Mind Practices to Move Beyond the Mind
How to Practice the Three Faces of God — Part One
Reflecting about God-Beyond-Us In Head-Centered Meditation
Integrally-informed Christianity advocates our need for a God that is big enough for our minds, close enough for our hearts, and us enough for our divine identity. This means we need a meditation/prayer practice that encompasses three different approaches — head, heart, and gut. Today we’ll explore how to practice the head path of meditation.
A God that is big enough for our minds is, in reality, a God that is beyond our minds. If we had a God only as big as our mind, we could wrap our mind around God, which would make us God in the equation! Unfortunately, much of Christianity has done exactly that, with one major exception—the contemplative tradition. This tradition has offered different methods, such as Centering Prayer, to take us into a bigger mind-space. Integral Christianity affirms this approach, while also offering other paths for the mind.
We can begin to reflect about God-beyond-us by immersing ourselves in an environment that is bigger than we are. The environment for many of us that draws us beyond ourselves is the glory and beauty of nature. Gazing at the stars in the night sky or majestic mountains in the daylight can move us into a sense of something bigger than we are. For some this amplifying can happen when reflecting about meaningful art and music, conversations with others on the spiritual path, and reading, listening to, and dialoguing with enlightened teachers who have reflected about God down through the ages and today.
However, the ultimate in immersing ourselves in what is real, yet beyond us, is to awaken to the God who is infinite consciousness itself — consciousness without an object — being aware of being aware.
While some traditions emphasize the emptiness of this space (and for a time it is often experienced that way), ultimately the great expansion into pure awareness is characterized by bliss — waves of peace and happiness. This bliss is not an object that the mind focuses on at times. Rather, it is the very nature of the mind, our true self. Robert Spira says, “If the mind investigates its own essential nature, travelling back through layers of thought, feeling, sensation and perception until it reaches its own essential, irreducible reality, it will always find peace and fulfilment there.”
In transcendent causal consciousness we stop being fascinated by things we are aware of, and instead, become aware of the experience of awareness itself.
Here are several pathways toward that experience:
Breathe God — mindfully
The easiest way for beginners to start meditating, and to begin your own sessions regardless of what practice you use, is to begin by paying attention to your breathing. In the Bible the word for divine and human spirit also means breath and life-force. See yourself breathing God —God’s spirit and life. Follow each in-breath and out-breath from beginning to end. Do not attempt to control your breath, simply observe it silently. When your mind wanders, bring it back to your breathing. Do this for ten to fifteen minutes.
A spiritually powerful question
We move toward the pure awareness of transcendent consciousness by using the mind to point beyond the mind. Do this by asking a spiritually powerful question such as “Am I aware?” We then move inward to go to the experience of being aware and we answer with a strong “Yes, I am!” The question and the answer are both thoughts —we are doing thinking. But in between the question and our answer is awareness itself. At that moment we are pure consciousness with no object — pure I AMness which we turn into a thought — “Yes, I am!” Awareness is not what we do — it is what we are.
When you are distracted
When a distracting thought comes to mind in mediation, we can ask “Who is aware of this thought?” Our answer is “I am.” The question and answer are both thoughts. But in between for a tiny moment is the awareness that I AM. We are pure consciousness, pure being.
Knowing what Jesus knew
When Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am,” he was speaking of his identification with Moses’ I AM God. God is the source of all I AM consciousness. We can also say, “Before Abraham was, I am” because we, too, are “participants in the divine nature — infinite consciousness and being (2 Peter 1:4). We embrace our own divine identity when we also affirm this.
Five exercises using the mind to point the way beyond thinking
1. Awareness through Allowing
At the beginning of your meditation/prayer time, take ten seconds or so to just let everything be. As situations come to mind, release them and let the way everything is be as it is.
2. Letting Go
Say or think:
“I have a body. I am not my body.
I have feelings. I am not my feelings.
I have thoughts. I am not my thoughts.
I have desires. I am not my desires.
I have a personality. I am not my personality.
I have beliefs. I am not my beliefs.
Who am I?”
Do not answer that question! Rather, sense or intuit the answer without words or thoughts.
3. The Powerful Question
Say or think:
“Am I aware?
“Yes, I am aware!
Notice the pause between the question and the answer where you are simply awareness without an object, thoughts, or words.
You can also pair this with your breathing. Breathe in “Am I aware?” and breathe out “Yes, I am aware.” Notice the brief moment between breathing in and breathing out is also the moment of pure awareness.
4. For a Distracting Thought
Say or think:
“Who is aware of this thought?”
Then ask, “Who am I?”
Leave this question unanswered by thought or word — only by intuitive sensing.
5. Jesus’ Model (John 8:58)
Say or think:
“Before Abraham was, I AM.”
Jesus was identifying with God in God’s response to Moses for a name. God responded with “I AM” (pure consciousness/being). Sink into “I AM” while gazing at this reminder of the burning bush and the energy field flowing out of it.
For those interested in further resources about the mind path I recommend two meditation classics:, Adyashanti’s True Meditation and Robert Spira’s Being Aware of Being Aware.