Benefits and Scientific Evidence
Thoughtless Awareness: The Ultimate Joyous Spiritual Reality
In spiritual parlance, the state of thoughtless awareness has been referred to as a discovery of the ultimate truth. The normal distractions of the mundane world around us may be revealed to be illusions, while ultimate truth and reality are found in this heightened state of awareness. Thoughtless awareness is also considered to be the state where one’s attention is integrated with the divine, since the Kundalini energy, after passing through the first six chakras, passes through the 7th chakra to connect with the divine cosmic energy. Ancient spiritual scriptures have referred to this important state as Sat-chit-Ananda in Sanskrit (where Sat means truth, chit means attention and ananda means joy).
In reality, it’s possible for our attention to merely touch this higher state; in other words, experience the higher truth, but not the joy. In this case, more effort through meditation is required to consistently achieve the triple intersection: attention, truth and joy (Sat-Chit-Ananda). Thus, many meditators may achieve thoughtlessness, but need a little more practice to discover the joy or bliss. But once you experience this bliss, it is unlike any other experience in this world. The experience in itself serves as a strong motivation to practice meditation daily. You’ll also find that the journey of spirituality then becomes much easier; often, even self-sustaining.
Scientific evidence of the blissful state of thoughtless awareness
There has been some research into the unique characteristics of thoughtless awareness. In the scientific realm, Sahaja meditation has been characterized by the meditator’s ability to internalize attention while experiencing the emotional state of happiness or bliss (Rai, U.C., 1993).
Many EEG studies of various forms of meditation have shown that intense, widespread alpha wave activity, which is associated with relaxation, is found during meditators’ initial readings — that is, during the first few moments of meditation. But studies of Sahaja meditation have found that when the meditators signaled that they had reached a state of thoughtless awareness or “oneness,” theta activity appeared in the frontal mid-line areas of the brain — the front and top of the brain (Afranas, & Golcheikine, 2001). Increased theta connectivity in these regions indicates a positive emotional state, as well as increased overall alpha power that correlates to a heightened attentional state. In Sahaja Meditation, these brain regions are associated with two chakras: the Agnya (optic chiasma) chakra, which is located at the front of the brain in the center forehead area, and the Sahasrara (integration, limbic) chakra, located in the limbic (emotional) region of the brain.
In other words, these studies corroborated the energy flow associated the state of thoughtless awareness. These results also suggested that the Kundalini energy flowing through these chakras was responsible for the experience of bliss reported by the subjects.
Practical Benefits of Thoughtless Awareness
Beyond simply experiencing the bliss of thoughtless awareness, there are many more reasons to seek it in our daily lives. It helps us master the ability to separate our attention from our thoughts and feelings, almost at will, as compared to the normal state of awareness where we may struggle to detach our attention from our thoughts and emotional reactivity. Thoughtless awareness teaches us to simply observe our thoughts and feelings, while separating the Self from them, even when we’re not meditating. Thus, we become better able to control our emotional reactions and are able to develop a more balanced perspective of situations. Thoughtless awareness helps prevent us from being consumed or overwhelmed by problems and stressful situations in our lives. Rather, we are able to view them objectively and rationally and resolve them.
Thoughtless awareness has the ability to significantly relax us and reduce our level of stress since it’s often our thoughts and feelings that are amplifying our stress levels. Thoughtless awareness also helps reduce negative thinking. Our thoughts recede during the state of thoughtless awareness, thus there are no negative thoughts to analyze or react to. Over time, we can use the state of thoughtless awareness as a strategy for systematically relieving negative thoughts and preventing them from becoming amplified in our minds. Over the longer term, thoughtless awareness significantly increases our patience and resilience, especially in adverse situations.
Thoughtless awareness helps us increase attentional control, which ultimately results in improved personal productivity. Because negative, self-damaging thoughts and feelings are reduced and because we experience oneness with the divine power, our innate sense of self-confidence increases. At the same time, this connection makes us more humble. We realize that not everything in our lives and in the world around us can be controlled by us or by anyone else, for that matter, and that there are powerful forces in the universe well beyond our control and comprehension.
The ability to achieve thoughtless awareness is perhaps the most important step for achieving progress in Sahaja meditation. Without establishing thoughtless awareness, our progress will be less meaningful, our spiritual journey less fulfilling. The reason is simple: Achieving thoughtless awareness includes the connection of our inner Kundalini energy with the all-pervading power is at its strongest, thus our energy centers and energy channels receive the maximum amount of nourishment.
For a deeper look at thoughtless awareness, see:
Aftanas LI, Golocheikine SA (2001) Human anterior and frontal midline theta and lower alpha reflect emotionally positive state and internalized attention: high-resolution EEG investigation of meditation. Neuroscience Letters 310: 57-60.
Rai, U.C., Medical Science Enlightened. Life Eternal Trust, London–New York, 1993.