I have tried to seek balance most of my life. Er... I'm a Libra.
An astrologer once told me, "Most people think Librans are balanced. That is actually not the case! Librans spent most of their lives swinging the pendulum from one extreme to the other trying to find balance."
Or, perhaps I am an extremely diverse person with lots of interests and intentions.
Regardless, balance in my daily life and mind looks somewhat mundane, yet peaceful and simple.
In my heart, balance means living in joy without my day's or mind's parameters.
Ah, yes! That is what I seek! A life filled with joy without limitations!
If there were no tasks to get done, no schedule to adhere to, no places to be, or no outward obligations, then perhaps I could float from one joy to another without worry of seeking balance.
I so look forward to the collapsing of time.
The mind has created this funny thing called time.
Although it helps keep things "in order," it has become a ball and chain we allow ourselves to drag around and believe in its necessity.
Again and again, I have contemplated on how to release this ball and chain.
Ah, meditation! In the quietude of my soul, I have escaped the sands of time into the nothingness of bliss and eternity.
Dreamland also allows my soul to fly free and clear into other realms and dimensions.
Some, in this three dimensional, masculine, doing-oriented world might call me "lazy" or "dreamy" or far too idealistic.
Though I believe in the value of work, I know in my heart the value of play...
joyful, imaginative, creative, pointless, expressive, boundless play!
Yes, by being incarnated onto this earth, in this day and age, we have agreed to the "rules of the game."
We follow the "laws" of gravity, time, space, and have bought into the "reality" of duality.
And, as a new age unfolds, we are beginning to break those laws.
Or, perhaps more accurately, we are allowing our minds to release the perception of these laws and bring the reality of who we are into three dimensional focus for all to see... and - more importantly - for us to enjoy!
When most of us think of meditation, we think about sitting in quiet stillness and emptying our mind of all thoughts. Yet, meditation can be as fluid as life itself. One way to engage in meditation is through movement. Yoga, for example, can be a form of moving meditation. Ideally, meditation allows us to bring our body, heart, mind and soul in alignment.
If the thought of sitting perfectly still for 20 minutes is too daunting, or if you've been meditating for years and would like to get off your tush for a change, you may want to try a moving meditation.
Moving meditation is an easy mediation method because it allows us to break free from the rules and rigidity of traditional meditation practices.
Unlike yoga or certain types of dance, which have specific asanas, moves or steps, a moving meditation can be completely your own creation. The idea is to give yourself permission to "go with the flow." With your intention, you can allow yourself to tune in with Spirit, your divinity or even a particular deity and move your body accordingly.
Moving meditation can free us of the constriction of a sitting meditation and help us feel connected to all parts of ourselves as well as the Divine.
A weary mother of four, including two year old twins, lays quietly in her bed. It is early. None of the children are up yet. Should she sleep a few more minutes? Should she sneak quietly into the shower and get a jump start on her morning before the demands of little people fill her time? How about a book? Maybe she can reach for a book and squeeze in some pages of romance or self improvement.
With gentleness she rolls onto her back and rests her neck comfortably on her pillow. She inhales a few slow, deep breath and begins a simple, self-guided chakras meditation.
Finding time to meditate can indeed be tricky. Yet, there is always a moment to breathe. A slow, deep breath will do wonders when a "real" meditation can't be afforded. There are also simple methods to bring meditation into your daily routine that don't involve much more than creating a small time frame while doing what you are already doing. The time frame doesn't always mean stopping what you are doing, it can also mean being fully present with what you are doing - being mindful.
One meditation method you can do is lead yourself through a simple visualization through each of your chakras before you rise from your bed in the morning. It literally can take 7 minutes or less.
Begin by laying on your back with your arms and feet straight, yet relaxed. Allow your pillow to support your head or neck. Take three or more slow deep breaths, then imagine each color of the rainbow as you focus your attention on each of your seven major chakras. You can first try to perceive the color that is emanating from each area, then offer the corresponding color as sort of an "alignment":
When we think about anything, we think about something. Beyond our thoughts, there is an entire Universe of infinite somethings. Likewise, there is an entire Universe of infinite nothing. Perhaps you have wondered or thought about what’s “between” all the something; that void or space where no-thing exists. It’s possible, since nothing is equally as present as matter. You may have had a keen awareness of nothingness. It may even seem more present in your consciousness lately.
Nothingness is always present. In actuality, it is the essence of who we are.
As we unveil our essence, we begin experiencing more and more of the nothingness within and around us. For our human minds and perceptions this can be quite uncomfortable. First, it can be hard to comprehend nothingness. Our minds love to "grasp" things - thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and so on. Secondly, our senses are defined by their experiences of something. Our eyes look to life and see things. We don't see that a table is actually a bunch of vibrating energy particles not even touching each other; we see a solid table. We feel, smell and taste all the somethings that are in our world. Can we hear the nothingness? No... that, too, is something. We can only hear something.
Is it possible to experience nothingness - if only for an instant - in a silent meditation?
Maybe you try it. Perhaps you begin with a quiet space, a small chunk of time, a comfortable sitting position, and the simplicity of your breath. Allow yourself to return to your breath as your mind wanders and wonders and identifies with something. This is the discipline of meditation; to return. Stillness, space, breath... allowing.
Then, possibly, you will experience the nothingness. Between the immeasurable moments you experience all the somethings you are, you may find yourself experiencing the nothingness that you are as well. Maybe you try it just for the experience, nothing more.
After all, it doesn't really matter. NOTHING really MATTERS.
Last night I decided to attend a group called "Psychics in Action." The group, facilitated by Aureya Magdalen, MFT, gathers one evening per month and usually focuses on a theme. I attend sporadically; maybe two to three times per year. Last night's theme - Trust - was the primary motivation behind my willingness to drive an hour to get there.
It was a good session and, in terms of how we approached Trust, completely different than I expected.
As usual, we were lead into an individually-focused meditation. Over the decades of practicing guided visualization I have learned, 1) to drop into the desired state extremely fast, 2) to simply observe what unfolds, rather than try to force things to happen, and 3) to refrain from over-analyzing the images or thoughts that come to me.
Well, during last night's meditation, the latter skill was a bit more challenging than usual. The images I received were so "dark" and felt so "opposite" of me that it was almost shocking. Thus, my judgments, questions and analyzing met the shock with a great desire for understanding.
Fortunately, I have been "deciphering" images and downloads for most of my life. Within a short time, the information neutralized my perception of negativity.
Soon, we were lead to the end of the meditation and I found myself so deeply embedded into the Oneness, that leaving the altered state was excruciatingly difficult. Explaining what I experienced is even more so, but I will certainly try.
Some moments are easy to live into: celebrations, joyful times, passionate body and heart connections. Other moments, to say the least, are a bit more challenging: tragedy, sickness, fear.
What would happen if we shifted our perceptions of what it "should" be like to live into the moment? Most of us define living into a moment as "enjoying" it, but perhaps that is not an accurate definition.
Living into the moment is simply being present with What Is; completely experiencing the moment, the situation at hand, and whatever feelings that arise at that time. And, paradoxically, to notice when we simply can't. In other words, our awareness of how we are avoiding or escaping the moment is actually one way to be with it!
Meditation can be a one time experience, an occasional indulgence or it can be cultivated into an on-going practice. Of course, the benefits of meditation become more clear and present when it is done more often. Imagine if meditation became an integral part of your life. What if you perceived it as essential to your health and well being as brushing your teeth, getting adequate sleep and eating well? Beginning a meditation practice can be a matter of following a few simple steps; attending to it on a daily basis requires dedication and discipline.
To begin a meditation practice:
Create a sacred space: Although you can meditate anywhere, and make that space sacred for the moment, it is nice to have a specific place where you can go to meditate regularly. If you develop your meditation practice in a dedicated space, you will find that the energy of the space will assist you with both its construct and peacefulness. Perhaps you create an altar with a candle, fresh flowers, or a few meaningful items. You can use a comfortable chair, or purchase a meditation pillow to sit on.
Establish a regular practice: Decide on a plan; maybe you begin by reserving just 10 - 20 minutes each day (preferably at the same time of day). If you want to establish a rhythm, it would be better to consistently have five minutes a day and extend the time as you can, rather than meditating one or two days a week for longer periods. Think about including meditation in your daily self-care routine. Yet, if starting a daily practice is too much for you right now and you simply want to bring it into your life more often, perhaps you attend a weekly group meditation. The group energy helps beginners go deeper into the meditative experience, gives you a sacred place to practice, and can fuel the desire to integrate it into your daily life.
Follow the four stages: In previous articles, I outlined the four stages of meditation – approach, technique, meditative awareness, and conscious conclusion. Use them to guide you into, through and gently out of your meditation.
Let go of attachment: Allow the experience of meditation to be as it is; know that each meditation will be unique. It is the practice of staying awake and aware that is the essence of meditation. Even having a “mystical experience” can be an obstacle because you might get caught up in desiring to repeat the incident while you miss the experience of the meditation you are in. A main task of meditation is “letting go” – of expectation, of what will be “accomplished” – since a grasping attitude keeps you from experiencing the flow of meditation.
Meditation allows us to practice the art of “being” – providing us with our own experience – which enables us to realize that we are not limited to our thoughts, feelings, or physical existence. This experience – the unfolding of our self-realization – is our spiritual enlightenment.
The end of the meditation is the forth and final stage. Sure you can jump up and run out the door, if necessary, but it is beneficial to bring your meditation to a close with the same reverence as you entered it. Allow yourself to complete your mediation with conscious conclusion.
In the conscious conclusion of your meditation, it is important to:
Rest: When you reach the state of being, or inner peace, if even for a moment, it can be an exquisite experience. It is considered the “peak experience” for that time of meditation. Whenever possible, it is nice to allow enough time in your practice to reach this state and simply rest for awhile in the experience of being. This will have a calming, clearing effect on your entire body and mind.
Return: The process of returning your full awareness to your body, mind and environment should be a gradual one. After experiencing meditative states of consciousness, “grounding” cannot be overemphasized in its importance. It is critical to fully return to your attentive state of consciousness to avoid accidents or injuries after the meditation.
Extend: You can utilize the benefits derived from your meditation practice and apply them to your daily life. Although you bring your full consciousness back to your body and mind as you return to your “real life” after your meditation, be sure to take a moment to consciously extend the peacefulness, clarity or other beneficial effects into your day.
The experience of the meditation itself, described as meditative awareness, is the third stage of meditation. Meditative awareness allows the continuation and deepening of witness consciousness – the ability to simply witness your experiences, thoughts or feelings, rather than engaging in them.
With meditative awareness, you can begin to experience:
Flow: Once the meditation process has been grounded through the use of technique you can become progressively interiorized, where attention gracefully flows to the point of focus. This is a relaxed allowing of your attention, as opposed to an efforting or focused concentration, and indicates the point at which true meditation occurs.
Awareness: Thoughts and feelings may still continue to arise at this point, but they are more subtle and you no longer become involved with them. You simply remain awake and aware, established in the witness consciousness.
Being: Meditation allows you to rest in the experience of being. As busy people always doing, we rarely take the time to experience the state of being. As you experience being, you discover your own pure nature, and may sense a true inner peace.
In this article we will explore the second stage of meditation – technique. Using a meditation technique gives your mind “something to do.” Although many people believe that meditation is about having “no thoughts,” it is the nature of the mind to be active and seek stimulation.
A meditation technique helps you stay in the moment, while strengthening your abilities to:
Focus: Utilizing one-pointed attention contributes to the calming of your mental field. A good focus point technique for beginners is paying attention to your breath. Become aware of the movement of your breath – notice the air entering your nostrils, sense it completely as it hits the back of your throat, feel your chest and abdomen expand, feel the air exit through your nostrils, and so on. Once you become aware of your breath, you can direct your inner gaze toward your third eye – the center point between your eyebrows – or your crown chakra at the top of the head. Choose only one point of focus for your inner gaze and practice using it for a period of time; this allows depth in your meditation practice to progress.
Witness: Meditation helps you develop a “witness consciousness” – the ability to be a conscious witness to all that is occurring. Thoughts will arise and you may experience emotional and physical feelings in your body. The task of meditation is to witness what is happening without attaching to it; simply noticing and letting it go.
Return: During the process of meditation, it is certain you will lose the ability to maintain your witness consciousness and soon become involved in your thoughts and feelings. When this happens, simply return your attention to your breath and/or inner gaze. Much of meditation is gently returning your awareness to the point of focus.
Since each meditation is different, you may find that some days it’s easier to maintain your focus than other days. As you develop a regular meditation practice, your ability to focus increases along with your witness consciousness; as these wane, however, you can always remember to return.