In meditation practice it isn’t our chosen focus that is most important, but the ability to direct a steady flow of attention; the act of remaining focused itself, that is key to success. Of course, having something to focus on – mantra, symbol, breath, etc. – is essential, otherwise attention scatters and fluctuates, and we remain mind oriented. We meditate to transcend thought processing and mental excursions to realize conditionless clarified awareness, which yogis refer to as “superconsciousness.”
At first, attempts to sustain a single focus of attention for an extended period can be difficult or can seem nearly impossible when first learning to meditate, especially for us in the west. This is due to our prevalent cultural conditioning which emphasizes “stimulation through diversity.” However, with regular application, beginning with short sessions and gradually increasing the length of practice, this conditioning can be overcome.
Meditation techniques prepare us for introspection and help create a momentum that lifts awareness above self-definitions (egoic parameters). An effective technique need not be complicated to enable transcendence of our usual, customary orientation in favor of unencumbered soul-awareness.
Method: Comfortably settle in your posture so you can maintain relaxed body stillness during practice. Your posture should be supportive of alert attentiveness. Once settled in stillness, the body is less likely to be a distraction during your inward turning process.
Breathe in steadily, gently and comfortably deeply, feeling as if you are drawing breath directly through the center of your chest. Then exhale effortlessly, feeling your breath flow gently out through the chest (heart chakra). Perform a few rounds, keeping steadily focused within your chest, welcoming inhalations and releasing exhalations with feeling awareness.
Next, discontinue patterning your breath cycles allowing your breath to flow naturally. Remain alertly centered within your chest, observing and feeling naturally arising breath cycles. Refresh your focus as needed during the process by breathing deeply then letting it go through your open mouth. Then, reestablish your internal focus, and continue as long as inclined.
Remaining intentional and inwardly absorbed in your focus, will eventually give way to spontaneous transcendence toward a broader perspective of self and life. However, if only practiced for a few minutes, this method can be a wonderfully restorative stress reliever. Some use it privately at the workplace during break time, or upon arriving home to renew their outlook after the workday. If you practice regularly you will be able to direct your attention to the heart chakra at anytime without formally sitting for meditation or stress reduction, to similarly shift perspective and lift awareness.
OM Shanti . . .
“The Transcendental Field – realm of Pure Being – is the source of all that appears, and the cause and support of all that is visible. This is the essential teaching of the seers.” – Roy Eugene Davis
The primary objective of meditation practice is the cultivation of clarified awareness. The process of meditation practice can be symbolized by a recently shaken jar of sediment-infused water (busy mindedness), which is allowed to remain still for a period, revealing the inherent clarity of the water (permanent spiritual Self).
Meditation practice is the opportunity we give ourselves to focus internally, to realize the joyous fullness of timeless-being, above ordinary mind involvement.Tranquil Sitting is a Taoist term for meditation practice. Tranquil in this case doesn’t mean passive sitting, but calm, attentive presentness.
Reliable Method: Sit comfortably with spine and head lightly lifted in support of alertness. Breathe slowly and comfortably deeply a few times to induce relaxation down through your body. When you feel physically settled, close your eyes gently. Be still, feeling poised and stable in your posture, whether in a chair or on a mat.
Lift your awareness internally to the space between your eyebrows and slightly above. Rest here, calmly observant. Begin to devote attention to your natural breath cycles. Let inhalations, exhalations, pauses arise spontaneously without regulation, as you watch and feel. Imagine that the air flowing in and out through your nostrils is moving in and out through your brow center (ajna chakra). This will help keep your focus steady.
Continue to closely, alertly observe your breath. Some like to add words or phrases to this process by mentally intoning or hearing the words/phrases synchronized with natural breath cycles. Examples: As your breath flows in mentally intone (or listen to) “Om,” as it flows out mentally intone “Peace,” or with inhalation mentally intone “Pure Consciousness” and with exhalation “Am I.” Choose your own word focus or use a mantra formula if you have one.
Keep your practice this simple while endeavoring to deepen your involvement. Begin with short, quality periods of meditation practice until you gain proficiency, being able to remain attentive to your focus, while being comfortably still physically. Your first sessions might range from 5-15 minutes. With sincere, regular practice, you will naturally begin to want to remain longer for a more complete immersion.
You will naturally, spontaneously transcend the active use of the method as your innate intelligence naturally directs the process. Our innate spiritual Self, in which mind, body and individuality are included, uplifts our perspective by becoming our more dominant perspective. In other words, we transcend the immediacy of mind-body-personality self dominant orientation, to enjoy the freedom of our essential Being or spiritual Self.
Schedule time for yourself each new day for meditation practice. Quiet early morning is suggested, though any opportunity for alone, quiet time is good. Consistency of application brings best results, as in learning any new skill. Some like to arrange a special space in the home reserved only for meditation, sometimes with a small alter with ritual items, a candle and likeness of a spiritual hero or mentor. If you are devotional by nature you may want to begin and conclude your meditation session with heartfelt prayer.
Meditation is a natural process of inward turning, in exploration of the depths of one’s being, towards enlightened living. The main ingredient for success in this subtle art is sincere persistence .
In this method, bija (seed) mantras (sounds) are employed to stimulate the chakras, thereby improving the circulation of life-force (prana; qi) within these energy distribution vortexes. When the chakras function optimally, our physical health and capacity of consciousness tend to function more optimally. Also, in addition to helping “tune up” the chakras, this mantra-focusing method is a very effective lead-in procedure for meditation practice.
Procedure: To begin, focus your attention by localizing feeling awareness at the root chakra at the base of your spine. Centered here, tone the prescribed mantra (“lahm”) aloud at a low pitch. Place the vibration of this low note within the chakra and tone the mantra slowly and rhythmically (lahm, lahm, lahm …). Then, as you replenish your breath, continue to mentally intone the sound, until again toning aloud with exhalation. Repeat for 3-5 breath cycles, then move upward to refocus within the next chakra at the sacrum. Tone the prescribed mantra (“Vahm”) as you did at the root chakra, using a slightly higher pitch. Continue in this way, progressing upward through the chakras using the prescribed mantras, raising the toning pitch slightly as you successively ascend. Finally, completing the method at your crown chakra, rest for a few minutes in stillness, or flow into meditation for an extended period inwardly poised at the brow or crown chakra, open to discovery.
Chakra Mantras & Locations
Muladhara, coccyx (earth element) – Lahm; Swadhisthana, sacrum (water element) – Vahm; Manipura, lumbar-opposite navel (fire element) – Rahm; Anahata, thoracic-between shoulder blades (air element) – Yahm; Vishuddha, cervical-base of neck (ether element) – Hoom; Ajna, forehead-between eyebrows – Om; Sahasrara, crown-mid-point – Om (higher pitch)
This approach is effective and easy to apply. Begin by sitting comfortably in a posture conducive to alertness, in which you can remain still yet relaxed. Settle in for a moment before beginning the procedure.
(The main objective of this and other meditation methods is to help free awareness by offering a alternative focus to ordinary thought processing, emotional stirring, sensory input, and the task of upholding and presenting our personality-self to the world. Such attention focusing methods assist a reintroduction to our fundamental wholeness and brightness; our larger changeless Self.)
Center sensation awareness within your upper abdomen, just below the rib cage. Keep your abdomen relaxed so you can easily feel a rising sensation within the upper abdomen as your breath flows in, and a sinking sensation therein as your breath flows out. Allow your breath to flow in, out, and pause naturally, as it may (without effort or regulation), while continuing to devote your focus to the rising and falling sensation within your upper abdomen.
Continue for a few minutes or longer as inclined. A short period of practice can have a wonderfully calming, restorative effect. If practiced more thoroughly, devoting more time and sustained intention, a fuller meditation experience is likely.