Exploring Inner Space
by Dr Graham Williams
Going within is a wonderful and exciting journey. It’s thrilling, ecstatic, blissful and can at times be as turbulent as white water rafting and at others as deeply peaceful as floating in a clear, still ocean. This is the world I’ve explored for over thirty years or so. Like my friend who is an astronomer at a major Australian observatory, and has spent all his life exploring outer space, I find exploring the infinite richness of inner space absolutely fascinating.
The deepening levels
Your inner world is as vast as the universe. As you go within you will find deeper and deeper levels of experience which open up the world of inner space and consciousness. The meditation tradition has explored this inner world in the same way that our culture has explored the outer world. It has produced detailed maps of this world and a description of exactly how many levels of deeper experience there are and what happens when you reach them. There are eight distinct levels of inner experience and we shall explore the first four.
Meditation itself is the tool for going within. It provides a way of reaching these inner levels of experience and of knowing exactly where you are and what is happening. What makes meditation unique when you learn to use it well is that you are always conscious of what you are doing. Even though you go deeper and deeper into your inner world you are in control and can choose how far to go at any particular time.
Your best thinking
One of the main misunderstandings about meditation is the belief that you shouldn’t be thinking when you are meditating. However, at the first level you are thinking. This means that you can be in touch with your inner world and the outer world at the same time. Whenever you are concentrating this is where you ‘enter the zone’ and your work flows effortlessly.
This level can be integrated easily into your everyday life, and it provides the optimal conditions for achieving your best work and your best and most creative thinking. Here is the place where you can see options and possibilities which would never usually occur to you, and change the habits and states of mind which tend to bog you down.
This is the level at which I work with my clients, teaching them how to use spot meditations which they can apply immediately at work, home or wherever they want. You touch base and can balance yourself whenever you want. It’s where you feel you have “come home” because it puts you in touch with your senses and your body.
Dreams and symbols
The second level is where you go beyond thinking. Your thinking stops and the whole world of colours, images, symbols and sounds – that rich, inner world of the subconscious life and the dream life – opens up. This is the world in which artists and musicians live. It’s the world which the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung called “the collective subconscious” because it is shared by every human being, no matter what race or culture they come from.
At this level you can open up to that wonderful feeling of union with your inner being and with the world around you. It can lead to a feeling of joy and even ecstasy as you enter, fully conscious, the world you normally only inhabit when you are dreaming.
Resting in the senses
At the third level your body is so relaxed that it has virtually gone to sleep, but your mind is still awake. There is no mental activity at all and all you are aware of is your sense experience.
This is an extraordinarily strange experience at first because you have no sense of the boundaries of your body – it can feel as though it has disappeared – and you cannot move. Your body can feel so heavy that it feels glued to the chair or the floor.
At the fourth level you experience the deepest sense of stillness it is possible to experience. It’s the point of deep inner peace – utterly and completely still, mentally, emotionally and physically. It is a place where the mind and body are freed from all input and so can take the opportunity to heal themselves.
And this is just the beginning. In a sense, compared with astronomy, these are the levels equivalent to exploring home base, our planet earth.
Beyond them you move into the equivalent of deep space – the cosmos beyond our own planet and galaxy. The universe of inner space and the experience of consciousness itself, beyond your normal sensory experience, opens up step by step as you move through the other levels. It’s a journey available to everyone, once you have received the guidance to master the skill of meditation and have got to know the territory.
Dr. Graham Williams has over thirty years’ experience teaching both meditation and mindfulness, is the Director of The Lifeflow Meditation Centre and an adjunct lecturer in the School of Medicine at Flinders University. He has written two books, Insight and Love which is in its third edition and Life in Balance. They are both available online. The Lifeflow Centre provides regular meditation courses in their city studio and retreats at their retreat centre in a beautiful, relaxing hills setting. P 8379 9001 W lifeflow.com.au