As you meditate on your new passion, the goal is to achieve a unified feeling from the emotions you have created. Once you achieve unification, your mind aligns with your passion through creativity. This is the moment when you are paying minimal attention to sensory stimuli, and you have achieved mindfulness. You feel a sense of boundless space, vast love, liberation from irrational influences, the sensation of levitation, thrilling happiness, bliss, compassion, and timelessness.

I remember the first time I was able to ride a bike. I felt unified with the bike. At first, learning to bike demanded all my attention; it was so rich in its complexities that all my concentration was dedicated to it. I was thoroughly immersed, thinking of absolutely nothing else. I was so involved that I lost consciousness of my own identity and felt like I was melting into the bike. The same feeling is observed by those who learn to surf or rock climb. They melt into the rock or the surfboard, feeling a strong connection with nature. These experiences are exhilarating and creative, making the rest of the world disappear from your awareness and suspending your sense of time. The incubation stage is about learning to achieve such moments while fostering creativity. Professor Csikszentmihalyi describes these moments as “Flow.”

Flow is the exact moment when you feel you are on two wheels and biking; you don’t feel any of your sensory perceptions, your legs, your sense of balance, or your vision anymore. At this level, strong feelings of zest, happiness, pleasure, a sensation of lightness, and rapture emerge.

We all need to be creative in how we achieve this balance. We each find an innovative way to achieve our balance on the wheels and learn how to bike. This creativity, which helps us accomplish the goal of balance, results in Flow. To learn to bike or anything else faster, observation, attention, and seeing familiar objects in an unfamiliar way are key. You have to be creative and intuitive.

Those who have learned a new language might also experience this concept of unification. For example, you can’t speak English fluently unless you think in English. Achieving unification with the English language is similar.

The purpose of finding virtue, concentration, and insights is to achieve unification of mind and passion with creativity. At the time of unification, you break free from your consciousness, extricating your awareness from the tyranny of your mind. This heightened awareness can lift you from the small-mindedness of routine daily events. This is the moment you have been waiting for, the moment you can transform from negative feelings (remorse, guilt, lust, or shame) to positive ones and achieve a virtuous circle.

Keeping Strong Attention; Meditation Techniques

Attention is key to achieving concentration. Meditation schools agree on the importance of retraining strong attention for effortless concentration, insights, unification, or mindfulness. The difference between being aware of a thought and thinking the thought is subtle but real. Concentration helps you see this difference.

In meditation, Dr. Bhante H. Gunaratana, in his book Mindfulness in Plain English, says: “Deep concentration has the effect of slowing down the thought process and speeding up the awareness of it. The result is an enhanced ability to examine the thought process. Concentration is our microscope for viewing subtle internal states. We use the focus of attention to achieve one-pointedness of mind with calm and constantly applied attention.”

In concentration, the strategy is to fix the focus on a single percept, constantly bringing back the wandering mind to this object or passion. It requires an active assertion of will to stick with the target perception of passion and resist any wandering.

The Need for Strong Attention: Rock Climbing? Surgery? Playing Scrabble?

Perhaps rock climbing is the most effective route to achieving strong concentration and creativity. After all, one’s life is at stake. One second of wandering thoughts, and the rock climber might lose grip; his life might be over. Rock climbing is the most creative and exhilarating sport. Each climb requires creating a new path and gripping points to reach the top. Through intense concentration, one can achieve unification with the rock (and with the earth in a broader sense), which is the strongest form of object.

Surgery is another example of the tremendous need for strong attention and concentration when it’s a matter of life and death. Surgeons also feel strong Flow during surgery. In their case, someone else’s life depends on their concentration skills. One error, and the patient might be close to their last breaths. Surgery is the highest form of creativity, achieving unification with a living person when the surgery is successful.

Playing Scrabble is another example of purification, concentration, imagination, creativity, and small moments of Flow when the words finally come together.

Mental Principles Review:

Noblification (Finding Virtue) → Concentration → Imagination (Visualization) + Learning Goal-Oriented, Hard Work, and Creativity → Unification

Whenever powerful concentration and energy are evoked to achieve creativity, a variety of new and exciting sensory experiences can arise. In meditation, these are called Rapture, and in any practice, Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls them Flow.

Flow or Rapture covers many kinds of chills, movements, lights, floating, vibrations, delight, and enormous pleasure associated with deep concentration. Beyond spontaneous movement, other kinds of rapture or Flow can arise, including pleasant thrills throughout the body: tingling, prickles, waves of pleasure, and delightful sparkles. In deeper states of concentration, we may feel our entire body dissolve into light. We may feel tingles and vibrations so fine that we feel we are only patterns of light in space or disappear into the colors of very strong light. These lights and sensations are powerful effects of a concentrated mind, purifying and opening, showing us that the mind, body, and whole consciousness are made of light.

In the Buddhist tradition, the Buddha often reminded students that the purpose of his teaching was not the accumulation of special good deeds and good karma, rapture, insight, or bliss, but only the sure heart’s release—a true liberation of our being in every realm. This freedom and awakening alone is the purpose of any genuine spiritual path.

The dazzling effect of lights and visions, the powerful releases of rapture and energy—all are signs of the breakdown of the old and small structures of our being, body, and mind. However, they do not in themselves produce wisdom. Spiritual experiences in themselves do not count for much. What matters is that we integrate and learn from the process.

The Sufi poet Rumi invites us to this understanding when he writes, “Out beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field of luminous consciousness. I’ll meet you there.”

Continue Second Chapter Section 7