A mind confused by emotions will have a limited vision. A mind confused by chemicals will be hard to understand. The world around you is complex and multi layered and it is really necessary to have a clear mind to see the layers and patterns lucidly. The yogis describe some of these layers as Koshas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosha
The five sheaths or layers (pancha-kosas) from gross to fine are:
1. Annamaya kosha. your physical body, where you are right now, your starting point for your inner journey
2. Pranamaya kosha is the movement of energy, the movement of your breath and the circulation in your body
3. Manomaya kosha corresponds to your nervous system and expresses itself as waves of feelings, thought or awareness.
4. Vijnanamaya kosha is your intelligence or wisdom body and refers to the more reflective aspects of your consciousness when you experience a deeper insight into yourself in the world
5. Anandamaya kosha this is the radiant core where unconditional love and communion with life arises
According to Vedanta the wise man should discriminate between the self and the koshas, which are non-self. Any Kosha cannot be the supreme self for the following reasons;
It is subject to change.
It is insentient.
It is a limited thing.
It is not constantly present.
So there’s your basics and everything else follows from that. I moved to San Francisco in my 30’s. It was the first time I had lived for any period of time overseas. It was the first time I had lived with my husband away from my friends… I was initially lonely and disorientated and worst of worst constipated, more information than you need but, I felt bewildered and chemically compromised. I was walking about in a strange country, a strange city and I kept recognising faces. I knew I knew no one in this city but I kept seeing familiar faces in the crowds. I was canny enough not to mention this to anyone. It was the first time I really examined what my mind was tying to do. As far an my mental processes were concerned I was looking for familiar patterns. It was a form of self soothing. Facial recognition is so basic a mental function we really don’t even notice its importance as we go about our days.
Facial pattern recognition is usually innate, but recognising the patterns of existence within you requires training and the desire to transcend the turmoil of being. The carrot the spiritual pundits hold out for us to totter towards is inner serenity.
The Koshsa are patterns within you teased together but distinct in and of themselves. Your body, as it is now, changes physically and chemically over time but it is the first step in your journey. Choosing to notice your physical condition s the first step on your journey of exploration, connecting your behaviour to your physical condition is the second step.
Regulating and being aware of your breath and pulse is the next step. The practice of yogic breathing (pranayama) can change, balance and regulate your sense of well being. This is a deeper step into the energy patterns that swirl around and within you. As that process of breath awareness intensifies your mind gets restless, your nerves get agitated and you start to become aware of your loss of discrimination as your mind starts to attempt to distract you. Often it succeeds. Be aware that as you sit watching your breath your mind and nerves bring out all the bells and hooters to distract you. The more agitated and distracted you get the closer you are to dissolving into the place of peace, bliss, stillness, serenity within you. This is the beginning of a discriminating meditation practice.
But here’s the cut, don’t get too comfy here because this place is just another staging post for another journey. The carrot as it turns out is a fabrication, an illusion along with everything else. You return to your body to the world and every pattern you perceive is the same but different, clearer somehow, you have refined yourself, but the world is the same, you just perceive it differently. Some of the filters that you saw the world through are dissolved but you are still in the world acting out your role. Bon voyage.