Your Meditative Practice
There are many approaches to meditation. This article describes a simple process that works well for beginners or more advanced practitioners. You will need to set aside at least 20 minutes at a time to begin this process. If you can do 30 minutes or more at a time so much the better. Select a comfortable location where you won’t be disturbed or distracted by phones, animals, or other people. Settle into a peaceful place and in a comfortable position which you can hold for the duration of your practice. It is generally more advisable to be sitting rather than lying down, as many people find they are more likely to drift off to sleep if they are reclining. Think of your meditation practice as having several important phases.
Start With Being Grounded
The first process is to center and ground yourself. This helps you settle your energies, quiet your mind, and begin tuning to your inner realms. To effectively meditate you want to relax physically, emotionally, and mentally, so let go of any outside concerns and focus your attention on the present moment. Generally, some form of controlled breathing is helpful at this point. For instance, measured breathing works well to settle your energies by inhaling and exhaling to the same slow count of from one to five, but any form of slow connected breaths will achieve bringing you into the state of stillness from which clarity will emerge.
You may want to spend five to ten minutes just in this phase of your session, as sometimes it takes a little time to quiet the mind from the distractions of the day, and turn your focus to your spiritual work. You may want to accompany your breathing with a soothing visual image such as a quiet and restful natural setting near some calm water.
The process of grounding yourself can be enhanced by directing your intention to form a connection from the base of your spine to the center of the earth. The visual image that I find that works most easily for this is to imagine you are sitting on a tree stump two feet in diameter and the trunk of the tree and it’s roots go deeply into the earth all the way to the core. It is important to keep the diameter of your grounding connection the same all the way to the center of the earth. The first chakra happens to be located at the base of the spine and it’s energies move downward into the column of energy you have created with your intent and it has a wonderful stabilizing effect on your whole being.
You will find that when you are well grounded that your thinking and memory improve, you are more focused, you feel more empowered, you have more ownership of your space and are therefore not as affected by others, and you will feel more stable and balanced. The grounding does two other important things. It helps to keep you in the present moment, and it gives a place for anything distracting to be released. We tend to pick up energies from other people, organizations, and even places we have been, and these subtle energies have effects on our feelings, ideas and reactions which all interfere with the clear messages which want to come through from your Soul.
Once you establish good grounding hold the intention that it stay in place at all times. You will find it helps you all through the day. In fact, if you turn your attention to it a few times throughout the day you will always be in a grounded state. Then when you are in your meditation practice it will only take a few seconds for you to turn your attention to your grounding and hold the intention that it remove and clear from you any energy that isn’t yours or which doesn’t fully support you.
Think of your grounding connections function something like a drain in a shower or bathtub; it gives what you are washing off of you a place to go. You can imagine what a shower would be like if there were no drain. Now imagine that you have no outlet for the energies that you have accumulated. If they have no easy escape, they will condense and settle into your tissue, organs and systems of your body or stay resident in your aura and energy system. This simple grounding process which only takes a few seconds a day can be of immense value to you.
Center Your Awareness in Your Heart
The second phase of your practice after settling in, relaxing and grounding yourself is to center yourself in a place where you can begin your connection with your True Self. Everyone’s consciousness has a point of focus. If you pay attention to yourself right now and scan yourself you can become aware of where your awareness is focused. It is usually focused on an area that is holding your attention. So if you have a pain in your shoulder, you are likely to find your awareness focused somewhere near your shoulder. If your mind is active it is probably somewhere in or around your head. In some cases it can even be in front of your head. If you are feeling stressed or tense it may be in your abdomen near your solar plexus. Haven’t you heard the expression, “What does your gut tell you that you should do about your situations?” When you are tuned into your gut, you will find your awareness focused somewhere around your abdomen.
The third likely area where your attention can usually be found is in your chest or heart area. Some people carry grief, sadness, emotional pain, love or compassion in the chest area. The chest area has another value in the meditative practice and that is the Soul or Higher Self is most easily accessed through the heart center. So for our purposes here, put your attention on your heart center in the upper center part of your chest and reverently say to yourself, “I ask my Soul to emerge in my heart, and rise to the surface.” Sit quietly with that for a minute or so to allow yourself to connect with the words and the Soul. You can repeat that request several times and each time deepening your connections with what the words represent.
Connect with your Higher Self
Begin to sense and feel the awareness of the presence of your Higher Self or Soul in response to your requests. At first you may just feel a quietness come over you, but in time there will be more of a presence that emerges. You may also find it helpful to repeat other statements in a mantra like process. Some suggestions are: “I feel my Soul. I feel Divine love in my heart.” Some people like to repeat a name of God or a mantra. I cover this subject in another articles titles The Power of Words in Prayers & Mantras. The idea is to repeat something that helps you feel like you are making an inner connection with your divine essence. As you repeat these statements for several minutes you will find yourself connecting more and more deeply each time you repeat the words. You will sink more and more deeply into your experience of discovering your true nature which is an expression of the infinite love and light of God.
This is an ever-improving skill the more you do it. In time, you will find that you are in tune with your inner guidance nearly all the time. It can become a continuous inner communion and walking with God throughout your day. You will begin to feel a harmony and congruity as you align yourself with your inner guidance, and you will feel “off-track” when you are not. Step-by-step the ego relinquishes control as it realizes you are safe and guided through an inner direction that brings a healing to the parts of you that have lived in separation. Soon you will hear only the voice of God as the other voices become quiet and no longer draw your attention.
Attuning to Inner Guidance
As you listen to the inner voice observe everything you can about it. What does it sound like? How does it feel? What does it want? After you have gotten in touch with it in this manner, you are ready for phase three which is attuning to God through the repetition of a name of God. There are many sacred names of God that usually have an “ah “ sound in them which helps open and expand the heart center. Some examples are, Yeshua, Buddha, Krishna, Rama, Yahweh, Allah, Abba, Amma, Baba, Adonai, Allelula, and many others. Repeat the name you have chosen slowly, reverently and quietly about every 5 or 10 seconds intending to deepen the connection each time. Call to the light of God and your soul to embrace you and merge into you. After a number of minutes you will notice that a shift takes place within you. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to as much as 30 minutes or more. If you stay with the practice you will feel supported, comforted, and spiritually healed. At this point compare how you are feeling with what you were feeling and experiencing before the meditation.
The meditation itself will guide you in where and how to explore next. You will be taught from within. Once you feel you have reached a nice state for the meditation through the repetition then practice sitting in peaceful stillness and attune yourself to the subtle impulses that arise. Be willing to stay out of judgment to allow the new awarenesses to arise.
In the early stages of this practice you may not be seeing, feeling or hearing much of anything and assume you are either doing it wrong, or there is something wrong with you that prevents you from success. Neither of these conclusions are true. Going into judgment about yourself, becoming impatient with yourself or other self-doubts that arise will only keep your opening away. Continue with your daily practice, for no matter how long it takes to open your receptivity, you will succeed if you persist, and the rewards are well worth everything you put into your practice.
The fourth phase of the practice is integrating your experience before you begin to bring yourself back into your normal day-to-day world. In this phase you relax your mind, let go of the questions, and become still. Sense and feel the peacefulness and expansion. You will want to rest in this phase for at least 5 minutes, or probably longer. Give yourself permission to fully surrender yourself and merge into your deepest truth. You may rest in this phase for a little while or a long while. You will know when it is time to integrate the total experience into your everyday consciousness in your daily life.
The fifth phase is to express gratitude for your session regardless of your perception of its nature or quality. Gratitude is a form of surrender that opens you a little more each time you express and feel it. Reconnect your awareness to you five senses and begin to notice what you are sensing. Notice sounds, feelings, sensations, and smells. Take several deep breaths before opening your eyes and savor the smells in the air you breathe and the feelings in your body. Relish the way you feel as you begin to stretch your body. Be mindful of not contracting or tensing at the thought of returning to your normal day. Hold the shifted space of your meditation awareness.
As you return to your normal activities you may think you are losing what you experienced in the meditation, but know that your awareness has stretched from where it was to a new experience of yourself and your spiritual connections. As the day goes on you may find that you “pop” in and out of the awareness gained in the meditation. This indicates that you are, in fact, changing. Notice how the new insights live in the back of your mind throughout the day and give you a fresh experience of whatever is before you. The more you meditate and connect with the inner you, the more you realize that your outer perceptions have been limiting and confining you, and the inner truths of love and light begin to emerge from within you. Your awareness gradually awakens to reveal your inner core essence of love, light and beauty.