Is Sahaja meditation the same as “Mindfulness Meditation?” The answer is that it could very well be from the perspective of the benefits it has to offer… but it isn’t because it’s something much beyond and deeper.
Yes, mindfulness is indeed one of the benefits you can easily achieve through the practice of Sahaja meditation, but the state of mindfulness is not part of the Sahaja technique. In Sahaja meditation, achieving mindfulness during meditation is not the goal (in fact, quite the opposite as you’ll soon see), whereas in Mindfulness Meditation, mindfulness is both part of the meditation technique itself, as well as the ultimate goal for the outcome.
The ultimate goal of Sahaja meditation technique is to be free of thoughts during meditation, while Mindfulness Meditation techniques do not clear your mind of thoughts.
To use a modern tech analogy, you can think of Mindfulness Meditation as a Kindle, whose primary task is enabling you to read ebooks, and Sahaja as an iPad, a convergence device that allows you to perform many tasks, one of which is to read ebooks. Sahaja meditation is convergence meditation, so to speak — a family of techniques that offers a wider “benefits package.”
But is it possible for a meditator to experience mindfulness during Sahaja meditation? Sure. Some meditators may experience mindfulness during the initial phase of a Sahaja meditation session. This is particularly true of novices who may be less skilled at raising their inner energy, or may even be true of an experienced meditator who sometimes finds that it takes a few minutes for the energy to flush out energy center imbalances and cross the sixth energy center, the point at which the state of thoughtless awareness is achieved.
But mindfulness is ultimately transcended once the Sahaja meditator enters into a true state of thoughtless awareness.
Thoughtless awareness, by its very definition, is free of thoughts, doubts or self-analysis. Once thoughtless awareness is achieved, no effort is required to remain thoughtless, or to, for example, separate thought from feeling. Remaining thoughtless is not a struggle once your inner energy has elevated your consciousness above the mental plane. Sahaja meditation is meant to be effortless, other than the initial effort required to steady one’s attention into a meditative state and raise one’s inner energy.
Thoughtless awareness is not a wake state, sleep state or dream state. It is a fourth state of consciousness, a higher realm of consciousness that allows the human mind to transcend all the normal activity that occurs on the mental, physical and emotional planes. In a state of pure and thoughtless awareness, the mind contains no cognitive content. It is into this empty field of consciousness that thoughts and feelings arise and are automatically observed with a detached, nonjudgmental, nonreactive attitude that triggers a shift in perspectives. Attention is focused inward, the ego detaches, and thoughts and feelings come and go, leaving only internalized attention and empty, pure awareness. For an in-depth look at attention during Sahaja meditation, see Attention: The Vehicle to a Higher Plane of Consciousness.
Mindfulness might be viewed as a ground floor level of the state of thoughtless awareness. Here’s how Sahaja’s state of thoughtless awareness compares to mindfulness-based forms of meditation.
Picture a two-story building. The first floor is crowded and noisy. You could try and find peace by huddling in one corner and covering your ears, or you could try training yourself to tune out the noise. Such efforts are analogous to mindfulness centric forms of meditation.
Now, imagine that you discover that on the second floor, there is only serene, pure silence. You wouldn’t have to cover your ears or train yourself to tune out the noise. You’d only have to somehow gain access to the second floor. This second floor is analogous to Sahaja’s state of thoughtless awareness. The goal of Sahaja meditation techniques is to elevate the practitioner’s experience above the mental plane — that noisy ground floor where thoughts and feelings still collide.
Now, in practice, noise from the first floor can occasionally drift up to the second floor during Sahaja meditation and intrude on the pure silence of thoughtless awareness. Thoughts and feelings may occasionally rise and fall, but they eventually cease, or at least, the frequency with which they are even able to reach the second floor significantly decreases with practice. In the longer term, experienced practitioners don’t have to work very hard to reach the second floor, nor do they have to struggle to remain there in pure blissful silence. They simply have to ensure that the connection and flow of their inner energy remains strong enough to sustain thoughtless awareness. This, too, becomes easier and easier with practice.
In Sahaja meditation, there is no deliberate effort to “concentrate,” and certainly, you do not need to focus your attention on a specific object. In fact, the goal is to avoid concentration or mental activity altogether. There’s no need to be mindful of or engage with your thoughts and feelings while meditating.
In fact, you won’t want to. Engaging your mind in such mental noise will only drag your attention back down to the first floor — that mental plane — rather than remaining in the state of thoughtless awareness. Thoughtless awareness is not simply a thought vacuum or state of thoughtless emptiness on the mental plane. It is a whole new dimension of awareness, higher awareness that is difficult to describe to someone who has not yet experienced it. We cannot fully conceive of its depth or describe it with language we’re accustomed to using on the ordinary mental plane.
Circling back to why some Sahaja practitioners may experience mindfulness during meditation, it’s important to point out that the inner energy rises more effortlessly for some meditators than for others and the degree of benefit the meditator receives is directly related to the strength and flow of energy. Many achieve thoughtless awareness effortlessly and nearly automatically. But for those who find that the inner energy is not rising smoothly, mindfulness, concentrating, or trying to be thoughtless may serve as an initial supplementary aid, a transitional step to achieving the higher state of thoughtless awareness. Our behaviors in everyday life can compromise the ease with which the inner energy rises. For example, someone who has been exhibiting arrogant or domineering behavior creates blockages in the Agnya energy center (whose essential qualities include forgiveness, humility and compassion), thus may find it more difficult to raise his or her inner energy.
Achieving thoughtless awareness during meditation nourishes and recharges your inner energy. The more you meditate, the greater the replenishment of this vital force. The greater the replenishment, the deeper and more powerful are subsequent meditation sessions, which, in turn, further enhances the benefits you receive. This positive energy cycle perpetuates itself, and creates, over time, a positive upward spiral of all aspects of health and well-being.
Now, practicing Sahaja meditation does not mean that you are avoiding your problems or avoiding difficult or unpleasant thoughts and feelings and hope they will be magically washed away by the inner energy. The inner energy cannot magically solve all your problems. But in Sahaja meditation, any necessary introspection, reflection, analysis and working through problems is done outside of meditation, not during meditation. You’ll find that meditation helps regulate your emotions and sharpen your focus in daily life, which changes your perspective and prepares you for more efficient, more effective problem-solving. Meditation brings clarity that helps you identify the root causes of your problems and pinpoint solutions.
While mindfulness confers valuable benefits and is a crucial aspect of positive mental health, it may not be your exclusive goal for meditation practice. It is through Sahaja’s state of thoughtless awareness during mediation — beyond mindfulness — that the greatest benefits begin to flow, including enhanced mindfulness in our daily lives.
To review the scientific evidence of how mindfulness and other important mental health qualities manifest as a result of practicing Sahaja meditation, see the Global Mental Health Benefits Of Regular Meditation section: