As you meditate on your new passion, the goal is to achieve some sort of unified feeling from the feelings that you have created. Once you achieve unification, your mind is pointing at your passion and has become unified with your new passion through your creativity. This is the moment that you are paying sensory stimuli the barest attention, 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.
The concept of unification I personally remember the very first time I was able to bike. I was unified with the bike. It seems at the start that the task of learning to bike demands all your attention; it is so rich in its complexities that all your concentration is dedicated. You are thoroughly immersed, and you think of absolutely nothing (no part of consciousness is active on the left side of our original illustration; you can’t think of hangups, blame, etc.), but being able to balance on two wheels, having a proper position of the body, you are so involved that you will lose consciousness of your own identity, and you feel like you are melting on the bike. The same exact feeling is observed with those who learn to surf or do Rock Climbing. The difference is that you will melt into rock (and earth in a larger sense) or you will melt on the surfboard (and the ocean in a larger sense). All three experiences are very exhilarating and creative; it’s like you don’t exist, the rest of the world disappears from your awareness, and the sense of time is suspended. The incubation stage is about learning how to achieve moments such as the one we just described while achieving creativity. Professor Csikszentmihalyi describes achieving such moments as “Flow“. I’d like to emphasize the goal of creativity once more.
Flow is at the exact moment when you feel you are on two wheels and biking; here is the moment when you don’t feel any of your sensory perceptions, your legs, your sense of balance, and/or your true vision any more (or if you did, you will fall again). At this access level, strong feelings of zest, happiness, pleasure, a sensation of lightness as though the body is floating in the air, and/or rapture emerge, and that is the only thing you feel.
What I would like to introduce and let you pay more attention to is the fact that I believe we all need to be creative in how we actually achieve this balance. I believe we all find an innovative way (consciously or subconsciously) to achieve our balance on the wheels and learn how to bike. This is creativity and being able to accomplish the goal of balance with our own creativity, which will result in Flow. A good question would be how you could learn to bike or anything else faster. We will show that observation, attention, and seeing familiar objects in an unfamiliar way are the keys. You have to be creative and intuitive.
Those of us who had to learn a new language might also feel the same concept of unification. For example, when you learn English, you can’t really speak the language fluently unless you think in English. I believe when people say “Thinking in English,” they really mean that they have achieved the same unification with the English language.
The purpose of finding virtue, concentration, and insights is to achieve unification (connection) of mind and passion with creativity. At the time of unification, you are breaking with your consciousness, extricating your awareness from the tyranny of your own mind. This is the moment of heightened awareness that can lift one from the small-mindedness of seeing routine daily events. This is the moment that you have been waiting for. This is the moment that you can transform from the left side (remorse, guilt, lust, or shame) of our illustration to the right side of the illustration and achieve a friendly circle or a virtuous circle.
Keeping Strong Attention; Meditation Techniques
Attention is the key to achieving concentration. The strongest agreement among meditation schools is on the importance of retraining strong attention for effortless concentration, insights, unification, or mindfulness. The difference between being aware of the thought and thinking the thought is very real; however, it is extremely subtle and difficult to see. Concentration is one of the tools needed to be able to see the difference.
In the case of meditation, Dr. Bhante H. Gunaratana, in his excellent book called “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 attentional 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 the 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 wandering second, drifting thoughts, and lack of attention, and the rock climber’s fingers might lose grip; his life might be over. In fact, rock climbing is the most creative and exhilarating sport. Each time a Rock Climber starts his climb, he has to create a new path and a new gripping point to reach the top. Through intense concentration, one can achieve a strong form of unification with the rock (and with the earth in a stronger 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 a strong Flow at the time of surgery. In the case of surgeons, someone else’s life depends on their concentration skills. One error, and the patient might be close to his or her last breaths. Where is the creativity? There is no doubt in my mind that surgery is the highest form of creativity. Perhaps the surgeon will achieve unification with a living person or a survivor (patient) when the surgery is successful. Both examples of rock and a live person are great sources for merger or unification.
Why play scrabble? Perhaps playing scrabble is another example of purification, concentration, imagination, creativity, and small moments of flow when the words finally come together.
Let us again review our mental principles:
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 great variety of new and exciting sensory experiences can begin to arise. In meditation, they call them Rapture, and in any practice, Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls them Flow.
Flow or Rapture is a broad term used to cover the many kinds of chills, movements, lights, floating, vibrations, delight, and enormous pleasure associated with deep concentration.
Beyond spontaneous movement, many other kinds of rapture or Flow can arise. These include pleasant kinds of thrills throughout the body: tingling, prickles, waves of pleasure, and delightful sparkles. In still 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 we may disappear into the colors of very strong light. These lights and sensations are powerful effects of a concentrated mind. They feel purifying and opening and can show us that, on one level, the mind, body, and whole of consciousness are made of light itself. A series of unusual sensory perceptions in addition to these forms of light and power may also arise.
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, and this 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 wonderful 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 there when he writes, “Out beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field of luminous consciousness. I’ll meet you there.”