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The Next Evolution of Man

Today I want to discuss evolution. There are many ways to think about evolving:

  • Individual evolution, societal evolution, human evolution
  • Evolutions like Homo Erectus to Homo Sapien, etc.
  • Agricultural age, to Industrial Age, to Information age
  • An individual growing through identification with self to identification with society
  • etc.

A good definition of evolution is this: A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form.

What is the type of evolution I’m talking about today? Making a habit of coming back to our breath is only the beginning of the deep shift I’m referring to. The evolution would be the significant shift in the capacity of the average human to express and hold onto the state of mind that lives outside of time. Humans would need to learn to be the expression of presence and stillness. We don’t need to stay in that space all the time, but we need to learn about it and make it a larger part of our lives.

Stillness is more significant than just a way to deal with problems. It can have an amazing impact both on the individual, and also society.

We have made massive technological changes. Those can all be thought of as external. We’ve learned to bend the world to our wishes to a certain extent. Learning our own minds, learning about time and how we relate to this moment would be an internal evolution. The external changes and progress can and will continue, maybe even faster than it has to date.

Fostering stillness is where the mind needs to go. All of our problems arise out of attachment to concepts that come from being unaware. We need to understand that practicing stillness is a bigger deal than just dealing with our own simple problems. It is actually dealing with all problems. So it is important work that we’re doing.

The world I see involves all these evolutions (each one would be an evolution in it’s own right)

  • Much less need to express ourselves violently
  • Higher desire to appreciate and create art and live creatively
  • People become more physically healthy, because our joys won’t come as much from physically detrimental substances (smoking, drinking, drugging, eating poorly). Our joys will come from deep connections to being.
  • Corporations will learn to be much more sustainable and fair (both ecologically and to people)
  • Countries will come from a world view instead of a nationalistic view – lessening wars, learning to cooperate, etc.
  • People will base their lives and goals more on finding and sharing meaning, rather then gratifying self (what Maslow thought was the more rare expression of mans purpose)
  • We’ll have more technological advances as well because much of technology is creative
  • etc.

Again, making a habit of coming back to our breath is only the beginning of the deep shift I’m referring to. The evolution would need to be the significant shift in the capacity of the average human to express and hold onto the state of mind that lives outside of time. Stillness is more significant than just a way to deal with problems. It can have an amazing impact both on the individual, and also society.

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Guided Meditation – Sort Of

Meditation is the realization of this moment. The “practice of meditation” is the sitting down to work on this before it becomes fully natural to live that way. To abstract it further, we can use anchors such as counting, visualization, and pointed awareness to help bring our attention to our breath.

I’d like you to stay as present as possible during this talk, but I will be talking much more than a normal guided meditation, hence the “sort of” in the title. I want to show you different ways to meditate and use ideas to help find stillness. Please look for other guided meditations as there are many good ones out there.

Set the intention of spending this time to work with your mind and thoughts. Be committed during your practice time to coming back to your experience, back to your breath no matter what thoughts arise.

Stillness is the quality of listening. Notice when we start adding thought, or content, and see how that is not listening. When we notice this, we come back to our breath and pay attention, or “listen” to the moment. That is the quality of meditation.

Work with counting. We learn to use anchors until stillness is loud enough within us. So we place our thinking on something we can see, and judge (counting). Count on the in breath for a while, then the out breath for a while, then both. This is also a good way to time yourself if you don’t have a clock. You can commit to a certain number of breaths.

Be sure to notice and work with the energy underneath the breath. We mentioned that everything is in the breath, all sounds, etc. The breath is really just a link to what is. Open to the energy underneath the breath.

Work with closed eyes, and finding a sensation, then watch opening our eyes and trying to hold that sensation. Did it go away? The content changed, can we hold onto that stillness, that sensation?

A more mature practice is just breath, then thinking, then breath. We come back again and again as we think. We start by learning the landscape of thought.

Another anchor is shifting attention to something small, like just the opening of the mouth and nose while breathing. Later we open it to the bigger full breath from mouth to stomach and back out. Eventually we can start to move the energy all around the body. We’ll discuss that more in another talk.

I mentioned that there are things that help practicing meditation. Committing to a certain area, and using a seat and timer can be a help.

Lastly, we don’t need to spend a lot of time meditating. Just a few minutes is useful to bring us back to center. Sitting in the morning and evening for three to five minutes can have a profound affect on your life. I call it bookending your day with meditation.

Using Anchors

What are anchors? The dictionary defines an anchor as something that is the source of security or stability. I’m discussing using things that occur in the world as reminders to bring your attention back to the moment, or back to awareness.

Examples of anchors are things like:
Going through doorways.
When we walk somewhere.
When we listen to people.

Why use anchors? It is a way to bring stillness into the everyday experience. Many people learn to meditate on a seat, but have difficulty bringing that peace into the world they live in. Using anchors is the beginning of that practice.

Stillness is available anytime. Use anchors to learn that truth.

Stillness in Motion

How can we “achieve” when stillness seems to oppose goals, the future, etc.?

Mentioned that many people were interested in this talk. That seems to be because we are much more interested in how the achieve things, rather than being interested in stillness. However, that misses the point. We need to learn stillness first.

Three things this talk tries to accomplish: Show that there can be stillness in motion. Discuss the seeming paradox of stillness vs. accomplishment. And I’m hoping to point out that bringing stillness to actions we perform allows for the best performance possible, in all things.

Discuss what stillness is. It is a mind free of time. It is a quiet mind. It is the expression of meditation in action.

Why are goals okay? Doesn’t that contradict with being “free of time?” Literally it does contradict. Having intention is a sane goal. That differs from having an obsessed mind, bent on achievement. Time exists on some levels, but not all levels. It is always this moment. However, the practical aspects of life remain.

What is excellence? Our exterior is a reflection of our interior. When we change internally, that change will begin to show itself in our achievements and outer life. Sports figures talk of “being in the zone” when referring to peak performance states. The zone is achieved when we pay attention to the process rather than the outcome of a situation. It is the focus on the moment fully that allows for our best performance. When we are “still” our entire brain and being can be put to work toward our goal. Simply put, we perform better at everything when we are present with what we are doing.

Discussed what being present feels like by telling a story about my plants. Mentioned ways to begin bringing stillness to achievement through watering those plants. Also discussed that stillness can be an attribute of anything we do, no matter how complex.

Stillness is the goal, so it better allow for goals. Achieving stillness in motion will be the beginning of a new way of being for you, and the world. As an immediate side bonus, our performance in all things will increase as we learn stillness in motion.

Referenced: Eckhart Tolle