Clearing and Centering
Ex 4 Meditation
The purpose of this exercise is to go through a basic meditation. Through meditation, we develop a wide variety of skills and awareness’s. We can also use meditation for a wide variety of purposes. The exercise will bring to light a number of thoughts and ideas that will help you get a better understanding of meditation. It will also provide a practical example of a meditation and some ideas for what you can do in such a state.
30 minutes to 2+ (with 5-10 minutes for gradual return from meditation)
- From Concepts: All essays in the section
- Spiritual Development Essay "Relaxation and Meditation"
- Spiritual Development Essay "Grounding"
Meditation1 is a discipline used to reduce the rational minds influence so that one may achieve a heightened state of awareness. People rarely meditate despite the fact that we have known the benefits of it for many years. The masses tend to see meditation as a waste of time. This is so despite that many consider relaxing important for recharging ones batteries so they can carry on with their lives and be productive members of society.
 Meditation: definition referenced is from Wikipidia
While there are many reasons why people do not choose to meditate, I believe there are three primary reasons. If you find it difficult to meditate, you will likely need to consider these points a little more thoroughly.
First, and foremost, most people focus on the external world. This is the way we raised our children and is how our parents raised us and how they were as well. We work, seek pleasure, enjoyment, and live primarily through our physical senses. We only know of vague notions of personal happiness rather than personal fulfillment. The modern world is an industrialized one, and in practical terms, where value is measured by how much we can do for someone, what we produce, how popular we are or our net worth rather than by what kind of person we are. This is not conducive to meditative practice as it keeps us focused on the external world. We must learn to turn our attention away from our physical senses.
The second is that most people do not understand the value of meditation. Our rational minds thoughts are “not things” to people so we fail to recognize their power over us. This is primarily a western notion. To most, we are our rational minds, a view that overlooks the vast untapped enormity of our awareness. It does not allow that there is far more to our reality than what we perceive, an idea enabled by the third reason, which we will get to next.
What we do is spend our entire lives here living within the confines of what our programmed minds allows. We never realize we have far more awareness than we are using and have more capabilities than we ever imagined. We must learn that our thoughts are not “us” though what and how we think either enables or limits our capabilities.
The third reason, but not least, is western religions have not led in the area of spiritual development and along the way they have separated man from God. They have also put people in as interpreters of divine law. Typically freedom to explore ones individual relationship with God, per say, is only encouraged when it supports doctrine. This leaves many looking outside rather than inside for their answers. Jesus, perhaps the greatest spiritual teacher the west has known, stated the way is to “know thyself”.
Imagine instead that you are empowered with knowledge, and that you can explore truths without interference, with the complete freedom to interpret your own perceptions. This freedom alone cannot be against your faith, for it enriches you. We are beings of consciousness or as some say beings with a soul, in a Cosmos of consciousness and as such are free to explore ourselves and to come to our own understanding of the nature of things by looking within.
To grow and develop ourselves it is singularly important that we learn to know ourselves. Our conscious and non-conscious thoughts and feelings affect us in many ways. Our non-conscious thoughts are a strong influence on us. Just as most of an icebergs mass lies under the surface of the water so too are most of our thoughts non-conscious. The best and most direct way to get at the iceberg below the surface is to meditate.
Certainly one can go through life without ever meditating in a direct or more formal way. However, if you seek to understand yourself and your life, or you are having issues and challenges in life, meditation is one of the best ways to work through and past them. Throughout the material presented here, we have become aware that we can explore this by paying attention in the moment to our reactions. A significant number of these are the result of programming that lies at or outside of our conscious minds realm of attention. We must limit our attention to find them.
The exercises below are provided to help you start to delve into them, bring them to the surface so they can be examined and dealt with as needed. Admittedly, there are not many resources available to assist you develop the sensitivity to perceive the subtle vibrations of thoughts and emotions. Do not dismay though, there are ways to do so on your own. It starts with developing good meditative practices, ones that you can use to work on your sensitivity as well as for personal and spiritual growth.
What I hope to provide here are some basic concepts and thoughts about meditation and a starting point towards developing your skills. Do feel free to pursue any form of meditation that suits your temperament and spirit, you will not find it conflicting with what is included below. I do recommend you examine as many as you can then pick one and stick with it. It is important to provide structure to the new thought forms you are creating. One must have a very good understanding of meditation in order to integrate other forms into their method. If there are conflicts at any level between methods, it can actually make it harder to meditate.
Meditation is more an act of being rather than doing. We are not accustomed to being, and it is something we need to nurture within ourselves. To this end, I have included a basic meditation to help you develop meditative skills. Once you are comfortable meditating, there are follow up meditation exercises. The longer working meditation exercises are in Part 2 below; each comes with a brief introduction so you can get a feel for what they entail. You can try them at any time though I suggest you contemplate whether you are ready to do them for some may take up to an hour to complete and if you are not really ready to try you could get frustrated. We do not want frustration associated with the act of meditating.
I will start with saying that if one believes they have alternative awareness then the possibility that one can quiet or even turn off the rational mind exists. This makes it easier to develop the skills to do so as you will not be fighting as many preconceived thought constructs. It is more of a challenge without this belief; however, simple persistence will gradually modify restrictive beliefs.
The hardest part about meditation is learning to recognize and then let go of conscious thoughts, to be able to tell the difference between thinking and being. This is the awareness we seek to develop for without it the grip our thoughts have can be strong enough so that when we are not thinking we are generally sleeping or in a non-conscious or blank state of mind.
The state of awareness that lies between waking and sleeping states can be elusive to attain. This is due to the hold our rational mind has on us and the fact that we are not accustomed to going without it. We must develop this awareness much as a baby has to develop the awareness to use its physical body.
In general, most people view reality and themselves as purely physical, they have not developed thought forms to the contrary. This is why many people fall asleep when they first try to meditate. First, you start to accept that we are more than just physical beings, and then you move on to understanding that one can be conscious without their physicality. Developing our awareness is challenging due to the rational minds focus on physicality rather than being. This is its natural constraint or boundary, as beyond this our rational mind has little or no frames of reference to make sense of experiences. Unlike the non-rational mind, the rational mind requires language. We tend to focus our attention almost exclusively on the outside world, think in terms of things and have let our awareness skills atrophy. Nor can we easily share our personal perceptions with others the way we can share the perception of physical objects. What we can do is explore it ourselves, come to our own understanding.
Meditation is an active practice, despite how it sounds, however it is not a practice of the body, or the ego, it is a practice of the non-rational self and of will. One of the best ways to learn to meditate is with the help of an experienced teacher; however, I will try to help you in this area, through the exercises on this site, and I hope it will help you develop a new understanding of meditation, new concepts, skills and awareness.
If you have not spent any time meditating I recommend you follow each of the steps below every time you meditate until such a point as you feel you know them well. Read the entire section before starting your first meditation. There are a number of steps to this exercise, so I have broken the process down into small steps in order. Each step has a significance that you will come to understand and appreciate as you develop, and it takes time.
Realize that there are 3.5 million minutes in every ten years, and in the last ten you likely used your rational mind for nearly all of them, (assuming one gets eight hours sleep), so there may be a lot of catching up to do.
Meditation can serve many purposes. With this in mind, the method below has three parts, the first and the last being the same for all meditations; the second part has a number of supplemental meditations. This exercise is from the Twin Powers Workbook. The book contains references to the exercise from various places; these are included here. They are topic specific meditations for developing and using particular skills.
Part I – Getting Into A Meditative State
1. When: I recommend you pick a time for this exercise where you feel you can commit to it. At this point, there is no ideal time, though I would also recommend you pick a time when you are feeling positive and balanced as strong emotions and stress lead to thought forms that make it difficult to focus. Consider using your favorite time of day, if you have one. However, if you cannot find such a time, pick one where you feel peaceful yet strong.
2. Where: Pick a place where you can sit without being disturbed and one where you feel most comfortable. Also, consider a special spot for meditation, one that you will use for this purpose on a regular basis. It may seem trivial; however, it will assist you as over time your work there will create energies and thought forms that will make it easier to move into a meditative space and to get deeper faster.
3. Prepare: Once you have found that place, and before you sit there, I want you to create a mental imagine that when you are sitting down you will feel relaxed. If you are stressed going into your meditation, imagine that as you move to sit down your stress will start to fade. Our thoughts affect us, and by doing this, we are using our imagination to help set ourselves in the proper space. Now sit in that chair, on the floor or ground of your chosen place in a posture that is comfortable, though not so much so that you will fall asleep. You do not have to sit in any special position for this exercise to be effective, though I recommend sitting with as straight a spine as possible.
4. First Step: Once seated and comfortable, I want you to slowly close your eyes and as you do try to think only about relaxing and breathing. Work to focus your attention on your breath and away from your eyes.
5. Breathing: As you breathe, feel your body move; the chest expands and contracts, you feel the sensations of air moving in and out and slight shifts in your body as you do so. Other thoughts will come to mind, they will tend to distract you. With each breath try to feel calm, as if you are just waking up on a lazy morning and you are not quite awake, yet not asleep with no cares in the world. In meditation we are trying to turn off our rational mind, it is not used to this; it is accustomed to being busy. When your mind strays return your focus to your breathing. This practice restricts the rational minds hold as the focus of our awareness. It does get easier with practice.
6. Deeper Breathing and Grounding2: For those new to mediation, I suggest putting a rhythm to your breathing. Count in your head as you inhale, pause, exhale and then pause again. It might be a 3-1-3-1 count, or 4-1-4-1, or some other number, but it should be regular and rhythmic. Be aware that as you get more relaxed your breaths will become longer, so the count will change. Do not stay focused on the count unless you need to. The more you meditate the less this will be required. With practice, attaining a steady breathing rhythm will become easier, and you will be distracted less by it.
As thoughts intrude, return your focus to your breathing, try to feel the stress in your body as a “thing or a heaviness”. I want you to feel the heaviness flow down and out of you into the ground beneath you as you exhale (refer to the essay and exercise on grounding for more details on this). With each inward breath you take feel as if you are inhaling pure calming energy, feel it flowing through you.
We will cover techniques that will help you to understand and develop greater control over your rational mind, for now all we want to do is start to reduce its intrusions. Some people find it beneficial to visualize they are in a particular or special place, others simply seek to “think” as little as possible. It really does not matter what you do so long as you quiet the rational mind in the process. Both of these methods give the rational mind something to do other than direct our thoughts, and can calm any strong feelings we have.
7. Working Past Thoughts: Continued rhythmic breathing will help you relax your rational mind and your body more. Each time a thought arises, return your attention to your breathing to let go of the tension in your body, and as a byproduct in your rational mind. As you do so, you will notice a certain odd sensations akin to what you would when you have cut off circulation in your arm or leg and it is “asleep”, as if numb. You may find yourself having various thoughts about moving or twitching to break the numbness; try to let the thoughts go. You need to become familiar with this sensation so that you can recognize it and let it go. This will take practice to overcome, do not stress over it at this point. This is all part of the letting go of thoughts based in the rational mind.
As one slips deeper into meditation, the sense ones physicality begins to slip and our rational mind tries to make sense of it. You may notice, besides the numbness, that you can no longer tell where even your feet are. What is occurring is your rational minds sense of your physical self is losing cohesion. Spatial orientation is an important component of the rational minds activities and it struggles with lack of “input” as we reduce our attention on it resulting in mixed signals or rather thoughts about it. We rely heavily on our physicality as part of the definition of whom and what we are. It can take time to overcome this stage of resistance; if you persevere, you will be successful.
8. Deeper into Meditation: When you start to feel relaxed, your breathing should have become rhythmic and you need not focus on it. At this point, you should not be having so many random thoughts distracting you. For those new to meditation this might be a challenge. You may find that you are continuing to think this is a silly exercise or that it will not help you; you may be thinking you are uncomfortable, about whatever current problems you are having, about someone you ran into earlier in the day or even have anticipation about the future.
As hard as it may seem continue to try not to focus or dwell on these thoughts. The key here is to remove the irrelevant. Remind yourself that you are meditating, that it is not the time for other concerns and you will return to them when you are done. Do this with each thought that arises, regardless of its nature. You should have cleared this time so that you could get away from external matters for a period, hence nothing should be more important than your meditation.
If you cannot seem to notice anything beyond your thoughts, continue to try, by returning to your breathing or by using your imagination to visualize yourself in place where you can become relaxed. The longer you work on this the easier it is to let errant thoughts go.
If you do manage to get to a state where your thoughts are minimal or manageable, and you no longer are paying much attention to your physical self, I want you to try to notice the first thing that you perceive be it a feeling or sensation. Just notice this sensation, do not think about it. Let it be there almost as if unattended. When you are learning to meditate what you sense is not as important as simply trying to let go and feel and experience your awareness while using your rational mind as little as possible. Do not try to label things, explain things, or get into a debate with yourself over what you are “sensing”. I cannot stress this enough. Over time, your experiences will help you make sense of what you perceive.
When you perceive something, regardless of what it is (unless it is a thought, which you should know how to handle by now), I want you to let your awareness of it simply be there, allow the sense of it without analysis. This is the first step to become sensitive to the subtle vibrations of the non-physical levels, and it helps you get even deeper.
9. If basic meditation is enough for you at this time, go to Step 10 in Part III below; however, if you are ready to expand your meditations continue to Part II, and review the examples provided. There is a summary of them at the beginning of the section, though remember not to take a break. Remain in the same meditative space as you were in Step 8. After completing Part II, continue to Part III or step 10 for the steps to bringing yourself out of a meditative state. Do not bypass this step.
Part II – Examples of Meditations
- Taking Time Out– The focus of this meditation is on one’s path of growth. This is helpful when you are feeling stuck, uncertain about growth or simply when you want to reconnect to your goals perhaps to strengthen them.
- How I Feel– (Beginner to Advanced) - This meditation is useful for taking stock of ourselves and to help us begin to “feel” whom we are inside, the us that is behind our thoughts of ourselves.
- Expanding Our Awareness – Basic – (Beginner) – The purpose of this meditation is to explore new ideas and use our imagination to increase our awareness through enabling these new ideas, or thoughts forms, which leads to new ones that stretch the bounds of our perception.
Taking Time Out
This purpose of this mediation is to contemplate why you are choosing growth. As you find yourself calmed and all thoughts are slipping away, I want you to think about your path, your choice to look take personal charge of yourself. Do not think “hard” or focus on it. The purpose is not to dissect the thought. Try to feel your intent or desire about it, rather than think them. You do not have to think about how you feel to know how you feel. Without using words, what sense of yourself do you get? Notice if you feel uncertain, anxious, elated or neutral; notice if you feel nothing at all. You may not be able to “find” the feelings, do not force it. A vast number of people are used to avoiding feelings rather than turn their attention to them.
Now, as you are starting out you will have thoughts you cannot let go of. This is not an issue, however, I want you to continue to not just have thoughts about your choice of direction or whatever else, just try to perceive how you feel about those thoughts. Do you recognize the feeling(s)? These early meditations are more for contemplation than practical work, so allow the uncertainty as to whether you have done it right or not.
Continue this practice for 10 to 15 minutes or longer if you feel you can, then go to Part III or Step 10 below to complete the exercise. Do not skip the last step.
How I Feel
The purpose of this meditation is to take stock of ourselves. As you find yourself calming and thoughts are slipping away, I want you to think about how you feel at this point in your meditation. I want you to try to sense your own state of mind. When you try to do this, unused to being alone with yourself without a “fixed purpose” as you likely are at this stage, it may seem very quiet, almost sterile. Again, this is perfectly nature and while it rarely gets noisy per say, you will find plenty to keep you attentive. Begin by using simple words to describe how you feel, and try to be objective. That is you want to think about what you perceive and give it voice. The more objective you are the less likely you will be to have too much mental chatter going. This happens when we connect to a memory of an event in the subjective mode as this exposes our thoughts and feelings about it. There is a time when this is helpful, such as when one can sense individual energies and work with them. Now is not the time. Stay focused on trying to notice how you feel. Do you recognize the feeling(s)? Use words like calm, tense, agitated, angry, uncertain, frustrated, or compassionate for example. Say you suspect you are a little stressed, can you feel the stress itself? When you first attempt this, you may feel as if the stress is everywhere making it hard to distinguish it from whatever else being perceiving.
As before, when you are starting out you will have thoughts you continue to surface. This is not an issue, even if you continue to have thoughts such as on your choice of direction or whatever else comes to mind, do try to perceive how you feel right here and now. Being aware of how we feel beyond okay or fine, or “I have been better” is the goal. Try not to let your mind wander to too many different thoughts, try to let as many go as possible as they can confuse and misdirect you. Keep returning to the one idea “how do I feel?” You can and should do this exercise regularly, the more you do the stronger you get. We fear what we do not understand, and we fear what we have buried within us. Growth requires us to face our fears, and to learn not just that we have them, by why we do. The only way to get at this part of ourselves is to quit turning away from it, to become aware of it. In meditation, we can learn to view ourselves objectively. The more we meditate the better we get at rising above our fears and allowing us more freedom to know ourselves.
Continue this practice for 10 to 15 minutes or longer if you feel you can, then go to step 10 below to complete the exercise. Do not skip the last step.
Expanding Our Awareness - Basic
In order to expand our awareness we must build thought forms that enable our rational mind to, in a sense allow it and work on reducing thought forms that block or restrict us. Our primary tools for accomplishing this are imagination, curiosity and our objectivity. We use our curiosity to explore new ideas and our imagination to increase our awareness through enabling these new ideas, or thoughts forms, which leads to new ones that stretch the bounds of our perception. Last, by removing restrictive or blocking thought forms through meditation we can greatly improve our objectivity. This exercise will help you with all of these.
In this meditation, we are going to work on imagining with as little thought as possible. One of the best ways to do this is by imagining about ideas that have no physical representation, and where no constructs exists to give our rational mind purchase.
When you are calm and most thoughts have slipped away, I want you to start this exercise by imagining you have no body, that you are just awareness in space. Do not visualize anything in particular; leave your mind as blank as you can. Continue to working on ignoring, or making irrelevant, any sensations, and letting go of any thoughts that arise. In terms of sensations, you may continue to notice that numbness or strange sensations in your body as I referred to in Step 7 above. This is a reaction of our rational mind to our letting go of thoughts around our physical self. Our rational mind uses physical sensations to interpret experiences including its sense of self and the sensations you notice are partially a result of its trying to define itself with few and fewer sensations to go on. Persevere in your mediations and these sensations will fade away. At this point a few thoughts should not prevent you from perceiving that directions like up and down are almost meaningless as if you imagine yourself being upside down you will feel like you are. If you imagine yourself spinning vertically, you can spin yourself around and feel yourself move just as you imagine.
At this point simply allow yourself to be in this space for a few moments. We are not in a hurry. After a bit, turn your attention to imagining that you have no thoughts, that you have no notions about anything, that you are pure potential. When you try to do so, you may notice it is a hard construct to hold. You may go for a bit, notice you are letting go even more only to start thinking again. This is part of the reason for the exercise, in that we must train our rational minds not to interfere by overcoming our fears of letting go of our awareness of ourselves as physical beings. If you are successful at letting go know that you will not lose your sense of self, you will not become lost, you will not fade into nothing and you will not come to any harm.
The fear and uncertainty are natural reactions of our untrained rational mind and they take time to overcome. Remember, it has spent virtually every moment in full control. Continue to try to imagine yourself as pure potential rather than actuality. Contemplate that you are pure potential for being as we are before we enter manifestation …without all the encumbrances of a lower self…no body….no thought…no emotions…
Continue to do this for as long as you can, again do not hurry or try to force it. As you do so, continue to move away from thinking and towards sensing or feeling without thinking. Remember, a thought is an action, and one of the goals of meditation is to learn that “we can be without doing in the traditional sense”. Part of the benefit of meditation is we can monitor the thoughts that arise as we contemplate concepts where words are of no value. Our blocking thought constructs are deeply rooted and there are layers of them in our rational mind. The more we meditate the more of these we encounter and the more we let them go the more we progress. At the same time as we let these go we are building up new thoughts that contain the awareness that we are more than physical beings.
How long you continue this meditation is up to you. Stop when you feel naturally inclined to for there is no fixed time limit on it. You should try to push yourself and not stop as soon as you feel that you are getting frustrated or have had enough. These are predominantly rational mind blocks; we must work through them if we want to develop our higher awareness.
Continue this exercise for as long as you can. Consider that one’s concern over the length of time the exercise will take is a rational mind block or limitation. When you feel you have done what you set out to go to step 10 below to complete the exercise. Do not skip the last step for the deeper the meditation the greater are required when returning to waking consciousness.
Part III – Returning to Waking Consciousness
Meditation can significantly raise your vibrancy rate; as a result, when you are ready to stop and return to normal awareness do so slowly. I start by using my rational mind a little more and gradually reconnect to my physical body. I do so first through perception of sounds and my physical presence. I follow this with little movements, such as bending a toe or slightly moving a shoulder, and gradually build up to rolling my shoulders or bending forwards and back until I get to the point where I can move. Keep a glass of water handy and take a small sip. Depending on how long and deep the meditation is it can take from a several minutes to half an hour or more to get back to waking consciousness and be physically active.
Depending on the nature and length of the meditation, you may need to take some time to allow the energy you worked with and the thoughts to remain gradually fade. The longer we consider to our new ideas or thought forms, the more vibrant and resilient they become. We want to sustain them as long as possible. So, do not be in a rush to dispel them by rushing back to full waking consciousness and normal activity unless you must. We tend to be in a hurry to do something, and it is good for us to take time out.
Contemplate what you experienced; though do not delve too deeply in thought, just allow the awareness to be there. It would also be a good idea to take notes, reminders of what you “did” and what you perceived as a result.
I also encourage you to establish your own routine. You can change the steps you take to meditate if you like, but do not skip any. Stick to this routine and try to do it at the same time and place. This will help build energies there that will make meditation easier.
When you do resume your normal activities try to see the world around you as a dynamic place, even try to visualize the energy flowing all around you. Do not be so quick to give up the tranquil calmness you found in your meditation. We are fully capable of perceiving what we do in meditation at any time; we typically do not because of our noisy world and our busy lives. To do so we certainly must expand our minds to allow this view of reality and thereby our awareness.
One is not likely to solve a differential equation if they have no understanding of mathematics. To do this one must learn how to do so one step at a time. It is the same with our non-rational awareness. We must develop the thoughts that enable us to use it.
Even if we are unsure of the whole notion of non-rational awareness, we cannot know for sure that it is not true anymore than we can be sure that it is. Hence, there is no reason not to believe it is possible. I am confident that if you do spend a reasonable amount of time in meditation, and take it seriously you will experience things that will erode your doubt. Time spent in meditation gives back tenfold. You may not even notice it right away, though you certainly will if you persevere.
© 2009 Allan Beveridge