Meditation is a vast and vague subject. With the below writeup, considering my intense experience with various techniques of meditation, i attempt to define/draw out the various levels of Meditation a seeker goes through. Hope this becomes a convenient guide for new and old Meditators to experience and understand Meditation in greater depth.
Level 1: Using an outside form/idol or image to focus the mind onto
At this point, the mind is in a very unrefined form. Due to this the seeker finds it more convenient to hook the mind onto an external image/form/idol/entity in order to ensure it is concentrated and slowed down to ensure a fulfilled experience. At this point, it is hard for the seeker to meditate with eyes closed. The intensity and velocity of the mind is too high to be slowed down with eyes closed. However even with eyes closed, mental focus on the external image/form/idol/entity would be beneficial.
Level 2: Using a chant/mantra/verse/prayer to concentrate the mind onto
Now, for the purpose of meditation, the seeker has moved beyond core attachment to an external image/form/idol/entity. The mind, slightly more refined, finds it easier to latch on to a chant/mantra/prayer/verse. During the chanting the mind finds itself slowed down and concentrated leading to fulfilment and traces of bliss.
Level 3: Using a biological tool to meditate the mind on
The mind, more refined than earlier, now if ready to be focused onto a continual event which is much more closer to the mind that external images and chants. Focus on the breath, focus on the heartbeat, focus on the bodily sensations leads to the mind reaching periods of silence and serenity leading to traces of bliss and probably for the first time the actual, self-made experience of separation between the body, mind and the true ‘I’.
Level 4: Observing the mind itself
Once the mind has reached a substantial level of refinement plus a slight sense of separation between the body, mind and the true ‘I’ has been experienced, the seeker is now ready to enter in periods of self-observation, self-witnessing with eyes closed. The seeker now must become a silent non responsive witness to the functioning of the mind and all the thoughts, emotions and feelings that come with it. This leads to an increase in the serenity of the mind and most importantly the experience of the separation between the body, mind and the true ‘I’.
Level 5: Dropping the mind. It is time to ‘Just Be’
At this point, any action via the mind is a burden. The seeker finds it most convenient to enter into ‘In-action’ of the mind or as Ramana Maharshi says ‘Summa Iru’, i.e. to ‘Just Be’ leading to a prolonged exposure and experience of the state of Pure Awareness for the seeker. With bliss and fulfillment unfolding at its peak, the seeker seeks to be in this state for longer and longer.
In the most natural of ways
In the most natural of ways, the mind, basis its level of refinement, self-readies for the next level once a certain maturity is reached. The seeker will find him/her self automatically drawn towards a new level for thier mind to find true peace and serenity. With spirituality, everything happens in the most natural of ways.
Do the above levels resonate with your experience of Meditation? Let me know your thoughts.
Best wishes with your Meditation practice.