Moving into the vertical reality gives us an entirely new perspective on situations outside us and the changing experience inside too.

Meditation in precarious times

Let’s pause here to remind ourselves of what happens when we are in meditation, for example, through Watching the Breath, the last two stages of The Alpha Meditation or of Osho Kundalini. We may also know meditation outside any method, as a state that is part of our everyday lives.                                                                         

Whatever the context, when we are in a meditative space the mind is no longer predominant. That is, the mind with perhaps sadness or regret about the past and worries about the future; with all its attitudes, beliefs and experiences can be consciously put aside. Then we can be present to the moment. Open and available to what is right now. We are without any agenda, without any view or particular stance: there is no filter at all between us and what is right now and here. We move from the outer to the inner. From the space of doing to being; from a sense of self defined by personality, a body and a mind, to no-self…to just being an energy.

In that space our sense of time and place expand. We have moved from the horizontal to the vertical dimension. That is to say, we have dropped moving in a linear fashion, from experience A to B to C, with our focus constantly on the next step, on the future.

In moving vertically our awareness is immersed solely in the present. Rather than gathering many linear experiences en route to some goal, we rest in just what is right now. And there’s the paradox, because in our simply being, now, the moment has such depth and breadth that it can feel vast and eternal. Osho calls it living in the ‘vertical reality’.

Author Philip Gould wrote in the weeks preceding his death (When I die: lessons from the death zone) ‘When I try to push forward in terms of conventional time, to look ahead, to count the minutes or hours or days, sooner or later I hit a dead rock: I am dead on the other side of this…. There is no future for me now so I am flowing back and this here, now, is the place for everything. Here, now, is where I live…. Every single moment is almost better than the one that preceded it.”


Here’s an interesting aside: Not only can meditation help us be with whatever is happening to us in approaching our challenging times (such as our being seriously ill or dying), conversely through being present and open to our experiences we can know a natural state of meditation.


How does meditation help in times of crisis?

Regularly immersing ourselves in the ‘vertical reality’ gives us a different perspective, a new understanding. That helps us become unglued from old ways of thinking that are no longer helpful, for example our having a defeatist attitude. We also realise that no thoughts or feelings are intrinsic to who we are; that is to say we are not our thoughts or feelings. All feelings come and go, while that part of us that can watch their moving past remains constant.

The poet Rumi says it beautifully…



This we have now is not imagination

This is not grief or joy

Not a judging state

Or an elation or a sadness –

Those come and go

This is the presence that doesn’t…

What else could human beings want?

This, that we are now.



Knowing ourselves as that constant aspect, that ‘unchanging presence,’ provides an inner locus or a sense of centering. To paraphrase Rumi, what other resource do we need when we realise that we already are that presence?

When times are challenging, our emotional reaction can become a bigger ‘issue’ than the original circumstance and we can find it difficult to remember that ‘unchanging presence’, to practise right-remembering…Sammasati.

Managing Emotions with Meditation features categories of meditative techniques that can help us unhook ourselves from our identification with emotions. Following each category are links to the relevant methods.


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