Three Essential Meditations
Ananda: The peace that passeth all understanding
This meditation from Rupert begins and ends with awareness: an invitation to know and feel ourselves as the peaceful presence of awareness with which all experience is known. He suggests it is to be done with eyes closed.
Awareness has no objective qualities, yet it is the only element of our experience that is unchanging and consistently present. If we look, we can’t find it in the same way as a thought or feeling is found.
We’re too close to ourselves to experience anything other than the continually changing flow of thoughts, feelings and sensations that constitute what we call a body and a mind; the ‘body-mind’ with which we usually identify.
But our thoughts, feelings and sensations are like clothes that we put on and take off. We are not, essentially, any of these things.
Using the analogy of a person watching a movie in a cinema, Rupert takes us through an exploration of our experience. In this image, the movie is the world we perceive; a person in the third row is our body-mind, responding and reacting to the world; and, through an imaginative leap, a second person is placed at the back of the cinema watching it all.
This person represents awareness itself, who, with disinterested and affectionate attention, observes both the images on the screen and the engaged watcher in the third row.
The movie may be funny, sad or frightening, so the third-row person may laugh, cry or be afraid, but the back-row awareness is untouched and unchanged by anything it observes. This awareness, therefore, is described as peace, or Ananda; the peace that passeth all understanding.
In this meditation Rupert uses the analogy of a person watching a movie in a cinema to explore the imperturbable nature of awareness. The peaceful presence of awareness, as if watching from a premium seat in the back row, has a view of the person watching and of the movie, and is not affected in any way by the content of the movie or its effect on the audience. To take our stand as awareness in the back of the cinema is to know the 'peace that passeth all understanding', or what is known in the Vedantic tradition as ananda, the quiet in the background of experience, irrespective of its content.
The theme of this meditation is a sensory exploration of the body towards a felt understanding of its transparent and limitless nature.
We may understand, intuit, or just be open to the possibility that our essential self is pure awareness, or luminous empty space. But to some of us, even after many years, it may seem as though something is missing. There may be a discrepancy between our understanding and how we feel and perceive our body and the world. Some part of our experience has not yet been touched by this understanding.
So, having explored the inward-facing path, we turn outwards and embark on an experiential investigation of our body and world.
Rupert invites us to allow the felt sense of the body to come to us as a flow of sensations – for example, hunger, a toothache, tingling or air on skin. Dive into any of these sensations; do they have a size, shape, border, or intensity?
We tend to think of our bodies as solid, dense and limited. But by contemplating our experience in this way, we may loosen up these preconceptions. We ask, do any of our sensations have an age or gender? Could we describe them as sick or healthy? Do they have any colour or weight? Even an experience of intensity, such as pain or pleasure, does it have an edge or limit?
We are taken through a journey of exploration of the raw sensations of the body in the way an infant might experience them, without reference to thought or concept.
This leads us further towards pure experience, without boundaries or characteristics. In other words, to the luminous, empty experience we have already understood to be our essential natur
In this yoga meditation we investigate the discrepancy between our understanding of what we are and the way we feel the body. We are guided to examine the raw experience of the body thoroughly.
Nothing can make you happy
This meditation is an investigation into the nature of happiness: What is it actually? Where does it reside? How can we realise it?
The one thing anyone, or all seven-and-a-half billion of us, ever longs for is happiness. We may remember being happy seemingly because of something we acquired, an object, substance, activity or relationship.
But the happiness we experienced was always the same no matter what preceded it. And whatever the apparent cause, there came a time when our sense of happiness diminished or disappeared. For instance, a relationship that seemed to bring so much happiness to begin with may later seem to be the source of complete misery.
So, if happiness is not derived from any object, substance, activity or relationship, what causes it to arise? It’s the opening towards our experience, not anything that temporarily appears in experience. It’s what happens in our hearts and minds when we say yes to experience.
That openness is a window into the ever-present background of being. It’s the patch of blue sky revealed as the clouds part. Saying no is like the closing up of the veiling clouds. Meditation is a universal yes-saying to everything. It is the openness that we essentially are. Nobody imposes unhappiness on us; unhappiness is what happens when we say no to experience.
Welcome everything that you are experiencing, whatever it is, and don’t look to things or to others to be the source of your happiness. Investing our happiness in objective content, or other people, is a recipe for misery.
By turning towards whatever is currently the most difficult element in your life, you can realise that nothing is ever actually unbearable or overwhelming. Feeling the impulse to avoid it yet staying there with it, you face it and come to see that you can accept it totally. It becomes clear that openness to experience is what we are, not what we do; and that resistance to experience is what we do, not what we are
In this meditation, we investigate our search for happiness. We discover that happiness does not depend on circumstances but instead only on that which takes place in our mind and heart. To experience continuous peace and happiness is to say 'yes' to our current circumstances, and 'yes' is a choice we make moment to moment. Happiness is what we are, not what we do.