Describing the ineffable

It seems that everyone who has come upon the Source inside has to make an attempt, at least once, to describe the ineffable. Here is my attempt.

Before I start, here is a disclaimer. The ineffable cannot be described with words because it is outside of the 3D realm for which language was invented.

The book ‘Flatland’ presents a metaphor for this kind of communication problem. It is a story of a three-dimensional sphere trying to communicate with beings who live on a two-dimensional flat plane. The sphere is trying to wake the two-dimensional beings up to the fact that there is more to life than what they can perceive with their senses. As you can imagine, much confusion and frustration follow from that attempt.

The same confusion and frustration happen whenever someone tries to describe the ineffable within us. Names are given. Consciousness, awareness, Source, void, emptiness, fullness, blackness, light. Piles of books have been written on it in an attempt to describe that which cannot be described with words. Those who have met the Source in themselves will nod their head and say, “I know what they mean.” But those who have not yet come upon the divine in themselves will think, “What are they talking about? What a hell a lot of gibberish! Doesn’t make any sense.”

Then, why try to talk about it at all if any attempt is doomed from the beginning?

Because Source insists on it.

Content of awareness
As I am typing this, I am aware of my surroundings, physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions. A blue computer screen, black keyboard, green plants in the room, the view through my window, white sky today. The physical sensation of my body weight sitting on the chair, fingers touching the keyboard. A feeling of coldness in the fingers. The thought that the coldness could be alleviated by eating a warm meal. A gnawing feeling in the stomach. Another thought, ’Is it lunch time yet?’ Impatience arising. A mental vision of my spirit guide. These are all things I can turn my focus towards. The focus of my attention is like a flashlight that I can turn towards anything I choose. Right now it is focused on the battling thoughts ‘Let’s have lunch’ and ‘No, let’s get this post done before lunch.’

Apart from all these things, sensations, thoughts, emotions arising, there is something else. The ineffable. I can choose to turn the focus of my attention away from all the things I have mentioned before. Away from everything out there, away from any thought and any emotion. That does not mean that thoughts and emotions will just vanish while I do this. It just means I can choose to put the focus of my attention on something else.

Where to look
I turn the focus of my attention 180 degrees away from all the things I have mentioned before, like in a U-turn, and look directly back at that which is looking. I turn my awareness back towards awareness itself. I am putting the focus of my attention directly on the sense of I AM.

It is looking at that which is always there in the background, which is always the same for all times (explained in the video on as looking at what it feels like to be me; looking at the sense of me). If you prefer to read a book about this method, it is described in The Most Direct Means to Eternal Bliss by Michael Langford as ‘Awareness Watching Awareness’ method.

[edit Feb 2020: How to find out what you should turn the focus of your attention to? Here is a short exercise:

Ask yourself what are you experiencing right now in this moment. Notice the sensations, thoughts, emotions.
Then in your mind go back to about a year ago. What did you experience back then?
Then go back to about ten years ago. Again, what was it like?
Then go back to a moment in your childhood. What was the experience like?

Pause and relax.

Now ask yourself: what was it that stayed the same throughout all these points in time?

That is the sense of ‘I AM’. That which is watching. Which is aware. This is always the same no matter how old we are. That is what I look back at in the 180 degree backwards looking meditation.]

I don’t need a special posture, a guided meditation with green meadows and a blue sky, or to count my breath, or to still my thoughts to find it. I turn my attention away from my body, away from my breath, away from my thoughts. Even away from any mental visions of my spirit guides.

Describing the ineffable
Okay, now the problems with describing the ineffable start. So, bear with me. What do we find when we turn awareness back on itself?

There is nothing there. Or rather, there is no thing there. What I am looking at is not something like my computer screen which one could look at with the eyes. It is not a physical sensation like the coldness in my fingers either. It is not a thought like ‘I am hungry. I want to go to lunch.’ Not an emotion like impatience or frustration as in ‘Why am I writing this? Probably just another useless attempt at describing the ineffable. Let’s have lunch…’ It is not a vision of an angel in my mind.

The eye does not see anything when the attention is turned 180 degrees backwards. Therefore, my mind labels it ‘blackness’ or ‘nothingness’ or ’void’.

That doesn’t sound very enticing, right? Why turn the attention inwards when there is nothing to be found?

Because this place is Home.

What it feels like
In the beginning of this practice, I experienced a lot of resistance for the first few weeks. This manifested as an itchy sensation over the whole body when I tried to look inwards. But I tried again and again. Eventually, staring back at the one who was looking gave rise to a sense of peace. Now, I have to resort to metaphors. In the beginning, it felt like the peace of a surface of a dark still lake. And when I rested there even longer, I got a sense of quiet joy streaming in. Like a small fountain in the heart area, always moving, flowing, inexhaustible.

I turn there in times of trouble and let myself be cradled in the peace and joy and the feeling that all will be okay.

During daily life, especially during routine activities, part of my attention is usually focused inwards. The peace, joy, and gratitude which come from resting in this looking-back-at-Source-place are unconditional. That means they are always there. Even if my fingers are cold and I am hungry. If there is a sudden shock or panic, I may lose the focus on this quiet background of peace, but I try to return to it as soon as possible.

The peace found inside has a magnetic pull to it. It pulls me inside because it feels so good to rest there.

There is a sense of completeness. Of needing nothing else to be happy. Nothing can reach this joy. No outer things like good food or enjoyable company or an expensive vacation.

The experience of this place is different for different people. Not everyone experiences peace and joy right away. For some, it may feel like a void, and not blissful at all, at first. Inner peace can feel weird. It can be experienced as boring. Or not feeling emotions if someone else suffers feels inhuman.
I have read a story by a woman who was in search of God. And then she was swallowed by this void at times and found it horrible. It took some time for her to realize that the void was answering her prayers, and eventually she was able to relax into it and feel the bliss.

What it is
Since this is so ridiculously easy to get there, I was tempted to think, “This can’t be it. No way. This was much too easy. Why should I be able to find it if others meditate their butt off for decades and still don’t find it?” It is easy to dismiss this place of inner peace and joy as ‘just another emotion’. But it is not. It is the connection to Source right inside of me. It is Home.

It is what we are. It is a higher dimension. Like what the 3D sphere is compared to the beings in 2D flatland, this space of awareness is for the content of awareness. It contains everything. It is not awareness arising from my brain, but it is the other way round. My brain is arising in awareness.

It is a place of singularity beyond duality. It embraces opposites. It is beyond the gnawing feeling of hunger in my stomach and beyond the pleasure of having a cup of creamy Belgian Chocolate ice cream.

This void or no-thing-ness is prior to thoughts. It is like pure potential from which thoughts can be born. It gives birth to thoughts and these turn into something solid.

It is the connection to the single guiding hand behind all the seemingly separate appearances. This is the force which orchestrates synchronicities.

The universe will put us to our knees just so that we can find this place of I AM. We are collectively suffering from a sense of mistaken identity. Looking for love in all the wrong places to fill the perceived hole inside of us. Trying to recreate the lost paradise by getting or rearranging things in the outer world. So, the usual path is that the sense of the wrong persona is stripped away, so that we may eventually come unto THAT which cannot be described with words but which is our true Home.

Turning the focus of attention back to awareness itself is remembering who I am. Or rather remembering what ‘I’ is.

It is the place from which guidance and intuition come. And it is the place of the magic wand. Little wishes tend to be fulfilled promptly when I am in this place of unconditional peace. It is just that I don’t have many wishes (except for lunch, maybe) when I am there because everything is well.
It is my life jacket in times of turmoil.

Risks and side effects
It is the connection to Source. At first, I thought, ‘How cool! Can’t you tell me the winning lottery numbers?’ But, no, connection to Source means that Source moves me. In my case, that means I get little homework assignments like ‘Start a blog! Contact this person! Learn to speak up!’ all of which force the little ‘me’ to get out of its comfort zone. (This should be in the fine print to be considered before one embarks on the spiritual journey.)

It feels so good and so complete that there may be little motivation left to do anything else. Why animate this meat suit again if this is not who I am anyway? Why bother with worldly concerns if nothing in the 3D world can give me this peace and joy?

Other risks and side effects of this journey are the deconstruction of the former sense of self and the ego’s reaction to that (see my post about the Dark Night of the Soul). It is all fun and games until someone loses an ‘I’.

Oh, and yet another side effect of having found this place is writing a very long post with too many words about an ineffable topic which cannot be expressed with words in the first place.

But, waking up to this place of unconditional inner peace and joy inside is what we came here for, and that’s why it needs to be expressed even if though it is ineffable.

45 thoughts on “Describing the ineffable

  1. Karin.. so loved your explanation.. and yes there are no real words to express those feelings and findings.. this is why I have to retreat.. back into my ‘Skin’ to the essence of ME and as I breathe in deep and settle behind my eyelids and find the ME the whole of Me that I AM and all that I ever have been and is yet to Be.. :-) The Peace that sweeps over one, as we re-connect to ourselves, the source of ALL that is.. :-) is ineffable.. :-)

    Brilliant piece of Writing dear Karin.. Now I am retreating once more within my shell, as I wish you a Wonderful weekend and a brilliant Week a head..
    Blessings with love and Light..
    Sue <3

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for your encouraging comment, Sue. Yes, it is ineffable. And we come up with all kind of words to sing the praise of it. Retreating back into my Skin and find the essence of ME, you expressed that beautifully. We get really inventive with words here. If it cannot be described, poetry may be the only solution.
      I love to see that you wrote a post about this place, too, onn the same day.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. WOW! BRAVO! You wrote this so beautifully Karin. You answered many questions I had about this 180 process that you often refer to. Yes, so much that we write about regarding spirituality is ineffable. And yet, you did a fine job here.

    Again, beautiful.

    peaceful hugs, Linda

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Linda. That makes me really happy to know that it answered questions you had about this 180 degree meditation. You are one of the catalysts who brought this post into being. It easier for me to write if I know there is someone there who would like to read this.

      Liked by 3 people

          1. let me share your own quote with you. Just stumbled upon it here:

            Hi Linda, thanks for sharing this and introducing Matt Kahn.
            I haven’t watched all the videos (yet). I think his message is not in contrast to Eckhart Tolle or ACIM. It all comes down to presence/forgiveness/peace/blessing/love even if the circumstances of life seem less than desirable.
            I like his message that it is important to live the understanding in daily life.

            I find it interesting to see how many different schools of thought there are. The common denominator is always the same (to choose love even if life sucks). But the packaging is different so that it is palatable for the respective target group.
            That is a topic which tickles me since some time already, so maybe I should write about it.
            To compare the various approaches and tastes of lightworkers, Buddhists, Christians, Advaita folks, ACIM students and so on.

            Are you up for this? Now I am giving you assignments, hehe.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderfully clear and unambiguous Karin, insofar as it being an expression of a boundless ‘sphere’ both beyond and within concepts. Negative expressions seem somehow unsatisfactory, whilst positive ones are inevitably misleading in some degree. My own best effort is to say it is ‘awareness knowing itself as itself‘ – i.e. not as an image of itself, such as a mood or psychical representation. Then again, our sentient life is an on-going process of learning and development, and I do not hold to any final point of arrival. _/\_

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for your appreciative comment, Hariod.
      Yes, negative expressions are unsatisfactory, and positive one are misleading. I like your expression of awareness knowing itself as itself. It is right to the point.
      Words don’t do it justice. Only direct experience will make people see it. It is really mind-boggling to me how many books have been written about this. It is so simple and yet so elusive.
      When I first read I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj, I found it extremely hard to read and did not understand much of what he pointed to. After I had recognized this by myself, I went back and read the book again. Now it made sense.
      Of course, our sentient life is an ongoing process, I agree.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a wonderful post, Karin. Thank you for writing this and expressing the ineffable so eloquently. It has given me much hope and peace as I’ve just lost a friend to suicide, said goodbye to an old love, and moved back to my hometown…all in a week. Much love, Aleya

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for your comment, Aleya. I am sorry to hear that you lost a friend to suicide. I, personally, find great comfort in the knowing that life continues without a body. Recently, I read The Afterlife of Billy Fingers, which is a really extraordinary book about life after death, a real story. I don’t know whether you are interested or have time for reading. I am very fond of all sorts of NDE stories, and this is a really special of a communication wit a deceased one about how his life develops on the other side.
      So, you have much going on at this moment and will take time to settle down in your home town. Will you continue with your yoga teacher class even though you have moved to another town?
      I wish you much inner peace in the face of all turmoil.
      Much love,


      1. Thank you, Karin. Yes my friend is such a special soul and I truly believe that the love that he had for this planet and its people was very rare…perhaps he felt he could be of best service on the other side. A lot of people are leaving, it seems… I trust that much is alive and well on levels unseen, and I take great comfort in that. I’m enjoying feeling his presence larger than ever. :) Thank you for the book suggestion too! I’m very interested in NDE stories.

        Yes, lots is going on. I have the option of switching my current Kundalini Yoga training to my current city, so it’s really just a matter of making the decision that works best for me. Thank you for your kind words. Much love, Aleya

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I am glad to hear that you are able to feel the presence of your friend. That is amazing and must be very comforting.
          It is great that you have the option to continue your yoga training in the current city.
          Blessings and peace,

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Flatland is one of my most favorite stories. I even love the film. Thanks a lot for the effort trying to discribe the dimension which is inside of us as well as we can box a beeing in the 2 dimensional flatland in their stommac because the third dimension is perpendicular to it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your comment, Corny.
      I rerember the scene in the book wher the sphere punches the 2D being into the stomach just to show him that he is capable of doing it. Sometimes it can become painful if we need proof of the existence of the higher dimension.


      1. Thanks, Ka. Yes, there is a film. It is on youtube.
        I like the metaphor for the awakening of the flatlander. On the wiki page, it is not mentioned that this can be interpreted as metaphor for awakening. Strange! Why isn’t it mentioned there? Probably because awareness of awakening has not trickled down to wikipedia yet, I guess.
        Have fun watching the movie,

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Val. Yes, this is not easy to describe in language. You belong to the group of people who know this place of inner peace. So, you understand.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is great, Karin! For having no words for this, you sure wrote beautifully. “All is fun and games until someone loses an’ I ‘ ” Hahhahaha!! Maybe in Christmas Story they really meant, “Yer gonna shoot yer I out, kid!” Or in the Bible, an I for an I. That changes it up a bit. Sorry, I could go on in a punny way. Peace and Joy feel so right. I love being able to get back into balance sooner when I stray out. Thanks, Karin.
    Peace and Joy,

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your kind comment, Mary. I am glad to hear that you liked my writing.
      An I for an I, hahaha, yes, that changes the meaning a bit. Ego vs ego.
      Getting back into the balance sooner rather than later, good idea. I need to remind myself in difficult times to do that, too.
      Joy and peace,

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you for this thoughtful piece, Karin. It reminds me that one thing I’ve learned is that the methods that work for each of us to cultivate the experience we cannot describe, are unique to each of us. We just have to find the one that puts us into touch with what is in there, and sometimes when we describe one method or another or try to figure out how they match up we can get confused. It is a really strange thing to discover as we make our way along the spiritual journey that ultimately it was the process of shedding preconceptions and doubts about what we were always experiencing. How could our most familiar experience be this great thing? Surely it must be something else! But when we greet our most familiar experience with the proper mindset– without the judgment, tension, and discontentment that cloud our view so often– we start to grasp its authentic nature. And then the game is afoot!

    Lovely writing, too! Hope you had a nice lunch…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Michael. Yes, I agree, the methods that work for each of us are unique for each of us. Not everyone will benefit from this 180 degree backwards look.
      There are several different meditations out there to get to this place of awareness recognizing itself as itself.
      And for some is is not so much the direct look inward look of the meditation which is helpful , but much more the shedding of preconceptions and doubts, as you wrote.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind comment, Barbara.
      And thanks for inviting me to join your blogging challenge. I have not contributed in the first part, but I hope that does not matter.
      I have added a wish for a date in the comments of your thread.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Karin!

    It was fun to experience the process with you :-) It is not unfamiliar to me!

    Your blog is reminding me of another friend of mine’s blog: Susanwithpearls:
    She’s been doing a journey and does daily journeys in a specific sequence. She’d explain it better herself, but something about reading your blog is connecting you in my mind with her writing.

    Back to you:

    Peace & oneness and gratitude for your sharings here! It’s a most excellent addition to my day.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Ka. I am glad to hear that this resonated with you.
      Thanks for the link to the other blog. That is an interesting idea to offer a guided journey thought for each day. Something like the ACIM workbook lessons or other daily upflifting thoughts.
      It is interesting that you connected my blog in your mind to hers.
      Best wishes for your journey,

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for nominating me. I am honored. But I will not participate. I hope that is no problem for the quote challenge blogging chain.
      Best wishes for your journey,


  9. Thank You!
    I think you might like this:

    I am a blogger dedicated to share what Alexandre says.
    My name is Sara and I had been a spiritual seeker for a long time until I found Alexandre and his unique way. I also found myself in that encounter…

    Alexandre is what is called nowadays a modern mystic, although he declines every and any kind of definition.

    The “standpoint” from where he speaks gives him the authority to affirm so vehemently what he says, and we can feel it… sometimes he is tender, other funny, many very patient, but he can also be very direct and “cut the crap” kind of way.

    He partakes his view with others, with no other interest than sharing his point of view.

    The published texts presented in the blog are transcribed from recorded talks with Alexandre and a close group of friends with whom he partakes his discoveries.

    Some other texts are written words from Alexandre.

    If you’re inclined to know more about him and what he says, take a look at: http://www.whatalexandresays.wordpres

    Please, leave a comment…

    Thank You,


    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wonderful! Thank you so much Karin. I wish I lived on your side of the planet so we could sit down to tea and chat.
    I have read Sri Nisarhadatta Maharaj again and again (I Am That) with great joy. Your words resonate in the same way.
    I am so grateful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank your for your appreciative comment. I am glad to hear this resonates with you.
      I read the book I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj twice, once before I understood what he was talking about and once after waking up to awareness. Only the second time, the book started to made sense to me.

      Yes, it would be great to live in the same area and meet and chat over tea. If you want, you can send me an email via the contact form, for example, and then we can arrange a time for a phone call or a video chat or so. I would love to hear more about your story and your experiences.

      Liked by 1 person

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