The Authentic Self: Stillness Meditation
In The Authentic Self: Developing Awareness, an earlier blog post, I shared some of what I have learned about meditation practice. Let’s review the basics before moving into what I consider a more difficult part of meditation practice, that is, stillness meditation.
Meditation can be as simple as taking a deep breath and, when you exhale, sending your breath to your feet. You can take quick meditation breaks at work—never, of course, while you are operating machinery and needing to stay focused on what you are doing for safety sake or if you are responsible for the safety of other people. In those cases when you cannot change focus for a brief moment, then it is better to wait for your rest or coffee break. If, however, you work in an office, then a 20-second meditation break once or twice a day is all you will need to strengthen awareness and refresh your bodymindspirit. And there is an added bonus for your employer. You will think more clearly afterwards.
20-Second Meditation: Picture light above your head. As you inhale, see the light move into and through your head and down your spine. As you exhale, see the light move into the earth and send it down deeply. You may feel tingling in your feet, or you may feel nothing at all. Either way, stay in the moment briefly and then let it go. You have just grounded your energies, the first step in supporting the health of your bodymindspirit. Bring your attention back to what you were doing before you started and go on with your day.
Meditation with Visualization: When you are home or in another comfortable place, sit comfortably in a chair with your hands resting on your thighs with palms facing up, or if you wish, in a lotus position with legs crossed and palms facing up, resting your hands on your legs for comfort. Remove your shoes. Wiggle your toes and feel the bottoms of your feet. Ground yourself, as described above, that is, complete a twenty-second meditation.
Next, set the intention to be peaceful and relaxed. Begin breathing slowly and deeply. With your eyes closed think of a place that appeals to you—a mountain top, a garden, a path in the woods, a beach. See yourself there and allow the scene to unfold in your imagination. For example, if you chose a mountain top, you can begin by hiking a path to the top. Observe what you see during the hike. Animals, birds of a certain size and color, plants or flowers, waterfalls, any or all of these might come into view. Choose an animal, bird, plant or flower to bring to the mountain top. Sit down and allow your companion to communicate with you. You may see images or experience certain feelings. Don’t analyze. Just experience.
When you are ready, make your way back to the bottom of the mountain. Return your breathing to normal. Wiggle your toes. Allow impressions of your experience to come forward. Did a certain color dominate? If red was dominant, you may need to strengthen your root chakra. If yellow, then your solar plexus may need support. Were there feelings you need to explore? The best way to explore these feelings is with a counselor, preferably a holistic counselor, who will see you in wholeness.
Stillness Meditation: Once you become comfortable with the 20-second meditation and the meditation with visualization, then you are ready to practice stillness meditation. For a stillness meditation, you need a quiet environment where you can focus inward without interruption. Early in the morning before anyone else has risen is generally a good time. Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet on the floor, or if you wish, a lotus position. Ground yourself, that is, visualize a cone or column of light above your head. As you inhale, imagine you are drawing in the light and see it move through your body and into your feet. See your feet as pools of light. Imagine the light creating ever widening circles of light around your feet. As you exhale, send the light into the earth.
Thought and breath are your body awareness tools. Send the light down deeply into the earth until you reach a place of light in the earth. Light exists everywhere and predominates over darkness. Connect your light with the light you visualize in the earth. You are grounded. Focus on your breathing. Picture your abdomen as a balloon. As you inhale, see the balloon fill with air, allowing your abdomen to expand. As you exhale, see the balloon deflate. Do this several times.
Then set your intention to sit in stillness. You can use your own words, or these: “I sit in stillness to connect with my authentic self.” Then observe what happens. Thoughts will start to intrude. Observe what they are. Understand that they originate in the persona you have created and through which you experience and interact with the world. Surround each thought with light and send it into the earth. Then repeat your intention to sit in stillness. Sit quietly for as long as you can, continuing to surround each thought with light and sending it into the earth.
You can time your session for ten minutes or more. Remember to love every thought that intrudes, and don’t be surprised at the nature of the thoughts and how many there are. Resistance will make meditation more difficult for you. Love will move you forward. Expect to be frustrated in the beginning. Just observe. If you judge yourself, surround the judgment with light and send it into the earth with love. Then end your session with these closing thoughts: “I am grateful for this opportunity to observe myself. I close myself to all but my highest truth.” Then go about your day.
Meditation practice is just that—practice. Set a time each day or a few times a week. Vary your practice with 20-second, visualization, and stillness approaches. Meditation has been shown to have benefits for the bodymindspirit. It is a way to bring profound relaxation to the whole being, thus enhancing the body’s natural healing processes. Make your practice one of the tools you use to enhance your vitality and health.
If you are curious about the intersection between developing awareness and higher consciousness, then check back for future visualizations and meditations. To learn more about the voice that talks to you when thoughts intrude, I recommend you read the untethered soul: the journey beyond yourself by Michael A. Singer. You will not be disappointed. It is the best discussion of levels of consciousness I have ever read.
Disclaimer: All healing paths, while they share certain things in common, are unique to the individual. Nothing I write in my blogs should be construed as medical advice. All decisions about physical and mental health should be made in consultation with your physician or other licensed or certified health care practitioner.