The first step of practicing realization is always observation. Observation is what allows us to know where we are, and it is only in knowing where we are that we can begin to move. Movement is the essential key for transcending illusion, because through movement of the mind illusion can no longer exist as it was. When the mind becomes aware of that world outside illusion the walls effectively begin to crumble!
Movement begins by focus. It is through focus and concentration that we pull our mind toward a goal and attract that goal toward ourselves. The stronger and more intense our focus the greater our steps toward that goal. The more patient and sustaining our focus the longer we can maintain our journey. Intensity provides depth and patience provides continuity. In the long run patience and persistence by their very nature will bring depth, knowledge and understanding so it is important to develop these abilities even if all others are lacking.
It is important to understand and investigate what movement of the mind is. The truth is that the mind is always moving, however it tends to move within set patterns of thought, emotion and feelings. These patterns are what we know as our personalities and the stronger they are, the more sure we are that we are who we are. The type of movement that we want to develop is one where we are in control. That is to say that the mind does not simply flit back and forth between thoughts and emotions at its own will, but that we are able to directly move and hold it on particular thoughts, feelings, images and sounds as we desire. In the beginning our level of control may well be weak, but through continuous practice all beings are capable of mastery.
In the beginning it is unimportant what methods we use for concentration, but in time if we are to improve we need to assess what it is that our practices are developing in us. For example if we are wishing to develop receptive and sensitive movement and control, we may not gain much from focused and hard breathing exercises. On the other hand if we are seeking to elevate our energy levels we may well choose these. By remaining alert and paying close attention to what and how consciousness is being formed and shape as we practice, we will begin to see the bridges that link any and all meditations. This is essentially what realization is about – finding, crossing and linking spaces, gaps and bridges. This mental and physical development is what allows us to shift from a low energy state to a high energy state or vice versa. It allows us to shift from anger to peace, hatred to love or shame to compassion.
While the ability to shift through emotions is valuable what is of far more worth are the processes and attributes developed by doing so. It’s like training ourselves to ride a bike and in the training finding that not only can we ride, we can fly! Gradually we discover that the faculties and expanded senses that we have developed provide opportunities for knowledge and experiences beyond what we had imagined. Moving into these we find deeper and higher paths of potential. What is being explored and discovered is our own consciousness, and it is the experience and realization of its whole and true nature that brings us empowerment.