Augustine distinguishes between praying with the mind and praying with the spirit. I feel the distinction here is between the use of images, the reflection on the lives of the saints, aspirations, mantra and other ‘fixities and definites’ as against the formless meditation which is a total turning of the mind and heart that can alter your world. It allows the fullness of the being of consciousness to manifest as an objectless orientation. Unrestriction by an object allows expansion beyond the formal.
Is this way of thinking about Dhyana/meditation accurate when as the Kena Up. Says the Self is known with every state of consciousness. True but for the practice of seekers on their way an empty open approach may be a better way to avoid distraction. Being formless is difficult and a bare focus on the Heart centre on the right hand side of the chest may be useful. To sink into the Heart or fall into it has been practiced by the devotees of Ramana Maharshi though in strict non-dual terms it is metaphorical.
Bhagavan: No. Only the quest ‘Who am I?’ is necessary. What remains all through deep sleep and waking is the same. But in waking there is unhappiness and the effort to remove it. Asked who wakes up from sleep you say ‘I’. Now you are told to hold fast to this ‘I’. If it is done the eternal being will reveal itself. Investigation of ‘I’ is the point and not meditation on the Heart-centre. There is nothing like within or without. Both mean either the same thing or nothing. Of course there is also the practice of meditation on the Heart-centre. It is only a practice and not investigation. Only the one who meditates on the Heart can remain aware when the mind ceases to be active and remains still, whereas those who meditate on other centres cannot be so aware but infer that the mind was still only after it becomes again active. In whatever place in the body one thinks Self to be residing, due to the power of that thinking it will appear to the one who thinks thus as if Self is residing in that place. However, the beloved Heart alone is the refuge for the rising and subsiding of that ‘I’. Know that though it is said that the Heart exists both inside and outside, in absolute truth it does not exist both inside and outside, because the body, which appears as the base of the differences ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, is an imagination of the thinking mind. Heart, the source, is the beginning, the middle and the end of all. Heart, the supreme space, is never a form. It is the light of truth.