3.8.4 Be aware of what is happening now.
Begin your meditation practice: keep your mind uncoupled from the thought process through unwavering determination to maintain undistracted alertness. Mind in its natural state transcends and witnesses the thought process, as being merely one of an infinite variety of objectified activities. Samadhi is the sustained experience of witnessing this from a state of mind transcending the limitations of the thought process.
The uncoupling of the mind from its thought process comes as a result of the mental strain caused by the previous meditative exercises. The extra effort demanded by this exercise creates the necessary tension and, with a sudden snap, so to speak, the mind becomes aware of its thought process as apparently separate and external. The mind just experiences thoughts as things of which it is aware – like the sound and feel of rain, voices near or in the distance, or the emotions felt on seeing a loved one.
The previous efforts to inhibit the thought process merely resulted in more thoughts. This fundamental experience of uncoupling the mind from the thought process resolves the problem by transcending it, by experiencing reality in a wider, more harmonious context. As you will learn in the remaining exercises, this initially raw, unstructured experience is gradually explored and refined to form the basis for enlightened understanding.
At first, your experience of the mind snapping free from all mental activity will be accompanied by the most intense period of concentration you will ever have encountered. The effort required to perform ordinary activities in a state of undistracted alertness is formidable. Be assured that the initial enormous drains of energy which are required to sustain this level of concentration will soon pass.
The essence of samadhi is undistracted awareness of what one is experiencing. In non-samadhic states of consciousness, the normal pattern of activity is the interpretation and understanding of sensual experiences by the thought process. In samadhic states of consciousness, that activity continues – but no longer as the sole or primary focus of awareness.
The task in samadhi is simply to be aware of what is happening. When you are sitting, walking or eating, in the state of samadhi, you are simply aware of sitting, walking or eating. At the same time, the thought process continues endlessly, but no longer is it the primary focus of your awareness.
If it helps you at first, simply lie down and devote all your energy to maintaining this simple degree of awareness. Equally, if it helps you, get up and walk around – your goal is to be aware, without succumbing to involvement in the contents of your thought process. What must not waver is your determination to maintain undistracted awareness; your ability to sustain undistracted awareness will undoubtedly waver at the beginning and for quite some time to come.