I’ve always perceived life as energy, but in my 20s, while I was on a ‘personal retreat’ of deep introspection in almost complete isolation, it was much easier to observe the fluctuations of energy within and around me, since all the usual distractions of the external world weren’t there. It was just me and my emotional baggage. Since it was also a time of spiritual awakening, I became very alert and attentive to the unfolding of my life.
At some point, I was so completely focused ironing a shirt that I began meditating without even knowing what that was. By this I mean that my mind was completely still, or empty of thoughts, and I experienced a deep sense of peace. There was nothing to think, to worry about, to rush to. I enjoyed this silent ‘void’ so much that I made the commitment to remain 100% focused on anything I did, in an attempt to replicate this experience. And it worked.
It didn’t take long before I quit smoking and eating meat, and transformed my whole lifestyle. Being mindful and focused allowed me to listen to deeper aspects of myself and feel the energetic contrast between all-too familiar habits and new, more conscious choices—regarding food, people, words, attitudes, activities, and thoughts. It also led me to create a sacred space where I’d light a candle, burn some incense, and sit every day to close my eyes, breathe, and simply observe the energy fluctuations within me.
Aside from a weekly counseling session, during those 3-4 years I was intuitively guided to certain activities, books, and people that helped me better understand myself and my perception, as well as the changes taking place from within. Of the different places I’d go to, to feel and observe the energy, churches were some of my favorite. I just sat there, not really listening to the preacher (that’s never been my thing), with my eyes closed to feel what was going on. I sensed the pain and faith of those around me, and also saw how we were all slowly but equally showered with light and love.
Most people entered the church with a heavy, dark, fuzzy energy, but also open and receptive to divine grace, and although the energy in the church was already bright to begin with, during the service it became even purer and stronger; then everyone would leave much lighter and clearer. It almost felt like an energy car wash! This is exactly what daily meditation does to you.
The Benefits of Meditation
Life is fluid, constant change, and the ego-mind is always active, producing thoughts, feelings, desires, doubts, judgments, and all sorts of fluctuations of energy as well. It has such a strong hold that you tend to identify with these thought waves and follow them blindly down the rabbit holes they create. When this happens, you forget that they’re just fluctuations, because you become the fluctuations. Without some distance between you and your thoughts and emotions, it’s hard to process, discriminate, and make conscious choices.
Meditation is the empty space (or emptiness of mind) where there’s nothing but the flow of Consciousness, and the usual preoccupations with the world disappear. At higher levels, duality also disappears and you achieve oneness with the Divine. This is called Samadhi or Nirvana. Nothing compares to this, for it’s a space of infinite peace, but it takes a long time to attain it, because the ego-mind gets in the way at every opportunity. A daily practice and great perseverance are essential to claim victory over ego.
The ultimate benefit of meditation, achieved through a steady state of Samadhi, is Self-realization. But there are many other advantages at every stage of spiritual development. Daily meditation purifies the body in general and the nervous system in particular, improving both physical and mental imbalances. Energy levels and mental powers are increased as well, along with your creativity, concentration, and intuition, while stress levels are reduced. In short, the 3 main reasons why daily meditation is essential are:
- Meditation quiets the ego-mind and brings inner peace.
- Meditation generates energy (prana) for health and vitality.
- Meditation leads to emotional and spiritual freedom.
Some Guidelines For Meditation
To maintain a daily practice it’s important to set and follow certain habits that will help you generate more energy and remain steady in your commitment.
- Use a specific seat for meditation. Cover a cushion with a cloth (this is your asana), preferably made of wool on the bottom and cotton on the top—or just wool or just cotton (in order of preference, and don’t wash it). Don’t sit on the bare ground or where other people sit without an asana, or you’ll drain your energy. Don’t share your asana with anyone.
- Practice at the same time and place. Regularity trains the mind to slow down, allowing for deeper levels of meditation. Ten to fifteen minutes every day is better than one hour every now and then.
- Try to have a separate room for meditation, if at all possible. As meditation is repeated, the energy will increase and the atmosphere will be filled with greater peace and purity that will also enhance your practice.
- When sitting, face North or East in order to take advantage of favorable magnetic vibrations.
- If you can, sit in a steady, comfortable, cross-legged position with the spine and neck straight but not tense.
- Do not force your mind to be still, as this will set in motion further thought waves. Allow the mind to wander, while remaining focused on a specific technique; it will eventually become still with practice.
- Do not attempt to meditate with a full stomach or it will be easy for you to fall asleep instead of meditating. :-)
Most people start with guided meditations, but from my perspective those lead to deep relaxation rather than meditation. A guided meditation has its place, especially if you’re just starting or have a hard time being still, but if you want to experience deep meditative states, then silently focusing on the breath is best. True meditation is the absolute absence of thoughts—the stillness of your mind—which can be difficult if someone is directing you to think or visualize things.
The only exception to this is listening to Sanskrit mantras, because those carry immense amounts of spiritual energy that will take you deeper rather than distract you. Below is a basic meditation technique to get you started. Play some quiet, relaxing music (without words), light a candle, and burn some incense to create a sacred space.
A Basic Meditation Technique
Sit on your asana on a chair, or cross-legged if you’re used to it, with your spine straight but relaxed. Keep your eyes closed at all times. Take a few deep breaths to settle in this position. Focus your internal vision on the Third Eye (at the center of your forehead) and keep it fixed there while you follow your breathing as the air comes in and out through your nose.
Bring your attention to each inhalation, following it all the way down to your first chakra, at the root of the spine, and then all the way up as you exhale, a few inches from your nose. Don’t worry about filling up the lungs to maximum capacity, just follow your normal breathing without attempting to control it in any way.
There’s a brief pause at the end of each inhalation and exhalation, and you’ll be counting during these pauses. So at the end of your first inhalation, you mentally count “one” and then “one” again at the end of your first exhalation. Then “two” as you finish inhaling and “two” as you finish exhaling; “three” as you breathe down to the first chakra and “three” as the air comes out through the nose; and so on.
If you lose track of the numbers, just start anywhere or go back to “one” without getting distracted. One aspect of your mind is fixated on the Third Eye while another follows the breath and yet another is engaged counting. Focusing on your breathing and breathing pauses anchors you to Consciousness. These are empty points, where there’s no breath, only the eternal essence of prana.
The ego-mind will deviate your attention from these two points and discourage you from meditating, trying to convince you it’s too difficult or pointless, because you get distracted. This is your inner bully wanting to regain control; don’t pay attention to it. As soon as you become aware that you’re following your thoughts, simply go back to focusing on the breathing and counting, without any judgment. Also, check your posture; when you get distracted your posture also changes.
Remember: if you get distracted, go back to your technique; if something hurts, go back to your technique; if you get anxious, go back to your technique. These are just tricks of the ego-mind to discourage you. Don’t give up and you’ll reap the rewards of your discipline soon enough!
Meditation is the ultimate medicine for body, mind, and spirit, because it reconnects you to Divine Consciousness—the inner peace you yearn for. You create time for all sorts of things and people. But if you make excuses to avoid a daily meditation practice, you should ask yourself: what can be higher or more important than my inner peace? If your aim is fixed on attaining peace, then your work in the world becomes a spiritual practice. So contact me today to get guidance and support on your path to happiness and spiritual freedom!
© 2018 Yol Swan. All rights reserved.