Note: For the complete lessons,
with additions, see the AYP
Easy Lessons for Ecstatic Living Books.
Lesson 365 – The Range of Sensitivities to
Date: October 21, 2009
New Members: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
The style of meditation we use in AYP is with
mantra, combined with a specific procedure for promoting purification and
opening in our nervous system for the cultivation of abiding inner silence.
As we know, abiding inner silence (pure bliss consciousness, the witness,
etc.) is the essential ingredient supporting everything else we do in yoga.
This stillness that arises in us is the essence of enlightenment, which is a
life of peace, energy and creativity, no matter what seemingly contrary
external circumstances we may find ourselves in.
Everyone is a little different in how they may respond to spiritual
practices, and particularly to deep meditation with mantra. It is a powerful
technique. How it functions in each person will depend on the unique matrix
of obstructions combined with openings already present in the individual
nervous system. It is not possible to fully predict what these may be in
each person, but we can see that the response to deep meditation will have
its own signature for the practitioner. By observing the range of responses
in many practitioners, we can see that there is clearly a range of
sensitivities to deep meditation, and to other spiritual techniques as well.
In AYP we have had the opportunity to observe the many responses to deep
meditation closely over the years, as experiences have been reported in
private emails and in the public AYP
Support Forums. What we have seen is a range of sensitivities. In spite
of our natural desire to find the one size that fits all, it is not
so any more than for other things in life. The span of individual
sensitivities in the community of practitioners is quite wide, covering a
full range from under-sensitive to over-sensitive.
An important challenge we have faced in AYP is the same as with many things
that are offered to the public – how to provide focused means for
accomplishing a specific task that will serve most people, while at the same
time accommodating a broad range of user/practitioner sensitivities to the
means applied. Of course, in this case, the specific task is the cultivation
of abiding inner silence.
We are not talking only about personal preferences. We are talking first
about the results experienced from deep meditation practice over the short
term and the long term. The results then affect personal preference, and
this is an important consideration also. If deep meditation is not producing
the desired results, or is excessively uncomfortable, then this will
adversely affect one’s desire to practice at all.
Fortunately, the large majority of practitioners fall in the center of the
range of sensitivity, where most variations in experience can be easily
managed with the methods of self-pacing and grounding we have discussed
throughout the lessons. On either side of the large center group of
practitioners we have those who may be either under-sensitive or
over-sensitive to deep meditation. While scientific investigation of
sensitivities to deep meditation is yet to occur, at this time we can see
that the distribution of sensitivities resembles a
bell curve, where the few highly
under-sensitive meditators would be on the far
left of center, the few highly over-sensitive
meditators would be on the far right of center,
and the majority of practitioners who are neither under nor over-sensitive
occupying the center.
Using the image of a bell curve, we can see that most practitioners are in
the center range of stability, manageable with the standard means of
self-pacing and grounding. As we go out to either side of the center, we
find the fewer practitioners who are either under-sensitive or
over-sensitive. It is these practitioners who require additional
understanding and assistance with means to compensate in ways that will
facilitate good progress with comfort and safety in deep meditation.
We will see in upcoming lessons that both ends of the scale of sensitivity
to deep meditation have gifts that are uniquely their own. No one is at a
particular disadvantage. Only a clearer understanding of the dynamics of
transcending objects of awareness in meditation is necessary. It is a matter
of making sure that everyone has the tools that they need.
Under-Sensitive to Deep Meditation
While most practitioners of deep meditation notice something happening
in their daily life to indicate some inner silence is coming up, not
everyone does. In some cases, the meditator might not notice results for a
long time, even if others in close proximity do.
The practitioner may say, "Nothing is happening."
Whether nothing is happening or not will depend on a number of factors,
including the degree to which the finer points of the procedure of
deep meditation are being utilized, the extent to
which subtle results can be noticed, the role of practitioner expectations,
and so on. It is extremely rare that nothing will be happening. It is a
matter of understanding the process and applying particular means for
insuring that practice is correct. Sometimes it is simply a
matter of improving feedback on results, and adjusting our expectations.
It is also a matter of bhakti (spiritual desire) and keeping up daily
practice over the long term. Regardless of our sensitivity, or lack of it,
the key to success in deep meditation is in long term twice-daily
practice. So, while under-sensitivity to deep meditation may seem to be the
primary issue, it really isn’t. The issue is our
commitment to daily practice over the long term, for as long as it takes. If
we can sustain that, the results will be there. In fact, with the way things
are going in the world, we may find ourselves shifting to the center of the
bell curve sooner rather than later. And if we are too aggressive in our
practice, we could slip all the way over to being over-sensitive! It can
happen. So self-pacing is for everyone, even those who believe they are
under-sensitive. It can change in a heartbeat.
We will take a closer look at under-sensitivity to deep meditation, and
measures that can be taken, in the next lesson.
Over-Sensitive to Deep Meditation
Whenever we have a feeling of overdoing, particularly after we get up
from our meditation session, it may simply be that we need to take more rest
before we get up, or adjust our meditation time a bit lower, or be more
involved in daily activity to stabilize the results of our practice. After
making sure we are taking the normal measures, if we are still finding
irritability during the day, or other uncomfortable symptoms, then we may be
over-sensitive. This may lead us to self-pace our practice time to only a
few minutes per session, with similar reductions in other practices we may
be doing during our sittings.
Those who find themselves to be over-sensitive to deep meditation often have
high bhakti (spiritual desire), so it can be frustrating to be limiting
practice to such a degree. Yet, it happens, and we have to honor our
psychological and physical well-being. That is what self-pacing and
grounding are for.
Over-sensitivity in a few meditators is something
we have been working on since the early days of
AYP (see Lessons 160 and
200). It has been a gradual evolution, with ongoing
discussions and research, and still much more to be done in this area.
Beyond standard self-pacing and grounding, there are some alternatives for
over-sensitive meditators, some ways to lengthen our meditation sittings
while minimizing symptoms of over-doing. We will review them a few lessons
down the road. These solutions are tentative, still in testing. No one
solution may work for all over-sensitive meditators. So we are approaching
this carefully, in a way that can offer some assistance without muddying the
waters unnecessarily for anyone. In the meantime, it is suggested to
continue self-pacing as necessary to keep things on an even keel, no matter
where you find yourself on the sensitivity scale.
Increasing Spiritual Sensitivity Worldwide
While it cannot be stated as scientific fact, it is obvious to many that
there is an underlying factor contributing to increasing sensitivity in
everyone to deep meditation and all spiritual practices. For some time, many
have perceived that world consciousness is on the rise, and accelerating
(see Lesson 93). With rising world consciousness, a
natural sensitivity is rising in everyone, and along with it a sensitivity
to spiritual practices. What does this mean?
It is good news. The contributions of millions of spiritual practitioners
worldwide since the middle of the 20th century have created a
momentum of rising inner silence in the world that is palpable, and which
makes embarking on an accelerated program of spiritual progress much
more fruitful than it used to
be. The claims of a "new age" are not unfounded.
What this means in terms of the distribution of sensitivities to deep
meditation, and all spiritual practices, is that the bell curve covering all
practitioners of deep meditation is gradually shifting (becoming skewed) to
the right. All practitioners are becoming more sensitive. It means we are
all traveling faster on our spiritual path. It also means that we must be
mindful to be self-pacing our practice as needed and keeping active
(grounding) during the day. As we continue on our path of practices over
time, we may find that less practice is more. Many have been experiencing
this already, and there are good reasons to believe that the trend will
continue in that direction. The number of spiritual practitioners in the
world is increasing rapidly. The ongoing result of this is an
increasing rate of the rise in world consciousness. The
implications of this are far-reaching.
In the meantime, the change in world consciousness is necessitating a shift
in the application of spiritual practices to support stable progress. In AYP
we are seeing it in individuals who have become more sensitive to practices,
and in the community as a whole. So there are practical
issues relating to practices that will have to be resolved as we continue to
Because AYP is an open resource, everyone is free to take on
practices and make adjustments as necessary according to individual
experiences and needs. This kind of self-directed
approach is essential in these times of changing spiritual sensitivity. The
elements of self-pacing, grounding, additional kundalini measures, and
alternative modes of practice are all part of the tool kit we’d like to have
available for anyone who wishes to build an effective spiritual practice
The guru is in you.
Note: For detailed instructions on deep meditation
procedure, see the
Deep Meditation book.
For detailed instructions on building a balanced practice routine with
self-pacing, see the Eight
Limbs of Yoga book.