirty at night. Eleven to twelve hours serious meditation every day, one day after another. This is a serious regimen that quite quickly separates those who have the willpower from those who do not. Most do make. We have greater strength than we give ourselves credit for. But there’s always around five percent or, so who slip quietly away after the first or second long day. As I said, it isn’t easy.

It generally takes three long days of successive effort to bring our attention under reasonable control

It generally takes about three-and-a-half days to bring our recalcitrant ego-mind to a state of servitude where it becomes placid enough to do our bidding. By now it is relatively quiet. If a verbal thought does arise, we can generally ignore it. It could be a bit like looking a garden wall but ignoring the birds as they fly past in front of it. Now, in this state, the meditator is introduced to the actual technique which will remove those sankaras.

As I said in an early part of this discourse, there is no mantra, no visualization, you stick with the reality. This is a meditation based on real substance.

 

To 'Beachmasters' fighting themselves to exhaustion on MacQuarie Island.

The Healing Mind: Healing the Mind is really a healing of the contents of the mind

The reality is your own body. How it feels to you. The sensations on it and inside it, are what you deal with. With a mind fully focused - and it is now the healing mind - you shift your entire concentration to any sensation (real not imagined) that your can feel on that very limited part of the surface of your body which lies below your nostrils but above your upper lip. Yes, that tiny triangular area where a man can grow a moustache. What your are looking for could be an itch, a tingling, the feeling of sweat or mucous running, heat, cold, pulsating- anything…provided it is real!

After an hour or so of this –and probably even earlier- your will feel something other than just your breath coming in and out. Whatever that feeling is, you give your entire attention to it. As you do so, it becomes stronger, easier to feel. You, of course, are becoming more sensitive to it. Instead of absently mindedly scratching your head, for example, without even realizing it, now you feel it, but don’t scratch it. You ignore it, coming back to that small area below the nostrils and above the upper lip. Even in that little moment, you are already doing the right thing by yourself: you are not reacting.

There is no imagination, no visualization, no mantras in Vipassana Meditation

The teacher then, quite suddenly, asks you to transfer your attention on that feeling or sensation you felt below your nostrils, to an area around the size of a twenty-centre piece right up on the crown of your head, and to search for any natural, real, unimagined, feeling up there.

Rather quickly, you will find something. It could be a little pressure. It could be a feeling of lightness. Heat. Cold. Pulsation, Itchiness, tingling, or whatever….but it must be real. No imagination! No making things up.

After spending maybe ten minutes with your attention entirely focused upon that little area on the crown of your head, you are told to gradually shift the focus, moving it systematically over the entire crown. Then the face. The ears. Then you get onto the neck. You are to feel for any sensations in these places. If you feel nothing, you stay there for a minute or so. If nothing comes up, you simply move on.

 

MacQuarie Island, here in the semi-darkness lie a good fifty female elephant seals with pups.

Concentrate on the sensation...no imagination...no speculation...stay with what is real

Gradually, very gradually, taking the best part of two hours, in which your concentration is becoming ever sharper, you cover every inch of your body from head to foot. Thus endeth the first lesson of Vipassana Meditation. You come out into the afternoon sunlight for a welcome five minute break. But it isn’t long before you’re back in there again.

The second lesson starts with the top of the head, and one works down systematically once more. Head, neck, right shoulder, right upper arm, lower arm, then hand. Left shoulder, left arm, etc. Not one point is missed. And when you get right down to the last point, which might be, for example, the little toe on the right foot, your recommence the process. Head to toes again.

 

Healing the Mind: The Healing Mind - After a few long twelve-hour days your attention and awareness is able to penetrate deep into your body

By the time you get to the third lesson you are moving from head to toe, then toe to head. Down and up. Down and up. As every hour-long lesson goes by, you become more and more focused and thereby find it more and more easy to detect natural sensations on the surface of the body.

After a few long twelve-hour days of this, you suddenly realize something. You are no longer only feeling sensations on the surface of your body- you are able to penetrate right into it. Your are, in fact, probing your very physicality with the razor-sharp focus of your own attention. I has become almost like a laser-light.

As time goes by, you find that you are able to ‘feel’ with this focus, what is inside you. You tend to get an almost Xray-like sense, where you can feel the outline of bones. You can, not in all places at first, detect your own skeleton.

One contented and exhausted elephant seal 'Beachmaster.'

Yep, this old bull on MacQuarie Island would qualify as a real 'stud.'   He's probably fathered fifty children in fifty days.
Yep, this old bull on MacQuarie Island would qualify as a real 'stud.' He's probably fathered fifty children in fifty days.

What is within sometimes reacts violently to this sort of attention.

But even before this occurs, you realize that some parts of your body react, and sometimes react violently – and often very unpleasantly – to this focus you are bringing upon it. Your body seems to endeavour to reject this scrutiny.

And what is reacting violently? Those conglomerates of thought-patterns known as ‘sankaras’ or ‘samsaras’; those emotional knots, deep inside, that cannot stand the scrutiny of your ‘light of consciousness’ you are bringing to bear on them. As you penetrate into them, they begin to break up, to disintegrate.

 

In this healing the mind one finds that eventually the whole physical structure seems to disappear

Eventually your whole Physical structure seems to disappear, and you can sense the arising of what appears to be an endless supply of bubbles, arising out of nowhere and into consciousness. You begin to realize that your very existence as a Physical being is simply the arising and passing away, with great rapidity, whatever it is that makes us up. There is no solidity. Are these the molecules of our being? The atoms? The sub-atomic particles? And if they are, which ones am “I” in? One thing we do learn, and learn at the experiential level: Is that nothing is permanent- except that which is Observing the passing parade. Only that “I” that is the Witness, the Experiencer is that which never changes.

Leopard Seal on MacQuarie Island.

Slow and awkward on land, these are killers in the water, and generally hang around the big penguin rookeries.
Slow and awkward on land, these are killers in the water, and generally hang around the big penguin rookeries.

Healing the Mind: The healing mind...or to be more accurate, the mind that is healed is undertaken by the Real You.

But I’ve said enough. Understanding intellectually what I’ve told you here will not help you much. You must practice. Practice isn’t easy. Really, the only safe way to undertake something as profound as Vipassana, is to book into a Vipassana Meditation Centre and undertake the minimum Ten-day Course such places offer. For as Goenka, the meditation teacher says, “ Vipassana is like a surgical operation of the mind.” So if you do to decide to undertake such, please go to a place where you can be looked after as this operation takes place.

 

So,  if you want to rid yourselves of the deep-seated fears, the phobias, the hang-ups that give you so much trouble, then make the decision to really do something about it.   As the Scottish Comedian, Billy Connolly says in the ING advertisement, “It’s your money,”   I say to you, “It’s your life.”

My good wishes to you, no matter what your decision.

Tom    

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