Tuesday, 1 April 2008

The transition from effort to grace.....

Yesterday was my first day back at work following a 5 week absence recovering from the operation on my other foot. I work with the best people who did such a lot to cover my workload and I am so grateful to them. However the shock of being back in a structured routine left me too exhausted to write my blog yesterday. This was a good test for me because when I was writing it last time I put pressure on myself to write it every day, now I will write when I feel I have something interesting which people might like to read.

I was also watching a documentary on meditation last night. The presenter is a scientist and she was looking for evidence of changes in the brain structure which are directly related to meditation. To her surprise she found that there was more activity in the part of the brain called the cortex in meditators than in non-meditators. She was told that regular meditation can improve relaxation and mood and that it is a technique which can benefit everyone. These well known results for meditation are well known but recently with the introduction of MRI and PET scanners the claimed for benefits of meditation on the brain are beginning to be validated.

Meditation is where we become aware of our thoughts and feelings and gradually realize that they are not who we are. This process activates the cortex or the conscious centre of the brain. The more conscious we become i.e. the more activity there is in the cortex (specifically the frontal cortex) the more likely is the shift of consciousness necessary for spiritual awakening. Spiritual awakening marks the transition from effort to grace.

In my case it was marked by an event whereby my consciousness shifted from things external to what is within, or as the title of this blog says 'what lies within'. Up to this point it is effort that characterizes the path. Reading, studying, practicing, reasoning, discerning. All of this is effort and is important for spiritual awakening. It is necessary to prepare the body and mind. The shift from effort to grace in an unprepared body and mind can and often does overwhelm. This is why I do not recommend accelerated methods to quicken this transition from effort to grace.

This evening I am going to go to a Modern Meditation evening. The aim is to develop the work of the Swiss mystic psychiatrist Manuel Schoch. I have written about the work that Manuel does in blog entries in the past. He has developed the idea of Modern Meditation whereby you try to re-train the brain not to look at form but to look at the space around form. Manuel asserts that a shift of consciousness is not possible while the brain is focussing on form. The electromagnetic field of aura of a person is seen in the space around the person. For this reason he recommends when meditating to focus on the space where one breath ends and another begins. It is by creating an awareness of space and putting our attention at that point of stillness that the consciousness can shift.

I have attended many of Manuel's talks and consciousness training and for me what he says makes sense. It resonates and doesn't jar with my own experiences, this is why I will be going to this meditation group this evening.......I shall write again anon...

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