Meditation is simple to practice, but difficult to master. Available to all with a little perseverance, but often plagued with lack of consistency. Like exercising a muscle, meditation must be consistently practiced to achieve, maintain and intensify the tone and temper of one’s mind.
The human mind through meditation and other spiritual practices is capable of touching revelation and in so doing touching the One mind. Sounds like a quest worth undertaking doesn’t it? Unfortunately, such good intentions often fall victim to an unruly mind. I like to think of the brain as an exquisite antenna which can tune in to any subject that it is focused on. And indeed it can, but almost always this focus is disrupted by a lack of concentration, and the thousands of ideas and thought forms floating in the ether.
Do not be discouraged, however. The lower mind can be trained just like a muscle, and it will get stronger. The secret is perseverance and consistency.
There are many paths to God, and many ways to meditate. This short essay is a summary of what I found to work for me over 40 years, or so, of practicing. I urge you to find your own way. Whatever that way is, however, it will probably include some form of meditation.
I know this sounds daunting. You may be asking yourself, “How can I possible practice steadily for one month, much less 40 years?” The answer is that the benefits of meditation begin to be a significant contributing factor to an increasingly joyful and productive life, almost immediately. So whenever you start and for whatever length of time you are able to practice, the benefits are worth the effort. Think of it as exercise and training. We may not all become decathlon champions, but we all feel invigorated after a workout. Meditation is no different. Some will achieve Samadhi or a deep contemplative connection with the One, but all are taking a step closer to pure spirit with each effort.
Meditation is not in and of itself the goal. It can be a means to your spiritual objectives, but serving God, your Higher Power, the One pure Love, is the true objective. Begin your daily meditation with a deep knowing that your meditation serves that which is greater, whatever the name, although for the purposes of this discussion, I will most often use the term God. Every kindness, every unselfish act, every loving thought serves the greater and with it ever increasing illumination on the earthly plane. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Sound familiar? Giving with loving intent is step one. Giving starts the flow of Love, like starting the flow of electricity by turning on a switch. Meditation is a pathway to God. God is Love, and so meditation must start with loving intent and selfless service without expectation of reward. Reward from the sharing of Love energy always comes, but the objective is giving. Let receiving take care of itself for it is his law and must always flow to those who freely give.
If you are going to meditate, find a quiet place, a sacred place within your home, your place of worship, or favorite natural setting where you won’t be disturbed. Find a comfortable place to sit. Whether you sit in a chair, cross legged or lotus position does not matter, but sitting with a straight back does. Slump and you will lose concentration or even fall asleep. A straight back allows the energy to flow up and down your spine which in time will increasingly open the energy centers which we have come to know as the chakras. Energy is always flowing around the spine via the ida and pingala (Sanskrit terms) which circle the spine and its central channel, the sushumna (another Sanskrit word), in opposite spiraling directions. When samadhi or deep contemplation is achieved the serpent fire coiled at the base of the spine, or kundalini (Sanskrit word meaning coiled serpent), shoots up through the sushumna, igniting all the chakras and illuminating the 1000 petal lotus at the crown of the head. This is the ultimate prize of spiritual pursuits and practices on earth, in my opinion. This is often referred to as a visit by the Holy Spirit, or a kundalini or chi awakening. Many who meditate regularly have experienced this to varying degrees. If it happens to you , you will know it. Remember, uniting with God is the quest. Having a kundalini experience is not. It may be a part of your journey, or it may not, but the benefits of regular meditation practice will always be a part of your experience and will always guide you in the right direction.
So let’s begin with concentration. Concentration is the quieting of the mind from its ubiquitous attention deficit disorder (ADD). There are several ways that have been used over the eons to quiet the mind. My favorite is ‘Meditation with seed.’ This essentially is intensely focusing on a single seed thought, item, prayer, mantra, etc. Some people chant, sing Amen or Om. It is not important. Quieting the mind is. As you sit, focus with one pointed concentration on your seed thought, prayer or mantra, whatever you have chosen. Evaluate it as to form, its quality, its purpose and the cause behind it, whatever helps you to maintain a quiet mind and focus. You will find, almost immediately, that your focus has jumped from your seed thought to the ever flowing stream of consciousness that we know as the human mind.
Johnny has soccer practice today. I better get him there early so he can practice his corner kicks. That reminds me, I need to pick up broccoli at the corner grocery after practice. Last time I was there I saw Jenny. She wanted to get together for dinner.
The stream is endless. That is what the human mind does. It compares and relates endlessly. When you suddenly notice that your mind has taken you far away from the original seed thought, gently tell it to return to your meditation. Do not scold it, but rather tell it you love it and that it has been a faithful servant, but now it must refocus. For a minute or two it will quiet down, and then some other ADD trigger, a sound, a feeling, the phone ringing, will send the lower mind on another adventure of comparing and relating. When you notice that you, once again, have strayed from your seed thought, gently bring your mind back to focus. You will have to do this several times during the course of your meditation and it can become somewhat frustrating. But keep at it and your mind will get better and better at following orders.
In the process you will begin to notice that you are not the brain and your thoughts. You are the observer who escorted the lower mind back to the seed thought over and over again. This is no small revelation and an important step on the road back to the Father. As you dig deeper, focus on this revelation. Who is the observer? The answer in its simplest form is, “You are.” The ego will argue that it is the observer, but it is not. The observer is the Self and in that revelation the path of the prodigal son or daughter is clear. You are not your brain and thoughts. You are not the false construct we call the ego.
Tat Tvam Asi. You are that. That thou art. I am that. I am that I am.
Oops. Looks like my mind just went off on a tangent. Now who is getting off track. Back to meditation fundamentals.
Now that you are well on your way to quieting the unruly mind, we move to meditation. This is a state where the mind is mostly quiet, with only a few interruptions during your daily practice. It is at this state that the seed thought focus begins to take on a role in the background while the observer begins to enter into the silence. Ultimately, during contemplation one finds themselves in a state of pure peace, but for now we find that although the mind is occupied with the seed thought, entering the silence is an oscillating process, in and out of the peace. During these moments of pure peace, you know with increasing assurance exactly who you are, the ego has been partially tamed and you are experiencing an increasingly intense recognition of your relationship with the observer. In fact, you sense that you and it are one and the same. This does not mean that the ego has relinquished its claim to royal status. It still fights for its false status, but it has been greatly tamed by your recognition that it is no longer a necessary aspect of your psyche, and accordingly have removed your gaze from it. In so doing you are starving it of energy.
Contemplation or samadhi is the natural result of ever intensifying meditation. Pure meditation is contemplation. Once you are there you will know it. In the silence, the secrets behind creation will begin to reveal themselves. These secrets are beyond words or artistic expression to describe, even in symbols, but they are known deep within and the spiritual evolution and path of the One who is the observer begins to be clear to his or her earthly consciousness.
How Long Should One Meditate
How long should one meditate? It is different for everyone. I will say this. ONE MINUTE OF A QUIET MIND IS MORE BENEFICIAL THAN SEVERAL HOURS OF MEDITATION WITH AN UNDISCIPLINED MIND.
Any length of a quality meditation is beneficial. I like to meditate for 20 minutes in most cases, a few times a day, although as little as 10 minutes is fine if pressed, once you get the hang of it. Now that I am retired, I usually meditate for an hour or so and then write in my journals.
What should one write? Well this morning I am writing this piece on meditation. You should write whatever moves you. Sometimes I start writing on one topic and then shift after a few sentences to a totally different thread of ideas. The important thing is to write or otherwise create through art, or sculpture, even problem solving, etc., for it is the best way to bring down from your meditative state that which the earthly realm needs. I believe our creativity comes directly from the higher mind, the place where we can begin to know spirit directly. Creating after meditation opens an ever flowing channel between the higher and the lower planes, and therefor is an extremely important part of the journey, we call life.
How much should one write? Sometimes I write a sentence. Sometimes I write several pages. I will tell you one thing. Rereading your creative thoughts never gets old. I have journals going back 40 years. Reacquainting myself with what I was thinking back then is fascinating and often enlightening. I am sure you have had, or will have, a similar experience.
And so this completes my thoughts on meditation (at-least for now). Understand, that I have barely scratched the surface. Your own meditation adventure will lead you on a journey beyond description. I look forward to our paths crossing.
Until then, May God Bless!