Waking From Sleep: The Causes of Higher States of Consciousness (cont.)
By Steve Taylor
The second type of awakening experiences are more serene and calm states which occur when our life-energy (or vitality) becomes more intensified. Normally there’s a continual outflow of our life-energy – it’s used up through mental activity (such as cognition, concentration and perception) and through our emotions and instincts. But sometimes, when we’re relaxed, fairly inactive and our minds are quiet, this outflow or energy decreases. Life-energy becomes concentrated inside us, which generates an awakening experience.
This is why meditation often generates spiritual experiences. When we sit down to meditate, we take ourselves off the treadmill of daily tasks and activities for a while, and sit quietly and close our eyes, so that we don’t use up much life-energy through concentration and perception. Our ‘thought-chatter’ slows down too, and we normally become free of emotional activity and sexual desire. As a result, after meditation there is an inner concentration of our life-energy, it’s concentrated and intensified rather than dispersed and dissipated.
We can see meditation is a conscious attempt to build up an intensification of life-energy and so generate awakening experiences, but there are many situations when this happens spontaneously. This is the reason why nature is such a powerful trigger for awakening experiences, for example. The beauty of nature may have a similar effect to a mantra in meditation, directing attention away from the chattering of the ego-mind. Cognitive activity may fade away, until life-energy intensifies, bringing a sense of inner peace and wholeness and heightened awareness of the phenomenal world. Here, for example, a student of mine describes an awakening experience she had swimming in a friend’s lake in Canada:
I felt as though I was the only person there, the only person in the world. I swam out as far as I could, to the middle of the lake and just looked around, treading water. I could see no houses, no people, no cars or roads. I could hear no noise, just my arms splashing. I felt completely alone, but part of everything, I felt at peace. All my troubles disappeared and I felt in harmony with nature. It only lasted a few minutes but I remember the sense of calmness and stillness and it soothes me now.