Beyond Thoughts: Consciousness and The Self

Beyond Thoughts: Consciousness and The Self

For years now, I have been practicing to shift my consciousness, practicing every day to slow down and change my relationship with my thoughts, actions, and reactions. This desire to practice was never part of any conscious agenda or anything I set out to do as a life path. Each turn and lesson happened organically, and it’s only now that I realize I was drawn by an energy beyond my conscious mind. Over the years, I just did what was in front of me, one step at a time.

The Journey Within: Slowing Down and Changing Relationship with Thoughts

Once the monkey mind, the thought stream, and the mind chatter slow down enough in meditation, an awareness opens to an underlying nurturing, loving energy beneath it all. For me, it took many years to begin to notice and experience this energy. But after hearing about this from being Sally Kempton’s student for so many years and from having read about it in countless spiritual texts, when I began to connect with that place, it felt familiar. Not only because I had learned about it intellectually, but I also realized that it was a familiar physical sensation I had felt on a soul level.

The Emergence of Awareness: Recognizing the Nurturing Energy

As I started experiencing this energy in meditation, my first thought was, “Oh, that’s the Self.” I had heard the words and had it described to me many times, so I assumed I somehow knew what I was expecting to find even though I never deliberately sought it out. You don’t exactly know what you are looking for until it is there. 

Once you have connected with the presence of the Self, you discover it is always accessible. For me, I also experience a feeling of being home, as if this is the place that is HOME for us all. Sometimes I will have the thought, “Oh, I can sit here forever, this is where I belong.” This energy is consciousness, the Self that connects us all.

Diverse Traditions, One Energy: Perspectives on Consciousness

This energy is discussed in most traditions and texts on spirituality and meditation, and there are many names for it. Teachers like Dr. David Hawkins call it the Self, while the Yogis call it both the Self as well as other traditional names for this underlying steady energy, like Shiva or Brahman. Shiva is considered to be the primal Atman (soul, Self) or the universe.

Buddhists, on the other hand, call this energy an emptiness or void. Early on, this description felt misleading for me because the words “empty” and “void” felt like something negative. It was only after I had experienced it for myself that I understood that what the Buddhists mean by “void” is a place of all-encompassing nurturing love.

Beyond Thoughts: Exploring the Space Behind Mind Chatter

When I guide people in meditation, I ask them to consider what lies beyond thoughts. What lies beneath the thought stream? It’s almost as if you can imagine yourself stepping over your own thoughts into the space behind your mind chatter. I also like to ask, what is it that holds your thoughts? Who is thinking these thoughts?

Visual Metaphors for Consciousness: Lighthouses and Theater Stages

I’ve heard consciousness visually described as imagining a lighthouse shining its light onto the sea. Regardless of the weather, if there is a storm or if it’s raining, and whether the sea is active or calm, the lighthouse is always there, always on, holding the space. The lighthouse is always there, observing the turbulent activity. Ramana Maharshi describes a theater stage where the light overhead is always on, yet down below are various dramas playing themselves out.

The Steady Presence: Witnessing Human Drama Unaffected

Consciousness—the Self—is that light, beyond thoughts and beyond our mind, that is always on, always witnessing our human drama. Yet, it is never affected by any of it. It stays the same, a steady presence, the underlying ground of being that holds us all.

“It is only because our inner instruments are not refined enough to approach the Self that we have to meditate. The yoga sutras of Patanjali, and authoritative scripture on meditation, explains that although the self is always blazing within us, the restlessness of the mind acts as a barrier. According to Patanjali, when the mind becomes still and turns inward we immediately perceive the Self.”

– Meditate: Happiness Lies Within You by Swami Muktananda [pg. 16]


Meditation as a Gateway: Refining Inner Instruments to Perceive Consciousness & the Self

Years ago, the teachers I studied with and other seasoned meditators used to say that they felt as if they were meditating all the time, all day long. Of course, I had no idea what they meant. But in the last few years, I have felt this too, like I am inside the meditation space, in the flow, throughout the day. Meditation is no longer a piece of my day; some days it’s all day. Most things that I do that seem mundane, such as dishes, cooking, and paying bills, all can be part of that flow. The deep internal connection I feel is there throughout all activities.

Continuous Meditation: Integrating Flow into Daily Life

When you are present in this way, no longer resisting life, everything falls inside of each moment, inside of love. Dishes and everything else are done with a sense of love and devotion. When resistance falls away, and there is only presence, one ends up in that consciousness, in that flow by default. Moving forward in life, not attached, completely present, and connected.

Presence and Devotion: Embracing Every Moment with Love

Living like this, connected to consciousness and living in sync with the flow of life, is an all-encompassing state of being that is spacious. It is a physical feeling rather than an emotion, a feeling of being nurtured rather than a thought: “Oh…I am nurtured.” Rather, not really thinking or skipping with joy but fully engaged in each moment and what is in front of me right here and right now. Life doesn’t feel jagged and frazzled anymore. Instead, everything you do is part of one meditation, as you flow from one activity to another. You rest in the inner knowing that events will unfold as they should.

“It is a relief to let the mind become silent and just be with the surroundings. Peace results and appreciation and calm prevail.” 

David Hawkins M.D, Ph.D. 

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Abdi Assadi is unlike any other healer or spiritual teacher ever encountered. He is an expert in martial arts, and a dynamic healer practicing a diverse array of Chinese and Eastern Medicine, indigenous shamanic rituals, and meditation techniques. With a clinical practice in New York City for almost 4 decades, Abdi has accumulated a vast knowledge of real life experience working with several thousands of individuals, guiding them through the most difficult times, and teaching them how to understand themselves. One of the greatest things about him is he merges the human psyche with the spiritual psyche.

Steeped in deep wisdom and insight that is rare to find on this planet in these modern times, Abdi has an extraordinary ability in perceiving and comprehending human souls and their individual psyche. Guided by the divine, Abdi guides you to open up and see beyond your limited Self, into your own soul. His impeccable discernment enables him to unleash personal remarks that pierce through your veil, statements that you will never forget and in an instant alter your perception of yourself and your reality.

– Quotes from Shadows on the Path by Abdi Assadi:

All spiritual masters teach us that love is an activity before it is a condition – and that love is all-encompassing.
Page 18

It felt like I was coming off a race track and driving in a school zone. He knew, years before I did, that my speed was my way of suppressing my early childhood anxiety, and that only slowing down could heal it.

Why do you need to use all these words like God and spirituality? It is right here Abdi, all around you, all the time
Page 40

one does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.
Page 51

Ultimately it keeps grace out of our lives because we are using our will power to manipulate every event and person around us.
Page 74

His lesson, which I had begun to learn for myself, is that outside circumstances do not define our internal experience if we can surrender into them. Painful or undesirable situations will always arise; true suffering comes from our ego’s desire to resist life as it is.
Page 77

Note from Pernilla:
I met Abdi in the fall of 2014 and when I arrived in his office the first thing he said was, “It’s time that you stop carrying other people’s anxiety.” In the year that followed, my entrenched codependency patterns reared their ugly heads and I was confronted with a part of myself that I had never even known was there.

A few years later, Abdi said, “When are you going to start writing your book?”I looked at him in surprise. I was not a writer. My expertise was centered around creating crazy good Excel spreadsheets. However, I started writing and collecting notes about life issues and life experiences … and here we are a few years later.

Sally Kempton is a preeminent meditation teacher of our time.

She is an expert scholar in Hinduism and all Hindu texts especially in Kashmir Shaivisim. Formerly Swami Durgananda, she left monastic life in the 1980’s to teach publicly. She has written several books and is one of the most known and loved spiritual teachers in our time.

Note from Pernilla:

I met Sally at one of her workshops at City Yoga in LA in 2003. She had the most gentle and loving disposition, and I just wanted to always be around her. I was fortunate to have been part of her two year-long “Transformative journey” courses in 2006 and 2007 and many retreats ever since. She is the true representation of unconditional love and transmits intense shakti from her Guru Swami Muktananda.

Sally is the primary building block and foundation in my spiritual journey. Without her, I would have never found and stuck with meditation – the most transformative experience of my life. Without her, I would have been lost without a clue where to go next. Her wealth of knowledge of yogic philosophy and incredible understanding of the human condition is what makes her a force to be reckoned with.  She understands your depth and makes you feel seen, heard, validated, and deeply loved.