Once ones practice of meditation or self-enquiry progresses one may begin to find that a certain degree of clarity and stability of inner experience is occuring. One may increasingly find that the mind becomes quieter and is resting more and more readily in a state of natural awareness of I amness and that this is a peaceful and quietly satisfying experience.
This natural sense of 'I am' is intrinsic to our human make-up only most often we are not aware of it because the mind is too busy in conscious and unconscious identifications (thoughts) of 'I am this' or 'I am that' and 'I need to do this' and 'I need to do that'. When we are able to naturally rest in the awareness of pure 'I amness' then there is an inherent feeling of wholeness and well-being.
If we are not in touch with that inherent sense of wholeness and well-being then we tend to look for it outside of ourselves rather than living our lives as an expression of intrinsic wholeness.
There may come a time however when this natural sense of 'I amness', or embodied beingness, becomes more our natural home and although the mind may sometimes continue to wander here and there we are never very far from home. As pleasant as this way of being may be however it is not the end of the story.
During ones meditation or self-enquiry one should not curl up and go to sleep in this type of pleasant experience (or in any other type). One should persist in the question 'who am I?' or in 'I,......I,......I,......I,' (or in whatever other support you are using in your practice).
The question 'who am I?' is not a question which calls for an intellectual answer. It is a means to keep the mind focused and alert in enquiring into this experience of 'I' and not drifting off in complacency. The feeling of 'I amness' is not the final goal but a pointer in the right direction.
If we continue going deeper and subtler in this enquiry then we may begin to find that we have momentary experiences where it seems as if the mind and the breath have been temporarily sucked up into a different state.
It is a state of singularity where there is no thought; just Pure Awareness standing by itself. Thought and external awareness are sucked up and enfolded in on themselves into a kind of singularity. It may sound mysterious but it is a natural experience and does not necessarily seem very dramatic when it begins to occur.
The same thing will happen if one is practising 'I,......I,......I,......I,'. The repetition keeps the mind focused in a relaxed way on the 'I' which allows awareness to sink, like a pebble in a lake, back towards it's own centre. The repetition should be natural, easy and should be allowed to become subtler and subtler.
It is not an effortful exercise in concentration. No the awareness becomes concentrated naturally as it returns to its source. Allow the repetition to become more like having a faint idea of the thought 'I' and to keep you in touch with the feeling of 'I'. In contrast, keeping up a clear, distinct and strong mental pronouniation of 'I' will tend to keep awareness more on the surface levels of the mind rather than allowing it to sink deep.
So either way, one may begin having these momentary experiences of singularity which at first may seem somewhat indistinct but will increase in frequency, duration and clarity as progress is made. In terms of the practice it happens spontaneously and comes and goes by itself. We should not have an expectation of it but allow things to proceed naturally. If there is a momentary experience then when one is aware of having a choice in the matter then simply return to the question or repetition of 'I'. If one is thinking about it, wondering if this is it, then one is off in thoughts and out of the experience. Again come back to the practice and continue.
This experience of singularity is given many names such as Transcendental Consciousness, Pure Awareness, The Self, Turiya and any number of others. I will say more about all of that in the next posting, but it is helpful for now to have a bit of a roadmap so that there is an idea of the journey and a context within which to understand inner experiences as they start to occur. Its all a good sign that things are heading in the right direction.
Happy meditating - take the rough with the smooth.