It is very important to be familiar with the awakening factor of Investigation of experience. This means whatever arises, whether it is any of the Five Hindrances, an emotional state, or a physical feeling, our impersonally examine how this arose.
How the process actually works is the most important thing to observe, and seeing it with interest is very important. This is done by not getting involved with thinking about that phenomenon, but only observing its presence, al-lowing it to be there, then 6R’ing it, letting it go mentally by opening up that tight mental ﬁst which has grabbed onto it, relaxing, expanding, and allowing that dis-traction to be there by itself without keeping your attention on it; then, relaxing the tightness in mind/head, smiling, and redirecting mind’s attention back to the breath and relaxing.
Every time mind is pulled away, you see the different aspects about that distraction. Then let it go, relax mind, smile, and come back to the breath and relaxing. In this way, you become more familiar with “how” the distraction arises and are able o recognize it more quickly.
To bring forth the Awakening Factor of Investigation of Experience, you have to take a strong interest in how everything works.
In other words, we have to discover what happens ﬁrst, what happens next, what happens after that?
The more we examine your experience, the easier it is to recognize all of the different and unusual aspects about the hindrances and distractions. When we see these things clearly, it is much easier to let go of them and to relax into them.
It is also important to develop the perspective that this is an impersonal process, which is unsatisfactory and is always changing. This perspective enables you to progress without periods of confusion.
It takes a lot of energy and effort when one takes sincere interest into what is happening in the present moment and examines it with care. As we use our energy and have a strong joyful interest, this causes even more energy to arise.
As one has more energy in staying on the breath, their mindfulness becomes sharper and their energy increases little by little. When this happens, mind becomes quite happy and delights in staying on the breath and expanding mind. This happy feeling is a type of feeling without so much excitement and is very nice and cooling to mind.
These states of mind are not to be feared or pushed away. It is a natural process when one develops and progresses along with their practice of meditation to experience these states. If they stay on the breath and open their minds with interest and do not get involved with the joy, no problems will arise.
These ﬁrst four Awakening Factors are very important when one experiences sloth and torpor. Sloth means sleepiness, and torpor means dullness of mind. When one gets into the fourth jhāna and above, the two main hindrances which arise are restlessness and sloth and torpor.
However, when one brings up the Investigation Factor of Awakening and examines this torpor, they have to use more energy and this helps to overcome the dullness.
When we get into the higher jhānas we must learn to ﬁne tune our practice little by little. By being familiar with these Awakening Factors, we will learn how to eventually balance all of the factors.
The most important key for success in meditation is the ﬁrst Awakening Factor of Mindfulness. Without mindfulness, one cannot possibly reach any of these meditation stages.
Mindfulness is the main key to overcome both sloth and torpor, and restlessness.
Remember these hindrances can come at any time and knock the meditator right out of any of the meditation stages, even up to the Realm of Neither Perception nor Non-Perception. Thus, we must be very careful to recognize these Awakening Factors and be skillful in learning how to use them when it is appropriate. The next three Awakening Factors are important to overcome restlessness.
When joy arises in mind, one feels very pleasant feelings in the body and mind. This is true even in the higher stages of meditation, like the immaterial states of jhāna (meditation stages). After a while the joy fades a little and one’s mind becomes exceptionally calm and peaceful. This state is called the Awakening Factor of Tranquility. At that time, one’s body and mind become extraordinarily peaceful and calm.
Actually, the strongest part of the Awakening Factor of Tranquility is the mental feeling, which is very nice, calm, and with a feeling of strong peace. This is especially noticed when one is experiencing the ﬁrst three immaterial jhānas (meditation stages) which are the Realm of Inﬁnite Space, the Realm of Inﬁnite Consciousness and the Realm of Nothingness.
As our mind and body become more tranquil and at ease, mind stays on the breath and relaxing, and mind expands more naturally without any distractions. It is much easier to open and relax mind with each in-breath and out-breath.
Mind is deﬁnitely composed and unrufﬂed by any external or internal distractions. There comes a time when mind prefers to stay still on the meditation object, without undue force or trying to concentrate. It stays on the breath for very long periods of time. Of course, at this time, there is very sharp mindfulness and full awareness.
We still have full awareness even when we reach the Realm of Nothingness. Mind does not waver or move away from the breath and relaxing even though one hears sounds or knows that a mosquito has landed on them.
Mindfulness of breathing and stillness are very clear and sharp to observe. When we are in the Realm of Nothingness, we can explore and watch many different aspects of mind.
The mind is also very clear, even though one is in the lower meditation stages. Since mind is still, you can observe things quite clearly, too. This can be called the action of silence. When mind is absolutely silent, it is the blessing that everyone is seeking.
The Awakening Factor of Equanimity is again a very important factor to develop. It balances mind when it becomes unsettled.
The Awakening Factor of Equanimity is the only factor which allows mind to lovingly accept whatever arises in the present moment.
For example, if there arise any kinds of pain (physical or emotional), it doesn’t disturb mind’s attention.
The Awakening Factor of Equanimity is the factor which helps us to see things impersonally and without the ego-identiﬁcation of getting involved with distractions.
It is the seeing of what arises in the moment, then going beyond it with balance. The seeing of impersonal nature of everything is the very thing which allows us to progress rapidly along the God Path. But we must be somewhat careful with equanimity because it is often mistaken to be indifference.
Indifference has some dissatisfaction and aversion in it, but not equanimity. Equanimity has sharp mindfulness in it, dissatisfaction has no mindfulness in it.
Equanimity has only openness and complete acceptance of everything that arises in the present moment. It is the complete impersonal perspective. Equanimity opens mind totally. Indifference closes it, and tries to ignore what is happening in the moment.
These last three Awakening Factors of Tranquility Stillness, and Equanimity will greatly assist when restlessness arises in mind.
Restlessness makes mind think many thoughts and causes lots of unpleasant feelings to arise in the body. As a result, we feel like breaking our meditation and distracting yourself in one way or another. To say the least, it is a noticeable hard tight mind that causes suffering.
The only way to overcome restlessness is by developing stillness of mind and tran-quility of body.
When mind has restlessness in it, there is no balance of mind at all. Instead, there is a lot of ego-identiﬁcation with that feeling.
Thus, to overcome this hindrance, we have to allow it to be there by itself and relax.
By bringing forth the Awakening Factors of Tranquility, Stillness, and Equanimity and focusing mind on these different factors, will overcome the restlessness.
The two major hindrances that always seem to trouble meditators are torpor, dullness of mind, and restlessness.
We had better become friends with these two hindrances, because they will stay around. The sooner we drop all resistance to these when they arise and begin to explore them with joyful interest, the faster we will be able to recognize them. As a result, we will be able to let them go faster and to return into the jhāna (meditation stage).
Please realize that we must use these Awakening Factors whenever any hindrance or distraction arises.
It does not matter if the hindrance arises during sitting in meditation or during daily activities. These factors put mind in balance whenever it gets bumped by a distraction.
And so, this goes on through all of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.
It shows how to use the Seven Awakening Factors at all times while practicing Mindfulness of Meditation. These Awakening Factors do arise one by one as they occur and not all at the same time. Also, it shows the importance of jhānas (meditation stages) for the development of mind and how there is great beneﬁt to be enjoyed when follow these instructions.
When the Seven Awakening Factors are in perfect balance, the possibility of attaining enlightenment occurs. As go higher and higher in the jhānas (meditation stages), the balance of the Awakening Factors becomes ﬁner and much more subtle.
Fine tuning of mind becomes so important that want to naturally sit for much longer periods of time in meditation.
Some meditators get up very early in the morning so that they have enough time to learn the balance of mind and still go to work.
This meditation turns out to be the most gratifying and fun exploration that could ever experience during any of activities.