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.

Observations from Silent Awareness

Observations from Silent Awareness

Once one has learned to quiet the mind at will, and begins to spend increasing amounts of time as the silent observer, abiding in pure awareness, the more one comes to realize just how unreliable, untrustworthy and trivial all of the mental activity produced by the discursive, egoic, thinking part of the mind really is. This leads to a tendency to ignore, reject, or choose not to engage in the mental activity when it returns. From this state of mind a thought can be seen to pass and fade away, returning the mind back into silence. Thoughts are like weeds, if you do not feed them (give them your attention), they will not grow and will eventually die of starvation.

As one practices abiding in silent awareness while going about their daily activities, one also quickly comes to realize that there is a lot more going on within consciousness than the discursive, thinking, egoic mind can even begin to properly be aware of, let alone comprehend.

Although the ego may issue commands, the intricacies of carrying them out exceed the thinking minds capabilities. For example, one might decide to go empty the dishwasher. Once that decision has been made, for most people, the mind spends the duration of the task mentally wandering off into various forms of mind theatrics, daydreaming, fantasizing, etc. thereby missing what is really going on. But when the mind is completely silent and observant, and the actions and motions of the body are watched as tasks are being carried out, one may for example, observe the eye make contact with a plate or glass, and then the hand impulsively reach out and pick up what the eye was trained upon. The leg muscles engage without needing to be told by the thinking mind, and the body turns and walks over to the cupboard and puts it away. There is no way the thinking mind, if it had to command each individual muscle flexing or tendon tightening, perfectly coordinating all of the individual electrical impulses that cause all of these movements to occur, could even begin to consciously control this entire dance of events that all flow harmoniously together to produce the result requested from the thinking conscious mind (empty the dishwasher).

As if the immensity and complexity of carrying out these tasks are not already incomprehensible enough, there is also all of the various biological functions that are also being simultaneously coordinated. Everything from heartbeat, to digestive systems, to electrical and nervous system, cell growth and development, converting food to energy,  waste elimination , and considerably more are being coordinated by means of a communication network in the body that communicates at or near the speed of light. This in turn requires the underlying intelligence to be able to function at or above the speed of light.

Watching from silence reveals that there is some form of intelligence operating that is far superior in capabilities to anything our mind can possibly think or comprehend. While it may be convenient to simply ignore or dismiss this hidden intelligence and give the sub-conscious mind the credit, this does not appear to be the case to one who chooses to investigate first hand. When one is able to quiet the mind sufficiently to see all of it's activity cease temporarily, the observation of the continuity of the tasks being carried out seems to imply that the source of this intelligence is not within the brain or even within the body, and any investigation through introspection fails to find a source from within the body capable of carrying out such complicated tasks.  The brain seems to be playing traffic cop, and simply relaying signals to coordinate the flow of movement (sometimes under the misguided directions of the Ego), but the underlying intelligence can not be found.

Before dismissing the notion that this intelligence exists outside of the brain, with the brain acting as interpretor, consider this. Human life begins at the moment of conception as a single celled organism. This cell begins dividing into identical cells, and continues dividing until at some point the cells stop being identical, and start to form various parts of the body, from flesh, to bones, to skin, to organs, and even to begin forming the brain itself. Since no brain existed yet, where is the intelligence that coordinates which identical cells start to deviate and when? Who or What plays traffic cop to keep everything synchronized and in harmony? What is coordinating the heartbeat while the brain is still developing?

Even DNA can not properly explain the coordination of these events, unless DNA has access to some form of intelligence enabling it to communicate with all of its neighbouring DNA strands, and in turn cells, etc. under the immense intelligence, coordination and guidance of some form of consciousness the rational thinking mind can not yet comprehend. Communication (whether between DNA strands, cells, or even human beings) requires intelligence in order to be able to send and receive information, process it, or even to know that it is required in the first place.

Perhaps this is why science cannot explain or understand the high percentage of so called "junk" (non-coding) DNA in our physical construction. Even broken down into the various functions that science has thus far come to understand or believe about the purpose of "junk" DNA, the question remains, "Who or What is the guiding intelligence behind these individual functions.

All this considered, and in turn compared to the closely observed usual activities of the thinking mind with all of its "Important Things" that need to be thought about right now, (such as the discursive minds many false predictions of the future, mental rewrites of the past, various ways of trying to define itself and re-define itself through various fantasies and daydreams), the mind quickly reveals itself to be very trivial and producing useless unreliable information that only leads to the many negative states of mind that pervade humanity, hatred, anger, depression, fear, greed, etc..

The more time spent in pure silent awareness, the stronger the pull is to remain in pure silent awareness. The more thoughts are observed and recognized for the roller coaster effects they produce on our well being, the easier it becomes to reject them as they arise and return to pure awareness. In this way, the path becomes self correcting.

Michael L. Fournier

I AM ?

I AM ?

I am

Anyone on a serious inward spiritual journey will inevitably come across the feeling that they are being guided along on their journey by some unknown force. The right people, the right books, the right lessons in life, the right teachers, all seem to be right where you need them and at just the right time to keep you moving in a forward direction along your spiritual path. (So long as you continue to pay attention and follow your intuition.) This is called synchronicity.

Since this is an inward journey, and all the answers that have any real meaning can only come from within, the question then arises, "Who or what is guiding me". And of course there is only one possible answer, "I AM". I am guiding myself.

This is a deeper sense of I AM than simply something arising from the Ego that "thinks" it has all the answers. This is the sense of Self that is the I AM that can only be found when you look deep within with questions like:
-Who is making me feel guilty when I make choices that hurt others? - I AM
-Who is causing me to feel happy when I help others? - I AM
-Who is it that is driving the car when I am lost in thought or daydreaming? - I AM
-Who is setting my internal moral compass? - I AM

This sense of I AM has been described by all the great mystics and spiritual leaders for thousands of years. This sense of I AM is not the final destination, it is really only a signpost along the journey, directing one to look deeper into the true nature of one's Self. Inevitably the question arises, "If I AM my own inner moral  guide, them Who Am I?" Indeed, Who or What Am I really?

Once one has seen through the veil of the illusory self, the Ego, and realized that there is a lot more to one's Self than a collection of thoughts and ideas about who I AM, and that there is a lot more to one's Self than just a collection of cells formed by sub-atomic particles held together by some mysterious energy force that allows the body to animate itself even when the Ego is asleep in some sort of mind theatrics, it becomes quite evident that there is a lot more to one's Self than meets the eye.

The journey then turns toward discovering the true nature of the Self. When the mind falls completely silent, and all discursive and directed thought ceases, as well as all mind theatrics and dreaming, there is only a sense of pure awareness, a sense of pure consciousness. There is only Conscious-Awareness. Conscious-Awareness is a state that is completely free from all inner turmoil, free from all mental chatter, free from judgements, ideas, concepts and disharmony.  It can only be encountered with one's full attention to the present moment.

Meditation is the gateway to discovering how to access this state.With repeated encounters of this direct attention, one finds that over time and with much dedicated practice, this state will become easier to encounter. The practice then shifts to bringing this level of attention into every moment of one's life until this state becomes the new "normal" state of being. Only then can one say I AM and fully know what it means to be "I AM". It is the permanency of this state that is called "Enlightenment"

Michael L. Fournier

Self Control

Self Control

Martial Arts Self Control Poster

As we go through our lives, even though we seem to understand at some level that we are constantly being subjected to unknowns and anything can happen at any moment, most of us seem to believe that we have some sort of ultimate control over every aspect of our day to day life. We like to believe that we can control our destiny with absolute certainty. And of course, when things don't work out the way we had planned, we find much dis-harmony and stress in our lives.

Our outer world is filled with constant change and movement in often unpredictable directions. We forget that there are no absolute certainties in life. We make plans for our life to move in a certain direction, but then something unexpected happens and we become very stressed and agitated. We can build a great deal of mental anguish and pain around events that don't go our way.

When we allow our mind to become engaged in the stress of not getting what we want or expect, we find our mind can either wander into the past, as regret (If I could do it all over again I would do it this way) or into the future as anxiety, fear, anger, and worry (What if it happens again? Next time I will do this! or Oh No! How will I handle it the next time).

A mind that falls under stress quickly begins to feel helpless and trapped. We can even begin to feel like others are out to get us, or some unnkown force is at work disrupting our control over our own life.

Meanwhile, all of the inner turmoil our mind generates when this happens is accepted as something we have no control over. We look to outside places to lay the blame for why we feel the way we feel, or why life seems to be treating us unfairly. We can always find a place to lay the blame; if so and so hadn't done this, or if only that had not happened.

The single greatest cause of all of this inner stress, whether it is anxiety, fear, worry, anger, hatred, regret or any other stressful emotion is a failure to recognize what we can control and what we can not.

We think we can control our outer world and feel we have no control over our inner world, believing our inner world is shaped and molded by the external world. Both assumptions are incorrect. We have it quite backwards.

When we learn to accept the outer world for the way it is, and watch our inner world with complete self awareness, we learn we have control over our inner world. We can choose how to react, or choose not to react, to external circumstances. When we realize we have no control over what happens outside of us, we find inner freedom.

The ability to control one's outer world is an illusion. Believing it is possible is a source of great dis-harmony and stress in one's life. 

The in-ability to control one's inner world is also an illusion. Believing it is impossible is an even greater source of dis-harmony and stress in one's life.

Michael L. Fournier

Wildfires in the Mind

Wildfires in the Mind

As close observation of the inner working of the mind progresses, space between thoughts begins to open up and one can observe and experience periods of silent, peaceful, quietude in which all internal mental dialogue ceases. With diligent practice, the moments when thoughts subside become more frequent and easier to observe. The mind shifts into silent states in which it is aware without having to make any mental commentary or judgements.

From within this state of pure awareness, the next challenge is to try to catch thoughts as they begin to arise. In the beginning, thoughts will likely progress a bit before they can be caught, but as soon as this is recognized the mind should be pulled back into the silence. As the practice progresses, it becomes progressively easier to catch thoughts just as they begin to emerge. From within the silence this may be observed as a random word or visual image suddenly appearing and attempting to grow into a more complex thought form. The practice is to simply catch it as it emerges, and, as it is being observed it will tend to fall away on its own, so long as the thought is not being indulged upon.

When we indulge a thought with any amount of interest, it will grow and take shape because we are feeding it the energy it needs to take its form. If we simply observe without indulgence, we are giving it no energy or room to grow and it will wither and subside on it own like a plant that is not given any water.

There is however, a trickier, more difficult type of thought emergence to catch. To understand this more difficult thought emergence, we must first make a distinction between two types of thoughts. First there are the discursive, free flow, mind theatrics type of thoughts that always have a time component to them. This can include daydreaming, fantasizing, regrets of the past, worries of the future, etc.. In general, it can quickly be observed that this class of thoughts do not serve us very well, and are the greatest source of disharmony in our lives. They are also the most prevalent form of thought. For most people they run completely unchecked and unchallenged, which is why most people do not recognize them as a source of discord.

Secondly, are deliberate, intentional thoughts. This type of thought process always occurs purely in the present moment, that is to say there is no time component to them. These are the type of thoughts that are used in creativity, problem solving or in learning. They are a tool and as such, like any tool, should be put away when we are finished with them. In other words, when the mind is not actively engaged in creativity, problem solving or learning types of activity, the mind should be returned to the silent state.

It is this second type of thought patterns that give rise to the more difficult to catch type of thought emergence. Because we have engaged the mind, because we are indulging in mental activity, we are giving thought processes energy to take form. Within this process, a random word or picture may still try to emerge in the same way as it emerges from the silent mind. Because we have the mind engaged, and thus are providing our thought processes energy to grow, the emergence of discursive thought is like a spark hitting dry grass. The fuel source is there, the mind is engaged. The spark, if not caught immediately, will grow very rapidly and can quickly get away from the observer. Discursive thought then spreads like a wildfire.

If one were working with an open flame near dry grass one would employ extra caution and greater awareness of ones actions in order to prevent a wildfire. In the same way, whenever thought is intentionally engaged for a specific purpose, increased diligence in thought observation is of the utmost importance.

Michael L. Fournier

The Pendulum of the Mind

 The Pendulum of the Mind


“The pendulum of the mind oscillates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong”

- Carl Jung



If we pay attention, we will see that the mind is in constant movement, swinging back
and forth like a pendulum. We live in a world of opposites. We can not know good without also knowing evil. We cannot know pleasure without also knowing pain. This causes our mind to oscillate, to swing back and forth. I like this, I can't stand that; this is fun, that is boring; this is right, that is wrong; this is beautiful, but that is ugly, etc.. 

This swinging of the pendulum directly influences and is directly influenced by our emotions as well. Happy vs. sad; love vs. hate;  joy vs. despair; anger vs. tranquillity. Every emotion has an opposite. To experience one requires us to also experience the other. Then in comes the Ego trying to protect us from all this movement. The Ego will try to cling to the pleasurable side of the pendulum swing, and wants to prevent the pendulum from swinging back to the other side. It is this attraction to one half of the swing and aversion to the other half that causes all of the stress and anxiety we experience in life. The Ego is trying to protect us from that which it has no control over. It wants to avoid that which can not be avoided.

Those persistent thoughts and worries that haunt us and just won't go away always bring with them a tendency to want to suppress them, reject them, deny them and push them away. Yet the harder we fight against them, the stronger and more persistent they become. If fighting against them doesn't work, then what does? Self Awareness does. Observing and becoming aware of how they affect us does. When we become aware of a thought, we have separated ourselves from the thought. We have risen above it. Using the pendulum analogy, if we rise above the thought, it is like moving up the shaft of the pendulum. As we move up the shaft of the pendulum, we are not being carried as far back and forth. The further up the shaft of the pendulum we move, the shorter the swing. The more we can separate from the thought and objectively observe it, the higher up the pendulum's shaft we rise. If we can rise all the way up to the pivot point, we are no longer being carried along by our thoughts and emotions, and therefore are no longer being subjected to the effects of the swinging. We separate from the emotional roller coaster ride. At the pivot point, we find true inner peace. We can observe the coming and going of a thought without being carried along by it. We are no longer being driven by our Ego.

At this point, we are able to truly see and observe reality as it is, without any judgements or mental formations. This change can only come about through self awareness, through mindfulness. Objective observation is the key to making this shift. Become mindful and self aware and you will decrease the distance you are being carried between swings, and increase the distance between a peaceful mind and a turbulent one.

Michael L. Fournier

Chasing The Dragon, In Search of Happiness

Chasing The Dragon

There is a term in Chinese culture for drug use called "Chasing the Dragon".  Metaphorically, it refers to trying to achieve the ultimate high. Looking for happiness in the external world is like chasing a dragon. We are constantly chasing things in the physical world, looking for them to bring peace and happiness into our lives, yet we always come up empty handed, unfulfilled, and looking for more.

We look for our happiness in a bigger house, faster car, new television or stereo, or the next great vacation. We even seek out our happiness in other people. After all, is that not what we are doing when we seek out a mate. We look to them for fulfillment and happiness, and after some time has gone by and we no longer find it in them, many of us choose to move on to someone else with the same expectations that this new person in our life will provide us with the happiness we seek.

We do the same with material objects, purchasing new and often more expensive things believing they will make us happy. The type of happiness we find when we acquire these new objects is very short lived, and yet has an addictive quality to it. The high we get from the acquisition leads to desire for more of the same. Yet, no matter how much material objects we accumulate, happiness remains fleeting, and yet we still want more. Advertisers know this and make large fortunes playing into this.

If we can learn to become aware of our thoughts, feelings and emotions, we can start to let go of the addiction. When we become aware of our reactions to our desires, they start to loose their hold over us. The mental addiction subsides.

True lasting happiness can be found, but not where most of us are looking. It can only be found in a place many are either reluctant or scared to look. It can only be found within, by facing our wants, desires, aversions, and fears. We have to see them up close and personal, recognize them for what they are, then let go of them and in doing so break the addiction.

It is only when we break the addiction with our thoughts, fears, desires, and aversions that we can find true happiness and inner peace. When we have completely broken the addiction, peace and happiness are what remains.

Michael L. Fournier

Past and Future

Past and Future

The past and the future are the domain of the Ego, its playground. The present, in order to be fully experienced, must be experienced without the Ego. The present moment is experienced only through pure awareness. As soon as the inner dialogue of the Ego begins, even if the Ego is trying to run a commentary on the events at hand, we are no longer in the present. Observe closely, and we will find that the commentary always occurs after an event has taken place, and therefore is a past event.

The Ego, being nothing more than a collection of thoughts and thought energies, doesn't like to step aside and allow the events of the present to simply unfold. It feels it must be ever on the look out for dangers, looking for what it perceives will bring happiness. It believes that it knows what is best for us.

The past is never anything more than memory, used as a point of reference. The Ego clings to it as though it were a source of knowledge predicting how best to handle the future.  The Ego refers to this as "experience", despite the fact that when the event was actually experienced, the mind was likely off in some other past or future thought rather than experiencing it in the present with pure awareness.

Ego will cling to past events with regret, when it doesn't like its prospects for the future. It will refer to the past as though it were a sage predicting how best to handle future events. Memory is used as a tool to constantly judge everything around us and to try and predict our future.

The future, as the Ego sees it, is really nothing more than plans. The Ego plans and concocts a future reality and presents it to us in the form of daydreams, fantasies, and mind theatrics. The Ego would like us to believe that we can control all aspects of our future and destiny.

When watched closely, the future the Ego predicts never plays out exactly the way it does in our mind. There are an infinite number of variables and possible outcomes to every moment. Yet our Ego has the audacity to believe that it can predict the one that will come to pass.

When events play out similar to the Ego's predictions, it is quick to take note and say "See, I was right". Ironically, when it misses the target, which happens far more frequently, it is either ignored or quickly dismissed as "Circumstances beyond my control" or something along that line.

Paying attention to the inner dialogue quickly reveals that the information the Ego feeds us is mostly useless and unreliable. Most of us completely miss this point because the Ego keeps us so busy with its inner chatter and mind theatrics that we don't notice. It is only when we start to pay attention to it however, that we begin to see through the facade and realize the deception. It is only when we begin to look that we begin to see.

Michael L. Fournier