If you are in the process of discovering meditation but finding that it's not working for you, the following may help.
This page describes the main reason why, at entry level, your experiences may not be taking off.
In short, it has to do with being stuck in a particular modality of mind, and not even realizing it. So let's start by discussing mental states.
One of the most useful concepts that has come out of the Clairvision mapping of states of consciousness is also one of the most simple: the ordinary mental consciousness. The ordinary mental consciousness (or OMC, in short) is just what the people of this day and age experience during their normal waking state. It is their ordinary modus operandi of thinking their customary flow of thoughts.
The OMC has much to do with the discursive mind. 'Discursive mind' is another useful and self-explanatory term. The discursive mind is the part of you that carries on an inner dialogue, endlessly wandering from one topic to another. Simply put, it's the ongoing blah-blah... inside your head.
When training people to map states of consciousness, the Clairvision methodology is to get them to identify the 'flavors' of different states. What is the flavor of your ordinary mental consciousness? Very simple. It's the way it feels inside your head, right now.
Perhaps one of the most difficult things to realize, when starting a path of meditation and self-exploration, is that the ordinary mental consciousness is but one frequency one tiny, tiny band in the immensely vast spectrum of states of consciousness.
In theory, this sounds simple enough. So what is so difficult about it?
The difficulty comes from the fact that the OMC and its discursive mind is all that people have been experiencing since early childhood. They have virtually no reference of any other state.
Little children tend to think in pictures. Then, well before age 10, the discursive mind kicks in. The waking state's flavor of consciousness changes. The OMC begins to rigidify. For most people, the ability to think in pictures gradually fades. The inner dialogue, 'thinking in words', becomes the ongoing modus operandi of the mind. The OMC is set.
Now, here is what you need to understand. When people try to conceptualize states of consciousness such as those achieved through meditation, they tend to imagine them as variations of the ordinary mental consciousness.
For example, when trying to figure out what subtle (i.e. non-physical) vision is about, people imagine that visuals are going to be superimposed on top of their OMC.
And this is the principal reason why it doesn't work for them. As long as you are in the OMC, you see... nothing. The OMC is completely blind to spiritual realities. It just blanks them out.
The same applies to meditation states. Meditation states are not some enhancement of the ordinary mental consciousness. They happen on different levels. Before meditation states can be engaged, a letting go must take place, through which the OMC fades.
Here again the main difficulty is that, for many people, the OMC is all they know. It is their only reference. It has become the way they define themselves, as in the adage of Descartes, "I think, therefore I am." As this becomes rigidified, there is no space for anything else.
If you have lived all your life in a cage, then to you the cage is not a cage. It is the whole universe.
So what can you do? To begin with, understand. What you are looking for, with meditation, is not going to come in the OMC, or even through the OMC. A change in 'flavor of consciousness' is required.
This is why 'trying' or concentrating goes against the flow of meditation: the way we normally concentrate, or try hard, is through a greater engagement of our ordinary mind. The harder we try, the more cramped the ordinary mind. This is the very opposite of what is needed for meditation.
And you can see why the theme of 'letting go' is so central to a number of spiritual paths. What needs to be let go of is the OMC, as a prerequisite to higher spiritual experience.
Now, take a meditation instruction such as, "Become aware of the breath in your nostrils." It doesn't mean, "Think about your nostrils." It just means, feel them. Which can be done with little or no OMC involvement.
"Just awareness," really, isn't as easy at it sounds. It means feeling beyond the OMC. Very simple, for sure, but simple and easy are two completely different things.
So what do you do? Just stop trying.
But what does the OMC do when it hears this instruction? It tries to not try, which as you can easily figure out, ain't gonna work.
One thing to understand, here, is that letting go of the OMC isn't jumping into nothing. There are principles of silent clarity, which are developed through meditation, and which are gradually going to replace the OMC. In the Clairvision work, it is the 'inner space'. Inner space may sound vague in the beginning especially to the OMC but as your meditation intensifies, it is going to become a more and more tangible state. One that can actively replace the OMC.
The problem is, the OMC cannot actively engage the inner space. The inner space must engage itself.
The inner space is foreign to the OMC. Left to itself, the OMC can easily lock itself into its own routines and make it very difficult for anything other than itself to emerge.
Here you can see the value of attending a meditation course, as opposed to trying to learn meditation on your own.
As long as you are only trying on your own, there is a high probability the OMC will rule and keep you confined within its own 'band'. Whereas when attending a course, you find yourself immersed in different spaces, and you can get a sense of flavors of consciousness beyond the ordinary mental consciousness.
One thing about states of consciousness: they tend to pass from person to person as if through osmosis. Which is why, on a path of meditation, a teacher can save you a great deal of time.