As discussed in the first post in this series, the Subtle Body is composed of the mind, the intellect and the ego and all three aspects are tightly interwoven.
The mind is the domain of our thoughts, desires and emotions. The intellect is the aspect of ourselves that analyses all information that passes through the mind. And how this information is interpreted is influenced by the outlook of the ego - the image we hold of ourselves and what we project into the world.
Negative thoughts and feelings - or mental and emotional dis-ease - comes about when our ego is rooted in fear. However, it is quite normal for the ego to be fear-centred because it is our self-image, and not our true self (that is our spirit, to be discussed more in the next post in the series).
The ego has forgotten who we truly are, and is living under an illusion that each of us is separate from all else in existence (while the truth is that everything is connected). This illusion of separation gives rise to fear. The ego worries about how others perceive us, and works hard to present an image to the world that it believes will be loved and accepted.
The ego also tends to have fixed ideas about what it needs in order to be happy, and becomes attached to the idea that life has to work in a particular way in order for it to be good. This attachment generates more fear - either that things won't work out as desired, or that it will lose what it has already achieved and wants to hold onto.
In order to let go of the energy of fear, to feel at peace, release anxiety, and love and accept ourselves and others exactly as we are, we need to integrate the energy of love into our daily lives. And this is where meditation can help us release mental and emotional distress.
During meditation, as the mind becomes ever quieter, we move in and out of a place called The Gap. This is the space between our thoughts. It can be a teeny tiny space - especially when our minds are frantically busy - but it does exist. The thoughts in our mind are like the frames on a film strip - while we perceive a seamlessly fluid movie, it is actually the composition of a series of stills.
The Gap is a field of pure stillness, and we are never aware of being in it (though you may - or may not - have an inkling immediately afterwards that you were there). We weave in and out of the gap throughout the meditation process, and in doing so we bring some of the qualities of that stillness back with us into our everday life.
The effect is become less reactive to situtations that previously would have worried or upset us. When practiced regularly, we come to realise that we have a calmer, more peaceful way of being in the world. We find this new way of being helps us to better deal with any crisis that crops up - cos they still will. Meditation doesn't eliminate difficult situations from your life, but it does enable you to experience them differently.
You'll find you don't struggle with situations as much. You may resist them initially (oh yeah, I still don't like to see trouble or strife coming my way), but with a regular meditation practice acceptance of the situation comes more quickly. And with acceptance comes peace and a greater ability to cope with whatever obstacle needs to be overcome.
You may read alot about the possibility of being happy in the moment no matter what crap may be going on in your life. You may even accept that possibility in theory. But if you have yet to experience it for yourself, then I recommend giving meditation a go.
Don't expect to instantly be cured of all fears, anxieties and frustrations - you wouldn't expect a flat tummy from your first session of sit-ups, would you? Meditation is like exercise - you need to do it regularly to see and maintain the results. But once you find the right technique for you, making it a daily practice will be a joy in itself - and the physical, mental and emotional benefits will be an added bonus :-)
Not to mention the spiritual gains - to be discussed soon....
Previous posts in this series:
Mediation: the spiritual benefits