by Carol E. McMahon, Ph.D: Enlightenment breakthrough is peak performance meditation.
What Is Breakthrough? Defining The Task
What is a breakthrough to enlightenment? Think of it this way.
If you’ve ever had a mouse in your house you may have looked for its entry and found a hole that seemed too small, but he did pass through it.
To break through to enlightenment you have to do what the mouse did. You have to squeeze through a very small opening. It’s so small you can’t fit through carrying anything. You can’t get through holding opinions. You can’t get through bearing grudges. There’s no room for emotions or doubts you’ll succeed. Even the wish for enlightenment must be left behind. In fact, the hole is so small there’s no opening whatsoever. This isn’t a problem though, because there’s no wall there either.
When you downsize to nothing, there’s nothing to impede you. You’ll see that the wall you’ve been trying to penetrate does not exist and never has existed. You’re already one with reality. (How could you possibly be outside of reality?) Still you must downsize to break through. Here are some practical tips for peak performance meditation.
Guidelines For Peak Performance
Add Feedback. Peak performance requires improved meditation skill. That skill (in all types of meditation), is attention, and improving attention requires feedback.
In meditation we set out to attend to our breath, a mantra, a candle flame, etc. Then almost immediately the mind wanders. Why is attention so easily lost? It’s because attention slips away unseen. We lose attention without knowing we are losing it.
Meditation is like throwing darts blindfolded. If you can’t see your target you can’t improve your aim. Meditation (like darts or any skill), needs feedback. Here’s where you’ll find it.
“See The Light.” Sensations of light have been noted in meditation since the ancient practice began. This light is caused by attention itself. When attention holds the eyes still a fixed image uses up photo pigment, causing sensations of light. Light is feedback – visible proof of attention. It means you’re on target.
You can add feedback to meditation by focusing on a spot on the floor, or use specially designed Focusing Discs available online at the Straight Line Meditation site. Feedback keeps you on target, improving the quality of your meditation, and when it comes to peak performance, quality, not quantity counts most.
Don’t Let Down. Breakthrough can be understood in terms of energy build up. When energy builds to a critical threshold you break through.
This is like rubbing sticks together to start a fire. If you stop to rest you start in again cold. Continuous attention lets no energy escape. Hold on to feedback; sustain attention, and don’t let down. Now for some practice tips.
Tips for Peak Performance
Sit Better. Picture yourself at your kitchen table. Someone hands you a puzzle and says solve this in one minute for ten thousand dollars. How does your posture change? Duplicate this change when you sit down to practice. Use what Zen calls: “strategic action of the whole capacity.”
Don’t Wait for Luck. Meditation teachers sometimes tell students: “With luck you’ll break through.” Know that luck is not necessary. The task is attention, razor sharp, single-minded, performed with a conviction you can’t fail. All of this is in your hands so do not wait for luck.
Don’t Stop to Wonder. Wondering if something is about to happen stops you cold. Don’t stop to wonder. Stay on target and it’s straight ahead. You can’t miss it.
Hold Ground Dead Center. A breakthrough takes you to the here and now, not somewhere over the rainbow. If you find yourself lost in a dream of oneness you’re still lost. Don’t drift away. Hold ground dead center and go straight through.
Get Desperate. A seeker asked a Guru: “When will I see God?” The Guru led him to a lake, walked him in, thrust his head under and held it there. Then he released him asking: “How did you feel?” “I thought I would die,” said the man. “I needed to breathe!” “When you feel like that for God you will know you haven’t long to wait,” said the Guru. With desperation you’ll do what it takes to get the job done. You won’t have to wait.
Allow Ample Time. A retreat allows ample time to get down to business in earnest. (Just remember, quality not quantity of practice counts most here.)
Know It’s Here. Imagine you are adrift on the ocean in a life boat. You need water, but you have searched the boat time and again and found none. Then just sitting there, your foot strikes something beneath your seat. A jug of water has been there all along. Similarly, what you need is already here now. Knowing it’s here helps build confidence.
Build Confidence With Self-tests. They say that when Buddha determined to reach enlightenment an evil spirit tried to stop him. “Who are you to think that you can be enlightened?” said the spirit. Buddha touched the ground and the earth shook in confirmation. This is how certain you should feel. How can you feel this certain? Build confidence with enlightenment tests freely available online.
Know You Can. Finally, don’t handicap yourself with notions of difficulty. If you came yard one you can go the final yard because it covers the same ground. Forget difficult and forget easy and forget enlightenment too. Just build concentration with feedback – the only tool you need to downsize. You are unthinkably close to enlightenment. The barrier is as thin as microscopic ice.