Brain Development & Enlightenment Series: Awaken the Senses
Art of Meditation: Brain Development & Enlightenment Part 1 of 3:
As has been pointed out in some of the other articles on the website the whole approach of self-improvement is void. The mind of man is caught in the endless cycle of desires and it can’t get out through any act of will. What does change in man has little to do with the psychological self; it has to do with the physical organism and the impersonal intelligence and awareness that lies within it as potential.
The human body is a miracle. It has been worked on by nature for millions of years and is perhaps her finest product. This product though complete, is held back from functioning at its highest potential by the incessant pursuit of self-security and personal fulfillment that plagues humanity. This continuous self-centered struggle limits and prevents the body’s various systems from reaching and working at their natural, peak capacity by creating energy loss via friction. This friction is the fight between “what is” and “what should be”. This friction is the basis of desire. So what can be done to return the organism to its natural state? The key is to bring about cellular changes to the master organ of the organism, the brain, so that it can start to function at its full potential, at its very, very best. So lets go into what is needed to make this happen.
There are three requirements and they are the following: Awaken the sensory systems, vitalize energy, and sharpen awareness and intelligence to promote insight. This combination brings the physical changes to the glands and cells of the various physiological systems promoting their return to their natural state, as well as completing the brain and making it excellent. In part I of this series we will deal with the first of these requirements, awakening the sensory systems. There are many techniques to refine the sensory systems. Here we will cover two of the most important senses with regard to meditation and the effort to complete the organism, hearing and seeing. Below we will illustrate some techniques that are very effective in improving them.
In ancient Sanskrit texts it is mentioned that for enlightenment, all that is required is learning to be a good listener. That’s it. Nothing more is needed whatsoever, if you are a good listener. Just hear the Truth. Many enlightened masters’ throughout history have understood the significance of this statement and have emphasized the value of listening in their teachings. The following meditation technique is designed precisely for the development of this sense and this attitude.
Sit or lie in whichever posture you find comfortable. Close your eyes and be absolutely still. Slowly expand your awareness to the most distant sounds you can hear and start to pay close attention to them. Just listen to the actual sounds that are taking place without getting thinking involved as best you can. If you find yourself lost in thoughts, gently return your attention to the sounds you were attending to. Spend some time, up to five minutes or so listening to the far away sounds and then slowly bring you attention to sounds closer and closer to you. Continue this till you are listening to the sound of your breath or other sound in very close proximity to you. Thats all there are to this simple, yet very effective meditation. This meditation not only sharpens your hearing it also helps calm the mind down and build concentration. A recommended time for this practice is about 20 minutes. If you listen very, very closely you may notice that all sounds are taking place inside you.
A second technique you can employ is the application of attention to the region of the ears. Once you get to where you start to feel a residual sensation in one or both ears from doing the earlier meditation you can try this technique. Bring your attention to the sensation that you feel in and around your ears. You will notice that you are able to modulate this sensation simply by bringing your close attention to it. This technique will further refine your hearing. The science behind this technique is the well-acknowledged yoga healing method of directing attention to various areas of the body. The method has it’s roots in Kundalini yoga. Which states that attention and Kundalini energy flow together. So where attention is, is where Kundalini is flowing (and thus healing, balancing and rejuvenating) and where Kundalini is flowing is where your attention is drawn. A good time to practice this technique is while you are driving, of course as long as it doesn’t interfere with it. There is no time limit for this and as just indicated it can be done anytime you have enough attention to spare. If you don’t have any physical sensation in and around the ears from practicing the first technique you can also use this technique to evoke one.
A few general recommendations with regard to work done on your auditory systems. Once you start to refine it please be careful about going to very loud places. This is the one significant drawback to highly sensitized hearing. Many activities you will attend will expose you to sound that will be dangerous to your hearing. Specially be careful when visiting clubs, parties (such as weddings, etc), movies, concerts, stadiums, and any other very loud places. I strongly recommend keeping a pair of foam earplugs with you. These work very well and reduce sound by almost 30 decibels. A good indication that the place was too loud for you is if you notice you have any sustained ringing in your ears. To determine if its too loud for you at the time you are there you can do a voice self check. If you can’t hear yourself talk at normal volume its probably too loud.
The second most important sense with regard to meditation and cellular change is seeing. Learning to really look. The attitude of seeing the false in the false so the Truth can be. To develop your visual systems do the following meditation. In the environment we are always looking at things, objects, but the real secrets, the hidden treasures do not lie in the objects, it lies in the spaces between them. The following meditation is about looking at that space. This meditation is best done outside. Set your gaze steady and unmoving at nothing special and then let your awareness envelop the entire visual field. Let your attention be drawn to the space between all the objects and relax and enjoy the view. Attending to the space that gives depth is particularly helpful. If you are doing it correctly the three dimensionality of vision will be magnified and be very vivid. So in summary you are looking at everything in your view, with a fixed gaze and a focus on all the gaps between objects. This meditation works well when there are several trees in your visual field or a sky with big puffy clouds, the kind that remain as the weather clears after a storm. Both their sceneries enhance the space between objects. It is a very enjoyable meditation. Do this meditation for as long as you like. The meditation will help the system learn to hold still and really observe.
The other meditation designed to work on concentration, the visual system as well as the Pituitary gland is traditionally known as Trataka. For this meditation, sit absolutely still in front of candle flame. Ensure that there is no breeze, the flame is steady and that the room is darkened to enhance the light. Gaze, without blinking, steadily at the flame, which should be positioned about three feet away from you at eye level. Once the eyes tire or tear up close them and position the after image of the flame between the eyebrows and try to hold it there as steadily as possible. The clarity of the after image will be maintained by your concentration. Once the after image fades out completely, open your eyes again and reset your gaze on the flame and repeat the cycle. Typically this meditation should be practiced for twenty minutes total, but can be done longer. This meditation, along with developing concentration and honing the visual system, is also effective in quieting the mind of thoughts. Initially your eyes might tear up quickly and also the length of time you can gaze at the flame might be quite short but it is important to not push too hard and close your eyes when uncomfortable. Both these difficulties will be overcome gently if you can practice regularly.
The above meditations will help you to learn to listen and learn to observe. They will also hone these two senses and increase their sensitivity. In the next part we will go into how to vitalize your energy (kundalini).
 The aspect of the meditation that works on the Pituitary gland (the master gland of the Endocrine System) is the stimulation produced by attention paid to the location of the after image between the eyebrows. This point (know as the Kshetram) is the physical counterpart of the energy vortex known as the Ajna Chakra, which is associated with the Pituitary gland. Stimulating this physical point via attention works to activate and balance the Ajna Chakra and thus the associated gland. More articles regarding this can be found in the Kundalini Yoga section.