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Meditation Changes Everything

Episode 1 Everything Meditation Changes – An Introduction to the Podcast

Can meditation really change everything? It’s a big claim — and in our inaugural podcast episode, Craig invites us on a journey into this possibility. He guides us beyond meditation’s many practical, emotional, cognitive, and relational benefits to the “supercapacities” of awakened consciousness that can serve us and our world.

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In This Episode…

“Meditation contains the seeds of a revolution that can transform every aspect of our lives, and ultimately all life on Earth.”

What happens when we shift our relationship to meditation itself — from seeing it as a practice for health and wellbeing to a daily doorway into spiritual awakening? What changes in our lives when we begin living from the depths of our true nature, in touch with the inherent meaning of life and connected to our highest virtues?

In this episode, you’ll hear about some of the extraordinary capabilities that start to emerge when we awaken. You may also sense how our actions in the world can become exponentially more significant than they were prior to the emergence of awakened consciousness within us. Craig also explores why meditation is one of the most potent practices we have to catalyze spiritual awakening and how it offers us an opportunity to give all of our attention to practicing being awake.

For a deeper experience of Craig’s approach to meditation, consider joining our Awakened Life membership program. Each month, you’ll receive four guided meditations, a meditation workshop, and a live online retreat with Craig. Register today to receive your first month for 50% off at AwakenedLifeMembership.com

If you’re interested to explore more of Craig’s meditation experiments, you’re invited to tune in to a 90-minute online workshop Craig will be hosting called Meditation 2.0 – The Miracle of Direct Awakening. Register for free at FreeMeditationWorkshop.com.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Episode 1 Everything Meditation Changes – An Introduction to the Podcast

Craig Hamilton: Hello, everyone, and welcome to our inaugural episode of Meditation Changes Everything. I’m Craig Hamilton, and I’m delighted to be here with you. It’s an honor that you’ve decided to join me for this very first podcast that I’ve ever recorded. 

Podcasting is a new adventure for me. If you know me, you know that I’ve been sharing these meditation teachings in dozens of other ways for many years. But this is the first time I’ve done this, and I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to keep sharing the profound life-changing power of meditation with you. 

For those of you who don’t know me, I’ve been meditating for over 40 years now and I’ve done about 17,000 hours of meditation practice in that time. 

Over the past 15 years, I’ve taught meditation and other spiritual practices to tens of thousands of people all over the world, mostly online, but also through some live retreats, which I will hopefully be getting back to in the years ahead, now that we’re through this pandemic. 

In all of that time, I have again and again been inspired by the power of meditation to expand human consciousness, to open our hearts to higher possibilities and ultimately empower us to live a truly inspired and even enlightened human life.

In these upcoming episodes, I’m going to share talks, inquiries, and guided meditations with the aim of helping you access the profound depth and transformational power of this practice. I imagine that if you’re tuning into this podcast, you’re probably already interested in meditation. You might even be a longtime meditator, like so many of the people I reach with my programs. So hopefully, you’ve already experienced some benefits from meditation.

 

The Practical Benefits of Meditation

Most of us who’ve done some meditation have experienced some of the benefits and we keep meditating because of those experiences. And of course, we’re now well into the 21st century, and meditation has grown in popularity. We’ve all heard that meditation can help us in dozens of ways. It can reduce our stress, improve our concentration, make us more resilient in the face of life’s challenges, make us more emotionally stable, less reactive, and maybe even more creative and productive in our work.

In addition to those practical benefits, if you’re on a spiritual path, you probably also know that meditation is designed to bring about other benefits, what we would call spiritual benefits, like inner peace, expanded consciousness, and a connection to something greater than ourselves. But I want to invite you to notice something here at the beginning.

When I speak about meditation in the way I just was, when I give you a list of meditation benefits, it makes meditation sound like another good thing to add to your routine, like exercise, or eating a healthy diet or getting a good night’s sleep. Now you’re going to add meditation, put a little checkbox next to it. I did my meditation every day, I’m doing the right healthy things for my life. 

I want to say, if that’s where we’re at with our meditation, that’s not a bad thing. I mean, imagine what the world would be like if every human being had meditation on their daily checklist and actually did it. However imperfectly, whatever the meditation was, it would be a better world, right? Because, bringing about all those kinds of benefits is going to, in itself, just change human consciousness and change this world, really. 

But meditation, when we really understand it, is about much more than that, much more than just something to check off on our list and something that’ll bring about certain benefits for us. Meditation contains the seeds of a revolution that can transform every aspect of our lives and ultimately, can transform life on Earth, I believe. 

I know that’s a big claim and it’s actually the fundamental claim of this podcast, “Meditation Changes Everything.” So I want to take a little time today to explain what I mean when I say meditation changes everything. Like, how much “everything” am I really talking about? There are a few different ways to look at how meditation transforms us.

 

Stepping out of the Momentum of Unconsciousness

The first aspect that I want to talk about is that meditation involves stepping out of what we might call the momentum of unconsciousness, or the momentum of human ignorance. In other words, our individual and collective habits that have been running through the human race for millennia. Many of these kinds of unconscious habits predate human beings entirely, and come from our instinctual animal nature, which is still alive and well in all of us right now. 

When I say meditation involves stepping out of that momentum, what do I mean? I mean that meditation is an opportunity to sit still and completely disconnect from, or remove ourselves from, this deep momentum of habit. That means becoming less reactive, more conscious, more objective, able to see things more clearly. 

So, to make that a little more concrete, we all know that human beings have a lot of what we might call mental, psychological and emotional programming or what’s called conditioning. And that a lot of these kinds of programs or habits get in the way of our good judgment, of making good decisions in life.

There are over 100 cognitive biases that have been cataloged, and 31 ego defense mechanisms that have been identified. All of these combine to distort our perception and our thinking. They cloud our thinking. 

 

How Cognitive Bias Distorts Our Perception

If you haven’t been tracking all of the talk about bias in recent years, just to give an example, there’s what is called the optimism bias. It has been noted and observed that human beings have a tendency to overestimate the likelihood of positive events and positive outcomes, and to underestimate the likelihood of negative events. This is a widespread bias that most of us have to some degree. 

So what does it mean? It means that I can see that bad things happen in the world, but I think they’re probably not going to happen to me. And, I can see good things out in the world and I assume those things probably are going to happen to me. We tend to relate to life this way. 

We’ve heard a lot about the power of positive thinking, the belief that we should be optimistic. All of that has also been reinforced in the contemporary self-help movement. But what’s the problem with the optimism bias?

If you underestimate the likelihood that something negative might happen, you might invest every penny you have in a single venture, such as with someone you know starting a business or someone promising incredible returns on the investment because of their unique strategy. And because you think, well, I know some people get wiped out by a single investment, but that’s not going to happen to me, you invest your money with Bernie Madoff. A lot of people invested all their savings with Bernie Madoff, because he was promising such high potential returns, and they all got completely wiped out.

This optimism bias is also part of why people will continue to eat really unhealthy food, knowing that it’s unhealthy because they think, yeah, I’ve read the studies, I see that eating this way will increase my likelihood of all of these terrible diseases, but I’ll be fine. It won’t happen to me, I’m a pretty healthy person, and they’ll keep eating all these things that they know are not good for them. 

Does any of that sound familiar? Those two examples I gave might not apply to you. But if you reflect on your life, you might see where this does apply. That’s just an example of one cognitive bias that humans have that really distorts our good judgment.

 

Why Ego Defenses Block Our Higher Evolution

In addition to the cognitive biases, there are also 31 documented ego defenses. This is the way that our ego or self-image defends itself, by distorting our perception and clouding our cognition. 

One ego defense that many of us are familiar with is called rationalization. We engage in some kind of reactive unconscious behavior. Then, we attempt to explain it rationally to ourselves in a way that blocks honest, constructive self-reflection, and then therefore makes it so we won’t grow. We won’t clean up the mess we made and we won’t change as a result, because we’ve rationalized it to ourselves to keep our self-image intact. 

To give an example that many of us might be familiar with: we’re all interested in meditation, so presumably we’re at least somewhat spiritually oriented people. Now, most spiritually oriented people have a self-image of being a really good, caring person. So that means we’re invested in seeing ourselves as a good, kind, compassionate person. 

And I’m sure you are. I’m sure that relative to the mass of unconscious humanity, you are probably a relatively kind, caring, sensitive, compassionate person. But then what happens when one day when you react in a way that’s not so caring? Let’s say you’re stressed out, you’re in a hurry, someone does something that irritates you, and you snap at them in a not very nice way.

What do you do? Do you have the ability to really reflect on that and see, oh, wow, that was actually quite unkind of me. That was probably pretty harmful to that other person. I did that, really, because I was self-absorbed, and then apologized for it, and also reflected in a way that you might change and be less likely to do that in the future. Is that what we do? 

Or does our ego defense come up to rationalize the behavior? Thinking, well, I was in a rush, and the other person was doing that irritating thing. We create a story in our mind that protects our self-image that basically says, I’m not a bad person. I’m not mean, I didn’t do anything mean, it just sounded mean. So then maybe our apology is like, “oh, I’m sorry, that sounded unkind, but I didn’t mean that.” 

That doesn’t really land as a real apology. It doesn’t really clean anything up because the other person knows you actually did say something kind of harmful and destructive, out of a place that probably wasn’t so great in yourself. 

That’s an example of how a defense mechanism gets in the way of seeing things clearly and responding in a constructive way in life. So, we have cognitive biases, we have defense mechanisms, and they also compound each other. 

 

How Ego Defenses And Cognitive Biases Compound Each Other

For instance, to use the example I gave before, let’s say because of your optimism bias, you make this bad investment decision, and lose all your money. But instead of reflecting deeply enough to see your bias, and say, “wow, why did I do that? Whoa, I was very biased. I didn’t think I could lose my mind, why did I not think that and really go into a deep self reflection that would actually help transform the bias by making it visible?”

Instead, your ego defense kicks in and you rationalize the decision by blaming someone else, saying, “well, they misrepresented the risks, or, it was somewhat my spouse’s responsibility to pay attention to the finances.” Whatever it is, we come up with a story that protects us from the kind of authentic self-reflection that would reveal our bias.

So we have this swirl of over 100 biases, 30 ego defenses, all operating inside us in one way or another, though not everybody functions with all the same defenses. But let’s just say that the mechanisms of our unconsciousness, what’s traditionally been called our ignorance—which just means clouded perception, distorted cognition, in accurately seeing the world and responding in ways that are therefore not constructive or helpful—ultimately blocks our higher evolution. It means we’ll keep making the same mistakes again and again. And voila, we have the human race in its current state, we have the world as it is, and we have ourselves as we are.

 

Meditation Can Help Free Us from Biases and Defenses


I’m here to say that meditation is one of the most powerful tools we have available to us that can change that, that can take us beyond bias beyond our ego defenses into a much more authentic, clear, evolved enlightened relationship to life, because it’s transformed our relationship to our minds. 

In the second episode of this podcast, which is actually already available now, because we’re in the podcast universe, and it’s up, we’re going to explore what it is to be free from the mind. We’ll look into a practice that enables us to have more space around our thoughts and gives us the ability to see our mind functioning from a distance, so we’re not so influenced by it. 

Creating this kind of space ultimately enables us to not be so compulsively influenced by our cognitive biases and not ruled by our ego defenses. We are able to deconstruct all of those mechanisms of unconsciousness and start to be a much more conscious person, a person who is able to see the world clearly, solve problems, make hard decisions, in a way that truly leads to our further evolution and much better outcomes in the world. And ultimately, as I hope you can see, starts to change the world. The more of us who do that, the more the world starts to evolve.

Another meditation that we practice here involves sitting still, and not reacting to anything, letting things be as they are. This means we don’t react, no matter what we’re feeling, no matter what our mind is going on about. This practice of not reacting also helps unwind our tendency to be impulsive, emotionally driven, responding in a knee jerk way to our unconscious drives. Again, creating someone who’s more conscious, more awake. 

This is a practice that we’ll be exploring in episode six of the podcast. We’ll do a deep dive into the practice of letting be, of not reacting, and how that works to free us from a conditioned relationship to our experience.

 

Cultivating Profound Change in Our Lives and in The World

Those are a few examples of what we might call the more practical side of how a meditation practice can bring about a profound change in our lives, and ultimately, in the world. Over the months ahead, we’ll go deeply into many of the specific approaches to meditation that can help us in these ways and other practical ways.

I’m using the word practical here, but obviously you can see I don’t mean it in any kind of minor or diminishing way. I’m saying these are the kinds of practical changes in our psyches, really, that lead to profound transformation of our lives, our relationships and ultimately, therefore the world. 

So when I say meditation changes everything, that’s the first thing I mean by it. All of the practical ways that meditation can transform our relationship to the mind, to our emotions, to all of the challenges and opportunities that come our way as we navigate this life. 

 

Meditation as a Direct Gateway to Spiritual Awakening

But even that, I would say, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to meditation’s potential to transform us. There’s a much more significant kind of transformation that meditation can bring about, and that’s because meditation, in its essence, is a direct gateway to what has traditionally been called spiritual awakening. An awakening to who and what we are beyond the mind, beyond our emotions beyond the conditioned egoic self. Spiritual awakening changes everything in ways that our minds can barely comprehend.

In today’s world, spiritual awakening has been described in a lot of different ways. In some ways, I would say it’s been kind of watered down; the profound significance of spiritual awakening has been diluted and often reduced to something much, much less meaningful and profound than it actually is. 

I want to invite you to set aside whatever you’ve heard or know about spiritual awakening and consider what I’m going to share with you about this. 

 

Discovering Our True Nature

Authentic spiritual awakening can be described and understood in several different ways. I will be describing it in several different ways throughout the episodes ahead in this podcast. But the specific way I want to focus on it right now has to do with the discovery of what has been called our enlightened essence, or our true nature, or our Buddha nature, or our true self with a capital S.

When we awaken to who we are behind the mind, we discover another dimension of our being. That’s why it’s called our true nature. It’s a deeper, truer dimension of who we are.

One way to look at it is that we have our ordinary human nature, which is largely derived from our animal nature, and then it’s evolved to a certain degree, as we’ve become human, with our complex human minds. So we have our ordinary human nature, but through meditation, we can unlock a higher nature, a kind of super nature. We have ordinary human consciousness, and then through meditation practice and other spiritual pursuits, we can discover what’s known as awakened consciousness or enlightened consciousness. 

This is the new higher consciousness that opens up when we awaken to our true nature spiritually, and this expanded consciousness opens up a completely different experience of being alive.

I know I’m speaking to an audience of people who have probably had experiences of expanded consciousness, at least I hope you have to some degree, and you’ve probably tasted, maybe even in deep and profound ways what it is to be living from a higher consciousness and how it completely transforms your experience of being alive. 

 

An Experience of Unimaginable Freedom 

When we talk about authentic spiritual awakening, we’re talking about an experience of unimaginable freedom of being, as if prison walls that we didn’t know we were living inside of have been shattered or fallen to the ground. We’re in this expansiveness, this openness, this lightness of being, a sense that we’re connected to a kind of limitless source of energy, and vitality, this experience of having come home to who we really are. We realize that the person I thought I was is just a tiny part of who I am. 

Ultimately, this infinite beingness and possibility opens up wide and in this also a deep sense that life has inherent meaning to it. I don’t have to invent my own meaning. I don’t have to believe in some meaning I read in a book. There is this deeply meaningful context that now becomes our lived experience and a kind of purpose to living, which, again, we’ll speak more about in the podcast, and how that sense of purpose shows up. 

But the purposiveness I’m talking about has to do with a sense of, oh, there’s this feeling that human experience is ordinarily so rough, so unconscious, so reactive, it’s a struggle and then now, there’s this sense that it can be so much more. We feel a purpose to help elevate it, to help elevate the human experience of others around us, and ultimately, of everyone, to take this human endeavor to where it can go now that we have discovered it in ourselves.

 

Spiritual Awakening Unlocks Our Higher Virtues

So, spiritual awakening transforms our experience of life, it also unlocks all of the great virtues that we aspire to. When we think about our lives and the kind of people we want to be, don’t we all aspire to be embodiments of higher human virtue? 

We want to be kind, compassionate, sensitive, empathic, we want to have inner strength and courage. We want to be people of integrity and character. We want to be open-minded, willing to hear the perspectives of others and learn what we don’t know. We want to have humility and not be arrogant people, not be people full of pride and overconfidence.

If I invited you to think what a truly enlightened person looks like, we think in terms of  this embodiment of virtue and that’s right, because that is what spiritual awakening can bring about. It can unlock this natural flow of these virtues. 

We’re all striving to be a better person, and that’s good. But then we discover this higher nature, this awakened consciousness, and we realize, oh, this is organically the source of virtue, and I can, through meditation practice, bring myself into alignment with the source of all that, and it becomes who I am.

 

Spiritual Awakening Unleashes our Supercapacities

Spiritual Awakening, in addition to transforming our experience of being alive and unlocking all of these virtues, also unleashes what I’ve come to call super capacities or superpowers. I don’t mean the kind where you’re going to be able to fly or walk through walls or have powerful ESP or psychic abilities, you know, the kinds of superpowers we see in the movies.

I’m really talking about this access to all of this extraordinary capability that starts to come online when we awaken. We find we have access to a kind of spontaneous, intuitive wisdom that arises in our consciousness faster than the speed of thought, faster than premeditation.

It doesn’t come to us just through reasoning our way through things. We start to have this blazing intensity and clarity of seeing, we find that because we’re now not identified with this small self-conscious ego structure, that we become someone who is incredibly adaptable, resilient, able to flex and flow with whatever comes our way. We’re kind of dancing with life. 

If life moves us one way, we move with it and flow with it and find a potent response to it, naturally and simply. So fear falls away when we show up with this kind of extraordinary courage, which itself is a kind of super capacity, a kind of fearlessness. We also gain access to this spontaneous creativity, this ability to see into the heart of problems and solve problems, because somehow all of those biases that we talked about, and defenses have fallen away. 

 

Becoming a Completely Different Kind of Person

So now we’re just present with life. All of our faculties are open and available to the moment and we find all of this combines to make what we might call ordinary unconscious human existence start to show up in a superconscious way that seems to bring with it these supercapacities. I’m not going to go into all of them here, but just trying to give you an overview. 

If you take all that together, the radically transformed experience of being alive, this unlocking of our higher virtues, and this unleashing of our supercapacities, I hope you can see why I’m saying meditation changes everything, because with spiritual awakening online, we ultimately become a completely different kind of person who’s living from a different place in ourselves. This impact on the world is exponentially more significant than it was prior to the emergence of awakened consciousness within us. 

Meditation is one of the most potent practices we can do to catalyze spiritual awakening because it gives us an opportunity to give all of our attention to being awake for a period of time every day, to practicing being awake.

 

Learning to Activate Awakened Consciousness Every Time You Meditate 

So, this is the reason I created this podcast. It’s the reason I’m calling it Meditation Changes Everything. The meditation teachings and practices and inquiries that I’ll be sharing here are all part of an approach to meditation that I’ve come to call the Practice of Direct Awakening. It’s a meditation practice that’s designed to directly open you to awakened consciousness while you’re meditating. 

In other words, you’re not doing a meditation technique in the hope that someday you’ll experience some transformation in the future if you spend enough hours doing this meditation technique. This meditation is designed to awaken you each time you meditate. 

When you sit down to meditate, you are stepping into awakened consciousness through doing the practice. It’s removing the future from the equation. It’s bringing you into this direct knowing of who you really are beyond the mind, right now when you’re in meditation. It’s a practice of being awake, which means we’re practicing being the way awakened consciousness is, we’re practicing aligning with awakened consciousness naturally. I’m just going to give you a couple examples of what I mean so this doesn’t just sound abstract when I talk about the practice of direct awakening. 

Awakened consciousness shows up in very predictable ways, just like unenlightened consciousness shows up in predictable ways. Human beings are pretty predictable. We know the way we humans are going to react to things. When we awaken, it’s also predictable. It’s also one thing. When I am experiencing awakened consciousness and you’re experiencing awakened consciousness, we’re experiencing the same thing. 

 

What Awakened Consciousness Looks Like

One way awakened consciousness shows up is that it’s naturally very easeful and content. We have stopped struggling against what we are, we’re naturally at ease and content with the way things are, which doesn’t mean we’re complacent in the face of things that need to change in the world. But it means on a fundamental level, our consciousness is at ease. It’s not in a struggle. So there’s this easeful, contented openness.That is something that we can practice in meditation.

Whether or not you feel content and at ease today, you can practice being content, you can practice relating to your experience from a place of contentment, of easefulness, of nonreactiveness, which means you don’t make a problem out of anything that happens while you’re meditating. You don’t try to change anything that happens while you’re meditating. That’s a practice of being awake. 

Another way that awakened consciousness shows up is that it’s very open. It’s very spacious. We can practice that in meditation. We can practice being open and spacious by making room for the entirety of our experience without tightening our focus on anything. We can stay in this open, spacious awareness through practice that’s aligning with the natural way that awakened consciousness shows up.

Another way awakened consciousness shows up is that it’s not fearful. As I was saying before, there’s a kind of fearlessness to it. Like whatever life brings, isn’t going to fundamentally impact this awakened essence. So therefore, I don’t have to live in fear. I’m not afraid. 

One of the ways that manifests is that we’re no longer grasping at certainty at trying to always know what’s going to happen so we can predict the outcome, so we know how to prepare for it. This kind of grasping is very common prior to awakening. That’s the way our minds work, the way our being works, we always want to know and we want to know beforehand. Well, awakened consciousness doesn’t need to know beforehand. We trust that what we need to know will be revealed in the moment we need to know it. So there’s this profound relaxation of the grasping after knowledge.

That’s also something that we can practice in meditation. We can practice not grasping on to knowledge, not needing to know, resting in the unknown. That, again, is a way of aligning with awakened consciousness, practicing being aware. 

Those are just a few examples of the kinds of meditation practices I’m talking about when I talk about the Practice of Direct Awakening. Those three practices I just briefly summarized are things that we’ll go into in more depth along with many other practices over the months and years ahead with this podcast.

 

What to Expect from Meditation Changes Everything 

The way the podcast is going to work is that there will be different kinds of episodes. I mean, you could say that’s true of everything. But you know, some podcasts are just interviews, and they’re all interviews. And others are just talks, and they’re all talk. So this podcast is going to mix it up a bit. Some episodes will be kind of in-depth extended talks from me on a particular aspect of meditation.

Another episode might feature my responses to questions from listeners, from you, where it will feature a bunch of responses to questions to go deeper into some of the themes that we’ve been exploring. 

Other episodes will be guided meditations. We’ll put out an episode that might be a 20-minute guided meditation so you can have a direct opportunity to experience the practice for yourself. Whatever else inspires me and our team over the months ahead will end up as an episode, I’m sure.

The last thing I want to say today is that if this approach to meditation that I’ve been speaking about here inspires you, well, first, I encourage you to listen to some of the other episodes and stay tuned.

 

Opportunities to Learn More about Direct Awakening

Please follow us on your podcast app, so that you can find out about our upcoming episodes. But upon hearing what I described today, if you want to immediately experience that somewhat deeper dive into the kind of meditation I’m talking about, I want to invite you to tune in to a 90-minute online workshop that I’m hosting called Meditation 2.0: The Miracle of Direct Awakening.

In that workshop, I’ll give you a comprehensive overview of how the practice of direct awakening works, how it came about, and the kind of impact it has. We’ll also engage in some brief meditation experiments in the workshop so you can taste it for yourself. 

You can sign up for that at FreeMeditationWorkshop.com. That’s FreeMeditationWorkshop.com.

So, as I mentioned, in our next episode, we’ll explore what it means to awaken beyond the mind and how we break free from our attachment to the mind. We may have heard that meditation is about quieting the mind. A lot of us struggle with that. How do I quiet my mind?

In episode two, I’m going to explain why a busy mind is not an obstacle to meditation and how you can access the profound depths of meditation even when your mind is active. If you have any interest in how to go beyond the mind, I encourage you to tune in to episode two. You can even do it now if you have more time.

Also, since we’re just getting started as a podcast, it would help us immensely if you take a few minutes right now to rate us and review us in your podcast app. How to do that depends on which app you use to access podcasts, but again, that would be a big help to us and we’d really appreciate it. 

Thank you for tuning in today and I look forward to being with you next time.

 

FREE MEDITATION WORKSHOP

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