Meditation tends to be held as something special, something esoteric, something extremely difficult, which can only be performed by a skinny bearded man, sitting in a lotus posture, usually in a cave somewhere. However, nothing could be further from the truth, as there are millions of people meditating every day, all over the world, from all walks of life.
The reason for all the mysteriousness, regarding meditation, is because first of all there are not all that many people meditating, and secondly there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding as to what people are doing during meditation. The majority of people, if they try to meditate, will fail to get any noticeable results, and people who can meditate are often put on a pedestal and are seen as special, because they can achieve something which many people cannot achieve.
But this is all misleading, as there is far too much emphasis on esoteric, mysterious images of meditators and meditation, and this is also silly. You can of course join the club, and wear funny robes, sit in complex postures while playing esoteric music, in the background, and chant something suitably mysterious sounding and have incense burning in your house etc., but why make a pretence, why not simply meditate instead!
So instead let’s go back to the definition of meditation, as presented in last week’s article
Meditation is the ability to focus on one thought taught at a time
So a meditative state is simply that ability of keeping one thought. Actually if we want to get technical about it, maintaining one thought-full-ness is the state of meditation, but meditating is actually the attempt to achieve and maintain this mental state.
So actually in meditation, we are attempting one pointedness of mind.
This is an important concept, because we have to take the perfectionism out of the picture. While we might attempt to remain in a state of one pointedness, we actually rarely get there, but that’s okay because the benefits of meditation are largely based upon attempting to get to one one pointedness!
We can think of it this way, our consciousness can be like torchlight; now imagine a torchlight which can be concentrated into a narrow beam or it can be adjusted into a very wide beam. In everyday consciousness our conscious awareness is a wide beam, in actual fact it’s too wide a beam, at this stage, and so we are all confused and our mental powers are apathetic. However, when we meditate we channel our conscious awareness into a very concentrated narrow beam, which gives us a strengthening of the mind, a strengthening of will, and it consolidates us and makes us feel better, because everything is more concentrated. This is where the benefits of meditation come from, the attempt to reach the state, not necessarily that we can hold on for a long period of time.
So with this in mind, let’s take a look at a few meditation methods which you can use to help you begin meditation.
In our last article, the first in the series ‘the introduction to meditation’, we introduced the concept of meditation, and we also gave a relaxation exercise. If you have been following this relaxation exercise, for the last week or so, you’ll definitely feel yourself to be more relaxed and at ease.
Relaxation is that bedrock of meditation
So, if you feel you’re making some progress from relaxation, now’s the time to begin some of the meditation techniques. Otherwise, carry on the relaxation practice for another week or two, before diving into the meditation techniques.
The meditation techniques, listed below, are not intended to be the be all and end all of meditation. Rather they are popular meditation techniques, which work out well for many people. My advice is to try out one or two meditation techniques, and see how they go.
Personally, I follow a Raja yoga system of meditation, called Sahaj Marg. It comes from India, and is a very useful system of meditation, for people who are looking for spiritual integration. This is another strand of meditation, which belongs to spiritual practices, and we shall not mention it further in this article, because this article is an introduction to different meditation techniques. However if you are interested in learning more about Indian esoteric meditation practice techniques, then take a look at this article.
Popular Meditation Techniques
There are many meditation techniques available to you. Which includes techniques such as mantra (the reciting a holy word or phrase), deep focus meditation as used by Zen Buddhists, abstract conceptual meditation, reflection upon sacred texts, and energetic meditation techniques, such as chakra meditation, for example. However, what follows are two meditation techniques, which are both simple and highly effective, which are candle gazing and visualisation.
Candle Gazing: Candle gazing is a very popular meditation technique, and a very useful one at that. Since meditation is the process of maintaining one pointedness of thought and the process of meditating is about attempting to acquire and then maintain this state of one pointedness, it makes sense that attempting to keep one’s attention on a candle flame will have just this effect.
Also, for people starting out in meditation, it is a simple process. Simply stare at a candle flame, and attempt to maintain this focus. As other thoughts come along, just refocus on the flame and think to yourself that you will get back to those thoughts later. Don’t force anything, rather just re apply your conscious attention on the flame. That’s it!
You will notice an instantaneous shift in consciousness, with this exercise, even if you have no experience of meditation behind you. Also this is a great exercise for developing concentration and also for de-stressing the mind and clearing out confusing thoughts.
Visualisation: Visualisation meditation techniques, are popular but not for everyone. The premise with visualisation is that everyone can visualise, and of course everyone cannot visualise, so if you cannot visualise then skip this exercise, if you’re good visualisation then try out the exercise below.
Begin with the relaxation exercise from the previous article,’ introduction to meditation’, and then once relaxed follow the following instructions:
Close your eyes and see within your mind, a beautiful wooded area in a mountainous region. You have been walking through the mountains for days now, and are enjoying the cool crisp air on your face and the feeling of soft earth under your feet. You have been enjoying the beautiful trees, the whooshing of the breeze and sleeping under the stars, enjoying the sounds of the night and being one with nature. You have let go of all worries tensions and fears, and now in this relaxed state you’re walking down the mountain and you find a clearing in front of you.
As you approach the clearing, you notice a building or structure in the middle of this clearing which looks like a grand structure. It’s a big building and can resemble a great temple/church or a castle of some sort. Use the infinite power of your imagination to visualise exactly what the building looks like. Use your visualisation to see something which you find attractive and which resonates with symbolic meanings to you. As you approach the gates of this either castle or Temple/church, you look up and see someone sitting on top of the temple walls/castle beckoning to you, but you strain to hear what they say. As you come closer you hear them a little better, and you hear what they are saying. They are asking you why you want entrance to this castle. You look up at them and with a deep sense of clarity you give them your inner reason as to why you need to gain entrance. For a moment they stare back at you, with vacant expression, but then suddenly they make a gesture and suddenly the gates of the gates open you walk inside, as you walk inside all tensions, fears and worries leave you.
You’re entering a special place, either a temple/church or a castle depending upon your symbolic frame of reference. Well either way this is a place of shelter, not just a place of physical shelter, but a place of mental, emotional and spiritual protection. Here you are protected, here you are connected. As you walk inside, you see many people and they are all very beautiful. Although you’ve been travelling in the countryside for days now, you have enjoyed raw beauty, but here you see an amazing beautiful civilisation, beautiful parks, and elegant people. All kinds of people; young people and children all looking beautiful; middle aged and even old people, all dressed beautifully, acting elegantly. And most importantly of all, they seem strangely familiar to you, as if you know them but cannot quite put a name on their face. They are your friends, no even more than that they are your family. You feel a deep sense of inner connection with all these people, and somehow they feel the same way about you too!
There is no greed here, there’s no stress, no anger, no shouting here, this is all behind you. Enjoy now for a minute or so, using the infinite power of your imagination, this beautiful place. Maybe music is playing in the background, or maybe the wind blows gently around you; for now simply use the Infinite power of your imagination to build up the image and enjoy being here in this sanctuary, this placid placed far away the troubles and toils of everyday life.
Now you come out from your reverie, and you look to your left-hand side and suddenly see a tall elegant figure coming towards you. This person is taller and more elegant than anybody else here and you realise that he/she is looking straight at you. Their features are beautiful and impressive (use the infinite power of your imagination to fill in the details of their costume and appearance); they are beckoning you to follow them. Knowing that all is well and that somehow this person is your guide, to this place you follow them into a beautiful inner Temple/chapel, depending upon what works for you and your symbolic frame of reference.
Once again the doors open in front of you and you see a small pool of water. Your guide asks you to strip off and cleanse yourself, in the cleansing pool of iridescent blue light filled water. You take off your cloths and you step into this pool of iridescent blue irradiated cleansing water. As you take the first step, you feel a tingling coolness in water and with the second step an electric sensation if felt, a vibrant feeling is felt and you become ever more relaxed with each step, more relaxed feeling and more as finally you reach the sixth step and now the water is up to the level of your neck. Enjoy the water, splash your face and enjoy the pool, the echoing sounds of the pool and look up and appreciate the intricate artwork on the walls and ceiling.
Now after a minute or two, the elegant guide asks you to come out of the pool. Your guide provides you with a towel to dry yourself, and then some clothes to wear. These are elegant and beautiful and you feel an inner calm feeling, within yourself. Your guide points to yet another door, which opens and you follow him into an inner sanctum. The inner sanctum is an even smaller room and here you see an iridescent white light coming down from an opening in the ceiling. Beautiful energy is flooding the room, and a sphere of iridescent white light is forming in front of you. Your guide points towards the sphere and you know that for your wellbeing you must step inside of it.
As you do so you are infused with a deep inner connection. Bask in this healing, energising, enlightening light. Enjoy!
What is the source of this light?
This light is your inner self inner self, which is never away from God. This higher self, which is always there, protecting you, guiding you and helping you.
Stay here for a couple of minutes and enjoy the experience, using the infinite power of your imagination to enhance the experience.
After another minute or you can either choose to leave the sphere of light or you can seek answer to your questions, if you like.
Once you are satisfied and feel it is time to go, then step back from the light, turnaround to your left hand side and your guide will show you the way out.
Once outside the doors of the inner sanctum, you notice again the beautiful people, then look once again to you right side and see the inner sanctum, what a beautiful building this is! You look up to beautiful blue skies, and then once again look at elegant familiar people; perhaps listening to the beautiful music went as a wind whistles past.
Remember that this beautiful place is inside you and is always accessible when you wish to come back here at any time. Take a few deep breaths and enjoy this feeling of depth, and expansion. Now look to your right and give you farewells to your guide and with that you are now underway. Say goodbye again to the security person, who sits on the outer wall of this temple/castle and look back one last time, at the beautiful place and enjoy the beautiful view of all the charming people inside.
This is your birth right, this is your inner reality; the stress and the fear, the tension and the worry are your external life, they are the fantasy!
Take one last look and now you find yourself on the mountainside, and now you begin walking and walking and remembering that beautiful place and you are enjoying yourself as you walk down the mountain to the Valley.
And although you’re heading back to regular civilisation, you will not forget the beautiful mountains, where you have spent the last few days, the many wonderful people you’ve met, and the many wonderful experiences which you have enjoyed. And you remember that at any time you can come back here, and enjoy this beautiful this mountain scenery, and of course you can visit this inner sanctum, at any time you wish to in the future. End meditation.
As we can see from this visualisation, there are no hard and fast rules about how it goes. I’ve used two possible pictures here, one of the castle and one of the church/ Temple, because they are common symbolic images. Simply pick one, which suits your temperament and fill out the details using your imagination. Also the idea is to allow your super conscious mind to make contact with your conscious mind. So to do this requires opportunities. So the cleansing in the pool, is an opportunity and also the absorption in the sphere of white light, is an opportunity to connect with your inner self/soul and it’s important here to not force anything. This should play out semiconsciously. You should have a rough idea of the storyline, but then just go with the flow and let things just go , so especially at those times of the pool and the sphere of light, give yourself an opportunity to be receptive and receive something from your inner/higher self.
This meditation is not for everybody, but it is very important meditation, for those of us who are good at visualisation. It allows you to recharge yourself with healing light; it allows a chance to reconnect with your inner self. Also, a strong theme of this is of the inner sanctum, the inner sanctuary as it is a place where we can reconnect with the higher self. So this isn’t just imagery, this is a reality, that at any time there is a part of you who is residing in a higher state of being. And it is your birth right to reconnect with this at any time!
Meditation Techniques – Final Thoughts
These are just two meditation techniques. They are quite different, as the visualisation meditation suits some people but not everybody, and the concentration style of candle gazing is better suited to the down to earth, less emotional type of personality. They are both good in their own ways, and you can do one or both. They are by no means the only techniques, but are good to begin somewhere, and these are good place to start. Also I would recommend starting a meditation Journal, and just note down feelings and observations. Regarding frequency, it is ideal to meditate daily, if possible. If not possible then at least attempt to meditate several times a week, in order to see good long-term results.
So to begin your journey towards meditation, it is important to have relaxation, and then follow-up with meditation techniques, which you enjoy. This is a good beginning, but just as the series title is, ‘an introduction to meditation’, suggests it’s just the beginning. It will open the gates of perception, to some degree, by doing these meditative exercises. And this can open the rainbow bridge, which will lead onto higher functioning/ psychic/intuitive abilities. Which of course, will give you the many benefits of meditation. Also it will open the way to the inner self discovery, which is the true adventure, so do enjoy!