Authors’ note : This part of the manuscript has been written by our volunteers who used the notes taken down by the subject of the case study as well our comments on these notes.
A few reasons why the authors chose this particular person as the subject of their case study :
1. His determination (for more than a decade) to overcome his problems in spite of the grimmest obstacles and personal lapses that sometimes took years to get over.
2. He was more interested in the loftier goals of meditation than in frivolous occult pursuits.
3. His implicit obedience to his meditation teachers.
4. One of his deepest desires was to engage himself continuously in meditation without a break (like the ancient meditation masters) because he knew that the infinite powers of the mind would awaken fully as a result of such rigorous practices.
Background : The subject of our case study is a young man in his early thirties. He has allowed us to publish his experiences with the Simple Technique on condition of anonymity.
Therefore, some crucial details like :
1. His nationality,
2. His city of residence,
3. The town in which he received initiation into the Simple Technique from one of the authors,
4. The date of his initiation, etc. will not be found in this book.
Only a few personal details of the circumstances of his life have been provided — just enough to add the richness of personality to the brew of adventure that a path breaking case study of this kind stirs up ! His background is similar to many of those drawn to practicing meditation as a way of life i.e. intense suffering for a very long time due to :
1. bad luck,
2. lack of money and right guidance,
3. chronic and sometimes crippling health problems caused mainly due to a lack of knowledge of proper nutrition as well as the easy availability of unhealthy convenience/ refined/ fast foods in the city of his residence,
4. getting victimized by society due to numerous misunderstandings (some of which were deliberate !),
5. a few personal tragedies that ensured that he endured more than his fair share of hardships.
He was, however, frank enough to admit that there were others who had suffered more and coped better. In other words, his own procrastination, negligence, carelessness and stupidity were a major factor in authoring his misery. Since the vicissitudes of life were taking a major toll on his health, he decided to quit further studies after graduation and start his own business/ freelance because he assumed that by setting his own pace he would be able to take better care of his health as well as earn more money than in a conventional job.
And this money had to be earned quickly because his fragile health was falling apart under the strain of living with the barest necessities in a stress filled, highly populated and polluted city with endless civic problems. In addition to this, he had to put up with a mercilessly competitive society that seemed stupidly determined to precipitate an ecological crisis of global dimensions in their perennial quest for wealth & power.
And so, for several years he toiled on, in fits and starts (health and finances permitting), but saw all his grandiose schemes come to naught ! During this grim period, an inspired quest for self-mastery that had commenced in his high school years now turned into a desperate search for healing remedies to cure his various afflictions (physical & mental) brought on by the escalating series of misfortunes. A quest that had lost momentum due to the pressures and pleasures of academic life now became a sustained effort.
For a few years he was able to change tack and allot a prodigious amount of time to self-improvement since his misfortunes & illnesses isolated him from his fellow men and gave him ample time for reflection and practical application. During this time he bought or borrowed books & audio tapes, practiced all manner of physical & mental exercises, attended self-improvement courses, meditated, kept diaries, debated philosophy with one or two like minded friends and relatives, introspected, experimented with diet, prayed, wished, dreamed, visualized … in brief, he did all that was possible to heal himself and bring abundance to his life (which seemed to be so blasphemously full of failure for so long and which also seemed to be going down the drain).
Through it all he was achingly aware that the quality of this desperate research into self-improvement was severely compromised due to :
a. lack of emotional support from those around him,
b. lack of a proper place to practice meditation (even one mosquito succeeded in spoiling his session for the day !),
c. the innumerable and unavoidable, time-consuming and energy sapping mundane chores and errands of a basic daily routine that had to be given (grudgingly) a higher priority than vital self-improvement exercises.
His biggest obstacle to serious meditation was an easily distracted hyperactive mind, a quick temper and frequent spells of negative thinking. (All these symptoms became worse as the years passed by with no solution to his problems in sight). Countless times he would vigorously initiate detailed programs to improve his body & mind. And countless times he would lapse due to bad health; lack of motivation, sustained effort and specialized guidance; procrastination; watching too much T.V.; bad time management; etc.
During the early stages of his research (as he eagerly built up his knowledge base and tried out every tip, trick & routine), he had attained exhilarating highs of mental & physical fitness. But whenever he lapsed, he hit rock bottom (physically & mentally) and revisiting these highs was getting harder and harder as the years passed by. Soon his conscience started to eat into him. He was supposed to be devoting himself full-time to self-improvement. But no-one would believe it just by looking at him ! A creeping doubt, about whether he was practicing correctly (especially the meditation exercises which were highly subjective by nature), constantly assailed him and spoiled the tenor of his self-improvement sessions, sometimes forcing him to cancel these sessions (entire programs even) for days/ weeks or even months. (He was a perfectionist at heart, extra wary of the negative side effects of incorrect practice — he well remembered how he had narrowly escaped some potentially fatal injuries in the past during the practice of certain physical exercises at a time when he was extremely overweight and unfit.) A fatal boredom with the self-improvement routine itself, that seemed to kill every new program that he initiated, was a new and undesirable complication. So far he had been unable to stick to any one particular self-improvement school/ program, however impeccable their credentials were. His infamous lack of discipline seemed to be his undoing. He was clearly unfit to steer his own boat. And neither did he have the health to get into a full time job even if he wanted to. He was wasting away in his own home !
What was alarming was that others who were not into any form of self-improvement did not seem to be as debilitated as he was ! Maybe some unknown chemical in the drinking water (to which only he — amongst all his fellow beings — was susceptible to) was slowly poisoning his mind & body ! This was when pessimism reared it’s ugly head and in this frame of mind, he even despaired of finding a proper guide/ teacher who would be perfectly attuned to his own peculiar problems.
As his situation worsened, guilt became a semi-permanent part of his emotional make-up. Grimly he realized that he had reached a stage where he couldn’t find any joy in life anymore. A new traumatic phase of his life had begun ! For instance : He would be sitting in front of a good movie and a few minutes later he would think that since he had failed miserably in life, he did not deserve to be enjoying himself ! And then he would furiously think of ways and means to get himself out of the mess that he was in. By the time he came to himself, he would realize that the movie was nearly over ! That this frame of mind wasn’t as bad as his more emotionally vulnerable adolescent years (when he had hit the rock bottom state of depression) was small comfort !
When would his life ever begin to resemble the smiling, joyous faces on the covers of all the self—improvement books that he had bought ?
A few more years of trying to get some money making enterprises off the ground followed, during which his health failed steadily. This time when he hit rock bottom (mentally & physically as a result of neglecting his regular self-improvement routine) it seemed to be the end and he actually began to wonder whether he would live to see 30 !It was at this critical juncture that a parallel quest of his suddenly bore fruit.
Several years ago, a major shift in focus had taken place in his research on self-improvement when economic road-blocks, that barred him from a vigorous pursuit of the fruits of cutting edge scientific research, paved the way for an awakening (with renewed vigor) of a long dormant realization of the wisdom & superiority of the old ways. After all meditation was not discovered in a laboratory. Yet it was the leading tool in the fight against human misery (much of it self-inflicted due to negative thinking patterns).
He glumly realized that science had it’s limits and no-one was ever going to invent (at least in his lifetime) a machine, hooked up to which he could attain enlightenment. (Like many seasoned self-improvement warriors, science could not keep pace with the evolution of his goals !) Science could be harnessed to shield him from the harshness of his path (as long as he had some money with him), but it was only spirituality that seemed to provide a clear path to much higher goals, the attainment of which would reduce the degree of his mental suffering to a significant extent. He thus made the necessary leap of faith and shifted his focus to the field of practical spirituality (which seemed to be more accessible due to the genuine masters of meditation being more charitable than their scientific counterparts).
A vague desire to join a Zen monastery had also formed in his mind, the fulfillment of which he hoped would simultaneously solve all his problems. Maybe someday, health and finances permitting, he would try and find a suitable Zen monastery …
Now that he knew where to look, he struck a rich lode of reading material that transported him to transcendental heights as well as frustrated him with it’s misinterpretations, contradictions (caused mainly by the bitter rivalries and ideological clashes amongst the various spiritual groups), glaring errors, bad writing styles, editorial gaffes, printers’ devils, deliberately suppressed knowledge, non-availability of certain titles in the library he frequented, missing pages in the books he referred/ borrowed, inadequate explanations, the burden of making sense out of archaic literary works and the occasional spiritual naivete.
The Zen path kept beckoning him. While he was still put off by the practical difficulties of joining a Zen monastery (which included assimilating himself into an alien culture), it was an interesting subject to research and the Zen stories were enthralling enough to be unforgettable. The popular Zen saying : “Every day, a fine day” was an inspiration to him for it implied that one who was at peace within (either due to practicing meditation rigorously or a major shift in perception) would never know any kind of mental suffering even in the midst of the most chaotic conditions in this world, because no amount of chaos could shake such a person out of the high state of mind that he was in. But the catch was that very few people attained such a state of mind. Yet like all other seasoned self-improvement warriors who attained such a state of mind at least on a temporary basis, he lived in the hope that one day such an attainment would be permanent — the beginning of enlightenment !
One fine day, the long awaited-for breakthrough fell into his lap when his research led him to a school that seemed to be just what he was looking for. (And just in time too, for he was getting ready to die at 30 !) It took him more than a year to select and pursue the appropriate program by which time he decided to abandon his original idea of joining a Zen monastery. He now turned to practicing the new meditation and physical techniques with a vengeance and a vow to stick to his new program no matter what. (He grimly realized that he now had no choice in the matter since he was fast approaching the point of a total mental and physical breakdown !) With great pride he invoked previously untapped resources of iron will power which he used to hang on to a strict daily regimen that would go on for hours. (He stubbornly refused to allow the chaotic conditions of city life to make a significant dent in his self-improvement routine.) Lapses continued to dog him and sometimes he would collapse from the sheer strain of rigorous practice. But the stark combination of his do-or-die situation, the awe-inspiring power of the mental and physical techniques (that he was practicing) and high expectations of spectacular results in the near future served to keep him going. (He couldn’t remember pursuing anything else in his life with such vigorous consistency except for checking out the latest Hollywood thrillers in the city center !)
Within a few months of superhuman effort the tide began to turn. Those were exhilarating times indeed when a variety of chronic health conditions got healed (Happily it wasn’t an unknown chemical in the drinking water !), most of his tensions and worries vanished and he began to attain very high states of consciousness during the practice of some extremely powerful meditation techniques. And though he was finally beginning to appreciate the value of religion in providing an emotional dimension that enhanced his meditation sessions, he decided against involving himself too rigorously in it’s mainstream activities. Otherwise, his already frail mind and body would not be able to do justice to his daily meditation routine and he could also end up doing himself some permanent damage !
But after two years of rigorous practice, he started to feel the strain in a big way. First of all, he had no time for any other work (except routine household chores) due to the long hours he invested in daily practice. Thus he did not have the time or energy to hold even a part time job — a state of affairs that never failed to prick his conscience. And since he did not want to skip even a day of practice, sustaining such a rigorous routine in the long term became a challenge especially after the novelty wore off and boredom, indifference and bad habits like procrastination took root once again. Still, he hung on grimly (while he battled these inner demons) and suffered most on those days when a normal day at home turned chaotic mainly due to lack of foresight, ego clashes and inept handling of routine domestic chores.
Soon this iron grip on his daily sessions began to weaken after he plateaued out and no more spectacular mind/ body breakthroughs — which usually strengthened him as well as served to keep him going — seemed to be in sight. (While his physical exercise routine and other practices allied to meditation went off well, meditation itself naturally became an impossibility due to the build up of mental strain.)
But he still had so much hope and faith that sometime in the future some spectacular breakthrough (as a result of his rigorous practice of these extremely powerful self-improvement techniques) would totally transform/ heal him (in spite of the strain that he was undergoing & which seemed to be making him progress in the reverse direction), that he paid scant heed to the basic principle of all genuine meditation schools (which is : the average student should never strain himself/ herself) and kept up his rigorous regimen without a break !
On a barely subliminal level, he was seemingly more relaxed about his various problems because, these days solutions seemed to find him instead of him having to make an exhaustive and often fruitless search for them. (He attributed this to the ever growing synchronization between his mind and his intuition which is after all a common side effect of meditation and it’s allied practices).
However, sheer lack of time and inclination ensured that he continued to take the hard decision of postponing the pursuit of solutions to crucial livelihood issues and give a higher priority to the enthusiastic pursuit of solutions to his inner growth that dramatically revealed themselves to him at infrequent intervals. One such path breaking solution — the landmark of them all, which effectively dealt with his mental strain — fell into his lap one fine day when he suddenly made contact with some of the most advanced (but extremely elusive) meditation masters. This was the proverbial icing on the cake, since they gave him a less intensive program ideally suited to his frail health and mental development and — to his sheer delight — was as powerful (if not more so) as his usually intensive routine.
And while they praised his good intentions, they sternly and repeatedly warned him about the dangers of rigorous practice when one was not fit enough for it. The sublime pleasure of receiving this advice from rarely beheld advanced meditation masters (he had never expected to meet even one in his life !) as well as giving up his stubborn grip on daily rigorous practice, was indescribable. For a few months he relished having enough time to actually smell the roses !
Though it was a period marked by sudden bursts of improvement in his mental and physical well-being (as he flourished under the expert guidance), he regretted that his dedication was not up to the mark. (The downside of the less intensive regimen was that distractions took no time to fill up this sudden vacuum. Now and then this new sedentary life would get violently disturbed by some mundanely urgent domestic activity that would stretch his mental and physical faculties to the limit. But otherwise he always managed to find some way of engaging himself in endless procrastination !) In this respect he was more like an immigrant, who after a heroic escape from certain death in a despotic state settles down to a casual dependence on the social support system of a first world country. If only he could keep in constant touch with his new meditation teachers. What a pity it was that they were so elusive ! If he had met them during his school days itself (when the fires of self-improvement were first lit in his consciousness and had blazed high for so many years), he would not have degenerated to a level of indifference that ensured that he paid only lip service to his current meditation routine. (One vital area of neglect was the technique of “living in the moment” — which alone would have relaxed him enough to ensure that he received his “money’s worth” from his daily meditation sessions). He was also fast losing the forgiving elasticity of youth and needed to really intensify his focus during this crucial period in order to prevent the long term mental decline that begins to affect one’s capacity to meditate by the age of 30.
Above all, he felt duty bound to honor the power of the new meditation techniques (that he had been initiated into by no less than some of the most advanced meditation masters in the world) by making sure that sometime in the future he should have earned enough money to ensure himself of permanent access to the ideal retreat facility so that he could allow this power to take a deeper hold of him. Otherwise it would be a case of mere possession of a supersonic airplane that benefited neither him nor society due to it being permanently locked up in it’s hangar !
Yet, there was much to be proud of these days. For instance : He could sit through an entire movie with relish, quite unlike the past when guilt would continually consume him enough to render him oblivious to the absorbing drama being played out on the small screen. Two more years passed with it’s customary ups and downs and he continued to procrastinate, enjoying the temporary calm before the next storm (which was not long in coming). A major family crisis that had erupted in a nearby town began to disrupt the frail dynamics of his current situation. (This crisis was to last for several years). In order to preserve his delicate health, keeping aloof seemed to be the only feasible option. But when other family members moved out to attend to the crisis, he had to shoulder the entire burden of feeding himself.
Long hours were spent in churning out healthy meals in the kitchen and the strain was barely manageable in spite of his cleverest efforts. But he would have it no other way, since this basic lesson on self-improvement was a deeply ingrained one that he had picked up from some of the top self-improvement books in his collection and which had cleared up so many chronic health conditions.
Keenly aware of the need to avoid straining himself, he thought of a free retreat facility that he had heard of. But he quickly gave it up as a bad idea since he was pessimistic about whether he would be treated in the proper manner or receive the special facilities that his health demanded unless he had a huge wad of cash with him ! There was nothing to be done now, except hang on grimly and wait for conditions to get better. There was not much point now in blaming himself for his earlier lack of dedication (to intensive meditation practice) which would have mitigated the severity of his present conditions to a significant extent.
Meanwhile, some people, who had helped him during the worst periods of his life, came to him for a favor. In order to attend to them, some months of his time had to be invested. In the midst of attending to these pressing matters, during the peak of the summer season, he was suddenly overwhelmed by a few unfortunate incidents. It started with a couple of minor injuries getting aggravated due to sheer neglect. As a result, the pain became so bad that he even expected a stroke to hit him anytime ! He, who always believed in mind over matter and natural medicine, now had to stoop to the level of buying painkillers from his neighborhood drugstore ! The medicine did not help (he was wary of increasing the dosage) and total collapse seemed imminent when, suddenly, a family member, who had been away for a very long time, arrived to take over half his chores.
And then, just as he was beginning to gather his wits about him, the final blow struck — he fell prey to a debilitating disease that was going around at that time ! This was the proverbial last straw that broke the camel’s back. It was as though a truck had hit him ! Though the disease cleared up within a few weeks, he became so weak that he could hardly attend to his usual duties. When this weakness persisted for several months, pessimism overwhelmed him until he actually started to believe that he would never regain his former level of fitness ! (He couldn’t even walk to the supermarket on the next street without feeling as though he had run a long race !) Was this the end of even the limited independence that he had enjoyed so far ! And since only he had mastered the intricacies of sourcing high quality ingredients for preparing a healthy meal, the quality of his daily meal took a turn for the worse after he was unable to find anyone who was willing to undergo the extreme difficulties that were part and parcel of the task of sourcing such high quality ingredients. The resultant lack of nutrition took a severe toll on his already debilitated health and he went into a mild depression. (He began to neglect himself and even became indifferent to his diet.)
Around this time, he went to stay in his family home in a distant town. There was hardly anyone staying there at this time of the year and thus he was able to spend a peaceful fortnight pottering around the old homestead. At the beginning of the year (shortly before this grim period had started) he had stayed in this very house on a short vacation. Seizing that rare opportunity, he had tried to get into some serious meditation practice. To his dismay, he had found himself unable to get into a high state of consciousness. The stress of a difficult life, aging and his own lack of discipline seemed to have caught up with him. It was actually hurting his head to meditate ! Did he need a vacation in a 5 star retreat facility to really rejuvenate himself ! But he hadn’t taken this new development too hard, for whenever he was faced by a blank wall as far as his meditation practice was concerned, he had never failed to find a solution sooner or later.
And the solution was not long in coming ! On the very day that he had given up trying to get into serious meditation practice, he was offered the opportunity of taking part in the Simple Technique case studies. Instinctively he knew that this Technique would help him enter very deep states of meditation that had been eluding him for quite a few years now. But the catch was that he needed to enter some form of retreat. (Though the Simple Technique did not demand 5 star facilities, he still had to locate a quiet comfortable place where all his chores would be taken care of, so that he could concentrate full-time on the Technique). Besides this, he also had to stay in such a retreat for a few weeks at least. (Due to the adverse circumstances of his life, it had been a little more than two decades since he had last enjoyed a vacation that had stretched for weeks longer than his usual 7—10 day annual.) And so, while he had communicated his willingness to take part in the Simple Technique case studies, he regretted his inability to enter a retreat immediately. He did promise to get back in touch in case something worked out in his favor sooner or later.
Now that he was back in the same house, more or less revived by the peace and quiet (he had slept for the most part of his vacation and hadn’t meditated at all) — he thought once more of the Simple Technique. But since he was leaving soon, he occupied himself with the intricacies of the return journey even as he suddenly began to wish for a longer vacation. (Always in a hurry to get back to the anonymous comforts of the city, it was a measure of his sheer fatigue that he was now wishing for a longer period of stay). And then, just as he was stoically packing up the last of his belongings, some circumstances beyond his control caused the extension of his vacation by nearly a month !!
Since this extension was so long he began to seriously consider taking part in the Simple Technique case studies. For in the fortnight that he had been here, the possibilities of using his family home itself as a retreat now seemed to hold much promise. The retreat like conditions of his bedroom in particular — fairly isolated from the hustle and bustle of the house — seemed to be ideal. While the house itself was tucked away into a lane, far enough for the traffic noise to be muted to a significant extent. The best part was that no-one would bother him even if he shut himself up for a whole day (as long as he made an appearance at mealtimes).
The only factor that irked him severely was the lack of control over his diet. Though the meals were regular, the hygiene and nutritional value were suspect (as was the case whenever hired help looked after all the culinary matters). Keenly aware that he had just enough energy to take part in the Simple Technique case study, he wisely decided not to waste it in reforming the kitchen ! Though his digestion was in a bad state (mainly because of his ignorance of the intricacies of purifying unrefined food before consumption) he decided to simply overlook it. Anyway he did not have a tummy ache to distract him and if he missed taking part in the case study now, he might have to wait a very long time indeed for the next long vacation !
This bolt from the blue (the extension of his vacation) galvanized him into getting initiated into the Simple Technique from one of the authors who visited him in his room. He felt an immense sense of adventure in being one among very few people in the world who was directly initiated into a rare and powerful technique (though he wasn’t particular about whether his case study would be selected for publication). The strong feeling of being useful (by being part of a team dedicated to proving that the Simple Technique was powerful enough to change the world) was heady enough to get him all fired up & ready to start and out of sheer gratitude to the authors, he decided to be as thorough as possible and provide them with a detailed report of his Simple Technique sessions.
Though he hardly expected to attain the effortless state itself, he did, however, expect to enter (by means of the Simple Technique) a state of meditation deep enough to relax him and heal his body & mind (both of which had taken a lot of beating in the last 6 months). He made up his mind that he would at least enter these basic states of meditation on every single day of his vacation, in order to maximize the healing process. Besides, the authors themselves were not expecting him to attain the effortless state and had only instructed him to see how close he could get to the effortless state during the one month time that he had. He was also free to quit the case study any time he pleased. (They seemed to be concerned about not weighing him down with any kind of commitment which would be a burden to him in his chronically debilitated state !) This thoughtful concession relaxed him even more. Only a modicum of tautness remained to motivate him to make use of this window of opportunity before he left for the city in a few weeks time.
As time stretched out before him, he suddenly felt relaxed enough to concentrate exclusively on the case study. (While the mind relieving psychological effect of getting the long vacation turned out to be a major factor for his success, the long vacation itself turned out to be unnecessary since he attained the effortless state within three hours on the very first day of the case study !) It especially pleased him that there seemed to be enough time to thoroughly investigate as well as commit the Simple Technique to memory. (He was a perfectionist at heart. Thus whenever he was learning anything new he spent an inordinately long time on the basics in order to make sure that he got it just right. This was often responsible for his obsession with a single concept for days & weeks and — depending upon it’s complexity — even years.)
He did feel a bit uneasy that a month spent in the old homestead seemed a trifle too long (though it was just right for his convalescence). This was because the inevitable result of such a long vacation was that soon either a frustrated restlessness or a soporific dullness would seize him. (Though options for entertainment in his hometown were not limited, several years of tasting the bliss of meditation had killed his hankering for extraneous pleasures). He could see that only by working at the Simple Technique would he be able to barely poise his mind between the above two extremes.
He now turned to the more mundane arrangements of the case study : An early start would ensure that his meager reservoirs of energy would be used up only for learning & practicing the Simple Technique. He also needed to work without interruption for a few hours which meant that the best time to start would be shortly after breakfast. In case he was unable to attain the goal of effortlessness by dinnertime, another four/ five hours in the afternoon remained for his second attempt. (The most important reason for starting in the morning itself was because he had decided to combine a slightly complicated meditation technique (that he had been initiated into) with the Simple Technique.
Authors’ note : Here it must be mentioned that we heartily praise the spirit of this young man for voluntarily taking on such a heavy load in spite of his debilitated state. Here was a full blooded self—improvement warrior and we are very happy to have him as the subject of this case study).
The very next morning found him lying flat on his back in bed (with a pillow under his head) shortly after breakfast. In his debilitated state, the dead man’s pose — shavasana — was the perfect position in which he could keep very still and concentrate fully on the task at hand (for an entire day if necessary). Since he wasn’t aware of the necessity of propping up the knees while lying flat on the back, he spent a major part of the preliminaries trying to ease the resulting discomfort. Happily he found a way — knees bent and feet braced comfortably on a turned up corner of the mattress. The icing on the cake turned out to be the extremely comfortable nature of his mattress. He literally sank into it’s softness, all physical strain INSTANTLY forgotten ! (In fact he attributed one of the main causes of his success in the case study to this particular mattress. By contrast an uncomfortable bed/ chair would have caused him a constant physical uneasiness which in turn would have spoiled the tenor of his concentration on the Simple Technique.) It was extra wide too and he stretched himself out luxuriously !
For a while he lay there, mind dulled by a slightly heavy breakfast. A lighter meal would have given him a good start but he had deliberately eaten a bit more than was necessary in order to keep himself from staggering out for a snack at a vital moment. (Chances for attaining a high state of consciousness were higher if he maintained as much isolation & stillness as possible in the crucial latter part of his session.) He ruefully realized that this was indeed a far cry from his usual self-improvement experiments. For if he had been in the peak of health, he would have eaten only fruits/ water before starting this session besides observing the elaborate pre-meditation routines for several weeks/ months at least. A keen awareness of his extremely debilitated state now passed through him. He was literally “half dead” with exhaustion and strain ! It suddenly seemed absurd to even believe that he could attain high states of consciousness by merely practicing the Simple Technique !
He impatiently turned away from these self-defeating thoughts, eager to start the session as soon as possible — looking forward to the time when his mind & body would relax completely (he would achieve at least this goal, he vowed !) In this respect he felt like a soldier hiding out in enemy territory, who, unable to attend to his personal needs for food & shelter in a proper manner, did not care about such niceties enough to allow them to interfere with his vitally important mission in any way. That the importance of the mission weighed heavily in his mind rather than the fact that he had broken too many rules seemed to be the ideal state of mind — in his present set of circumstances — to tackle the Simple Technique. Moreover, it was obviously impossible to do any kind of justice to rules in general in his present debilitated state.
A little bit of introspection revealed that, psychologically speaking, he was beyond caring about strictly following rules and regulations mainly because six months of unrelenting hardships — when he became depressed enough to neglect his health — had dissolved his vice-like grip on such scruples. On the other hand, if he had been in peak mental & physical form, he would have been finicky enough to find some excuse or the other to postpone taking part in the case study. A serendipitous set of circumstances indeed, wherein opportunity was revealed in the deepest adversity !
It took around 45 minutes for the heaviness of the morning meal to leave his mind. This was what he had been waiting for … at last he could start ! His meditation technique consisted of two parts — focusing his mind on a certain spot within his body while simultaneously engaging himself in a powerful mental chant. He decided to start with focusing his mind on the designated spot within his body. Now, what he had to do was use the Simple Technique to stimulate his mind to focus effortlessly on the designated spot within his body. Then — while maintaining this effortless focus in his mental background — he would have to use the Simple Technique to stimulate his mind to chant mentally in an effortless manner. (Like a juggler trying to add one more ball to the ones that he was already juggling with). If he successfully crossed this stage, he could stop practicing the Simple Technique and engage only in effortless & simultaneous practice of both parts of his meditation technique.
Theoretically speaking, this defined his path and goal. Practically speaking, he did not expect to attain the effortless state at all. Maybe quite close, but definitely not the effortless state itself. (He had, of course, no idea, that he would not only cross the effortless state before dinner but by evening he would have gone beyond the effortless state itself to reach a very high sublime goal — a goal that only very, very advanced meditation students attained on a routine basis.)
As he lay there, he was suddenly filled with a great curiosity to know how close he could get to the effortless state. He did not know exactly what to expect, but since this was his first extended session in years, he was sure that some fireworks were possible because extended sessions, especially those which were executed as meticulously as possible (and the Simple Technique demanded a high degree of meticulousness) never failed to surprise him. The ghost of an old desire to meditate until enlightenment itself was reached, hovered in his mental background. He did not pay much heed to it. For now, deep mental and physical relaxation was his primary aim.
He started the session by consciously using as little mental energy as possible besides setting a leisurely snail like pace. This would give him ample scope to execute the instructions as meticulously as possible without tiring himself out too much. (He suddenly realized that he was mentally too exhausted to carry the theoretical baggage of an advanced meditation student into the current Simple Technique session. As such he was more like a new student learning & practicing meditation for the first time and this was yet another crucial factor in making his focus on the Simple Technique keener. If he hadn’t been so ill, he would have evaluated the Simple Technique through the fogged up prism of his own preconceived notions which in turn might have had a significant impact on his chances of success in this case study. A Zen master would have actually hailed his current attitude as being one with an empty cup. Ruefully he realized, that it was very rare for him to attain such an “empty cup” state — a curse common to all who developed a biased know-it-all attitude within a few years of walking on what in their opinion was the “best path” — and this further strengthened his resolve to make the most of his present “fortuitous” circumstances !)
With his eyes closed (he was allowed to keep them open/ half-closed … all the time or some of the time … whatever made him comfortable), he gently focused on the area of the greatest physical restlessness and started making the appropriate adjustments to appease it. Perhaps his very first act at the start of the session was to straighten himself out after noticing the slight curve of his body (an aerial view would have shown the slight sideways curve of the spine like a bracket).
Authors’ note : Due to sheer exhaustion he had not taken any immediate notes. Neither did he have any facility for dictation. He had started writing about his experiences only months after the case study was over. Thus an accurate report of the finer points of his very first session does not exist. As far as the preliminaries were concerned, there was a sheer variety of physical & mental discomforts and he could not remember some of them as well as the order in which he attended to them. It is also possible that certain thoughts which he claimed to have had in his first session (e.g. about the self-improvement books that he had read) actually took place during later sessions. By contrast, it was easier to remember most of his experiences with the Simple Technique itself and thus his notes about attaining the effortless state has faithfully reproduced nearly all that actually happened in the first three hours of the first day’s session. This, of course, will not detract from our readers’ attempts to master the Simple Technique. Let us assure our readers once again that there is enough information in this book for you to learn the art of effortless meditation. The authors also feel that many of our readers may try to copy exactly what the subject of our case study did in his first session. Therefore the absence of an accurate record will force such readers to rely on learning the Simple technique in their own unique way and give credence to their own experiences which are also valid markers on the path to the effortless state.
Oblivious to the minutes that were ticking by (time was, of course, far from his mind as he engaged himself in the nuts and bolts of the preliminaries), he made a few major and numerous minute adjustments to his position as and when some compelling signal of physical discomfort made itself felt. He also deliberately made a bit of his own adjustments that he knew would, in the long term, reduce the amount of “complaining” from his physical body as the session progressed. Now that he was paying close attention to his body (which is generally how one starts the preliminaries, as physical discomforts are usually more compelling than mental ones in the beginning of the session), he could see that the lack of physical exercise for several months was complicating matters — his body was racked with uneasiness and ghost pains. (Anyone watching him would have wondered at the continuous fidgeting going on and would also have been alarmed to see the fidgeting some times crescendoing to a vigorous stretching/ writhing about his bed with a contorted expression on his face … all in the name of meditation !)
They (uneasiness and ghost pains) were so compelling and the process of paying close attention to his body so tiring, that several times he had to totally interrupt the session (super break) and get into a sitting/ half curled position. (However frugal he was with expending mental energy, his debilitated condition seemed to be putting up a stiff resistance to his attempts to discipline his mind through the Simple Technique – starting something new was always so difficult !) Then he would stare out of the window for some time (not even thinking about the Simple Technique at all for he knew that it would wait for him), taking in the blue sky and the insects hovering around the tree (just outside his window) in the sunlight. His room was especially blessed with a panoramic view of hills, purple in the distance.
Plenty of yawns & vigorous stretching (done carefully of course) seemed to help (he could feel the accumulated stress melting away in the face of his systematic attendance to his bodily discomforts) and once he even had to answer the call of nature. Occasionally he would break out into a long drawn out theatrical groan (as he stretched himself) or burst into a few lines of ridiculous song which seemed to get rid of a whole host of mental suppressions — rather like the compressed air fizzing furiously out of a newly opened can of soda. (At the same time, he was careful not to overdo the above groans and ridiculous songs or else it would take that much longer for his mind to calm down enough to enter the effortless state). This freestyle method of warming up for the Simple Technique was, of course, more preferable to the rule-based physical/ mental pre-meditation routines (that he usually used) since it (the freestyle method) addressed every nuance of his discomforts. Moreover, he simply wasn’t in the mood to implement even a simple relaxation routine from his repertoire (he had absolutely no mental or physical energy to go through the more complex ones) mainly due to being absolutely bored of them ! Practicing something new (the preliminary to the Simple Technique) in such a freestyle manner was invigorating and hence he found it easy to keep going.
At the same time, he realized that the time tested pre-meditation routines were an ancient science beyond reproach and whatever their perceived disadvantages, it was not for him to freely criticize them even at this moment. He could only console himself with the thought that since he did not have the luxury of an experienced meditation teacher sitting with him right now, it was far better to tread his own path especially if he did not have the inclination to implement any of the pre-meditation routines. Moreover, it was highly likely that, if an experienced meditation teacher WAS present with him right now, he would definitely be asked to dispense with the pre-meditation routines seeing that he was in no mood for them, wasn’t fit for them and deep faults could be found in the way he usually practiced them in his healthier times !
He was also glad that he was allowed to spend as much time as possible on the preliminaries. He simply couldn’t start meditating right away as usual. His head would hurt like hell ! Which was why he was doubly pleased with the Simple Technique — for it came down to his level of energy and was fully content with waiting for him (as long as it took) to catch up. (Learning the Simple Technique was one of those rare events where he was asked to master the initial steps as thoroughly as possible before proceeding to the next one and as he lay there he could feel the sheer joy of learning without the usual strain, course through him. By contrast, his academic life had been the usual forced one, where he was taken to the next step so quickly that he often had to strain and perform at a higher level in a half baked manner without having fully mastered the previous step !)
After around half-an-hour, the domination of physical discomfort started to loosen it’s hold upon him – thanks, in no small measure, to the extremely comfortable bed that he was lying upon. And then the mental chatter — which had been initially overwhelmed by the physical discomforts — started to dominate. (He had tried to attend to them earlier, especially if they were demanding attention, but was always sidelined by the sheer variety of physical discomforts that dominated his consciousness). As he attended to the mental chatter now, he was yet alert for any signs of physical discomfort. The moment he detected it’s faintest stirrings, he would stretch/ change his position slightly to compensate, but these moments were getting to be few and far in between.
Attending to the mental chatter was trickier, but familiar (his previous school had trained him to deal with mental chatter and he had spent at least 2 years on this exercise). The first thing he noticed when he turned his full attention to the mental chatter was the usual whirring away of his mind engaged in continuous movement. Obvious as well as myriads of subtle suppressions were being released e.g. the customary mental stiffness when he had eaten breakfast that morning in company — he had to remind himself now that he was behind a closed door in his own private space and therefore could let go of all the mental hang ups that he was still clinging onto sub-consciously.
He watched as his mind flitted here and there “with a mind of it’s own” : sensory impressions of his new surroundings (distant sounds of the town, the bird calls and the occasional dog barking), memories of the people he had met recently (some after a very long time), etc. all came and dominated his mind in a random short-lived manner. He just had to wait it out by letting his mind go where it wanted to as well as allow himself to get emotionally involved/ lost in any compelling thought(s) that came up.
This was one of the thoughts that crossed his mind : Having a highly sensitive mind was both a blessing and a curse. For while his intelligence was highly developed, his mind was hyperactive, difficult to control — unless tamed by the habit of regular meditation — and consequently almost always stressed out. Right now, his mind was wound up to breaking point due to his long illness. So even though he was practicing at a snail’s pace (with plenty of breaks/ super breaks) that could be maintained for an entire day without strain if necessary, he was yet alert for any untoward strain caused by a mental misstep.
Authors’ note : Novice to the Simple Technique that he was, he was repeatedly making the classic beginner’s mistake of straining not to strain and each time he had to totally stop and start from scratch — after a super break. Yet his highly sensitive mind turned out to be an asset as it slowly and steadily climbed the pinnacle of success in his very first Simple Technique session.
Endless thoughts about his self-improvement research would also bombard his mind as lay there — instant enlightenment (he had seen this on some web-site), the “technique-less” technique (so beautifully expounded by Paul Brunton in A Hermit in the Himalayas — a book so well written that in his mind he had been instantly transported to the chill pine forests of the Himalayas), effortless effort (which was precisely what he was working on right now), the enlightenment machine — if it were ever made it would definitely cost a bomb to buy it !!! Now and then his few tentative attempts to initiate practice of the Simple Technique would get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of mental chatter. Regretfully, he wasn’t done with the preliminaries yet.
Meanwhile, the most unpleasant part of the preliminaries loomed ahead. He had reached the make or break part of the session and there was no way he could get around it. For if a suppressed emotion/ memory (that could overwhelm him with it’s negativity) was asking to be released, it had to be released. Or else the effortless state would never be realized since he would always be using some mental effort to suppress such an emotion/ memory. Totally disregarding all the safety precautions of the Simple Technique — he was supposed to quit for the day at this stage — he suddenly decided to go for broke (for as long as it took) and get it over with. He simply could not be derailed on this important mission now !
Curiosity overwhelmed him as he realized that this was the very first time that he would be dealing with his mental chatter for maybe an hour or more. And facing a steady stream of negativity for such a long time was something only very advanced meditation students did on a routine basis (his previous school had frowned on practicing such an exercise for too long). What was he going to discover !
One by one, bad memories, current troublesome situations, worries about his lack of livelihood, the wrongs done to him by known and unknown persons — all came and went, reopening and aggravating old wounds, triggering off violent thoughts, the resultant emotional bloodbath undermining whatever calm he had gained. Then, a cold defiant rage (born out of facing more than his fair share of troubles over the past 6 months) gripped him. Let the negativity come and do as much damage as it wanted to ! He would just wait it out and start again from scratch … and he would keep doing this until sunset ! If he failed today, he would try again tomorrow. And again the day after tomorrow, and again the next day after that … For if he was destined to flunk out of the case study, he was determined to at least go down fighting. He simply couldn’t let go of this opportunity of a lifetime — a rare chance to pursue eternity itself in a retreat setting — that easily.
And so he lay there allowing himself to get angry as the negativity overwhelmed him, consoling himself with the thought that it was only a matter of time (which he had plenty of) when he would become bored of getting angry (boredom came to him easily these days) ! A part of the anger (common to advanced students) was born out of a trapped feeling that came from the knowledge that ultimately his deepest desire — enlightenment — may come within reach only after a lifetime of being chained to the wheel of meditation (unless he could figure out a short cut method or get someone to teach him one sooner or later). Thankfully the negativity did not last long and soon his mind calmed down somewhat.
As the anger drained away, he was heartened to see a lot of improvement as far as the amount of mental chatter was concerned — they were now down to a few radio and T.V. Channels ! Perhaps this was the ideal time to start the Simple Technique. Gently he focused his mind on the designated spot within his body. At once his stressed out mind started complaining and he stopped his mind from the act of focusing. Meanwhile he remained alert for any sign of physical discomfort/ mental chatter or any sign of undue mental strain that he would have to attend to immediately. But since they seemed to have nearly lost their hold over him, the Simple Technique became his primary focus.
The minutes ticked by. (Under strict instructions that he was to give priority to the pace of his mind and not the clock, he wouldn’t have been surprised if more than 10 whole minutes had elapsed.) Once again he focused his mind and yet again he stopped the moment he felt the familiar painful twinge of a mind too stressed out to meditate. Since this was his first session, an uneasy feeling of vagueness was overwhelming him. Merely stopping his mind from focusing every time he felt some strain was easy enough. But groping his way around in his mind for some way to prod it into the effortless state by using intention/ affirmations alone was similar to trying to find his balance while learning to ride a bicycle for the first time. An interesting visualization coalesced in his mind as a result of his mental fumbling for a grip on the Simple Technique : The mind represented by a horse stood facing him. It’s reins were held loosely in his hand. He was looking into the horse’s eyes. The horse understood by a mere look that it was to walk towards him. But it remained stubbornly still & so he would pull on the reins until it was stretched straight out and he could feel the horse’s resistance by the barest perceptible tug. The moment he felt the horse’s resistance he would loosen his grip on the reins and continue his mute appeal to the horse through his eyes. His ultimate message to the horse was that he was prepared to wait for however long it took for it to come to him on it’s own and also that he would never, ever use force to pull it towards him.
Author’s note : The above is a fairly clear explanation of the nuts and bolts of how the Simple Technique works. i.e how it is used to goad the mind to meditate effortlessly. Making the horse move by pulling it towards you against it’s will (even if the pulling is done as gently as possible) is symbolic of how meditation is practiced today. No wonder even advanced meditation students are unable to sustain extended meditation sessions.
He let this visualization disappear from his mind once he lost interest in it and then decided to use some very short affirmations combined with intention in order to combat the vagueness and anchor his mind to a tangible goal. So whenever he focused his mind he would silently (almost effortlessly !) tell his mind to “Come on”, while simultaneously expecting his mind to do the focusing effortlessly.
This stop-start-stop routine went on …
Sometimes there would be moments of razor sharp pure concentration when he would be handling the Simple Technique like a pro. During these moments he would not be using any affirmation at all. Instead he would focus his mind while expecting effortlessness and milliseconds later when he felt his mind using effort to focus he would stop immediately and rest. And all this was done by using only the barest minimum of mental energy and with an effortless rhythm of it’s own ! He watched himself, absolutely fascinated by this sudden burst of mastery, as he patiently and gently prodded his mind to meditate effortlessly and in the background his brain formed the necessary neural connections to hardwire these peak performances. The world and his debilitated condition were totally forgotten and mental and physical discomforts barely intruded at these times.
But these blessed moments did not last long and mostly he would lapse into a more or less below average performance of the Simple Technique. Sometimes mental vagueness would totally overwhelm him whenever his debilitated condition asserted itself and interfered with his ability to focus whole-heartedly on the execution of the Simple Technique. This never failed to frustrate and depress him for he was sure that these memory lapses would never have occurred had he been properly cared for during the last 6 months. But by allowing all these emotions to run their course through him, he was at least being true to the preliminary to the Simple Technique.
Author’s note : At this point, we would like to praise the subject’s grasp of the Simple Technique. In spite of his attachment to the peak performance states he did not make the common mistake of forcing the mind to continue performing at it’s peak which in turn would have generated mental resistance. Instead he allowed mental vagueness to overcome him (reluctantly !) since he had been told to let the dog (mind) go wherever it wanted to until it got “bored” and finally allowed him to lead it !
During these moments of mental vagueness, he would take a super break, enjoy the view from his window and then get back to the Simple Technique. Very gently, he would coax his mind back into the Simple Technique by mentally fumbling about for the check list (he had not taken any written notes and thus had to rely on memory) and wearily ticking each item off (much like a tired old man sleepily engaged with the intricacies of adjusting the pillow & sheets on his bed just before he retires at bedtime). In this way, he was able to identify his lapses and omissions and take the appropriate steps to get back on track (which included waiting it out until the mental vagueness passed so that he could concentrate properly).
Yet another hour passed by and he was pleased to see that he was getting the hang of the Simple Technique through sheer practice. Meanwhile, a long forgotten feeling of ease was beginning to dominate his mind and body — the complete physical relaxation that comes from extended meditation sessions (was he meditating ?!) best described as a barely perceptible tingling of the body caused by near total mental withdrawal from body consciousness i.e. the mind was becoming unconscious of the body. And the bonus was that he could no longer feel his mental and physical debilitation. It was like he had never been ill these past six months ! The last time he had attained such a state — as a result of intense meditation — was many years ago ! A calm wave of happiness surged through him as he greeted this state of mind like a long lost old friend ! This gave a healthy boost to his motivation and his focus on the Simple Technique became keener ! At this stage, he couldn’t help musing that when he was in his teens, this was the very goal that he had aimed at and gained during his first attempts at learning and practicing meditation from books. At that time, a sense of achievement and the accompanying thrill were always evoked whenever his mind and body became calm and relaxed as a result of practicing simple relaxation and meditation techniques for 20 — 40 minutes. But as the years passed by and his goals shifted (as a result of out growing the various self-improvement paths), he looked upon deep states of mental and physical relaxation — though immensely desirable — as mere preliminaries to higher states of consciousness.
As these thoughts passed through his mind, he suddenly realized (with a mildly pleasant shock) that, 2 hours into the Simple Technique, his mind had regained the soft clay pliancy of his childhood/ teenage years. Which meant that he could abandon the Simple Technique right now and use mild mental effort to meditate CONTINUOUSLY for a full 20 minutes at least ! (Until this moment, he considered himself lucky if he was able to meditate continuously for more than 2 seconds these days, without being interrupted by a sharp mental twinge of pain !) His appreciation of the elaborate manner in which the Simple Technique was preparing his mind for meditation now increased even more. (With the Preliminary he had created an atmosphere of deep mental calmness within himself in the long run by indulging his bodily needs whenever necessary through stretching/ yawning/ shifting and by giving free rein to his mind to erupt into mental chatter and disrupt the session whenever it wanted to (like a bird feeding it’s chattering chicks until they lapsed into temporary silence). And the Simple Technique itself had brought his mind slowly and surely to a state where it had earned him this first major breakthrough of the day !)
This was also the first technique that he had learned that could be practiced for an extraordinarily long time even though he was a highly stressed out convalescent. The authors’ assertion that the combination of novelty of quest and leisurely pace would be mainly responsible for the first session’s marathon innings was also proved. This was why he was still going strong ! The Simple Technique was putting the elusive goals of quality and stamina within his reach – a convalescent’s reach ! He allowed pride (his prime vice !) to surge up within him now – he was like an advanced meditation student still in the running (and actually feeling stronger for it !) on the last lap of a meditation marathon ! And his watch, with it’s hour hand relentlessly ticking off his startling progress, now became a medal of honor !
As he allowed the startling implications of the moment to echo in his mind, yet another realization suddenly crystallized out of the calm movement of his thoughts : he had regained this youthful flexibility of mind in just a couple of hours and with minimal effort to boot ! By contrast he was yet to hear of a method to do the same to his physical body in the same amount of time.
The mind was easier to control than the body !
And in his experience, the Simple Technique seemed to be the only exercise that could restore youthful flexibility to his mind in a couple of hours – in spite of being a mentally debilitated convalescent who had to make do without an experienced meditation teacher by his side and the proper retreat facilities like specialized diet, etc.
He even felt grateful for the sheer exhaustion of being a convalescent ! Coupled with the relief of not having to attend to the countless chores which were relentlessly keeping him on the move back home in the city, this too was a major factor in confining him to bed the whole day so that he could concentrate full time on the Simple Technique. He now realized in it’s deepest practical sense the well known saying that convalescents confined to bed (he couldn’t go anywhere even if he wanted to !) had a serious advantage over even advanced meditation students !
The dizzying heights of attainment was not without it’s consequences. His overactive imagination began to plague him and an urgent need to cover as much ground as possible during this first session made itself felt close on the heels of a sudden doubt about whether he would come so far in the next session tomorrow. (What if his vacation ended that very day ! What if he had an accident tomorrow ! Life was so uncertain that he wouldn’t be surprised if he never again got the opportunity to come so far in any subsequent meditation session especially if he was doomed to a lifetime of drudgery and ill health !)
Then his optimistic self reasserted itself and pushed aside these gloomy thoughts. (At once his mind warned him to let these thoughts run their course — and not pushed aside — in line with the preliminaries.) A sudden steely resolve to keep climbing to the very peak (in this first session itself) now took hold of his mind. For in spite of his optimism, he felt that it was wise to give credence to these fears and push on as if this was his last day on Earth ! The unique combination of factors that was motivating him to patiently and laboriously utilize every “nook and cranny” of his mind to execute the Simple Technique would definitely be missing in future sessions. And the startling signs of progress in the first session itself was adding fuel to the fire by strengthening his resolve to keep going. (A calm part of him, bored with all this drama and not caring at all how this session and life itself turned out to be, hovered unobtrusively in the background.)
Author’s note : At this moment the subject is behaving like a very advanced meditation student who always lives as though it was his/ her last day in the monastery and therefore practices meditation as rigorously as possible in order to attain enlightenment sooner. For who knows when the next calamity would strike and spoil one’s best laid plans ! This is also one of the subject’s peak performance moments when his fears, instead of crippling him, were channelized to the constructive end of eagerly gearing himself up for a marathon session.
Part of the reason why his fears could not cripple him at the moment was because he was busy expecting something major to happen soon. As was mentioned before, extended sessions never failed to surprise him since spectacular results usually occurred within 3 hours and at the leisurely rate at which he was going, he was sure that 3 hours would soon be over without him having popped even a bead of sweat. And since he wasn’t done celebrating the startlingly high goals achieved so far (the pleasure centers of his brain were still reveling in the celebratory fireworks !), fear was more or less an unwanted guest at the moment.
Apart from being the longest that he had ever focused on any technique at this age, it was the absence of strain in reaching these heights that was startling. He realized that this was due to being extremely meticulous in conserving mental energy and taking time out for as many breaks/ super breaks as was necessary. By contrast, some amount of strain had been an ever present accompaniment in previous extended meditation sessions, since he had paid only lip service to the demands of his inner rebels during such meditation sessions. (There had been no detailed instructions to deal with them — unlike the Simple Technique.) This was why his usual meditation sessions lacked quality and stamina. And the very presence of this strain in his usual meditation sessions was a damper on his motivation to attain high goals on a regular basis. (Several times in the past he had attained such a high state of mind wherein waves of healing had comforted his entire being enough to erase the strain he had undergone to reach such a state in the first place. But the fact that he always had to go through this strain initially and that such high attainments were not always guaranteed often made him think twice of scaling these peaks on a regular basis. But now, the Simple Technique which made the usual long journey seem more like a stroll up a slight incline rather than a strenuous vertical ascent was reawakening his motivation to indulge in extended meditation sessions on a regular basis). Deep gratitude welled up within him as he blessed the minimal energy usage of the Simple Technique. He was expending only as much mental energy as a shepherd taking rest from the noonday sun in the deep shade of a large tree in the middle of nowhere. At this rate, he would definitely last until sunset today ! (As it turned out, it was only in this first session that he was able to go as far as sunset. This was mainly due to his motivation cooling down after he attained an unthinkably high goal by sunset on this first day).
How many years he had spent in attending to mind-calming and body-relaxing routines and countless other pre-meditation practices specifically designed to mollify his inner rebels ! Yet he could not remember a single victory that was as complete as what he had attained just now in this debilitated state ! He could now see that people like him, i.e. those with hyper-sensitive minds, should go the extra mile of attending to all manner of mind and body restlessness even while meditating — which was the main theme of the Simple Technique. The Simple Technique seemed to be a vital beginner’s lesson that needed to be mastered fully before conventional meditation was practiced and he wondered whether he would have to “go back to kindergarten” for a few years until he developed the ability to enter the effortless state at will within a few minutes.
If only he had practiced the Simple Technique right from his teenage years. This would have laid a solid foundation using which he would have entered deep states of meditation on a routine basis and kept his mind sharp even after 30. And this would have saved him a lot of misery since he would then have been able to manage his life better and wouldn’t have faced as many problems as he was facing now.
He could now see that the Simple Technique was powerful enough to change the world and deserved the attention of Govt. policy makers in addition to private meditation schools.
But, time was passing and now and then he would sneak a peek at his watch balanced on the ledge in front of the window sill. Dinner would be served in an hour, and he started to worry that sooner or later, either hunger pangs or someone calling him for dinner would cut his session short right in the middle of his “breathless looting of the hidden treasure caves of Monte Cristo” ! Yet another hour passed and it was nearly dinner time when his mind quietly startled him ! It happened when, after the customary pause of indeterminate length, he gently focused his mind on the designated spot within his body. As usual, he was simultaneously alert for the slightest sign of effort/ flexing of mental muscle.
There was none ! He was focusing his mind effortlessly !
He instantly shifted to the next stage : He discarded the Simple Technique and occupied himself SOLELY with focusing his mind on the spot within his body continuously. In his mental background, he was yet alert for any sign of mental or physical restlessness or mental strain. At the first sign of any of the above, he was to stop focusing his mind on the spot within his body and attend to the strain/ restlessness with the preliminary to the Simple Technique. As soon as the strain/ restlessness disappeared he was to restart his mental focus on the spot within his body. But in case his mind had slipped out of the effortless state, he was to restart the Simple Technique.
Seconds … and minutes ticked by ! And he was still focusing on the spot within his body continuously in an effortless manner ! A sense of triumph filled him ! He had done it ! He was meditating effortlessly ! The case study was a stunning success !
What a relief it was ! After nearly three hours of trying to “start the car”, the ignition was finally over with and the car’s engine was up and running ! This was the first time that he had actually been able to command his mind to achieve the effortless state. (Though vague experiences of effortlessness of varying durations had been present in his earlier extended meditation sessions, such experiences had been very rare because he simply did not know — until now — how to invoke such effortless states on demand). There seemed to be no limits to the extent to which the mind was programmable !
He focused on this feeling of effortlessness. He felt like an astronaut who had suddenly broken free of the Earth’s gravity after the rocket had moved far beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. (According to the instructions that he had received, he was to allow his mind to do whatever it wanted to even during the state of effortless meditation. However he noted that even if his emotions (of thrill) and random thoughts (analyzing effortlessness) distracted him he was still able to focus his mind effortlessly whenever such distractions ceased).
A lurking feeling of barely perceptible tension hovered in his mental background caused by “looking down right after climbing up to the clouds” ! But this feeling stayed in the background without seeming to affect his maintenance of the effortless state in any way. Besides, he suddenly felt that it was not worth suspending the effortless meditation state to attend to each and every lurking thought in line with the preliminaries simply because he had attained the effortless state after such a long time and he was more inclined to enjoy this state !
Authors’ note : No comment on the above !! We are happy for him !!
A deep feeling of contentment spread over his being. This act of effortless meditation was making him feel like he had FINALLY GAINED MASTERY over his mind. According to the author who had initiated him into the Simple Technique, if he waited for his mind to attain the effortless state and then practiced his meditation technique in an effortless manner, he could painlessly extend the length of his meditation sessions and take a shot at attaining the very power that the ancient meditation masters had attained during their own extended sessions ! A deep longing to engage continuously in this act of effortless meditation suddenly overwhelmed him ! What a pity that it was nearly dinner time ! Anyway he decided to begin the second part of his meditation technique (mental chant) while simultaneously engaged in continuous and effortless practice of the first (focusing on the designated spot within his body).
He hopefully commanded part of his mind to start the mental chant. Tough luck ! He had half expected that this act would be effortless on the very first try ! He stopped the chant and rested, but that part of his mind engaged in continuous practice of the first part of his meditation technique continued to tick along effortlessly. (There were moments when he had to give his full attention to the intricacies of combining the Simple Technique with the second part of his meditation technique and thus his effortless concentration on the designated spot within his body was not continuous. But he had been told that this was o.k.).
Now he was engaged in two mental acts simultaneously :
1. Continuous practice of the first part of his meditation technique effortlessly.
2. Practicing the Simple Technique in order to stimulate his mind to practice the second part of his meditation technique (the mental chant) effortlessly.
Soon, thoughts of dinner started to dominate his mind. And since the Simple Technique stressed on the immediate gratification of such vital needs within reasonable limits, he got up gingerly and slowly made his way to the dining hall.
Authors’ note : At this stage, we have declared the case study a stunning success ! For if a convalescent could attain the effortless state by using the Simple Technique, then it follows that nearly anyone reading this book should be able to do so ! That the subject was coming back for more (to try & ensure simultaneous & effortless practice of both components of the advanced meditation technique that he had been taught) will be a matter of interest only to advanced students of meditation as well as a matter of pride and delight to us. Beginners are welcome to continue reading if they want to, but they may not find it easy to understand or believe certain advanced concepts. However, this is as good a place to start as any and such beginners are welcome to whet their appetite by reading about the subject’s afternoon session. Hopefully, this may spur them on to make a more serious study about the fascinating subject of meditation. If you do not want to take up this challenge for now, you are welcome to skip the following section.
Meanwhile, we request our readers, especially those who have keenly followed the fluctuating fortunes of the subject of our case study, to join in a silent celebration of the attainment of yet another major goal by this determined young man under such extreme conditions.
Dinner was a quiet and subdued affair since he was late and thus had no company at the table. So it was easy for him to avoid small talk which would have diluted the calmness that he was now experiencing and thus make it tougher for him to get back into the effortless state during the afternoon session. After pottering about at random for some time after dinner, he went back to his room and locked the door. When his mind felt ready to take up the Simple Technique, after his digestion (or lack of it !) was more than through, he started off with the preliminary to the Simple Technique. Since he was still relishing the deep calmness carried over from the morning session, mind and body restlessness were no longer a serious issue and he was able to dispense with the preliminary and start the Simple Technique sooner.
Soon disappointment washed over him like an ocean wave. He had confidently expected that his mind was trained enough to invoke the effortless state within twenty minutes. But now it looked like it had to be wooed into effortlessness right from scratch ! With a deep sigh, he settled down to an indefinite period of coaxing his mind back into the effortless state. For nearly two hours he patiently worked at the Simple Technique, simultaneously resigned to his fate yet ever expectant of a sudden miracle. In the background, mental and physical restlessness were dealt with as and when they arose. But this time they were not clamoring for his attention unlike the morning session when they had been like the jangling of alarm bells. (This seemed to be the only improvement from his morning session. Maybe, in future sessions, he should, hopefully, have progressed enough to be able to get into the effortless state as fast as he had dispensed with the preliminary in this afternoon session.)
An hour before sunset, he was finally able to focus his mind effortlessly on the designated spot within his body and maintain this effortless focus continuously. Now … as gently as he could … while maintaining the effortless focus in his mental background … he applied the Simple Technique to nudge another part of his mind into effortless mental chanting … The sun had set by the time the breakthrough that he had been waiting for — but hardly hoped to be blessed with — suddenly materialized !
The Simple Technique had finally coaxed his mind into effortless mental chanting !
Discarding the Simple Technique, he watched and wondered as his mind effortlessly engaged in mental chanting while focusing (also effortlessly) on the designated spot within his body.
He had done it ! At last ! He was finally engaged in continuous & effortless practice of the meditation technique that he had been taught !
At this point there were hardly any mental/ physical restlessness. (He found himself unable to give them more than a passing thought at this sublimely victorious moment).
Authors’ note : He has far exceeded our expectations ! But from this point onwards, he started to bend a few vital rules of the Simple Technique. He had already made the mistake of practicing the Preliminary (dealing with mental chatter) for too long — to the extent of releasing too many negative thoughts and emotions — in his very first session. However, we would like to make it clear that we do not wish to impose the Simple Technique upon our readers, urging them instead to give priority to satisfying the deep longing for the higher states of consciousness (provided you know what you are doing and in addition to having taken the appropriate precautions, you are working under expert supervision).
He suddenly noticed a growing soreness of his back (he had barely changed his position on the bed for quite some time now), but being far too interested in the novelty of effortless meditation, he hoped that it would not bother him too much. Truth was he was afraid that if he followed the Simple Technique rules too strictly (like attending to every single mental & physical restlessness) he would lose out on meditating continuously and reaping the sudden flow of benefits — the divine wellspring that he had fortuitously tapped into after many, many years, thanks to the Simple Technique, and which he was in no mood to stop “drinking” at !
Moreover, the meditation technique that he was practicing was one that had been used by the ancient meditation masters themselves and given only to initiates of a privileged inner circle. And prolonged practice of such a powerful technique, that too in an effortless manner (thanks to the Simple Technique) opened up the possibilities of previously unimagined access to the infinite powers of the mind. He had the rocket engine (a powerful meditation technique), he had the set of wheels (the effortless state invoked by the Simple Technique) and he was in a retreat (a smooth road). And all he had to do was not take his foot off the accelerator (keep practicing) if he wanted to not only visit rarely seen utopian places but also go beyond them into undiscovered territory — a part of his mental countryside (glimpsed from the barred windows of the ghetto of his self limiting thoughts) that he had long wanted to explore. His ever present concern, that if he hesitated now to take advantage of this supremely fortuitous state of circumstances, he might never reach those places in his lifetime, was an invisible siren in the background ! Enough motivation for him to continue his session instead of calling it quits the moment he had proved himself able to practice (the) meditation (technique that he had been initiated into) effortlessly.
A lurking fear that he may snap out of the effortless state any moment now and never get back into it before supper time (he couldn’t forget the two hours he had just spent to get back into the effortless state) hovered in his mental background. “Well !”, he thought to himself, “nothing venture, nothing won !” and plunged into continuous effortless practice of the meditation technique that he had been initiated into.
The minutes ticked by and the suspense was mounting steadily ! As deep excitement and calmness mixed together in his mind in a heady new combination, an unwelcome complication suddenly loomed up : a plethora of insistent signals from his mind and body — a virtual massing of invisible intruders outside the gates of his inner peace — suddenly proclaimed that since a whole day had been spent in mental workouts, could he please snap out of it and come back to Earth. For after all, the case study had been a stunning success.
It was obviously time for him to end the session since this restlessness was way too serious to be mollified by the Preliminary. His recurring fear of a premature termination to this landmark first session was finally realized at the worst possible moment — just when he was at the threshold of a very major breakthrough. Now that he was so close to the rarely attained doorway of bliss itself, the impending end of the session that would prevent him from turning the key, suddenly forced him to grovel emotionally. (Yet, due to the high state of mind that he was in, he was untainted by the negativity of his despair). It wasn’t just a simple matter of greed. His very soul ached with a deeply poignant longing for the bliss of the higher states of mind which he knew would erase the pain and suffering of so many years of hardships and misfortunes. His desperate mental cries, to the armies of restlessness, to wait, seemed to stop their advance. Perhaps struck by the magnitude of the moment “they watched him silently, allowing him to slowly open the jewel box of eternity with trembling hands”.
Time passed … A keen desire to mark the exact length of this “historic” effortless meditation session possessed him, but he had stopped looking at his watch, afraid to move lest he snap out of the high state of mind that he was in. Estimating roughly, he guessed that 15 minutes or more could have passed since he attained the state of total effortlessness.
Suddenly, without any warning, he attained the first of the ultimate goals of all advanced meditation students : his mind — except for a ripple or two of stray thought — ceased all movement and settled into … the Silence.
Ancient meditation masters have commented that the Silence is the first tangible mental manifestation of the Sacred Presence. Though he would have preferred something more spectacular, this goal was so unthinkably high for someone like him (so physically and mentally debilitated that he was too stressed out to meditate) that he knew he would demand no more from today’s session. Else it would be the case of a mere mortal, who instead of being content with having scaled Mt. Olympus, demands the throne of the King of the Gods Himself !
In this state of mind, the threatening mob of extreme mind & body restlessness instantly dwindled to a lone and nearly insignificant voice in the background : this state of mind was good but please end the session soon (the voice seemed to say). Though he himself had decided to do just that, he couldn’t help wishing, yet again, that he could stay in this state without the need for food & sleep for at least another 6 to 12 hours. (The urge to imitate the marathon meditation sessions of the masters was like a virus in his blood for which there seemed to be no cure !)
He even found himself longing to make a try for enlightenment itself, but pessimism reared it’s ugly but practical head and so he concentrated on prolonging the present moment for as long as it was feasible. It was at this cliffhanging moment that he realized, even more deeply, that the meditation technique that he was practicing had to contend with the limitations of his personality. In other words, the sword was perfect but the swordsman was not. And dedicated practice was the key to someday equal the worth of the master sword that he was wielding.
His conscience suddenly seized the moment and informed him in no small terms that — for the past one hour — he had been blatantly flouting some of the most important safety precautions meant for Simple Technique practitioners who are convalescents. (And this was in spite of knowing very well that, even at the peak of his health, it would have been dangerous to force himself into continuous practice beyond his limits !) Luckily, thanks to the Simple Technique, the strain — caused by his sudden keen desire to “conquer the last overhang below the peak of Mt. Everest” — was mild and soon forgotten (unlike his usual extended meditation sessions which never failed to make him feel as though he needed a vacation from meditation itself !)
Now, as his mind indulged in continuous effortless practice of the meditation technique that he had been initiated into, he turned his attention to savoring the Silence, allowing it to heal his long abused mind and body in it’s own subtle way, this sublime inner triumph finally erasing a large part of his feelings of unworthiness.
Authors’ note : For those who are new to the higher goals of meditation and are wondering why all seasoned self-improvement warriors rigorously pursue such inner goals, pay special attention to this second session of the case study. It would be safe to say that innumerable higher goals exist, each with it’s own unique set of attainments. After a certain point (at a much higher level than the Silence), the highs of inner attainment are incomparable to earthly ones such as breaking a world record or meeting your soul mate ! And the high of enlightenment is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow — Infinity itself !
The night was newly fallen when he decided to end the session. He opened his eyes and turned slowly onto his side in order to relieve the numbness of his sore back. (He idly noticed that the numbness hardly seemed to make an impression on the high state of consciousness that he was in). He was quietly awed by the power of the Simple Technique. He had no idea when he started the session this morning that he would come so far. With a broader approach than conventional meditation sessions, a meditation session that incorporated the Simple Technique seemed to be able to deal effectively with serious obstacles such as aging, stress, lack of discipline, etc ! As a result, it (the Simple Technique) had MORE than restored his ability to attain very high states of consciousness. He had performed so well, it was as though he had never aged and was still a teenager !
What made this moment all the more sweeter was the fact that he had triumphed at a time when he was convalescing, with hardly any money in his pocket to seek specialized mind training in the appropriate place, not having practiced any of the pre-meditation routines for months due to his illness, too tired to seek out a quiet, sacred spot appropriate for meditation, eating food that did not agree with his body, forced to lie down and take part in the case study due to sheer exhaustion, with no teacher/ doctor by his side to guide him through the usual pitfalls, and heaven only knew how many more rules he had broken today !
He quietly thanked his heart out to the authors of the Simple Technique and vowed to give them a detailed report of his experiences so that they may sooner execute the noble task of carrying the Simple Technique to all the nooks and corners of the world. There were perhaps other faster ways to attain the effortless state of mind, but at this point of time he was too happy to care. He got up slowly and made his bed before making his way to the living room. No one noticed the calm exhilaration of a sublime goal achieved in his eyes or the light step in his walk. If anyone ever noticed his relaxed demeanor, they would have thought that he had just got up from an extended afternoon nap. (No one knew that he was taking part in the Simple Technique case study). And there would have been nothing unusual about that, since he had shut himself up in his room the whole day and no—one would have expected him to do anything else but sleep since he was a convalescent. Only his meditation teachers would have shed tears of joy had they been here to witness his triumph.
Now, more than ever, he could empathize with the hardships faced by the ancient meditation masters in their pioneering forays into the mysteries of the mind. For if the Simple Technique or something similar was not in vogue in those times, these masters (most of whom were homeless and starving) probably relied upon brute will power to sit in extended meditation sessions until enlightenment was attained. A deep sadness welled up within him as he thought of their emaciated bodies preyed upon by the heat, cold & insects and of the scorn & ridicule heaped upon them by ignorant multitudes even as they patiently worked their way to enlightenment. His heart swelled with love for these ancient meditation masters for their selflessness in giving the most precious gift of all — the art of freeing the mind through meditation — to the very humanity that had scorned them !
And he prayed that the Simple Technique (which was most probably a rediscovery of the original teachings of the ancient meditation masters) be published soon so that it would enable even those like him (convalescents too stressed out to meditate) to heal faster and attain elusively blissful states of mind on a more regular basis besides unleashing the infinite potential latent within humanity so that the world itself could progress at an accelerated pace and solve all it’s problems faster.
Subsequent sessions : After the first day, he could not motivate himself to spend an entire day on the Simple Technique again. But a morning session of 3 hours seemed to be well within his capacity.
Author’s note : Those who spend a very long time in their very first Simple Technique session may face the above problem. This is because your mind may have consciously/ unconsciously suppressed your restlessness due to your being more interested in the phenomenon of the Simple Technique progressively opening up higher and higher states of mind. The end result is that on the next day, your restless self takes precedence and positively balks at any idea of sitting for yet another whole day in meditation. Advanced students who are able to increase their practice time of powerful meditation techniques as a result of the Simple Technique may also face the above problem even if they had been careful about not suppressing their restlessness. This is because the powerful meditation techniques that they practice usually have a natural in-built mechanism which protects it’s practitioners from unleashing more power than they can handle until their minds are mature enough. While most such mechanisms can be over-ridden by a willful effort, the few who take this chance always makes sure that they do so only under the guidance of a highly qualified meditation master.
Moreover he was happy to report that he had progressed enough to attain effortless practice of both components of his meditation technique within these 3 hours, as well as being able to keep up this achievement on nearly every single day of his retreat. However there were times when he was unable to maintain the effortless state for more than a few seconds. And it was frustrating for him to wait for quite some time before he re-entered the effortless state again.
When boredom set in after a few days, this frustration would always be present in every session as he chafed at the extremely long time it took for his mind to settle down before it could enter the effortless state. (Several times he found himself committing the serious error of “dragging the dog” (straining the mind) when, out of a sense of impatience, he would either try to hang on to the effortless state when it started to slip away or, due to his preoccupation with some compelling thought, he would force his mind to practice the preliminary and the Simple Technique in his mental background mainly out of a sense of duty. A few super breaks were enough to take care of the problem. But sometimes an entire session would be devoted to super breaks due to his utter disinterest in disciplining himself to meditate at a time when he would rather idle away the languid sunny days of his vacation either by drifting with his impulses or chasing endless thoughts). Sometimes, he amazed himself with a newfound ability to pursue more interesting thoughts even as he maintained a state of effortless meditation in his mental background ! (Authors’ note : Quite a feat !)
Through it all — since he was a perfectionist — he would not abandon the Simple Technique and start meditating whenever his mind attained the soft clay pliancy of his childhood/ teenage years, preferring instead to wait until he reached the effortless state itself.
As far as entering the Silence was concerned, it turned out to be a goal that he could not take for granted since — after the first day — he never regained this high state of mind throughout the period of his retreat in spite of the fact that there were times when he was able to spend at least 45 minutes in effortless meditation. Perhaps he would attain this goal more frequently if he practiced the Simple Technique regularly for a few years at least …
Throughout the period of his retreat, the mental release of the suppressed fatigue of a chronically debilitated convalescent and the quiet calmness of his surroundings (which never failed to have a soporific effect on him) caused him to fall asleep every morning (for at least an hour) after which he would resume practice of the Simple Technique.
After he returned to the city, he found (unsurprisingly) that the comfort level at his residence was not conducive to a smooth practice of the Simple Technique. However he was able to enter the effortless state several times a week through sheer persistence. During his busiest periods, his Simple Technique sessions would get aborted within 10 — 15 minutes (just when the preliminary was beginning to calm him down). The reasons were many — hunger, noisy neighborhood, some pressing chore, someone at the door, etc. Still, the gentleness of the Simple Technique and the peace and ease of a session of effortless meditation blessed his day with such clarity of thought and calmness that a 20 minute conventional meditation session seemed insipid in comparison (the mental tug of war in such sessions was the fly in the ointment).
He now turned his attention to professional matters so that in the long term he would be able to afford to enter a retreat on a regular basis. Meanwhile he wisely decided to maintain the discipline of going early to bed every night in order to do justice to a proper practice of the Simple Technique in the face of a lack of access to a suitable retreat environment.
He also received the blessings of his meditation masters for integrating the Simple Technique into his regular meditation routine. However they suggested that the order in which he was practicing the steps be reversed. i.e. he should start off with the mental chant first. They also told him to stop bemoaning the lack of time & facilities for practicing meditation since all he had to do was continue going to bed early and practice the Simple Technique during the early morning hours besides getting some fresh air, sunshine, indulging in long walks on a regular basis as well as eating a variety of fruits every morning on an empty stomach (at least an hour before his regular breakfast). He was also told to take the trouble of keeping more in touch with them and not get dismayed by the endless difficulties on his path. Nor was he to give in to procrastination and waste time in frivolous pursuits.
Important message from the authors : By the time this manuscript was completed, the world was already reeling under one of the grimmest recession periods ever experienced since the last century. And the number of people determined to make a come back is now at an all time high. The growing awareness to succeed in an ecologically sustainable & ethical manner is also thankfully taking root. It is well known that the greater the number of people engaged in deep meditation, the greater the chances are for a proper solution to all the world’s problems as well as lasting world peace. Since the Simple Technique helps even those who are too stressed out to meditate, besides enhancing the meditation experiences of regular meditation students, this book puts a powerful tool in your hands — a chance to heal yourself and this planet speedily and powerfully by effortless meditation.
Final note from the authors : We thank all readers who have been with us till the very end of this book. In case you found it difficult to understand any part of this book or were unable to attain the effortless state, first give yourself enough time to solve the problem after which you may consult any experienced meditation teacher. Since it will be difficult for us to personally attend to all our readers, we hope to answer all frequently asked questions either through a web-site or in future editions of this book.
We are in infrequent touch with the subject of our case study and are pleased to report that in spite of his numerous failings he is steadily on the path to success. On a personal note, he has confessed that deep regrets about the manner in which he had misunderstood his late father still continued to haunt him. His late father, in spite of numerous personal failings, had made massive personal sacrifices, toiled on day and night (always keeping silent about his own personal problems) and provided his son — the subject of this case study — with the basic necessities of life. Unable to cope with the strain, his father soon passed away, leaving him — very angry and confused at that time — to face life on his own. A decade later, he became mature enough to work out right from wrong and realized that it was, of course, too late to make amends. The least he could do was to dedicate the results of this case study — in case it was selected by the authors for publication — to the memory of his late father. We have assured him that this would be done.
And finally, may all readers of this book attain much more inner peace and happiness than normal by using the Simple Technique to maximize the gains they get from the practice of meditation.
“On one occasion, when an old nomad from Golok asked him for meditation instructions, Patrul Rinpoche said :
Don’t prolong the past,
Don’t invite the future,
Leave the natural mind, awareness of the present moment,
Without modification in its open, relaxed simplicity.
There is nothing other than that !
Apart from the ordinary mind of the present moment, open and relaxed,
There is not a damned thing !”
– Fearless in Tibet: The Life of the Mystic Tertön Sogyal by Matteo Pistono