Many Forms of Meditation Exist
From a lecture on 27 July 2002 and talks on other occasions
Meditation refers to an induced relaxed consciousness of the lower self, with the aim of attuning to a higher consciousness within the Higher Self. In meditation, your lower self and personality consciously seek to connect with your Higher Self and your I Am Presence – your soul and Spirit – and as this gradually occurs, you become an alert, awakened human being, immersed in the ocean of peace and calm.
Many forms of meditation exist. For example, the concept of Right Meditation comes from the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism and denotes a high state of spiritual awareness. Right Meditation is the state also called Samadhi and is very rare. It involves total stillness of body, where the consciousness of the bodily self is lifted into cosmic awareness, leaving the body unaware of earthly happenings.
Right Meditation or True Meditation is the effective result of the attunement to a higher consciousness (cosmic awareness). In Right Meditation you become one with the realised, with the perceived. In Right Meditation, your Higher Self or your I Am Presence moves towards cosmic consciousness (higher cosmic awareness).
At a simpler level where most of us function most of the time, a wide range of activities can help the meditator enter into the relaxed consciousness that leads to positive altered states of consciousness.
Dancing, artistic and musical endeavours, concentrated efforts like studying, silent contemplation, guided imagery, visualisation, healing, and other practices that focus your concentration – all of these can take you to the place where you may lose the feeling of the physical body and move into a higher part of your own being, there possibly to connect with the being of a higher spiritual entity or Master with whom you become one, experiencing a cosmic reality.
This process of inner connection to higher levels is why in meditation you will, sooner or later, get flashes of insight and illumination and will face realities about yourself, the world and other worlds.
So sitting still in silence to meditate is not the only way to reach a meditative state, but it is an important way, and a way that is worth practicing. Just as you can acquire skill in controlling the physical body, you can also learn to control your thoughts, your emotions and your entire being through the practice of meditation. Through meditation you will be able to control your personality, unfold the higher talents of the mind, and experience the essential unity of life. In meditation you can uncover aspects of your inner true nature, of your Higher Self, which you can use for the benefit of your own life and for the benefit of the lives of others.
To achieve a true state of meditation is difficult and may not be achieved in this embodiment. You may achieve relaxation and contemplation, which are steps on the path towards meditation. Despite the hard effort involved in reaching the meditative state, the benefits of practicing meditation are worth the challenge, and ultimately those who practice sincerely will reach the place of higher consciousness.
Along the way, especially if you follow a meditation practice such as the Flame Meditation and The 17 Steps to Perfection, which address key qualities on the spiritual path, you will learn a great deal about yourself, and your inner bodies and your physical body will be purified and cleansed. Remember, it is practice that makes the master.
On the way to a meditative state, you enter first into relaxation – light or deep, then contemplation – light or deep, then meditation – a multitude of levels. The following seven steps are given as a way to enter into meditation.
Every meditation focuses on breath. Whether you want to enter into a light or deep meditation or a light or deep relaxation, it is the breath that leads you into it. As with meditation, there are many ways of breathing. What is given here is an easy way of doing it, but these are just suggestions, and it is important for you to find a way that works for you.
Step 1: Breathing
Breathe consciously on the rhythm 4, 4, 4, 4 – which means, breathe in for four counts, hold the breath for four, breathe out for four, then rest for four. Repeat. Do this 3-6 times. (When you breathe in, breathe through the nostrils preferably, but you can also have your mouth a little bit open if you cannot breathe only through your nostrils.)
Now mentally say to yourself once, ‘I am totally at peace and I sit very still.’
Then breathe in peace and breathe out peace, sending this peace into yourself or onto the Earth, which you visualise in front of you.
After some minutes you feel very peaceful and relaxed, with a sense of inner stillness.
See the energy that you breathe in coming from the great space of the universe. When you’re breathing in, breathe as if you’re breathing the Love of the universe or the Light of the universe into you in the form of whatever you want – peace, light, love, compassion - anything positive. See that it comes from the universe.
The universe is all around us. We’re in the universe. You just have to breathe in and feel and know that when you breathe in, what you breathe in comes from this great space, this universe which has endless energy, endless prana, endless whatever you want it to be. As soon as you hold your breath, it becomes a breath that is developing you spiritually and giving you contact to higher consciousness.
The breath using: breathe in on four, hold the breath counting to four, breathe out on four, rest on four, is a very good breath to begin with, but you can’t do it all the time.
If you’re sitting in a meditation retreat and you’ve got absolutely nothing to worry about, you can breathe for two hours if you like, three hours, the whole day, months. But you don’t have to do it in ordinary circumstances, because here we have time limits, we have a specific time to every meditation, perhaps half an hour or an hour, but it might be that you only want to give it 10 minutes. This is why we suggest three to six times for the special breath.
After you do the special breath, then you start to breathe consciously in your own rhythm. Your normal breath is still deep but in your own rhythm. You may hold it for some seconds or perhaps just once in a while, just to breathe in that breath which becomes you. We’re all different: some people like to breathe and they like to hold on 12 or 16 counts of different seconds, but you can get very, very good results just by breathing deeply.
When you breathe deeply, don’t think about entering into meditation at all, just think about sitting still, and say the command to your body, ‘I am totally at peace and I sit very still.’ This command goes directly into your bodies and helps them to rest. It is really very difficult to enter into meditation if the body does not learn to obey the command to sit still.
The Sacred Place
Once you have relaxed and stilled the body, attuning to the heart will help you focus and go within. This step takes you to your innermost sacred space, which is in your heart. Here are a few ways to attune and go within; you may of course adapt these.
Step 2: The Sacred Place
Focus upon your heart centre, visualising in front of it, a rose heart.
Next bring your attention to your third eye, and visualise a golden circle in front of it. You have now joined heart and mind.
Now you can use the Heart Attunement or just walk through the rose heart into your heart centre.
Feel now that you are walking on the Way of the Heart, until you come to a door that says: The Sacred Place. This is the most holy place within you. This place may never look the same twice. It may be represented by, for example, outer space, a room, or nature.
When you are there, unite with your Higher Self and I Am Presence, if you have not yet done so via the Heart Attunement. Then visualise your Higher Self and I Am Presence as two hearts coming down from above you, overshadowing your personal self.
In the attunement step, you establish a balance by linking the third eye chakra and the heart chakra. By doing this for even a few seconds, it tells Spirit that you want a balance between the heart and mind and that you’re willing to work towards it.
The sacred space you find in your heart may be any place – a beautiful place in nature that is special to you, an ordinary room, a workplace – it doesn’t matter where you come in, it is what you have to experience that you will experience.
When you get to your sacred space, see if you can see or feel where you are. In there, your most sacred place where everything is silent, you visualise that the heart of the Higher Self and the I AM Presence are coming over you, that you are linking in with the heart, the heart chakra linking up with the heart of the soul and Spirit.
A word about visualisation: Do not think that it is imagination. Visualisation is real. What you experience on the inner levels is real. Do not think that you can ‘play around’ with the inner levels or Spirit. What you are meant to experience you will experience.
When you go within to a sacred space, it is not imagination, it is really happening. When you go in and you work with the Master of your choice, or your entity or deity or whatever you call it, it is real. If you have invoked that deity, that deity responds.
What may not be real is that you may hear things that your personality distorts, because you have not been trained sufficiently to hear accurately, that is, without ego involvement. We can improve our ability to hear by cleansing our chakras (as we hear through our chakras) and healing and cleansing ourselves. But keep in mind that what you imagine is happening is real on the inner. Because what you think, you create. What you feel, you create.
Many people don’t understand this concept of creation. They don’t know how dangerous they are because what they feel and think on the inner levels is happening. Sometimes we can’t stop ourselves from thinking negative thoughts, but we actually pay for them. We have to transmute them sooner or later.
You can say a prayer before the meditation, you can also say it here or say or sing a mantra, starting it here, or you can visualise your deity – there are many things you can do at this stage, it’s all up to you.
For example, you can visualise a beautiful Buddha sitting in front of you, in lotus position, and it’s very, very light. Do this if you want to work with the Buddha – a female Buddha, male Buddha, the Buddha, this glorious sunlight – or visualise a beautiful Christ, whatever you want.
You can visualise yourself sitting in a lotus position because on the inner you can do anything you want. You can have that sitting Buddha just in front of you, you can actually look into each other’s eyes.
Visualise, perhaps, that you are sitting in a lotus position on a very soft floor or cloud or wherever you are, and the Buddha is sitting right in front of you. You can imagine this Buddha to be any Buddha, Buddha of Mercy, Buddha of Compassion, it can be Yasodhara Buddha, Lady Quan Yin Buddha, Gautama Buddha, Maitreya Buddha, whoever you want it to be.
You can merge with that Buddha, because you are total energy where you are, so you can easily move and sit straight in the Buddha. You can also turn so you are both faces turned one way and you just sit in there and you can even stay there for the entire meditation, stay there, do a mantra or just sit totally silent and see where it takes you.
Here, anything you imagine will be real. You can sit in a Violet Buddha, and emanating from the Violet Buddha you can imagine a violet pathway that goes directly to Mt. Shasta and you are there. So it is what you imagine that will be real, really happening on the inner levels.
You will simply feel that you are; the body becomes less and less felt; and you become more and more peaceful and elevated in consciousness. You can feel the vibrations from merging with the Buddha.
You can also start to contemplate here. You can sit and think about an issue or something that has happened to you that you are very sad about, you don’t know the answer to clearing it, you have perhaps a study issue or a philosophical issue you don’t understand – sit and think about it here, in this consciousness, and just wait and see what effects it will have on you. From here, you can go into cosmic awareness or cosmic consciousness if you are ready, although this is just one way of doing it.
The next step is to invoke, that is, to call upon, an energy, a quality, a higher being, an angel – whatever feels right to you, from your heart – to help you in your meditation. In the meditations of The 17 Steps to Perfection, for example, you invoke the energy of the planet you are working with, such as Jupiter or Mars.
Step 3: Invocation
Invoke silently the energy, the Deity, or the Master you wish to attune with. For example, if you wish to invoke the Buddha, then visualise the Buddha sitting in lotus position in front of you, and feel how you merge with the Buddha, feeling the love, the joy, the light of the invoked Deity within you.
Spend some time feeling the connection with the being or energy you have invoked.
While it is not necessary to do an invocation in order to meditate, it is helpful. The higher beings in the inner levels have gone before us and have learned the lessons we are striving to learn. They may be able to help us make progress towards meditation and towards spiritual growth more quickly than we can do it alone.
Prayers or Mantras
You may wish now to say a prayer or chant or sing a mantra. This may depend upon the purpose of your meditation.
Step 4: Prayers or Mantras
Say a prayer or mantra, aloud or silently, if you wish to, or go directly into the next step.
To contemplate means to concentrate on an issue, a question, or an object in order to observe it and gain insight about it.
Contemplation is taking the time to go to the inner level, to your Higher Self, and study a problem that concerns you or a matter that interests you.
Unlike meditation, where you may be more receptive than active, in contemplation, you work to under-stand or to resolve a question. However, unlike ordinary thinking, you go within and try to ‘think’ from your Higher Self. This involves becoming receptive to the stream of intuition.
Try to think also from your heart; look into your heart for help.
Step 5: Contemplation
Contemplate, if you have an issue that needs to be looked at.
To spend some time in contemplation may help you avoid being distracted in meditation by your mind trying to work on your problems or issues. In fact, as most people find it quite difficult to clear the mind of thoughts, a good proportion of the time we spend in what we call meditation is actually time spent in contemplation. This is okay, and eventually we will contemplate and then go beyond into meditation.
The next step takes you into the beginning of a meditative state. To reach this state, you lift or ascend into a higher consciousness, leaving awareness of the physical consciousness aside.
Focus on the object of your meditation, if you have chosen one. Simply observe thoughts and feelings that may cross your mind; do not respond to them and they will go away in time. If your attention wanders, keep drawing it back to your heart. Simply surrender to your Higher Self, your higher consciousness.
Step 6: First Level of Meditation
Ascend into a higher conscious-ness, where you feel oneness with all living, or give yourself a guided meditation or use any meditative technique you wish.
Few of us will reach this step of meditation, but it is good to know about it. Some will experience this now, of course, and we will all do so in time.
Step 7: Cosmic Consciousness
Go deeply into cosmic awareness. This leads to cosmic consciousness and normally takes a number of incarnations of meditation to enter into.
Cosmic awareness means in Sanskrit, Samadhi, an exalted consciousness of bliss where you no longer have any form, but feel yourself one with cosmos.
Concluding a meditation
When you are ready to end your meditation, open your eyes slowly and say to yourself, ‘I’m back in the body again, back in ordinary daily consciousness.’
The reason for saying this is because you are not in a daily consciousness when you are in the heart, you are in a higher consciousness, and if you open your eyes you will feel perhaps that you have been away from the body, that you have been away on an inner journey. Even if you think you haven’t been, you have been on an inner journey of self-discovery and self-realisation.
It is also good to give thanks at the end of the meditation, to your soul and Spirit and to the beings on the inner levels who have helped you.
Meditation is hard work
Why is it that a human being can sit down and meditate and be illuminated in one meditation? Because he or she has done it before. I know of people who sat down and were illuminated in the first meditation, even without a meditation, because they had done meditations before and they were ready for it.
But let us look upon more ordinary people: even if they are highly developed, realistically, illumination won’t happen to most.
Meditation is hard work. To learn the art of meditation is much more difficult than taking an academic degree, because you can’t study to meditate. This is something you have to teach yourself. No one can teach you to meditate, you’ve got to do it yourself. You can learn some steps, but you have to work at it.
You cannot learn because a teacher can do something. You can only learn by doing it yourself. Meditation is an art that has to be practiced.
Concerning music and meditation
You can put on music when you meditate, or you can leave music out – whatever helps you. It’s up to you. I use music sometimes very, very quietly so it doesn’t disturb. I use music at a higher volume when I want the music to bring me into meditation, when I need the rhythmic flow to bring me in. It’s really up to you.
Some people can’t meditate with music at all. Some traditions don’t use music – you don’t have music played in a Buddhist monastery or Buddhist setting.
We often use music because music is a relaxer, and music brings in an energy. I like music, as I find it supports the meditation. In a Church Service, when we’re not going into deep levels of meditation, I use music because it attracts the energy of the deity and the angels. But at home, if you go into deep meditation and you meditate one or two hours, you don’t use music.
Many forms, a few guidelines, but no rules
What is expected of a meditator? If you meditate 25 minutes a day, that’s good. If you meditate 25 minutes twice a day, you will obtain results. If you meditate two hours a day, you’re well on the way.
But when I say two hours of meditation, I don’t mean that you will sit very quietly and meditate, because, as I have said, meditation is many, many things and there are many ways of meditating. Observing a flower, observing a painting, observing something to the point where you lose your contact to the outer world but you are totally concentrated, these are a kind of meditation.
Dancing yourself into another consciousness, moving around so you lose contact with the outer world is meditation – not perhaps for all a deep meditation, but you have changed your brainwaves.
So many ways of meditating exist that we cannot even try to describe them – there are hundreds, thousands of ways and techniques. What works for you, works for you. If you obtain a good level of concentration and you feel that you are entering from the level of concentration to a wordless inner silence, you are a very happy person. Some people experience this once in a lifetime, some more.
In order to obtain the higher levels of meditation, you actually have to meditate two hours and more a day – and it has to be for many years. Then we’ll see what happens.
In ordinary, daily western civilisation, that’s a bit difficult. I know some manage to do it, but most don’t. Some get up at 4 o’clock in the morning, meditate to 6 o’clock, and they manage, it’s their lifestyle. They go to work afterwards and they don’t need as much sleep, they say.
Some business people do hours of meditation just from the way they work, focusing with very great concentration to the point where they lose everything around them– simply going one-pointedly into an issue – that is meditation for them.
Dancing, playing an instrument, observing, focusing – all ways of meditating. But the kind of meditation where you sit and tune in with a deity and you become silent, this is very, very beneficial, especially for the heart.
The heart pumps less, and it’s very healthy because the whole body relaxes totally and everything rests for a moment.
Of course there are people who can meditate themselves into near death or appearing dead, but this is not us, most of us, this lifetime.
So, understand this, meditation is discipline. It is a discipline you cannot take on if you are ill. But if you are not ill, there is no excuse, because you can do it even if it has to be the last thing you do before going to bed. If you can’t get up in the morning, then at least when the children are asleep, when the household is quiet, do it.
There are no set rules or regulations for how a person should meditate. That’s the wondrous part of it. What is more important is that you relax. If you relax, and you have just learned one or two mantras, by repeating the mantra within, you go into a form of meditation or into even deep meditation.
We want to tune in with our soul and Spirit, and we want to perform better in every way we work. This is why we meditate and cleanse and heal ourselves.