Earlier in the attempt to demystify the process of enlightenment via meditation, we looked at two different ten-stage pathways to enlightenment. Now we will try to simplify the process even further, looking at the process first as a simpler 5 step path:
- Concentration Meditation
- Mindfulness Meditation
- Reflective Meditation
- Creative Meditation
- Heart-Centered Meditation
As with the ten-stage paths we looked at yesterday, one must master each path in its turn in order to progress to the next stage.
Concentration meditation involves focusing on an object, such as the breath. Mindfulness meditation enlarges the awareness to include thoughts, images, sensations, and emotions which come and go during meditation. Reflective meditation involves posing a “problem” to the meditative mind and allowing its solution in the course of meditation. In this case, the “problem” becomes the object of focus while sitting. Creative meditation is the cultivation and nurturing of traits of character which contribute to profound personal growth. Heart-centered meditation provides deep insight into the nature of suffering, leading to greater kindness, empathy, and compassion.
You may be asking, “where’s the bliss?” In other words, let’s put first things first. But as those who persist in this path are likely to discover, this may be one place where “the first will be last, and the last, first.”
A 7 Step Path:
In this 7 step approach, the Tibetan author provides seven discrete meditations to follow, with mastery of each step necessary to progress to the next stage. Here the author makes clear that he is borrowing from multiple schools of meditation in order to put together a unified path to “transcendent knowledge and primordial purity.”
All of the “steps to enlightenment” books linked in the posts yesterday and today go into sufficient detail for you to explore on your own. For many it may be frustrating that you will have to wait weeks or months to begin to experience the brain plasticity that occurs with meditation practice. But once you feel it working on your brain and your life, you can make an informed decision as to whether to continue all the way down the path.
The term “meditation for assholes” is not original, but it is very descriptive. It has been used by several different people on internet media to suggest that meditation should not be seen as elevated above daily life. Instead it should be as mundane as our most humble orifice.
Now for something different: James Nestor discusses holotropic breathing with James Rogan.
The holotropic breathing approach to achieving a “transformative experience” is a shortcut to altered states of consciousness without using chemicals developed by psychiatrist Stanislav Grof.
This kind of thing is not “enlightenment” as experienced by long time disciplined meditators. But it is something out of the ordinary to be sure.
Mastery Involves Learning the Rules and Putting in the Time
But then you learn what rules can be bent or broken and to what effect. That is where things get interesting. It may take up to 10,000 hours or so before you are qualified to do things like that. But imagine the possibilities!