Friday, November 20, 2009

Breaking The Mind Shaft.

When I started with the "Gap technique", someone at the AYP forums told me about some videos to watch on the Shiva Sutras by Swami Nithyananda.

Swami Nithyananda's main teaching is to "be unclutched". He explained how every moment in our lives is a new moment. We however connect these moments and make a long shaft of pleasure or pain (shaft of "depression" or "poverty" or "unhappiness" or "happiness"). We connect every moment and say the pain I feel today, and the pain I felt yesterday and the pain I felt a week back are all connected.

The day we can see that each moment is individual, unconnected moments.. the min. we unclutch from the shaft,  find the "gap" between every moment, we see none of the moments are connected. But we connect it all and make a shaft of pain and/or pleasure.

We try to break a pain shaft and try to elongate a pleasure shaft using external means. Neither of them will help. We need to stop connecting the moments that make the shaft (through methods like meditation, self inquiry). He said when you ask for healing.. all he does is replace the pain shaft with a wellness shaft.. but only YOU can stop making shafts.

So how do we break the shaft? 

This can be done at two levels.

The first one is at a practical level

It can be practiced as we go about our day.

At the end of the day, when we decide to label the day as a "bad day" or "stressful day" or "depressing day", go through the day in your mind and make mental notes of things that  happened based on which we are labeling the day as we are.

Now, if it was a "bad day" or a "feeling down day",  make an effort to pick on the moments in the day when you were happy, if you enjoyed your morning tea, if you smiled at someone or someone smiled at you, if you laughed at a joke, if you saw something that made you smile.. watch how these break the lows in the day... Identify these moments that don't fit into the label of "low day" and break the day up into moments of happiness and moments of lows...  don't connect the lows.

We use up a lot of mental energy (hence the mental tiredness, depression) in connecting the lows to make a shaft of one big low.. when we stop connecting we free up a lot of mental energy. We need to break the mind shafts we have formed. We also need to break the mental pattern of thinking we have created that make these mind shafts stronger.  It wont happen in a day, but starting out with small things, observing the day is made up of moment by moment by moment.. and each moment  is free of the previous (memory) and next (imagination).. will help you break shafts and you will find you have freed up the mind so it can rest.

At first the shaft may be years long... for instance, a person thinks:

"I have been suffering from depression for 10 years." 

Well the depression you felt 10 years ago and the one you felt 5 years ago, and the one you experienced 6 months ago and the one you experienced a week ago are not the same. We connect these and make it one long shaft. 

And, so to to dissolve the shaft, we can go back and identify the moments when we were not depressed. We can remember how we enjoyed a party or a movie or a vacation or a night out or a book or a trip or a job.... and see how these broke the depression of 10 years. So the one shaft of 10 year long depression is now broken into smaller shafts of depression. It no longer is a huge monster, but little ones that came up in the 10 years.

Then we try to break up the day... maybe break it to  half a day.. then as you keep identifying the breaks in the day.. breaks when you are not feeling low... your moments will refine to hours, minutes, seconds... you will be able to actually watch how each second is independent of the previous and next.

The second technique is actually finding the gap (which is experienced as silence) and live from this.

The second technique is based on the technique described here:

One way to catch the gap is between inhaling and exhaling:

inhale <--gap--> exhale <--gap--> inhale <--gap--> exhale <--gap--> inhale <--gap--> exhale

We don't hold our breaths between inhale and exhale. However we catch the gaps, the slight pause between the inhale and exhale. Notice how during the gaps there are no thoughts. Try to catch and remember how it feels between in breath and out breath. Now try to take that feeling, that silence with you into the breathing. It's a very subtle movement of stillness into your inhale and exhale. At first it will be a very short moment of silence that may be easy to miss.. but you will soon be able to feel the stillness moving into your every moment.

Another way to access the gap, the silence is between two thoughts.

So we try to find a gap between two thoughts. A thought arises and subsides and the next one arises. Between the points of a thought subsiding and the next thought arising is a gap.
               u                                                  u                                                u
           o      g                                        o         g                                     o        g

       h                  h                             h                 h                            h               h
 t                             t<--gap--> t                          t<--gap--> t                        t<--gap-->
 Need a new pair <--gap--> Sales at Macy's <--gap--> cant afford it  <--gap-->
      of shoes                                                                                         this month    

So we identify these gaps and experience the silence there is between two thoughts. Try and remember this experience and without effort (very subtly)  try and pull this experience into the next thought. Also try  to increase the duration of these gaps between the thoughts. So make an effort to delay the next thought hence prolonging the gap.

As Nithyananda explains in one of his videos... the duration of the gap and the duration of a thought are the same. However we experience the thoughts more than the gap because we focus more on the thoughts. If we can slowly move our focus, our attention to the gap, we can actually increase the time we spend in the gap/the stillness for longer periods than we do in thoughts.

Another way to access the gap is with sight. Focus on an object.. then slowly get that object out of your focus and focus on something else... the point when neither of the objects are in focus you should feel be able to experience the gap.

If you can do this with your thought.. you don't need to practice it with your breath.. doing it with your breath is what you need to do when you cannot access the gaps in your thoughts.

Work on it with your thought or breath through the day.. every time you remember take yourself into the gap and take this gap into your activity... operate from this gap.

The other thing to try is keeping part awareness on yourself no matter what else you are doing. So if you are reading this post.. you will find yourself completely focused on that task.. but consciously bring part of the focus into yourself.

Finally you should be able to live from this gap all the time.. while you are completely engaged in this world. These are just tools we use between our sitting practice session to cultivate the habit of accessing the gap and staying in it for as long as we can. Some people are lucky to wake up and be in this place.. some of us have to practice unlearning living externally and learn to live in the internal bliss once we have access to some .

Helpful videos: 

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