Meditating into the Sacred Silence
The Ancients of many cultures have been using techniques for centuries to take them to that place of silence, stillness within, where we can experience that state of oneness and higher states of consciousness. The Ancients in the mystery schools of Egypt, India, Middle East, Shamans of different cultures, Aborigines, Shamans, Native Americans, Indonesians all practiced forms of meditation.
Meditation, what is it? How to find the place of silence with-in.
Meditation is not a technique, a doing; it is an awareness, a state of being, living in the present moment, here and now In the West, we think more of meditation as a technique, however the use of techniques in meditation practice can help us to connect to this inner state of being.
What Meditation Is – and What It Is Not.
There are many different, even contradictory ideas, about what meditation is.
Most of us – most of the time, are run by, or dominated by our thoughts or feelings. It follows that we tend to think we are those thoughts and feeling. Meditation is the state of simply being, just pure experiencing, with no interference from the body or mind. It’s a natural state, but one which we have forgotten how to access.
The word meditation is also used for what is, more accurately, a meditation method. Meditative methods, techniques, are means by which to create an inner ambiance that facilitates disconnecting from the body-mind so one can simply be, in pure stillness – silence within ones’ center. While initially it is helpful to put time aside to practice a structured meditation method, there are many techniques that are practiced within the context of one’s everyday life, at work, at leisure, alone and with others.
Methods are needed only until the state of meditation, of relaxed awareness, of consciousness and centering, has become not just a passing experience but as intrinsic to ones’ own breathing.
Some Common Misconceptions
1) Only for people who are on a spiritual search.
Meditation is for anyone and everyone. The benefits of meditation are many, the ability to relax, release stress, connect to ones’ own inner being. To be aware of what is happening around you and to flow in life without effort and struggle.
2) A practice to gain “peace of mind.”
Peace of mind is a contradiction in terms. By its very nature, the mind/ego is never relaxed, it is always in duality, this or that, thinking, worrying, and fearing. What you can discover through meditation is the knack of finding the distance between yourself and these actions, so that the mind, with its constant circus of thoughts and emotions no longer intrudes on your inherent state of silence.
3) A mental discipline or effort to control or “tame” the mind, to become more mindful.
Meditation is neither a mental effort nor an attempt to control the mind. Effort and control involve tension, and tension is antithetical to the state of meditation. Besides, there is no need to control the mind, only to understand it and how it works. The meditator does not need to tame his mind, to become more mindful, but to grow more in consciousness.
4) Focusing, concentrating or contemplating.
Focusing, like concentrating is a narrowing of awareness. You concentrate on one object to the exclusion of everything else. By contrast, meditation is all-inclusive, your consciousness is expanded. The contemplator is focused on an object, perhaps a religious object, a photograph or on an inspiring aphorism. These can all help in the beginning, to help quiet the mind and bring your awareness to the present moment. Once you have evolved more on the path of meditation, learning the knack of simple awareness, you are simply aware, but not of anything in particular.
5) A new experience.
Not necessarily – sportsmen know this space, which they refer to as “the zone.” Artists know it – through singing, painting, playing music. We can know it through gardening, playing with the kids, walking on the beach or making love. Even as children we may have had experiences of it. Meditation is a natural state and one that you have almost certainly tasted, although perhaps without knowing the name of the flavor.
Passive and Active Meditation Techniques
Watching the Breath
Breath-watching is a method that can be done anywhere, at any time, even if you have only a few minutes available.
Step 1: Watch the In Breath
Close your eyes and start watching your breath. First the inhalation, from where it enters your nostrils, right down into your lungs.
Step 2: Watch the Gap That Follows
At the end of the inhalation there is gap, before the exhalation starts. It is of immense value. Watch that gap.
Step 3: Watch the Out Breath
Now watch the exhalation.
Step 4: Watch the Gap That Follows
At the end of the exhalation there is a second gap: watch that gap. Do these four steps for two to three times – just watching the breathing cycle, not changing it in anyway, just watching the natural rhythm.
Step 5: Counting In Breaths
Now start counting: Inhalation – count 1 (don’t count the exhalation), inhalation – 2, and so on, up to 10. Then count from 10 back to 1. Sometimes you may forget to watch the breath or you may count beyond 10. Then start again, at 1.
“These two things have to be remembered: watching, and particularly the gaps at the top and the bottom. The experience of that gap is you, your innermost core, your being. And second: go on counting, but not more than up to 10; and come back again to 1; and only count the inhalation.
These things help awareness. You have to be aware, otherwise you will start counting the exhalation, or you will go over 10.
Active Meditation Techniques
In our busy hectic world, we are very often tense and tight in our physical body Our mind is racing with many thoughts and feelings. Using a more active meditation technique can help us to get rid of tense energies, and stresses we are holding in the body, so we are able to go inward to that quiet still place within us.
Active meditations can include movement such yoga postures, tai chi, drumming, using the voice, such as singing, chanting, toning. Jogging can even be a meditation, if done with awareness. We can bring our full awareness to our work that we our doing, into our relationships, and to loving someone. Awareness is the key. Whether working on the computer, engaging with people, working in the garden, work with awareness, where you are totally present, alert in the moment. This is meditation.
The practice of meditation takes time and effort, but it is well worth it. Give yourself at least 30 minutes a day, to practice some type of technique.