Meditation is usually done while seated, either on the floor (if that is comfortable for you) or in a comfortable, straight-backed chair. Avoid sitting in a position that causes you discomfort or you will be focused on your discomfort and not on God.
Seated comfortably with our hands in your lap, back straight, and your feet flat on the floor, we focus your attention upon our feet and relax them completely. Some people have difficulty sensing when they have relaxed a part of themselves. If this is a challenge for us, we just tense our feet and then let them relax. Proceed up from the feet, tensing and relaxing one body part at a time, until we finish with the head and face.
If our face is relaxed, the rest of our body will generally follow. If we can relax without tensing first, that is fine too.
Once we are relaxed physically, we breathe slow, deep breaths from our diaphragm (belly). The breathing will relax us more, and oxygenate our blood for the optimal functioning of our brain and body.
Breathing is the foundation of meditation. A good breath pattern is to breathe in four or five counts, hold four or five counts, exhale four or five counts, and repeat at least 5-10 times. Usually the counting helps to narrow your focus and sets a rhythm that eventually you will not have to think about. Finally you let your breathing relax into slower and slower rhythms. There are hundreds of different breathing patterns. Don’t confuse yourself at first. Keep your breathing simple, and it will be effective and powerful.
Effective meditation requires that we try to stop our minds from their constant jumping from one thought to another. In the east the mind that jumps from thought to thought is called the “Monkey Mind.” The western mind is considered a monkey mind. Monkey mind or not, the opportunity is available to all God’s children to meditate and communicate with Him. Like anything else, it takes practice to meditate effectively.
It is true that our suburban and urban lifestyles in the west keep us on the run, always trying to balance a multitude of ideas and activities. That is what is necessary in our modern environment if we are to survive from day to day. I do not have the time to sit for hours silently contemplating God in some pastoral setting. At times I wish I did.
I don’t know about you, but emptying my mind is easier said than done. Some days my mind resists being emptied. It is sort of like the garbage that sticks to the inside of a trash can when you are trying to empty it. I am always thinking about something, and that is my trash. Our modern world just has us so busy, it is hard not to be thinking, but we have to try separating ourselves from everyday thoughts or they will crowd out God.
We receive peace by letting go of inner and outer conflicts. We discover God’s will when we let go of our human will and our desire to be something or somebody. In other words: When we are full of ourselves (ego personality) we can’t be full of God. Only the empty cup can be filled. Let me remark here that the purpose of self realization is to realize that we are not our limited ego (the mask) but an unlimited divine being made in the image and likeness of God (our true reality).
We are never truly “empty,” but what we try to do is to create a receptive condition like tilled soil that is ready and anticipating God’s seeds to be planted. We don’t know when the seeds will be planted or what fruit they will bear, but we are in a ready and receptive state. We are open to whatever God will plant within us. We might be active and very self-directed people most of the time, but during meditation we try to be receptive and God-directed. That is being an empty cup.
I don’t try to empty my mind. I remove my attention from my habitual thoughts and feelings by placing my attention on something else. I specifically direct my attention to God or a specific issue about which I seek enlightenment. Having directed the focus of my attention to God, I listen for God’s response. A response always comes - usually it manifests as insight or inspiration. It is an amazing thing.
To think about God in general or about nothing can be too abstract, too diffused; so I often try to focus on one simple thing. In meditation that simple thing is usually our breathing, a mantra or even a point of light, but it could be the sound of flowing water in a fountain, stream, or ocean.
Consider focusing on a visualization which separates body and soul. Your divine self is a sun. You have separated yourself from your body and ego which are before you, and controlled by you. During the meditation you simply see the sun that you are ascend into and become one with the greater sun that God is, until you are one.
After you have cleared a space in your head for God to communicate with you, wait patiently and expect to receive an answer. Sometimes it is like sitting around in a doctor’s waiting room. You have to wait for your answer until all the patients (all your issues) are addressed. Then God can see you.
God promised He would answer us, if we asked our questions. You might hear a voice, but most likely you will simply have a flash of insight or understanding. I used to take credit for my “insights” until I realized that it was God inspiring me from within. It is like telepathy; it is instantaneous and often more image than dialogue. After all if “a picture is worth a thousand words” from person to person, what would a picture from God be worth? Some images from God have continued to reveal insights to me for over 35 years so far. As I grow spiritually, I am able to understand more fully what God has revealed to me. God has to build a foundation in us, over time, for some divine insights to be complete.
Meditation produces a physiological effect that is the opposite of the human “fright or flight” stress reaction.
When we are panicked our muscles tense, our respiration increases, our heart rate increases, and our cognitive functions retreat from the neo-cortex to the more primitive portions of the brain. In this state we are driven by our fears and we don’t do our best thinking.
When we meditate our muscles relax,our respiration rate decreases, our heart rate decreases, our cognitive functions increase, and we have access to information we are separated from when we are under stress; our intuition may increase as well.
The sitting meditation is the classic meditation we all think of when someone says “meditation.” Meister Eckhart summed up sitting meditation with these words, “I will sit and be silent and listen to the voice of God within me.” That is what meditation is all about, and it is just that simple in its essence.
Basic sitting meditation moves through three stages:
1. The relaxation of the body and mind to create a receptive state of being
a. Find a quiet spot
b. Sit comfortably, with your back straight, your feet flat on the floor, and your hands in your lap (palms up).
c. Progressively tense and relax your muscles from toes to head.
d. Close eyes and roll them up a bit focusing on the center of your forehead, or a point ahead of you. This activates the pineal gland (3rd eye) in our brains.
e. Press your tongue to the roof of your mouth. It helps to make an energy connection between body and brain.
f. Breathe slowly and rhythmically from your belly.
g. Don’t think about anything, just focus on your breath or mantra.
h. Intone a mantra (OM) that connects you to some aspect of God, or repeat a healing affirmation.
i. You should start to feel connected to and centered on the One.
Alpha Brainwave State
When you are fully relaxed in your meditation you should be in the “Alpha” brainwave state which is about 8-12 cycles per second. This state is conducive to physical and mental healing, and is the state where our spiritual centers can open fully.
In the Alpha state you can direct your body and mind to obey your every command through your higher mind, and you can make behavioral changes. In alpha you can manifest changes in your environment (abundance/work/family/ relationships…), and you can change your level of worldly success, in addition to fulfilling your spiritual desires.
Once relaxed we begin:
2. The internal focus on the God within
a. Turn your focus inward to your heart
b. Focus on your breath and let it get slower and slower
c. Focus on some aspect of God you wish insight or healing into
d. Accept that connection and the realization of your point of focus.
Finally we have reached a point where effort has ceased and:
3. The expansion of consciousness reaches a sense unity or oneness with all creation;
This experience could last from 15 min. to 3 hours.
Guided sitting meditations are somewhat dependant upon the skill of the guide, but they can be very effective in the creation a shared meditation experience. Guided meditations focus and channel our meditation down a specific path. By their very nature they are specific to a concept and so may seem limited, but they are very effective in creating a shared vision. This is important for seekers new to meditation.
During a guided meditation the right (creative/spiritual) brain is dominant, because the left (literal/dogmatic) brain has suspended activity as children do when they listen to a story. They see it. They are there. When we simply allow the Holy Spirit to guide our meditation visualizations they can lead us to unexpected places and blessings. The guide has differing thought processes from our own, so our rational mind has to let go and let the creative spiritual mind control things. Guided group meditations can be very powerful, and they can get us to God in 10-20 minutes so we are ready to begin our unique personal meditations from a powerful place.
So one doesn’t feel “hypnotized” during a guided meditation always be sure to ask that “God’s will be done in this meditation,” and ask to see the truths that God wills to reveal to you during the meditation.
The exciting thing about guided meditations is that we can target any issue or goal and develop our own meditation. We can record these meditations on tape, CD, or mp3 and play them back for ourselves or others so we can meditate as one! They are powerful and fun. The basic process to prepare for a guided meditation is the same as our preparation for our individual meditations.
In the One we began,
We were sculpted from the One,
With the one we create,
In the one we abide eternally.
Guided Meditation upon Oneness
· Today we will connect with God as the formless love of the One. This is a meditation that can be undertaken individually or as a group.
· Let us pray: Beloved Lord guide us today to be one with you as we were in the beginning. Protect us as we meditate together upon you and let nothing influence us that is not your will. Ultimately, let only the will of the One God be done in us.
· Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor and your hands in your lap or cross legged on the floor in the lotus posture.
· Mentally check your body from your feet to your head and make sure you are totally relaxed. If you need to, systematically tense and relax your muscles to relax them.
· Close your eyes and take 4 or 5 deep breaths breathing in to the count of five, holding for a count of five, and exhaling to the count of five, and transition into a slow, natural rhythmic breath that will get slower and slower as you become more relaxed.
· Focus your attention between your eyebrows to your third eye. You may or may not see a point of light, or feel the skin itch, or tingle at the center of the forehead.
· Sound the OM three times out loud with me to “dial –into” God.
· Move your awareness into that sacred space within your heart, your inner temple, the kingdom of heaven within you.
· Normally our space can be anything you need it to be, but today see yourself standing in the center of an enormous space that expands into infinity. This space has white light coming from every direction. It is as if you stood on a glowing, golden, white marble floor in the midst of a cloud of light that is the white fire core of the presence of God that you are. It is as if you stand in the center of a sun, but are perfectly cool because you are vibrating at the same high frequency.
· In this infinite throne room you see a shining figure standing before you. This figure is your God presence. The body is made of light and is barely discernable from the blazing sun-like aura that enfolds the divine figure.
· You kneel before your God in reverence, but God raises you up and smiles at you with a twinkle in his eye. The look says, “I love you with all my heart just as you are.” At this moment you know you are loved unconditionally.
· Your lord and God embraces you and your bodies melt away. All that is left is the light, the sun of God that you are. You are one with the One.
· In this light, feel yourself connected to all of life. You are one with God and every other part of life.
· With each breath you are breathing in God. You stand in God and God fills you.
· Every breath is an embrace by your beloved Father/ Mother God. You are one in God’s embrace of light. Your body is God’s. Your breath is God’s. You are God.
· For the next few moments let go of all other thoughts and just be one in God’s embrace of light and love.
· One with God, feel the divine light and love radiate out from you to bless and sustain creation. Notice how your love for all people and things is unconditional. Notice the incredible joy you feel as you are blessing life.
· One with God, you are re-aligning with perfection and you are healed and enlightened.
· As you rest in the One, accept and trust that your real needs and concerns have always been addressed.
· Continue to bathe in God’s loving light. You cannot see yourself in that blazing sphere of divinity. Only a formless loving God remains. That is who you really are. You are God. You are one.
· When you are ready, without losing your connection to God, see yourself slowly resolve from the light and become aware of yourself once again back in your body and back in your seat, ready to open your eyes. Silently express your gratitude to God for his love and the insights he has shown you during your meditation.
· May God the One, bless and keep you all, this day and every day to come! AMEN.