Unification is a process in meditation or any conscious process of manifestation, whereby the mind begins to have a strong conditioned effect to a particular intention. The meditator intends to focus on the breath, and due to that strong intention, the entire mind toward that intention- the body fades from awareness, external sounds disappear, and the normal perceptions of the body are radically changed. This is all because of the strong intention of the meditator and its conditioned mental effect based on training.
We can think of the entire meditative journey as a process of mental unification- at first, just sitting down to meditate required a significant diligence and motivation to make it a daily habit- that’s the mind’s various faculties coming to a consensus that meditation is good and that we should keep doing it. But this is only the beginning of mental unification.
In the intermediate stages of unification, we develop some skill at working with the mind and reversing the conditioned habits of dullness, distraction, restlessness, aversion, and doubt. We learn remedies for these mental states, and we are in this stage “stabilizing” whenever the hindrances arise, and then we go into the unification stage of the SigmaTropic Cycle.
When we become settled and focused in meditation, we are either working in the unification stage of the cycle or we are working in the creation stage of the cycle. In the unification stage, we strengthen the mind’s faculties at eliciting the seven factors of awakening, and the mind’s skill at maintaining aware alertness is honed by jhana practice, and the practice of metta meditation and prayer. This leads to suitable conditions for the mind to accumulate supramundane knowledge. This comes from experiences of insight during meditation or daily activities.
Importantly, unification of mind gradually increases along the stages of non-self insight according to the SigmaTropic map of insight. This unification of mind gets increasingly complete as various identity attachments and mental habits are seen clearly. As the meditator gain wisdom and skill, they eventually reach a state of automatic vipassana, whereby the perceptual inversion that occurs at level 4 non self insight is then imminent and inevitable. When the state of autovipassana is reached, the level 4 non-self insight and subsequent developments are a new manifold of practice. But unification of mind is never fully complete- there are always subtle attachments that we hold, but there seems to be a breaking point whereby the perceptual flip into non-dual awareness holds for good.
Bringing Calm-Abiding into Daily Life
As the mind becomes unified, various processes occur to make the response to the intention of the meditator more and more powerful. We have built a highway of neural connections in the executive functioning, and the power of intention is very strong. We can get direct experience of a more comprehensive sense of awareness that seems to encompass everything within it. The vasdt sense of spaciousness in the mind and the calm tranquility that has developed gradually is now easily reached on the meditation cushion. The unpleasant manifestations of the earlier stages of unification have been replaced by various degrees of altered sensory experience. The specifics of these phenomena in themselves are not diagnostic as to any particular stage of awakening, and people have very subjective experiences of even basic mental states like joy and happiness. What tends to occur is that meditation and the state of calm-abiding begins to influence daily life.
We notice that there is a blissful sense of calm tranquility after meditation, and we can maintain that sense of mindful presence even after we get up from the cushion. At this point unification of mind is well under way, and the intention of the meditator is now to infuse their waking everyday hours with the bliss of calm abiding.
Techniques for unification
- walking jhana practice
- cessations on demand
- gladdening the mind