Whether you call it meditation, mindfulness or awareness, taking time to be still, quiet and receptive is an effective way to reveal subconscious patterns that may be interfering with our peace, health and happiness.
I often lead off personal and guided meditations with an invitation to bring awareness to the current state of our physical, mental and emotional (and sometimes energetic) landscapes. You may ask “Aren’t we trying to get away from our body, thoughts and feelings in meditation?” Actually the practice of noticing finer details within these realms allows for all of those parts of our being that have been resisted as we go about our daily lives to be acknowledged, which begins a process of integration and liberation. For example if I put aside anxiety in order to go about my daily life, taking some time in quiet to acknowledge and take the lid off of anxiety allows that energy to not only discharge but also transform into a more evolved soul quality perhaps one that feels like security and confidence.
There is no doubt that noticing and integrating our inner shadows is an essential practice in spirituality that contributes directly to our capacity to live from our deepest light, and to embody our soul’s gifts.
And then, there’s this quote from the great spiritual master Ramana Maharshi:
Take no notice of the ego and its activities, but see only the light behind.
These words express that there is wisdom in not only allowing everything in the physical, mental and emotional realms to be as they are but to also notice that there is a radiant, aware space around all of the constantly changing details of our lives. For example, as you read these words you are focused on the letters on the screen but there is also the possibility of noticing the bright white space that is all around the letters. Similarly, all of the details that we tend to focus on are happening in the context of a vast luminous Presence.
While it’s an important practice on our journey towards awakening, bringing more awareness to our inner experiences often reveals a tendency to hyper-focus, indulge and feel caught. Hence the guidance to ease up by taking no notice of ego and its activities puts us in touch with Presence by default. Happily, this also connects us to Life’s unfathomable intelligent flow. Our trust expands with our awareness and we are less inclined to try to control the endless details of our lives.
When is it time to ‘take notice’, and when is it time to ‘take no notice’ you may ask?
Eventually we become aware that they both happen simultaneously but for most people it can be helpful to consciously make space for physical, mental and emotional details to come to the foreground, say at the beginning of a meditation or yoga or other holistic movement practice. While we can develop the capacity to scan our inner experience during daily activities, I have found that most people benefit from stillness, closed eyes and minimal distractions. Generally, as the details that needed our acknowledgment have been integrated back into the light of Presence, we can begin to orient ourselves towards the light behind the ego and its activities. We may even find that this happens spontaneously.
So notice … and take no notice. Spirituality is full of paradoxes that befuddle the mind and simultaneously allow us a fuller experience of ourselves and our world.