Meditation exercise – The passing parade

Meditation exercise - The passing parade

Today you’ll focus on inducing a mystical experience by altering your perceptions of the people around you. Pick a crowded location full of strangers: A busy airport, train station or shopping mall will do. Spend anywhere from 1 to 4 hours sitting in one place observing the people milling about. And provided you don’t get a sore arse from all that sitting, something rather wonderful will happen.

Take time to observe your surroundings and experience the various sensory experiences that are available in the location you’ve chosen. Notice the stationary aspects of your environment – benches, vending machines, newsstands, restaurants and coffeehouses. Then notice the tings that are in a continuous state of change, such as the activities of the crowd and the coming and going of vuses, trains, cars or airplanes. Afther half an hour you’ll probably notice underlying patterns in the surrounding activity.

You may notice the broad patterns of moving objects or vehicles and the far more subtle patterns of the crowd. You may also notice that the individuals moving in cars or on foot are unaware of their ‘patterned’ roles. Behind the patterns of movoing objects and people lie still broader patterns defined by society, the earth and the universe. How are the lives of the people you’re observing influenced by the sweeping patterns of which they may be unaware?

As you watch the people all around you, consider the possibility that no one else experiences reality exactly as you do. Pick out a stranger and, without disturbing this individual, compare your reality to his. Don’t dwell on superficial differences such as physical appearance, racial identity or cultural background. Instead, focus on the possiblity that the world may be a unique and radically different experience for each of you. Your usually unstates assumption – “I shared the same reality with this stranger” – may be only an illusion.

It is, in fact, logically impossible to prove for certain that any two individuals are perceiving exactly the same reality, because each of you would interpret those differences within your familiar frame of reference. Ask yourself, for example, if you have ay way of knowoing if you and the stranger you have chosen perceive the colour red in exactly the same way.

Now relax, take a deep breath and turn your attention back to your general surroundings. Instead of focusing on the possible uniqueness of your personal perceptions, consider what you have in common with the people you’re watching. You’re all alive at this particular moment in human history; your lives have crossed paths, even if at a comfortable distance. Even if you never speak to one another and are never again in the same place, there will always be a time in your mutual past when your paths crossed. If the world or your life were to end at this moment, it would end for you in the company of these strangers.

But you do not have to face death to sense such camaraderie. Instead, just imagine that a part of you can perceive reality from the perspective of the ‘group mind’. For this portion of the exercise, picture yourself and the strangers you’re watching as a single group, one organic entity moving without individual perceptions. Evnision the environment your are sharing as a single finely tuned orgaim and see yourself an others as individual cells. Allow yourself to feels as connected as possible to those around you, and note the ways in which you are all bound together through your membership in the greater whole.

Now, once more, consider the notion that reality is subjective – that the world as you is exclusively manufactured within the innermost recesses of your mind. Ask yourself: “If I am alone in the way I perceive reality, what do my perceptions tell me about who I am?” Repeat this question to yourself until its deeper meaning sinks in.

Finally, spend half an hour or so exploring your local surroundings on foot. Continue to imagine that your experience of reality is entirely subjective. Study the people and objects around you, and imagine that everyting you see exists on at least two levesl: The level at which you personally experience it, and the level at which it expresses its own objective nature. Then, taking this approach further, ask yourself: “If there is an objective reality hidden behind the layers of everyday reality as I experience, what might that deeper reality be like?” Try to envision that other reality in as much detail as possible.

Meditation tip

Now consider the fact that no matter how seriously you try to envision a deeper reality, you will inevitably interpret your experience through the subjective liitations of your own perceptions and intelligence.

Complete this exercise by celebrating the joys of mundane reality. Treat yourself to an ice cream sundae, go to a shopping mall, or feed the pigeons in a nearby park. Allow yourself to enjoy your unqiue subjective experience of the everyday world.

Practise this meditation exercise in a crowded spot where nobody cares what you’re doing

You don’t need l’absinthe to do this meditation. We Mookychicks just like the picture. Vive Degas.


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