Concept of Ignorance in Non-Duality

The topic of ignorance is highly misunderstood by many people, they think that there is something tangible called ignorance which veils the experience of pure Consciousness and therefore we get trapped in Maya. We will look into this subject in detail. In Sanskrit language they call ignorance as "Avidya", which means something which does not exists. By the very word Avidya, it is suggested that there is nothing tangible or substantial which is veiling the Consciousness, but still we are caught in Maya and forget our real nature as infinite space. So then what is the real concept of ignorance in Non-Duality?

As I mentioned in other articles that rather than looking at Non-duality through any conceptual understanding we should look at it only through experience. What our day to day experience suggest in the matter of ignorance is, to have the experience of world we wake up from sleep. In sleep there is peace, but to experience the world we IGNORE that peace and wake up. This act of "ignoring" is called as Ignorance in Non-duality. We not only ignore the peace but also ignore the space like nature of Consciousness and rise as a limited subject who experiences other objects in the world, and that subject eventually gets lost in the world or Maya.

Meaning of word Non-duality

The word non-duality is English translation of Sanskrit word "Advaita", which means not two or non-dual. This word is an effort to put the condition and position of God or Consciousness and our experience of world in human language. We now look at the significance of this word in detail.

When ancient seers came to conclusion through reasoning and experience that there is only one homogeneous Consciousness which we experience in different states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep, they found it very difficult to define it's exact nature. The problem was, they could not call it one since one inherently brings the idea of two or more possibilities. Plus the word "one" gives idea of loneliness, God or Consciousness is not lonely. At the same time there is nothing other existing in reality. So to bring the status of God into human language they called it Advaita, non-dual, which means there is neither one nor many but something which cannot be defined in language. 

Does God exist?

When we look at this question, we have to first be clear on the meaning of word God because this word is used by many cultures in many ways. But basically the underlining idea is God means someone who is almighty and capable of doing everything, God is someone who operates this world, gives rewards to good people and punishes bad people.

The idea of God mentioned above is more like a person doing moral policing than a loving creator of all. So first let's try to come to a understanding which can be more justified towards God rather than making Him a policeman.

If we keep every spiritual thought aside for some time and look at our day to day lives, then some people among us think that because of its complexity, the world is operated by some intelligent person. Some think that there is no need to think like that because this world can be an accident in the immeasurable count of the galaxies and stars. There is no need of inferring any intelligent person behind the operations of this world.

The two thoughts mentioned in above paragraph are opposed to each other and we cannot come to any conclusion by them because both seem right in their own place. So, we should look at our own experience. Now I will try to look at this question from my own experience of world.

Right now while typing on the keyboard I am experiencing a keyboard, a computer, a chair, vehicles passing on the road, people going around etc. With all these objective experiences I am also experiencing my body, my thoughts and emotions subjectively, means these experiences of body, mind and emotions (heart) are my own, only I can experience them, no one else. All other experiences are common to all of us. So, experience has two sides, objective and subjective. In these two types of experiences, there is a common thing which is they both are momentary. Situations around me are continuously changing and my subjective experiences are also continuously changing. But at the same time there is another factor involved in this whole game of experience, that factor is experiencer of both of these experiences, the Consciousness which is experiencing these both objective and subjective experiences is constant, it is not changing because if the Consciousness was also changing the no experience is possible, as without a constant screen we cannot watch a movie similarly without this constant Consciousness I cannot have any experience at all.

Now I will add something more in the types of experiences, right now I am experiencing the world around me but I do not experience it 24/7, there are times when I do not experience the world at all, which happens in sleep and there are time when I experience the world in a different space time than the current one, which happens in dream. So I can say by my own experience that I keep travelling between space time, which is waking state and dreaming state and no space time, which is deep sleep state. In other words the body which I use to experience the objective world and the subjective experience of the body cannot function continuously, they both have to rest to stay alive or working. But does it mean the no space time experience in deep sleep is also dependent on the condition of the body?

Answer to above question is, no. The very experience of absence of space time can happen without body and it's subjective experience, with body I cannot experience the absence of space time. So, to come to a conclusion I, the Consciousness who is capable of experiencing the absence of space time is not affected by space and time, I am immortal.

Now we will look at the world as a whole. We come to conclusion that the I which experience the waking, dreaming and deep sleep is immortal. The world I am experiencing right now, the keyboard, computer, vehicles on the road, people passing around, my body, mind and emotions, is space and time. All these happenings are happening in space time. But where is space time itself? We experience it so it is not absolute nothing, it is something, but that something has not existence of it's own, because if it had any existence it would have been my permanent experience. Since I am able to travel between space time and no space time, I have to conclude that the space time itself is not a permanent thing, it has also another side which is absence of space time. The space time and absence of space time are happenings which are happening in the Consciousness itself. In other words the world is in I (the I who travels in space time and no space time), I is not in the world.

Now let's come to our basic question, does God exist? After the above discussion the answer to this question is YES, God exists, only God exists, we are mere momentary happenings in the God.    

Concept of Time & Space in Non-duality

Non-duality looks at space time as a relative reality based on the state of Consciousness. As I discussed before everything is judged on the experience itself, so time and space also judged on the experience. The time and space we experience in waking state is different than the time and space of dreaming state. In deep sleep there is no space time at all. So space time is considered as maya in non-duality, a changing reality.

We feel that we are experiencing same space time in waking state so it must be real, but non-duality looks at our waking state as the dream of the Universe. In that sense Universe or God never has any waking state, it has only two states dreaming and deep sleep. In the Non-duality chart waking state of the Universe is mentioned as a concession to understanding of people which does not realize the dreaming state on Universal level.

So, according to non-duality space time is considered as a dream in broad sense. 

Use of Non-Duality in day to day life

This is the most important topic which we have to consider before going deeper into non-duality. Why should we think about it? What is the use of it in our day to day life?

Before going in these questions we first decide what we actually want in our life, what is our basic need. Usually it is thought that food, clothing and shelter are the basic needs of any human beings without which a human cannot survive. Now there are few other things also added in it according to modern lifestyle. But before all these things we need one more important thing which is sound sleep with peace of mind. If to fulfill our need we have to sacrifice our peace of mind for long time then survival is not possible even after having everything in plenty. So peace of mind is the most fundamental need of any living creature, specially humans, if there is enough peace of mind and contentment then one can even die happily without any problem with life.

Now, after deciding our basic need, we look at the questions related to non-duality that what is it's use in our day to day life. Can non-duality help us to remain calm throughout our lives. Then the answer is yes, it can. If one understands the complete thought of non-duality then one becomes peaceful. 

Foundations of Non-Duality

Non dual teachings are the result of man's "urge to know" falling back on the knowing itself. We, humans, have inbuilt urge to know more and more, we want to know what is happening in our neighborhood, we want to know what is happening around the world, we want to know how world functions, we want to know which laws of science operate the world and this Universe and ultimately we want to know the knowing itself.

The scientific method to know anything is based on observation of that thing or phenomena, this method is useful when we are knowing about the material objects in the world but when it come to knowing about conscious objects, especially human consciousness then to understand them completely we have to consider one more factor with observation, that factor is their own reporting about themselves. How they are feeling, what they are experiencing in day to day life is more important than just observing their behavior and physical structure made of hormones and genes.

The non duality thinking is based on the reporting of a Conscious subject like human beings about their own experience. Since Consciousness can experience this world only in waking state and not in other two states of dreaming and deep sleep, Non-duality does not come to any conclusion about the world just by observing it in waking state, rather it says that world is present only in waking state, in other states of consciousness there is no world as we are experiencing it now so we have to conclude that world itself has no reality from the view of consciousness, consciousness is not bound to experience it continuously. Rather Consciousness is the ultimate reality because it can stay without world but we cannot conform presence of world without consciousness.

Shraddh श्राद्ध

Shraddh श्राद्ध is basically showing gratitude to the deceased ancestors. This type of practice is followed in all religions all over the world. In Indian culture this concept is developed in ritualistic ceremony which is performed on various occasions after death of a person. The word Shraddh literally means acts performed with emotions (Bhav) and complete trust that anything we do here reaches the person who has died before or even long before. If there is any doubt in mind then performing rituals is meaningless because emotions and trust are the most important part, it has to be like a direct transaction between two people, the doer of Shraddh and the receiver.

There are different rituals in different religions but emotions behind them are the same, that is to do something for the souls who lived their lives for us or who were in relation with our family and might be in trouble. There are people who do not agree with this whole idea, some of them do not agree that soul lives on even after death, some of them say that we should behave well with the person when he or she is alive, there is no point in doing something after death because we cannot say for sure that it can really help the dead people or not. Some think that even if there is soul which does not die at death still it is very much possible that soul might have taken birth somewhere else, so it is useless to do something for that soul. Some people think that by remembering the dead relatives again we cause unnecessary suffering to them so it is better not to do anything.

All these objections are right in their place, but for a person who has lost someone very close to him or her, these arguments mean nothing. He wants to do something for the deceased person and when he listens to such arguments he becomes frustrated so for the sake of the person who is involved emotionally in this matter I give some arguments against the points raised above. Number one, if we say there is no soul who remains after death then such position is not acceptable because there is no evidence which can prove that physical body lives on it's own without any help from Soul or Consciousness, rather day by day the problem of Consciousness is becoming more and more difficult for scientists to solve. So we have to accept that there is something called soul which continues its journey even after physical death. Second point that we should behave well with person while he or she is alive is right but that does not mean we forget about the person after death. Whether our doing something help them or not cannot be answered for sure, but it is more of a question of heart than brain, if one feels something should be done then one should do. Fourth point in above paragraph is also similar to the third point so answer is same. The fifth point, by remembering our deceased relatives we may cause unnecessary suffering to them, has weight in it, but we never know is this right or wrong, what if the reality is other way round. So until now I think I have put enough arguments against the points which say we should not perform any activity for the deceased people.

I personally think that praying to God accompanied with prolonged silence for the well being of deceased people is the best type of Shraddh which we can do everyday. We can do some donations to needy people in the name of the ancestors as well. But different religions have formed some rituals around this concept of Shraddha which is also OK but the rituals should be done with sincerity and emotions.  

Alpha Wave – V.A.S (Sound Interactor System)



Alpha Wave – V.A.S  (Sound Interactor System)

Vibro-Acoustic Field Generators are designed to provide a whole body multi-sensory experience, generally including lights, sound and physical vibration.  These devices are also known as sound tables, music beds, vibro-sound, neurophone, somatron and vibro-tactile stimulators.  The key stimulator is sound; sound that is not just heard through the ears, but also felt as vibrations    through the whole body.  It stimulates the body with optimal psychophysical impact, incorporating music, modulated light pulsing in sync with the music and creating a state of sensory resonance.

The body holds trauma in specific areas and the memory of particular trauma is stored in a specific place within the body, resonating these places with an external sound vibration traumatic memories may resurface, enabling them to be released.  Many doctors, sound researchers and music therapists have used these systems with great success to eliminate stress.  At The Children’s Cancer Centre of Tampa, Florida, USA these systems are used during painful procedures such as spinal taps and bone marrow transplants.  V.A.S soothes the children before and after such procedures by reducing their anxiety.  Dr Avram Goldstein, head of The Addiction Research Centre in Palo Alto, USA and Professor of Pharmacology at Stanford has found a link between ‘musical thrills’, those shudders of ecstasy produced by emotionally moving music, and increased endorphin production.

Dr Jeffery Thompson, a sound researcher whose extensive work with sound tables has pointed out that a huge section of the brainstem and nervous system is devoted to sensing and processing vibration.  The spinal cord is composed of nerve bundles carrying different kinds of sensations.  Entire columns sense vibrations and take up almost the whole posterior half of the spinal cord. Large sections of the deep, primitive section of the brain near the brainstem are devoted to vibration processing.  So when one is using the Vibro-Acoustic System, powerful emotional information, in the form of musical vibrations get processed exactly in that part of the brain where our most deep-seated emotions reside.  This is one reason why V.A.S produces such powerful effects. Normally, in order for the mind to focus on a single stimulus one’s reticular activating system has to screen out countless background sensations.  When the V.A.S drowns out the background distractions, the attention and mental energy that would otherwise be used up by the task of sorting inputs is freed up.  This in itself is highly unusual and it means one has much more consciousness available - as if in meditation.

What is then presented to the consciousness? –Music vibration.  Music communication with one’s body can be attributed to frequency amplitude and waveforms.  Profound music results when those elements are combined together in the most beautiful and powerful ways possible.  Music is the greatest form of communication man ever created.  It can be emotionally powerful, aesthetically powerful, mentally pleasurable, physically healing and deeply relaxing.  One of the original devices called the Neurophone was invented by Dr Patrick Flannagan and was designed to communicate sound to the brain via the skin.  Having studied the effects of sound on the body for over thirty years, he observed each cavity in the body is a  ‘Helmholtz resonator’.  It has a specific frequency to which it resonates like a turning fork.  Thus, if the body is resonated by music, certain parts of the body will resonate specifically to each frequency. Whole body acoustic stimulation is so powerful, Flannagan believes, because the human skin is itself such a powerful sense organ.  Our skin is not just a cover; it is an enormously sensitive organ with hundreds of thousands of receptors for temperature and vibro-tactile input.  Every organ of perception develops out of the skin.  In the embryo, skin folds and then forms our eyes and ears.  Our skin may contain the latent capacity to perceive light and sound.  By stimulating the skin with energy in the right way, one can potentially stimulate the brain and help to evolve it. 

The ability to control brain waves to reduce the frequencies does not put one in to meditation. Because the mind is not in a state of ‘let-go’, it is in a state of control. But when in meditation, the brain waves will begin to change effortlessly from Beta (over 14Hz), to Alpha (9-13Hz), Theta (4-8Hz), and Delta (.3-3Hz).  Beta activity is associated with alertness, arousal and concentration; Alpha waves with relaxation; Theta with creativity, healing and Delta with deep meditation and sleep, profound rest and the release of growth hormones and neuro-chemicals.  In these lower wave states, our bodies mobilise resources for inward activity, resulting in enhanced immune system response, reduced heart rate, blood pressure and sweating, increased functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, increase in oxygen and blood flow to the brain, and also stimulates the release of neuro-peptides such as endorphins and other neuro-chemicals such as norepinephrine and dopamine, associated with memory, learning, creativity and other cognitive functions.  However, the art of quickly descending from the state of extreme arousal to deep relaxation (and vice versa) as a cat or dog may, without external help will be the ultimate, as in meditation. Although ultimately meditation is not something you do as it is already your under-current, it is the posses of getting back to your inner being, as you get more tuned-in with the existence. But a tool such as a Vibro-Acoustic System may be a help to start with, and also fun to use.

Meditation
Meditation helps one to evolve from a lower level to a higher level of consciousness  - it is to  find your original self. Meditation is not a religion or a belief system to get trapped in; it is a direct experience of the higher self..........your original self without the unnecessary religious or the spiritual mind clutter. Deep meditation is a state beyond the mind - it is to be one with the inner sky; the original self, while witnessing the clouds of thoughts without attachment.
Meditation means removing all your prejudices, putting all your conclusions aside, seeing without any hindrance, seeing without any curtains, seeing clearly without any mediation of any thought, seeing without Buddha standing between you and reality, or Krishna, or Christ. -Osho- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 12

Meditation is to be in this very atomic moment.................it is an atomic moment, because it takes one into a new dawn within, freeing your mind from yesterday and tomorrow……..last moment and the next moment.

Mind is horizontal movement in time; meditation is vertical movement, beyond time. It is not mind/thought training. It is about finding your inner sky in between the clouds of thought. In the beginning of meditation, one sees that the mind is frantically chattering. By witnessing this turmoil in the mind with detachment and without judgment/commentary, in time one can free oneself  from this turmoil within and the "automatic" reactions towards pleasant and unpleasant situations and feelings.  

This state of obsessive often negative thought process is a drain on one’s life-force (bio-magnetic energy, chi, prana, kundalini). Regular practice strengthens the immune system, builds up stamina to resist against the aging process, pollution, chemical toxins, drug addictions, viruses,  diseases, food adulteration etc. As one goes deeper into meditation by freeing oneself from draining this inner light, one starts to feel the life-force circulating more freely within. The first signs will be a tingling sensation in ones palms, souls of  the feet and in the crown of the head. In this meditative state, one will find one’s self in a state of bliss.........a state of intense wellbeing. With practice one can drop in and out of this state of bliss within at any time of the day, simultaneously being aware of the inner and the outer worlds. But if you expect something to happen, meditation may not happen because you are in a state of 'I want'..........in the mind, not in a state of 'let go' of the mind. True Meditation is an act of love............a happening, not a doing; you cannot find it in a state of 'I want'.

 For Osho and Krishnamurti, meditation is choice-less awareness in the present. They said "..When you learn about yourself, watch yourself, watch the way you walk, your thoughts, what you say, feelings, body sensations, the anger, the hate, jealousy the prejudices etc’’ - if you are aware of all that in yourself, without judgments and expectations, that is also a part of meditation.’’
But it is not a state of emotional repression; it is about not being a slave to your emotions.............to the clouds.
Mindfulness
Mindfulness is originally a Buddhist practice. It is awareness of one's thoughts, actions or motivations. Mindfulness does not have to be constrained to a formal meditation session. It can be done at any time; it does not require sitting, or even focusing on the breath, but rather it is done by bringing the mind to focus on what is happening in the present moment, while simply noticing the mind's usual "commentary". One can be mindful of the sensations in one's feet while walking, of the sound of the wind in the trees, or the feeling of soapy water while doing dishes. One can also be mindful of the mind's commentary: "I wish I didn't have to walk any further, I like the sound of the leaves rustling, I wish washing dishes weren't so boring", etc. Once one have noticed the mind's running commentary, we have the freedom to cease identification with those judgments/perceptions: "washing dishes: boring" may become "The warm water and the detergent is currently washing away the plate's grime," In this example, one may see that washing does not have to be judged "boring"; washing dishes is only a process of coordinating dishes with soap and water. Any activity done mindfully is a form of meditation. One can drop in and out of this state in day to day work.

But conscious effort to be "mindful" may make it difficult to be in the moment; with inner and outer awareness simultaneously, as one splits into an observer and an observed mind, as pure consciousness is a state beyond duality. It is a state one can see reality directly as it is, without going through the interpretations, judgments and prejudices of the mind to know what reality is. However it may be important to use mindfulness to cultivate a positive thought field....... a loving inner space, before going beyond thought, to be one with the inner sky........with pure consciousness. To come to this positive thought field one may need to express inner trauma, stress/anxiety with therapy, active and cathartic meditations first.

‘’The spiritual journey is individual, highly personal. It can’t be organized or regulated. It isn’t true that everyone should follow one path. Listen to your own truth’’ – Ram Dass

Om - primordial sound
EEG brain mapping by neuroscientists shows Alpha in the early stages of Zen Meditation.  Beyond Theta    is the state of transcendence. In this state, one moves beyond their mind, into a peak state of universal awareness. Experiences in this realm are more than passive diversions.  Creative power of this state of transcendence can change the very nature of one’s reality, as meditation can be a transforming force beyond man-made religious or spiritual systems. Some religions, cultures and tribes have used external  and internal sound vibration for meditation, healing and trance for thousands of years.  The art of     vibrating sound internally by intoning a sound vibration like Aum (Om) slowly is called Nadabrahma Meditation.        

When you in-tone the sound Aum, be filled with it. Forget everything else. Become the Aum, become the sound. And it is very easy to become the sound because sound can vibrate through your body, through   your mind, through your whole nervous system. Feel the reverberation of Aum. In-tone it and feel it as if  your whole body is being filled with it, every cell is vibrating with it. --    OSHO, Meditation-the first & the    last freedom.                       

External sound can also be used to relax deeply, enabling one to enter into meditation more easily, using ‘inner sound’ (Nada) as the main support for meditation after Vibro-Acoustic Therapy sessions (V.A.S)
If one is sufficiently freed from the grip of the lower (physical) self and one can be inwardly quiet enough and deeply absorbed in one’s search for the ‘inner sound’, it is possible to suddenly become aware of an unusual feeble sound resonance coming from deep inside. Concealed before and obscured by one’s obsessive mental restlessness.  One has become aware of this crystal-like resonance, which resembles the sound of a distant ocean with many other different ‘ultra sounds’ superimposed on it (which mystics call the cosmic symphony).  It will be very obvious that this is no ordinary sound-resonance but one of a higher cosmic order. What the Zen masters call the sound of one hand clapping (sound of silence). Thousands of years of eastern mysticism relate to this sound resonance as the primordial sound, the inner sound that we are aware of in the beginning of our life and in the end, and you may have some accidental glimpses from time to time, even if you do not meditate. Feeling this cosmic-resonance will put one into deep meditation, a state beyond the mind, giving rise to a blissful feeling. In my experience this is the most effort less path. As one can be aware of this cosmic resonance while doing a power-walk, when one is in semi-sleep/semi-awake or even in a war-zone!  Most importantly in this state, one can be with the inner and the outer awareness simultaneously. But if one get tangled-up in obsessive thought or get stressed/anxious the cosmic resonance will fade away till you become cantered again.  This resonance is the fundamental vibratory nature of our oscillating cosmos. Using the ‘inner sound’ method for meditation is called Nada-Yoga, a method used by meditators for thousands of years on the path to enlightenment.  Research with EEG brain mapping systems with some Zen Monks shows an extraordinary brain-wave pattern, the ‘Awakened Mind State’.  They were able to draw upon the relaxing, cantering properties of the Theta State; the healing properties of the Delta State and at the same time still maintain the alert concentration and external orientation of the Beta State in their daily activities.  The higher, more evolved states are also easily detected with an EEG and show synchronised brain hemispheres; as indicated by Indian Mystics, with the opening of the third eye.  To that higher state of evolution, to feel that cosmic symphony, the ancient Indian Mystics insisted on a life-style of minimum damage to the life-force; to ourselves, to others, animal life and plant life. To all living things as the life-force is interconnected.
Extensive scientific research in to bio–communication of the life-force by Cleve Backster, from the Backster Research Foundation U.S.A, says eastern scientists seemed much more attuned to spiritual concepts than most scientist in the west. “We took the white blood cell samples, then sent the people home to watch T.V. What we found was that white blood cells out side the body still react to the emotions you feel even though you may be 300 miles away”. His pioneering research in 1966, also showed how plants, even live yoghurt, respond to our (positive/negative) intent. Whenever I encounter Indian scientist and we talk about what I do, instead of giving me a bunch of grief they say, what took you so long?                     

Bio-feedback Monitoring, Relaxation and Meditation                               
Alpha waves are one of the forms of electrical activity which can be detected on the surface of the scalp. In the late 1920's Hans Berger in Germany discovered that the brain generated small electrical signals. This electrical activity were identified and labelled with letter names from the Greek alphabet. One 'Hz' is one cycle per second (Frequency Range) -   over 14 Hz-Beta, 9-13 Hz Alpha, 4-8 Hz Theta, 0.5-3 Hz Delta. The bio-feedback monitoring system of brain wave activity is called an EEG. Brain wave activity changes as one matures; children younger than about three years produce no alpha, but show more low frequency Delta and Theta rhythms than older people.  Beta waves in a normally active mind. Alpha waves are associated with a relaxed mind. Theta in sleep or deep relaxation/meditation and found in some highly creative people. Delta waves are found in sleep or in deep meditation.                    

Electrical Skin Resistance (E.S.R) meter is able to indicate the level of arousal relaxation of our body by measuring the electrical resistance of the skin. This has a direct link to the autonomic nervous system. Biofeedback monitoring (with E.S.R and E.E.G) can bypass the years of intense training of traditional meditation and yoga schools. Years of research show that Biofeedback can assist one to attain deep relaxation. This is valuable by itself in these stressful times and for some it may prove to be a springboard into deeper meditation and spiritual progress. Also G.D.V (kirlian) cameras can be used to see the effectiveness of touch in healing, as the bio-magnetic energy (aura) that emanates from the hands and  body become more effective in healing one’s self and others - when one dissolves into meditation.
The Director of the Biofeedback and Psychophysiology Clinic at the Menninger Foundation (USA) reports:

In our practice at Menninger we use meditative techniques to enhance immune functioning in cancer, AIDS, and autoimmune patients. We also use meditation in conjunction with neuro-feedback to normalize brain rhythms and chemistry in alcohol and drug addiction, as well as other addictive conditions. Almost all of our patients use meditative techniques in learning self-regulation for disorders such as anxiety and hypertension, and for stress management. We consider meditation a recommended practice for anyone seeking high-level wellness.  Patricia Norris, Ph.D.(U.S)

The experiments with Zen mediation as a means of increasing empathy in counsellors  found   that in the reports of his subjects upon their meditation experiences there were sensations   which seemed regularly to occur. These patterns of the levels in our consciousness were known for thousands of years in the East.    Dr Lesh, University of Oregon

Experience shows that especially for beginners, the Lesh Scale provides a useful set of landmarks which gives the novice confidence - and helps more experienced meditators to understand just where they are.

Lesh Number

Subjective correlates of state

ESR
Electrical Skin Resistance
Microamps %
EEG
Brain-wave Monitor
0
Just beginning to relax. Subject may report difficulty in stilling the mind; the itchy state. Why am I doing this?

25 – 20
Below 20%
Intermittent
Alpha and Beta.
1
Subjects have reported feeling dizzy or having befogged consciousness or sensation like going under an anaesthetic. You may find yourself filling your mind with everyday affairs, almost as an avoidance of meditation; (the fear of the mind, to let go from time to space). Don’t focus on feelings, just let go.
20 – 16
25% - 35%
approx
Reduced Beta continuous Alpha.
2
Calmness and relaxation; childhood or other scenes from the past recalled as ‘flashbacks’. Focus may not be much sustained.
16 – 13
To 45%
Continuous Alpha no Beta, intermittent Theta.
3
Well defined state. Pleasant bodily sensations of floating lightness, rocking, swaying (subjects may actually move rhythmically). More sustained focus. Increased and clearer imagery.
13 – 10
45% to 55%
Continuous Alpha with falling frequency almost continuous theta.
4
Extremely vivid awareness of your heartbeat, breathing or other bodily sensations. Effortless awareness of this moment. Sometimes a sensation of ‘being full of air’ or of ‘growing to great size. Sometimes an alternation between internal and external awareness.
10 – 8
70% to 80%
Continuous Alpha Theta falling in frequency.
5
Very lucid state of consciousness. Deeply satisfying, intense alertness, calmness and detachment. Feeling of alerted state lacking in previous levels 0-4
8 – 5
70% to 80%
Continuous Theta Alpha frequency near the Theta border.
6
New way of feeling, one has intuitive insight. Perhaps into old problems, as though seen from a more aware level. 
Below 4
Over 80%
Very little electrical brain activity except occasional Delta.


Light & Sound (LS) Neuro-technology

Have you ever listened to waves breaking on the beach and felt a resounding clam sweep over you? or gazed into the flickering firelight and just drifted off.......completely relaxed?                           

Anthropologist tells of how chimpanzees trek long distances to sit gazing entranced at sunlight flashing off a waterfall.  Ancient rituals for entering trance states and meditative states often involved rhythmic sounds in the  form of drum beats, clapping, or chanting and flickering lights produced by candles, torches, bonfires,    or long lines of human bodies passing before the fire and chopping the light  into mesmerizing rhythmic flashes. Some composes, such as the visionary Scriabin, actually created music intended to be experienced in combination  with rhythmic light displays.  Around 200A.D Ptolemy noted that when he placed a spinning spoked wheel between an observer and the sun, the flickering of the sunlight through the spokes of the spinning wheel could cause patterns and colours to appear before the eyes of the observer and could produce a feeling of euphoria. French psychologist Pierre Janet noticed that when patients at the Salpetriere Hospital in Paris were exposed to flickering lights they experienced reductions in hysteria and increased in relaxation.

Light and sound devices produce light and sound; light is produced through goggles (with light emanating diodes) and the sound is produced through head-phones both connected to the LS device. LS devices are designed to produce different benefits depending on your needs.

* Relaxation-  To achieve states of calmness in a shorter period of time than is possible with many traditional methods, for some people. An effective new element to traditional meditation and other types of stress reduction programs.

* Safe effective, non habit-forming and drug-free assistance in falling asleep.

* Creativity - Use complex, shifting visual images you see during a session as stimulus to your creative imagination. Synchronizing right and left hemispheres of your brain and unlock the doors to creative breakthroughs.

* Visualization and development of new goals. These can include psychological goals such as increasing motivation levels, and physical goals.

* Accelerated learning- Can help to gradually shift your mind to the theta state where you are most receptive to new information.

Another benefit of LS technology lies in its ability to interrupt negative emotional response loops. Examples of such 'loops' include moderate levels of anger, worry, sadness, irritability and depression. The LS device diverts attention away from negative emotional loops towards the rhythms and patterns of the LS experience. 

Chances are that after a few weeks of regular use, you will generally feel calmer and more "centred."
The LS devices do not do all the work for you, it assists you by making more efficient use of the way your mind and body naturally function. This is not doing something to you, as drugs do; it is doing something with you.

Breath
Before we can improve our breathing we must remember that the process existed long before our unconscious mind interfered with it; we have nothing to teach it. What we have to do is to prepare ourselves to receive its revitalizing strength by removing any tension that might hinder its wellness. Proper breathing depends on our capacity to bring awareness to  tensions in our body/mind, correcting bad habits, wrong mental and physical attitudes; the moment we dissolve these obstacles it will come into its own and bring us vitality and well-being.

  1.  The more stressed our body/mind gets, the more shallow and out of rhythm our breathing may get, creating a tense stomach and an inflexible rib-cage/diaphragm in time. Watching a child sleep we may see how the body breaths in its natural state. As a chaotic mind state reflects a chaotic breathing pattern, by bringing awareness to your breathing and breathing deeply and slowly, stress can be reduced bringing calmness and harmony to the body/mind. Slow, deep, rhythmic breathing causes a reflex stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which results in a reduction in the heart rate and relaxation of the muscles. These two factors cause the mind to relax, since the mind and body are very interdependent. In addition, oxygenation of the brain tends to normalize brain function, reducing excessive anxiety and stress levels.
Also deep slow breathing reduces the work load for the heart. The result is a more efficient, stronger heart that operates better and lasts longer. It also means reduced blood pressure and less chance of heart disease.

With shallow breathing, we are not taking in sufficient oxygen and we are not eliminating sufficient carbon dioxide. As a result, our bodies are oxygen starved and a toxic build-up occurs. Every cell in the body requires oxygen and our level of vitality is just a product of the health of all the cells. Shallow breathing (expanding and contracting the chest and rib cage) is physiologically linked to the fight-or-flight response; thus chest breathing cusses the autonomic nervous system to remain in a state of arousal and inhibits relaxation.                                                                     

2. Why Is Our Breath Fast and Shallow?

There are several reasons for this. The major reasons are:

  1. We are in a hurry most of the time. Our movements and breathing follow this pattern.
  2. The increasing stress of modern living makes us breathe more quickly and less deeply.
  3. We get too emotional too easily. We get excited easily, angry easily, and most of the rest of the time we suffer from anxiety due to worry. These negative emotional states affect the rate of breathing, causing it to be fast and shallow.
  4. Modern technology and automation reduces our need for physical activity. There is less need to breathe deeply, so we develop a shallow breathing habit.
  5. We are working indoors more and more. This may increase our exposure to pollution. As a result, the body instinctively inhales less air to protect itself from pollution. The body just takes in enough air to tick over.
As we go through life, these bad breathing habits we acquire become part of our life. Unless we do something to change these habits, we can suffer permanent problems. But before we can change these habits, we should recognize and accept that our behavior needs to be changed.

Modern science agrees with the ancient mystics/yogis on the subject of shallow breathing. An editorial in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine suggested that fast, shallow breathing can cause fatigue, sleep disorders, anxiety, stomach upsets, heart burn, gas, muscle cramps, dizziness, visual problems, chest pain and heart palpitations. Scientists have also found that a lot of people who believe they have heart disease are really suffering from improper breathing. Deep, slow breathing assists in weight control. If you are overweight, the extra oxygen burns up the excess fat more efficiently. If you are underweight, the extra oxygen feeds the starving tissues and glands. In other words deep breathing tends to produce the ideal weight for you.

The ancient mystics and yogis knew the importance of correct breathing and developed techniques not only to increase health and life span, but also to attain super-conscious states.

Give Priority to exhalation

 All good respiration begins with a slow and complete exhalation, this perfect exhalation is an absolute necessity for correct and complete inhalation, for the very simple reason that, until a cup is emptied, it cannot be filled. Unless we first breathe out fully it is impossible to breathe in correctly.

3. Benefits of Deep Breathing

  1. Improvement in the quality of the blood due to its increased oxygenation in the lungs. This aids the elimination of toxins from the system.
  2. Increase in the digestion and assimilation of food. The digestive organs - such as the stomach - receive more oxygen and hence operates more efficiently. The digestion is further enhanced by the fact that the food is oxygenated more.
  3. Improvement in the health of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, nerve centers. This is due again to the increased oxygenation and hence nourishment of the nervous system. This improves the health of the whole body, since the nervous system communicates to all parts of the body.
  4. Rejuvenation of the glands, especially the pituitary and pineal glands. The brain has a special affinity for oxygen, requiring three times more oxygen than does the rest of the body. This has far-reaching effects on our wellbeing.
  5. Rejuvenation of the skin. The skin becomes smoother and a reduction of facial wrinkles occurs.
  6. The movements of the diaphragm during the deep breathing exercises massage the abdominal organs - the stomach, small intestine, liver and pancreas. The upper movement of the diaphragm also massages the heart. This stimulates the blood circulation in these organs.
  7. The lungs become healthy and powerful, a good insurance against respiratory problems.
  8. Deep, slow breathing reduces the work load for the heart. The result is a more efficient, stronger heart that operates better and lasts longer. It also means reduced blood pressure and less heart disease. Breathing exercises reduce the work load on the heart in two ways. Firstly, deep breathing leads to more efficient lungs, which means more oxygen is brought into contact with blood sent to the lungs by the heart. So, the heart doesn't have to work as hard to deliver oxygen to the tissues. Secondly, deep breathing leads to a greater pressure differential in the
    lungs, which leads to an increase in the circulation, thus resting the heart a little.





Clavicular breathing.
Air is introduced by raising the collar-bones and shoulders. The name is derived from two clavicles or collar bones which rise up slightly at the end of maximum inhalation, in this way, only the upper part of the lungs receives any fresh air. It is the least satisfactory method of breathing.

Intercostal breathing
This is achieved by raising the ribs or chest wall like a pair of bellows. It is a form of breathing which fills the middle section of the lungs, allowing less air to enter than the abdominal breathing, and more important, involving far more effort!. This is 'athletic' respiration. When combined with abdominal breathing it ventilates the lungs satisfactorily.

Diaphragmatic breathing
The diaphragm subsides while the breath is drawn in, and the abdominal region swells. This is the least faulty method of breathing. The base of the lungs fills with air, and the rhythmic lowering of the diaphragm produces a constant, gentle massage of the whole abdominal content, and helps these organs to function correctly.

Complete breathing
Complete (yogic) breathing incorporates all three methods, integrated into one single, full and rhythmic movement. Once you have mastered the practice of the abdominal breathing you will be ready to learn the Full (Yogic) Breathing. Breathe in slowly; expand the abdomen, then the ribcage, and finally the upper portion of the lungs. Then, breathe out in the same manner, letting the abdomen cave in as you exhale. This is (Yogic) complete breathing.

Breath-of-fire (yogic-energizing breath, powered by abdominal contractions)
Once you have mastered the long Deep-Breathing then, one can begin to do the Breath of Fire. This is where the air is pulled in and pumped out very rhythmically from the nose, just like pumping a bellow, without any tension being felt on the abdominal muscles, chest and rib cage muscles or shoulders. Remain relaxed throughout the breathing; so that it may almost seem that you can continue the rhythm indefinitely with little effort.

One way to start the Breath-of-Fire is to start with long deep breathing. Once the lungs are completely expanded, as described earlier, the air is forced out using the abdominal muscles. Do this for a while at a slow pace. Then repeat this breathing process rapidly, keeping the focus on the abdominal region.
Vipassana
Breath Meditation (with pursed lips)

Stage-1 (30 min)
Sit comfortably with the back straight on a cushion, meditation-stool or a chair. Relax your back shoulders (let them droop) and neck muscles. If you feel the need, role your spine, shoulders and the neck gently so you can relax more deeply.
Your hands may rest on the lap, with both hands palm up and the tips of the thumbs lightly touching each other. Push your lower back forward and tuck your chin in slightly. Expand your chest gently while making sure the top of the head is upright. Find your comfortable balance point. Be in a state of let-go. Keep your eyes open slightly (neither open nor closed) or closed.
Take a few deep breaths, exhaling all of the air in your lungs each time from the mouth.
Breathe in (inhale) slowly through the nose (approx: for two counts). As you inhale keep your focus on your stomach, feel your stomach expand. If you need to put your hand on the stomach for a while to feel this, please do so. Feel the natural pause for a moment, then slowly breathe out (exhale) through pursed lips (approx: for four counts). Does not force the breath in or out, you simply feel deeper in to your breath. (This stage also can be done with the awareness on the breath, coming in through the nose and going out of the mouth) - for the ones who have not mastered the diaphragmatic breathing) If you feel dizzy or uncomfortable go back to your normal breathing for a while. As the breath and thoughts are interconnected, deep and slow relaxed pursed lip breathing will help to calm the mind. Turmoil in the mind can create chaotic breathing patterns.  Also this breath-meditation is a fuller way to ingest oxygen and help you to release trapped stale air from the lungs that can cause shortness of breath.  

Stage-2 (30 min)
With the change of music, synchronise your breathing with your normal breathing but let it be a bit slower and deeper. Still keep your awareness on the rising and falling of the stomach but also be aware of the thoughts. As thoughts/images come to the mind, just be a witness to them and gently bring back the awareness to the rising and falling of the stomach. (This stage also can be done with the awareness on the breath coming in and going out through the nose, for the ones who have not mastered the diaphragmatic breathing). If you find yourself getting very tangled in your thoughts/images go back to pursed lip breathing (stage-1) and keep your awareness on the breath coming in and going out. As thoughts settle down come back to stage-2 again. Be easy on yourself, don't judge yourself harshly. If the body sways a bit, let it be.  Remember you are the sky……..the witness of the thoughts, not the thoughts/feelings - the clouds. Sooner or later you will see the clouds are slowing down and bigger and bigger gaps are appearing in your thought stream….. in between the clouds. With practice you will feel the sky……….a bliss, a deep state of wellness.

Ultimately meditation is a happening, not a doing……….like your breath. At this advanced stage meditation is a natural undercurrent, this is your original self and it is your higher self. Then posture of the body makes no difference to this meditative state, it will only fade with obsessive thought.  

For thousands of years the enlightened ones in the east called this clear inner sky your original self or the higher self- the master, and the thoughts the guest of the house.
 This meditation can be done any time of the day or night to induce the relaxation response, decrease the emotional and physical effects of stress and reduce blood pressure. It can also help to relive insomnia.

 Stress and Body Functions
Our body is designed to cope with stress. But when we are in stress the body nevertheless releases fatty acids into the blood stream which are not easily reabsorbed and which may be deposited on artery walls so that the heart has to work harder to maintain the same blood flow. The greater risk comes from continually worrying about problems for this leaves the body in a continuous mobilisation of fatty acids, for which it is most definitely not designed for.

Body Function
Effect Off Stress
Effect Of Relaxation
Heart rate
UP
DOWN
Blood flow to muscle
UP
DOWN
Blood flow to skin
DOWN
UP
Blood flow to organs
DOWN
UP
Oxygen usage
UP
DOWN
Cortisone output
UP
DOWN
Food and energy reserves
DOWN
UP
Blood pressure
UP
DOWN
Muscle tension
UP
DOWN

Result - Action
Result - Proper function of organs

Fight-or-flight
It is not easy not to get stressed in life. But if you master the art of relaxation/meditation and become profoundly relaxed that state will evoke the parasympathetic system to harmonies the body back in to its natural self healing state. Then you will not even become stressed about getting stressed and knowingly put your self into stressful situations (if you have to) because you know the art of de-stress and meditation. 

In a shock of stress/anxiety our body responds automatically as we are in a threatening situation by activating our sympathetic nervous system. In an adrenaline rush we pour out neurochemicals that accelerate our metabolism. Increased high beta brain activity (heightened arousal) and absence of brain-wave synchrony between left and right side of the brain (suggestive of uncoordinated and agitated thought processes). The fight-or-flight response mobilizes the body by:

  •  increasing heart rate, raising blood pressure and forcing blood from skin and organs into the muscles
  •  increasing muscle tone to reduce the risk of torn ligaments,
  • closing down the digestive system
  • increasing the cortisone level in the blood to speed clotting in an event of a wound
The fatty acids are made available in the blood as a source of energy to fight or to flight in that threat, which might be deposited on our archeries if not used. In this situation the heart must work harder to give the higher blood pressure needed to achieve sufficient blood flow through a tense body.
To evoke the relaxation response is to evoke the parasympathetic system. To help this process, at the end of the day, one can do a mock fight/flight. Go to a gym, use a punching bag/pillow, or go for a run/jog. Then move in to meditation and then the meditative experience will be much more profound and lasting.

Active meditations are designed to fulfill this need for evoking the parasympathetic system and putting one into meditation in one go. Generally this involves total dance and sitting in silence/meditation after. As this can provide the most dramatic trance like results it may suite a more advanced student. Cathartic meditations can also an be used for releasing deep imbedded mental/physical stresses which combine catharsis (screaming and shouting) before a meditation.

''Only measure of real aging is your biological age not the chronological age. All the evidence shows today; that actually we can do things to it, we can change it even reverse the biological age''.                                  - Dr. Deepak Chopra.

References:
Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) -The Everyday Meditator/ From Medication to Meditation
Michael Hutchinson– Mega brain and mega brain power (Brain Waves & VAS)
 Clieve Backster- Bio communication; www.primaryperception.com
Vibro-acoustic Therapy-    www.olavskille.com