A place for people interested in introspection, self awareness, mindfulness, meditation and training the mind to abide in a state that is free from the constant flow of meaningless chatter, mind theatrics, and discursive thought.

Three States of Mind

For one who practices self awareness, and especially meditation, it becomes evident that there are three distinct states that the conscious mind can abide in; discursive thought, intentional thought, and no thought (or what can best be described as pure awareness).

The word discursive is defined as: covering a wide field of subjects; rambling; passing from one topic to another, usually in an unmethodical way; digressive. Discursive thought is that free flow thought that includes daydreams and fantasies, and often becomes the most prevalent state of mind for many people. It never stops chattering. It keeps people awake at night, and even when the body is at rest, doesn't seem to know how to rest itself.

Intentional thought is that thought which we are automatically very conscious of because we intend it to happen for a purpose. It is the thoughts we use for a specific purpose such as problem solving, learning, or communicating. It is thought that has a purpose. This level of thought is necessary in order to function in the world.

The third state, often the most elusive for many people, is a state where thought subsides, the mind stops its words and pictures, and falls back into a quiet peaceful state of pure awareness. In pure awareness there is only awareness of the five senses, and all thought formation around those sensations are subsided. You can be aware of all of the senses simultaneously or of any one individually, depending upon where you place your awareness. You merely experience the sense without the need to label, or identify what you are sensing. You see without having to name what you see, you hear without having to figure out what you are hearing. There is only awareness. This is how you experienced the world as a small child. Anyone witnessing a breathtaking landscape or sunset also experiences this state, even if only momentarily, and may not have even realized that they had momentarily subsided thought in order to take in the view.

The first two states are the most prevalent states for the untrained, unaware mind. For many, the third state may even seem to be an impossibility. It is quite easy for the mind to conclude that something it has never accomplished is impossible. If one has never lifted weights or exercised before, the idea of lifting 150 lb barbell over the head could easily seem impossible, especially when a first attempt at doing so would likely fail. But if one starts out slow, with an amount of weight that one can lift over the head, and gradually increase the weight, 150 lbs is no longer impossible. Learning to reach a state of pure awareness is no different, it takes training and practice.

The discursive state of mind is the source and cause of many of todays common problems. Allowing the mind to run free and unsupervised is as wise as allowing a child to play unsupervised in a construction site. It can get itself into all sorts of trouble, from irrational fears to anxieties, from mild delusions to paranoia. It can convince itself that it knows what others are thinking and saying behind our back, it can view past events from a perspective that is missing many facts, yet confidently draws conclusions, and it can even invent a future, or re-invent a past through daydreaming. Most discursive thoughts are outside of reality and usually have a time component, past or future to them, and always have a "me" or "I" component. Because they exists "in  our mind", we assume ownership of them and convince ourselves these thoughts must be valid. We allow them to operate unsupervised without ever questioning their validity. For some people, the concept of even having the ability to question ones own thoughts seems foreign.

Intentional thoughts are like a tool, they should only to be used when needed. When we are finished using a hammer, we don't walk around hitting and hammering everything in sight, yet we allow our mind to operate in this way. Thought, when used for an intended purpose is a very valuable and powerful tool. It is those qualities that make thoughts so alluring we can't ever seem to put them down. Unfortunately, when we become accustomed to allowing the mind to have free run, that free run becomes such a predominant state that it can affect our ability to think and reason clearly when needed. Discursive thought patterns colour or prejudice our thought patterns.

With awareness of our thought patterns, as practiced through meditation, we can learn to observe what thoughts are necessary, which ones are a waste of time and energy, and which ones are useful. This awareness of discursive thought patterns opens up the practice to catch yourself whenever you find yourself wandering off into discursive thought. At first this will be difficult, because when lost in thought, we don't really know we are lost. It is like driving a car and suddenly realizing that you have been daydreaming for the last 5 blocks and aren't sure if you stopped at the last intersection. With practice you learn to catch yourself as the mind begins to wander, and pull yourself  back, much like one does in breath meditation. Be like a cat at the mouse hole waiting to pounce the instant the mouse appears.

With continued practice, constantly catching the mind anytime it wanders, space or gaps between thoughts will start to open up. As the practice continues these gaps get wider and wider, and eventually become sustainable. This is the third state of mind in which there is only Pure Awareness, and it is this state that is the goal of the meditator.

Michael L. Fournier

Positive and Negative Energy

Bringing awareness to the types of energy you expose yourself to, as well as the types of energy you transmit to others can be a very powerful and essential part of any enlightenment path.
When we think of communicating, we don't often think of the energy that is transmitted along with our words. Words can carry a lot more energy than we give them credit for. Think of the famous speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, "I have a dream". You can feel the energy in his words. There is a tremendous positive energy that is being transmitted to the listener along with his words. Positive energy, when imbued into speech can be very motivating, uplifting and capable of transforming a persons mood.

Likewise, negative energy can really bring down the listener. We have all experienced listening to someone full of doom and gloom, or in a bad mood, and likely noticed how those words can have a negative impact on ones mood. You walk away feeling down because that is the type of energy you were just exposed to.

The important thing to remember is that it is not the words themselves that produce the energy. If that was the case you could feel an energy shift simply by picking up a dictionary, after all that one book contains all of the words within our language. The composer sets the level of energy in the words, either spoken or written. Likewise, movies, television, internet, music and any other form of communication carry positive or negative energy. Watch a movie like "Pay it Forward" and see if you don't feel some level of energy and emotion shift within yourself.

For this reason, anyone on a self awareness journey has to be very conscious of the types of energy that they allow themselves to be exposed to. If you want to move your consciousness toward a happy, peaceful, contented place, then watching violent movies, listening to Rap music, or hanging around with negative people may not be the wisest choice. There have been recent studies showing that people trying to break drug or alcohol addiction had a better chance of success by changing their music habits and social circles to those that were more positive and uplifting. This seems like common sense if you think about it.

As you travel your Self Awareness journey, remain conscious of what types of energy you expose yourself to and what types of energy you expose others to. Positive energy attracts positive energy and negative energy just generates more negative energy. Avoiding negative energy and/or people isn't always possible, but when it is, this is the best course of action. When it is not, remember that you have a choice as to whether or not to buy into it. Put up your shields, let it bounce off of you, seek out positive energy sources, and always stay aware of what type of energy is around you.

Michael L. Fournier