From Mindfulness to Knowingness Meditation
By Shree (Sherrie Wade)
Mindfulness Meditation has become a widely used method of meditation. It is wonderful that so many people are valuing and practicing meditation in schools, health centers, yoga classes, etc. Meditation is the best method to bring about a state of ease, relaxation, peace, joy, happiness, and fulfillment in one’s life. The first step, to be mindful is very important because for most people their attention is moving outward through the senses towards all the things and forms to find fulfillment in life. Most people are not mindful of their attention that is always focused on that which is transitory and changing and can only bring temporary peace and satisfaction.
This first step of the practice of meditation according to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is called pratyahar, the inner turning of attention. Rather than turning the attention outward to all the experiences and things you turn the attention inward by closing your eyes and observing or being mindful. Being mindful will also show you that there is you, that you, is the knower of the mind. This is the next step towards improved success in meditation. The key to remaining peaceful and happy in your life is the very sense of your Pure Knowingness. Knowing that you are the watcher, you are the knower of your mind and thinking, and then turning your attention to the Knower.
Right now, when we close our eyes, we become aware that there is a certain space or screen in front of our closed eyes. This screen may appear dark or to have some color or light in it. Just like you can watch a movie or television screen, you can watch the screen of your awareness. Even when there are pictures on the movie screen the pure screen is always there behind the pictures even though you don’t see it anymore. In the same way, the pure screen is always there at the back of your thinking. When you close your eyes you can know it, as you are the one who is knowing. Thoughts may come, may go, or they may stay on that screen. Some thoughts are helpful, or useful, and some are upsetting and create uneasiness, but you can be mindful and just watch them. You can watch them come, you can watch them go, and you can watch when they stay. You can also notice when you react to them and when you become identified with them and when you treat them as real and important. Some thoughts are necessary and constructive, but others are destructive and cause fear, worry, pain, and suffering.
Knowingness is really the key to your meditation because through your knowingness you come to know the Knower. The Knower is the one who is watching, the one who is observing. As soon as you come to know the Knower you can become aware that the Knower is unchanging. Your knower is always there just like the screen behind the movie. The thoughts change, the feelings change, the mind changes, the body changes, the situations change, and life keeps changing as you grow older. You change every day from the waking state to the sleep state, to the deep sleep state, to the dream state, and then back to the waking state. All of these states of consciousness are changing but you, the Knowingness state, or the clear screen is what never changes. That is the one who is just watching and knowing. So now we are making a noticeable shift to put the attention on the one who is knowing, through your Pure Knowingness.
This can be practiced through a few different methods. Watching the breath going in and out and watching the pauses between each breath, after the inhalation before the exhalation, and after the exhalation before the next inhalation. These are some of the methods because in that pause or space you, the Knower, remains. There is no identification with any thought or feeling in that pause. It’s just you, Pure. We are moving the attention toward purity, towards Knowingness, or towards the true Self or being that you are.
If you prefer, you can use the mantra as it makes it easier to meditate. Since you may often be caught in your thinking, a mantra helps by bringing in only one thought to focus on. Ma means mind, tra means to release. Repeating a mantra releases you from all the various, different thoughts that are going through your mind. If there is the thought, “I didn’t do that right,” you feel bad. If there is a thought, “I excelled at that,” you feel good. You have become identified with your thinking. To become free from your thinking or de-identified, you can know yourself as the watcher or the knower of the thinking. Thoughts often come without your invitation so you cannot stop them from coming. But, instead, you can know yourself as the knower of your thinking. When a thought comes “I did not do that right” you can act on it if you like, you can change what you did wrong, but you are not worried about it, you are not involved with it. Because you now know that right and wrong are not the qualities of you, the very Knowingness. The Knowingness that you are is always free from right or wrong, good, or bad. Then your decisions come from Pure Knowingness and not from the limited experiences within your mind. Through this mastery, by coming to know the Knower, you still function in the same way doing everything that is good to do. You can fulfill any desires that you wish but you are not bound by whether they are completed or not. You know that you already are that peace, love, and joy that is unchanging as you are the Knower and you are not limited by your mind, your feelings, or your thinking.
The mantra that was given to me by my meditation teacher is amaram hum madhuram hum. The meaning is, I am pure, free, and forever, the immortal blissful Knower. Amaram hum madhuram hum. You can repeat it silently to yourself, amaram hum, madhuram hum, amaram hum, madhuram hum. If you forget the words or if it becomes too tiring to repeat, you can just repeat am hum, am hum. Or you can use any mantra that you prefer. The purpose of the mantra is to keep your attention on one thought, a peaceful thought, rather than many agitating thoughts that can go through your mind. Those thoughts, however, may still come but it’s Ok. No problem to the meditator if thoughts come because you can keep repeating a higher thought, amaram hum, madhuram hum. But again, the key to this meditation is to know the Knower who can repeat amaram hum madhuram hum, who is repeating amaram hum madhuram hum. That Knower is You pure, free, and forever. You can take your time in practicing after reading this or listen to one of the audios to know how to pronounce it correctly. Then use it whenever you like to keep knowing the Knower, amaram hum madhuram hum, amaram hum madhuram hum. Pure, free, and forever, you are!