When we want to do something, instead of just jumping into that activity and focussing on that alone, it is important to survey the scene and remove what is not required to make us successful in what we do.
In the Vivekachoodamani, Sri Adi Sankaracharya suggests the means to a meditative state of mind. Give up ruminating on thoughts that are not the Self. What does that mean?
Give up thinking about anything that you can see, hear, taste, touch, smell or think about. These thoughts are called kashmalam or filtered and distilled refuse. They can only take us to the experience of sorrow.
Then what must I think about? With my own Self, i.e. consciousness, I must meditate on consciousness which expresses as bliss. That can take me to the experience of liberation.
Having pushed aside all other thoughts and ideas that are not the Self, contemplate on the Self which illumines itself and sheds its light of awareness on all objects of the senses too.
To explain this idea, when we are in a dark room, someone calls out to us and asks where we are, we do not search.
We just say, “I am here!” because we know for sure that we are present there. This knowledge of my own Self is called Self-illumining consciousness. Not just that, it is by this illumination of consciousness that we recognise our own body, breath, thoughts, decisions, feelings, objects, people and situations in the world.
Where does this consciousness have its residence? It lives in the abode of the intellect or the faculty of the mind that can distinguish between thoughts, feelings and emotions and decide on what to choose for our existence. Make this consciousness your target for meditation, that which is different from the unreal or temporary existence of names, forms and qualities. Meditate on it in an unbroken stream of thought as your own self.
Look within, through this glass of steady and continuous frequency of contemplation, free of any other thought waves and discover clearly that what exists is nothing but clear existence of consciousness. This exercise is just like standing on the bank of the lake where no wind is blowing and the water is clean. You can see very clearly the sand in the bed of the lake. In the same way when the focus is turned within the Self, if the winds of desires stop, the lake of the mind is free of thought waves. The awareness that illumines the mind and all the objects of perception within and without is clearly available for our experience.
The Acharya shows the last step for this meditative process. On knowing what is the Self, be there established in it and give up all other notions of identification with the body, mind, intellect, doer or enjoyer. Have a total approach of indifference to these false notions of my body, my thoughts, my feelings, my emotions, my intellect etc as if they were all broken potsherds.