A thick tall hedge of tiny needle like leaves, shelters the herbaceous border. Swirling puffs of wind enter between nearby trees and flow along the high hedge. Tall slender stems sense the wind's invisible dance, each red flower head rocking rhythmically to even the gentlest puff. Bees busily buzz between nearby stems of tiny lavender flowers. Each slender stem bends slightly and vibrates in response to the bees' gentle touch.
Your Calling Is Elevated Through Meditation
Meditation touches us in a deeply profound way. It is very effective in helping us purify our heart and sense our calling. Silence outwardly and inwardly helps open a conduit to inner guidance. This silence is the place from where all creativity, right action, clarity and inspired thought emanate. By meditating on our heart we become more sensitive to Being. Inner and outer quiet helps us know.
To be in silence is totally fulfilling.
Through meditation we develop a quiet mind. As our mind quietens we become much more aware of the world around us. We see buds form in spring, feel dusty earth beneath our feet in summer, smell fallen leaves in autumn and hear wind blowing through trees in winter, a state of being similar to that of children. We also become more aware of our inner world - our thoughts, feelings, moods, and emotions. Messages from our body are noticed more easily. However through meditation we come to realise that we are not our thoughts, feelings, emotions, moods or body. We discover that we are the one who watches our inner and outer world. The mind is transcended. We become aware. When we are aware we always know exactly what to do and how to behave. We lead a life guided from our silent inner essence.
To discover a degree of inner silence I invite you to try the simple heart meditation below. As you practice this technique begin initially by consciously focusing on the method. If your attention wavers or you become distracted, simply return to the technique. Meditation begins with attention to the method. After a period of practice you may no longer need to focus on the method. You may feel able to drop the method and be left with pure attention. At this point your meditation experience will feel effortless. This happens when our focus is unwavering.
A Simple Heart Meditation.
To meditate on your heart, find a quiet place where you will be undisturbed and sit in a comfortable chair, fairly upright so you won't be tempted to fall asleep! Make sure your muscles are relaxed. Let your awareness centre on your heart. (This is located at the top of your rib cage, where the two wings of your rib cage meet, in the hollow at the centre of the chest.) Let your eyes rest gently. It is best if your eyes are held half open.
Breathe naturally and slowly through your nose, with your awareness centred on your heart. Withdraw awareness from your five senses. As you breathe in, feel that you are drawing in pure energy and as you breathe out, feel as if you are letting go of all restlessness. Now you are meditating. You should be experiencing a state of relaxed awareness. Stay in the meditation for five minutes then gradually and slowly return your awareness to the room.
You can practice this daily. In the morning before breakfast is a good time. Between 6am and 7am is the best time to have a deep meditation, because nature is still asleep and everything is quiet. You can gradually build up your commitment by adding a second meditation period in the day. Evening before tea, or just before going to bed are suitable times. You can gradually lengthen your meditation to 10, 20 and then 30 minutes.
Techniques you can add to improve your meditation:
Light A Candle
Before you start meditation light a candle and place it straight ahead of your sitting position. This creates atmosphere. I associate the candle flame with the light, wisdom and security brought to me through the inner call. Remembering the symbolism of the candle flame helps prepare me for meditation.
Wrap Yourself In A Shawl Or Blanket
This will help you feel comfortable and protected as you enter meditation. If you live in a cold climate it will also help keep you warm.
Feel Grateful And Joyful
Before you start meditating and while in your meditation try and feel an inner gratitude and inner joy. This is your true nature, even if you do not feel it much at present. Consciously feeling inner gratitude and joy while meditating will help you absorb the beneficial effects of your meditation.
Consciously Relax All Your Muscles
Start at the toes and one by one tighten and then relax each of your muscles finishing with your facial muscles. Do this before you start your meditation. This is very appropriate for people who come to their meditation in a tense agitated state. Practicing this will help you enter into meditation.
Let Your Eyelids Half-Close
While entering the meditation let your eyelids close slightly and hold them half-closed throughout the meditation. This helps you enter and stay in the meditative state. This state is different from your waking consciousness that you feel when your eyes are open and your sleeping consciousness that you feel when your eyes are closed.
Count To Twenty
Just after starting meditation, count to twenty or another suitable number, with awareness. As you do so feel your meditation deepening. This will help reduce thinking and allow you to embrace meditation.
While in your meditation, practice breathing as slowly as possible through your nose without straining. Slow, rhythmical breathing is a powerful aid to deep meditation. Be sure to fill your lower lungs first. It helps to pause between breathing in and breathing out. In your meditation it helps to purify your heart by feeling that you are breathing in pure energy and breathing out all restlessness. This needs to be done consciously to be effective.
Imagine A Flower Opening
When you have centred your awareness on your heart, imagine a flower opening. Allow it to open once, one petal at a time, in rhythm with your breathing. When it is fully open imagine you are that beautiful rose or sunflower. Imagine you have blossomed and you can even smell the scent. This will help open your heart. Then proceed with the next part of your meditation.
Imagine An Enlightened Person
While in your meditation hold the image of an enlightened spiritual person of great significance to you, like your favourite saint, Jesus, or Moses in your heart. This will help your aspiration and draw their meditative qualities to you.
Repeat A Sacred Or Inspirational Word
Inwardly and silently repeat a word that is personally significant and represents a quality you want in your life. Such a word might be Love or Peace. Repeat it in rhythm with your breathing. To deepen your meditation, remain focused on this word as you repeat it more softy until the word is barely present. Allow a place of infinite love and peace to fill your heart.
Alternate Imagining An Enlightened Person And Repeating An Inspirational Word
If you are a beginner and if you are having problems keeping your attention focused within while meditating, try imagining an enlightened person and then when your attention begins to wander switch to repeating an inspirational word. If your attention wanders again while repeating an inspirational word, switch back to imagining an enlightened person. This is a technique beginners can use to help keep their attention focused within during their meditation.
Imagine A Flame In Your Heart
While in your meditation imagine a flame, like a golden candle flame, in your heart. Imagining a flame is very effective in helping open your heart.
Imagine Journeying To The Depths Of The Ocean
While meditating imagine you are going deeper and deeper into your heart. Try and sense a place of great depth and stillness, like the bottom of the ocean. Alternatively try and sense an inner vibration where you are totally at One. This will take you into the depth of Being, the source of your inner call.
Imagine Yourself Connecting To Friends And Enemies
While meditating imagine that you are radiating white light that connects you with family members, friends and even enemies. Then imagine this light spreading out even further until it reaches the farthest horizon. Seek a place of inner vastness and perhaps even sense infinity.
Drop The Method!
Once if you reach a place of total inner peace (this will take practice), drop the method and simply remain in that place of total rest until your meditation is complete. This place of total inner silence is completely fulfilling. Let yourself discover infinity!
Come Out Slowly
End your meditation very slowly. To do this, open your eyes slowly and then practise gradually turning your head to look around the room while keeping your awareness centred in your heart. Take five to ten minutes to come out of the meditation. Slowly emerging from meditation is a pleasant feeling. Practicing this helps take the calmness of the meditative state into your everyday consciousness.
Engage In Quiet Simple Activity After Meditation
If you rush back into your day after completing your session you may not absorb the benefits of your meditation. Leave 10 minutes after your meditation where you engage in simple quiet activity, like sitting still, reading an inspirational book, listening to uplifting music or quietly tidying the house.
Have Regular Daily Practice Times
Practicing at the same times every day will deepen your meditation. To be effective meditation needs to be practised daily.
Create A Meditation Space
If you create a private place to practice meditation this will help deepen your meditation, since that space will absorb the peace of your previous meditations and come to feel sacred. To decorate your private meditation space you can have a small table. If you belong to a particular religion you can place symbols from that religion that are meaningful to you on your table. Alternatively you can place symbols and images of people and places that inspire you.
Take regular exercise
Cycling, walking or jogging regularly will all help deepen your meditation.
Get Your Hands Dirty!
Doing things with the earth like gardening or woodland work will help deepen your meditation.
Things To Avoid While Meditating:
While you are meditating your awareness should rest on your heart where inner peace is found, not on your mind, which is full of agitated thoughts. If you are having problems thinking too much while meditating, imagine taking the thoughts down to your heart. This will reduce their power to disturb you or will help them to disappear. It takes a lot of practice to cease having thoughts altogether while meditating. Your first aim should be to observe your thoughts as they pass through. By practicing detached observation, you are able to stay focused in meditation.
Maybe you have an itchy nose or there may be a noisy car outside. Scratch your nose if you need to, but it is best to be aware of the distraction without reacting to it. Practicing this will assist your detachment.
Eating Before Or Immediately After Meditating
If you eat shortly before meditating you will find it more difficult to meditate. This is because your body is busy digesting your meal and it is not as easy for you to relax. If you are hungry before meditating, drink a glass of fruit juice. This will not affect your meditation. Try and leave 15 minutes free from eating after meditating. Eating straight after meditation makes it more difficult for you to absorb the beneficial effects of your meditation session.
Meditating For Too Long A Period
This is especially true if you are new to meditation. Do not be tempted to think that plunging in and practicing for long periods will be to your benefit. You will only make yourself unbalanced. It is good to extend the time you spend meditating but you need to do so gradually.
Placing Your Awareness In The Wrong Place
If you are doing heart meditations the correct position for your awareness is the heart. If you meditate with your awareness in other places without proper training you might feel unwell and unbalanced.
Leading A Frantic Lifestyle
Very high levels of daily stimulation will detract from your meditation. It is true however that the daily practise of meditation will help you get on top of a stressful job or family commitments. A frantic lifestyle is to be avoided.
Drinking Too Much Tea, Coffee Or Alcohol Or Smoking Cigarettes
Any drinks with caffeine, or alcohol, or produces like cigarettes that contain nicotine, detract from your meditation. It is best not to drink or smoke these in the period before or after your meditation. You may wish to avoid these products altogether. Meditation takes us into our still, silent essence, where abiding inner peace is found. Products that dilute mental purity will make it harder for you to enter a state of deep meditation.
You can gradually enrich your meditation experience using the above methods. I have suggested a more advanced meditation below, made up from some of the above techniques. Feel free to develop and make up your own meditation experience from the above techniques. Follow what feels right for you.
A Simple Heart Meditation.
Light a scented candle. Call in feelings of gratitude and joy. Half close your eyes letting them rest on the candle flame ahead. Let your awareness descend to your heart. Breathe ever more slowly counting from one to twenty with each breath. With each in breath imagine pure energy flowing into your heart. With each out breath imagine all restlessness leaving your heart. Stay with this experience for a while. Imagine a beautiful rose opening in your heart one petal at a time in rhythm with your breathing. Feel the fullness of the opened flower. Smell the scent. Stay with this experience for a while. Repeat silently and inwardly the word P.....E.....A.....C.....E. Allow this word to resonate within your heart ever more softly. Sense a deep inner peace as you do this. Stay with this experience. Slowly emerge from the meditation after 20 minutes and gradually look around the room. Take 5 minutes to sit in silence and 10 minutes to listen to some uplifting music.
Meditation Is Like Learning To Ride A Bicycle
Do you remember when you learned to ride a bicycle? At the start you had to consciously work at finding your balance and operating the controls. Then one day to your surprise everything clicked and riding your bicycle became easy and natural. Learning meditation is a bit like this. At the start you will have to consciously work at developing the meditation skill by learning to focus on your chosen method again and again. Then one day you may find that it suddenly becomes effortless. If this does not happen do not be concerned. You will still benefit, even though you are working at meditation.
How You Can Tell If You Have Had A Good Meditation
If you have meditated correctly you will feel calm afterwards. You will feel energised and renewed. You will feel balanced and loving. If you are experienced and you have had a very good meditation, you may feel that your body has become light. You will almost feel that you can fly. Afterwards you will feel delight and joy as if someone has given you a beautiful gift. You may also feel positive and dynamic, as if you have some important work to do.
If you are feeling unbalanced it probably means you are moving ahead too quickly with your meditation. To cure this, take a break from meditation for a week or so and then return to your daily practice, but meditate for a shorter period of time than before.
Meditation May Bring up Your Pain
You may notice after meditating that you have unexplained fear or anger that surfaces from deep inside you. This happens because meditation brings up your buried emotional pain to be healed. Simply express the pain and it will leave you. Although this is a difficult aspect of meditation, you can be assured that it is by expressing your buried emotional pain that you will reach new and deeper levels of peace and become more sensitive to inner guidance, (See Your Calling Is Elevated Through The Release of Pain).
Enjoy experimenting with the above techniques for improving your meditation. Different techniques may suit you at different stages of growth through meditation. Feel free to adapt these techniques to suit your personal needs. It is easily possible to teach yourself meditation. Simply sense what does and does not work for you. Bear in mind that some of the above techniques need practice to become familiar. To learn you will need to persist until you get the knack of meditation and gain the peace it offers.
It is important to have a daily discipline of meditation so that you receive benefits. The best policy is to do it every day at the same time, whether you are in the mood or not, just like cleaning your teeth, unless your intuition guides you otherwise. With time the discipline of meditation becomes easy and enjoyable.
Meditation works slowly but surely. In the short term it may give you a period once or twice a day when you feel really relaxed. As months go by you may notice a calmness descending and you may also find it easier to discern feelings and impressions you are receiving from inner guidance throughout the day. If you wish to explore tuning into inner guidance, sit quietly after your meditation and become aware of feelings, images and thoughts. If you want to focus your feelings, images and thoughts on a particular subject, ask a question inwardly.
By watching our mind, not only during our sitting meditation, but also during the day, we become more aware of our anxieties and fears and discover how these cause us to react in habitual, unconscious ways to the world around us. As we continue to watch our mind working, the one who watches grows in strength, and the power fear and anxiety have over us weakens. We become adept at distinguishing between inner guidance, which comes from a place of peace, and fearful, anxious, negative and unbalanced thoughts. Eventually a day may come when the separation between the watcher and the thing watched disappears. When this happens we discover enlightenment, a state of unity and absolute peace beyond the confines of the mind.
As I meditate I drop down into a deep inner world,
Where all is still and all is peaceful.
Akin to floating motionless at the bottom of the ocean
Where thoughts are like fish,
They pass silently by leaving no trace.
I am Being, the source of my inner calling.