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Featured in Soul Light #17

Creative Meditation
© 2005 by Corinne McLaughlin
 

Developing a regular meditation practice over the last 30 years has been the most important aspect of my life, both in terms of my spiritual growth and the effectiveness of my service in the world.  I’d like to share with you some of what I’ve learned about types, benefits and techniques of meditation, especially the Creative Meditation approach:
 

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a journey deeper into your true self, your true home.  Meditation is bringing your attention inward, and allowing your mind to settle into stillness. It is withdrawing your attention from the periphery of your consciousness into the center. 

Meditation is the mind’s power to hold itself steady in the Light and in that Light to become aware of your higher purpose, your life’s mission.  Meditation is called the Science of Light because it works with the substance of Light.  Visualization is the secret of all true meditation work in the early stages.

An especially powerful time to meditate and invoke higher spiritual forces is each month at the time of the full moon.  This is because spiritual energy can flow in unimpeded, as the moon is stands on the far side of the earth, away from the sun, so the full light of the sun (symbolic of spirit) can radiate to the earth.  There are thousands of groups around the world who hold special meditations at this time and link up with each other as they visualize a network of Light around the world.

Meditation is called a “practice” -- because it improves with practice.  The more you practice, the better it gets.  Meditation is like exercising an inner muscle.

While prayer is often called “talking to God,”-- praising God or asking God for something, meditation is called listening to God -- deep inner listening.

Meditation is for everyone, whatever your spiritual path, Eastern or Western, if you sincerely wish to grow spiritually and be of service to others.  Right motive is the key to effective meditation.

The goal in meditation is to still your body, emotions and mind, to integrate them with each other as a unit, and then align them with your higher self or soul.  Achieving this stillness creates the energetic field for listening to your higher self and to God. From this can come an experience of inner peace and inspiration.

Types of Meditation

The approach used in meditation can be of several types or combinations of types:

·           Concentration – steadying the mind and focusing energy and attention on an issue or task

·           Contemplation – reflecting on the deeper meaning of a seed thought (such as compassion)

·           Mindfulness – observing with detachment the contents of the mind and labeling sensations, feelings, thoughts in order to deepen wisdom and insight into the nature of reality

·           Receptive –inner listening to receive impressions and inner guidance 

·           Creative – using the mind to build positive pictures and giving them life and direction with the thought energy of the mind (such as a visualization for healing)

·           Invocative – calling in higher energy (such as invoking the Christ or the Buddha)

Benefits of Meditation

Meditation helps to reduce stress, and develops a sense of inner peace, joy, and strength.  Scientific tests have shown that meditation can lower your blood pressure, improve your memory and creativity, and strengthen your immune system. 

On a spiritual level, meditation strengthens your intuition, opens your heart, and helps clear out negative emotions.  It helps you purify and discipline your mind, awakening and freeing it in order to directly perceive reality or truth.  Meditation helps you develop detachment from physical and emotional reactions to outer events, through what’s called “the stance of the observer.”  And most importantly, meditation strengthens your alignment with your soul and helps you discover your higher purpose in life.

Establishing a Regular Rhythm and Place

It’s important to find a regular, comfortable place to meditate each day, where you won’t be disturbed.  Meditating in the same place each day builds up a vibration there and makes it easier to meditate each time you use it.  Clean and dedicate this area to create a sacred space, adding inspirational pictures, flowers, candle, incense, etc. 

Establishing a regular rhythm with your meditation is essential.  Ten minutes each day is better than an hour every once in awhile, as it creates a regular habit pattern and rhythm. Morning is best, as you are fresher at that time, and not yet caught up in the day’s activities.  Meditation in the morning sets the right note for the day. It connects you with higher spiritual energies and a sense of purpose. If you are just learning to meditate, the maximum length should be about thirty minutes. Before meditating, wait at least an hour after eating and several hours after drinking alcohol.

An especially powerful time to meditate and invoke higher spiritual forces is each month at the time of the full moon.  This is because spiritual energy can flow in unimpeded, as the moon is reflecting the full light of the sun.  There are thousands of groups around the world who hold special meditations at this time and link up with each other as they visualize a network of Light around the world.

It’s best to take a scientific approach to meditation -- experiment with different techniques and study the results.  Proceed slowly and with caution.  Meditation should be in balance as part of the rhythm of daily living.  Observe the effects on your life.

Meditation Techniques

Align your posture and relax your physical body.  It’s best to sit up straight with your chakras or energy centers perpendicular to gravity.  If you lie down, you may become too relaxed and fall asleep. Your hands can be folded in lap, or with palms up or down on your thighs. Your eyes should be closed, or if this is uncomfortable, leave them open and focus on one thing in front of you. You can tighten up each muscle group, beginning with your neck and shoulders, and then relax it (or you can do stretching exercises or yoga before meditation to relax your body).  Appreciate and send love to your physical, emotional and mental bodies before you begin the meditation, holding an attitude of cooperation, rather than suppression, of each aspect of your personality. It’s important to stay relaxed, yet aware and awake.

Focus on your breath.  Breathing in peace and stillness, and exhaling any tensions or worries.  Deep breathing helps energize you as you bring in more prana or life force. Create a regular rhythm of inbreath, holding the breath, then outbreath.  You can count to seven as you breathe in, hold it for a few moments, and then exhale to the count of seven (or whatever rhythm works best for you) and release the cares of the day each time you exhale.   If your mind wanders and you become distracted, always come back to the breath. With each breath, allow yourself to become lighter and lighter and more expanded. Experience the pause between the breaths expanding into infinity.

Still your emotions. Observe your feelings, as if you’re watching a movie -- the melodrama of your own life.  Become a detached observer, just noticing what’s going on, without reacting.

If you’re experiencing fear or anger or negative emotions, you can transform them by seeing your feelings as a ball of energy in your solar plexus chakra (at your navel).  Visualize moving this energy upward to your heart, in order to transform these feelings into positive, loving energy.  You can actually see it as a ball of energy, or you can just hold the intention of moving the energy up to your heart. 

Another technique for calming your emotions is to visualize a calm, clear lake, reflecting the sun on a beautiful day; the water symbolizes your emotions; the sun symbolizes your soul or higher self. You visualize the lake being very still so it can reflect the sun clearly.

Calm your mind: You do not forget the mind in meditation; you learn to still it. There is a difference here, because in meditation you are quieting the lower, rational mind and working with the higher, abstract mind.  You are learning to focus the mind like a searchlight into the higher realms, in order to receive impressions and new ideas that can help humanity.  The mind is held steady in the light, perceiving a still greater light, the light of the soul which infuses it.

A good technique for calming the mind is to become a detached observer, noticing your thoughts without trying to stop or change them, and without judging them.  Simply label thoughts that arise as “thinking”; label emotions as “feelings”; label physical experiences or discomforts as “sensations”.  In the East, this is the beginning step of what’s called Vipassana or Insight meditation.

Another approach to help establish the observer (or soul) consciousness, from Psychosynthesis, by disidentifying from your physical, emotional and mental bodies, is to say inwardly, “I observe sensations in my physical body; I have a body, I appreciate it as the temple of my spirit, but I am not my body. I observe feelings in my emotional body; I have emotions, I appreciate my emotions, but I am not my emotions. I observe thoughts in my mental body; I have a mind, I appreciate my mind, but I am not my mind.  I can observe each aspect of my personality, but I am much more than this.  I am a center of pure consciousness and awareness.”  Then focus your attention fully in the present, letting go of worries about the past or future: be here now

Another technique for stilling the mind is to listen inwardly to the sound inside your head and keep your attention focused on it. Or you can repeat a mantra (a simple word or phrase) over and over, such as “peace” or “OM”

Visualization is also an effective technique for stilling the mind, because energy follows thought. You can visualize pure white light pouring in through the chakra at the top of your head, called “the crown center”, and see the light circulating throughout your body, as you feel lighter and more expanded.

Align with your Soul or Higher Self: Many meditation techniques end with stilling the mind, but Creative Meditation goes a step further and uses the mind and the will to penetrate into the higher spiritual realms, the realm of your soul or higher self, and to align with the great enlightened Teachers of humanity in all spiritual traditions, such as the Christ, the Buddha, etc.

This is a more esoteric approach called “building the rainbow bridge,” or the antahkarana as its called in the East.  You literally build strands of light from each of your bodies--physical, emotional, mental to their higher spiritual counterparts.  You raise your consciousness to the higher vibratory frequency of your soul.

If you’re new to meditation, a simple way to do this is to visualize lines of rainbow light passing through what’s called the crown chakra or energy center at the top of your head, and then visualizing this light connecting to a star above your head, representing your soul and the higher spiritual realms.

(If you’re a more experienced meditator, you can focus your energy in your ajna center, the brow chakra in the middle of your forehead, and then visualize a strand of rainbow light from the plane of the lower, rational mind to the plane of the higher, abstract mind or manas as it’s called in the East; visualize a strand from the plane of the emotions to the plane of intuition or buddhi; and from the physical plane to atma or the plane of the higher will aligned with God’s will.) 

If you like, you can then align your energy with a great Master, such as Christ or Buddha, and experience their wisdom and compassion filling your whole being as a great blessing.

Then you hold steady your alignment with your soul and higher spiritual frequencies for a few minutes in complete inner silence, and be receptive to impressions or guidance. This is referred to as the “higher interlude” in meditation. 

After a period of silence, you enter the “lower interlude,” where your brain is impressed with energy received in the meditation and is stimulated into activity.  Then allow your lower mind to shape impressions or ideas you received into usable thoughtforms for your life and work, and to plan action if appropriate.

End with a blessing:  The last step is circulation of the energy contacted in meditation as a blessing.  The spiritual energy you received in meditation is released and directed into the world, to bring healing and transformation to individuals in need, or to humanity as a whole.  You can simply send love from your heart to where it’s most needed in the world, or you can visualize light, love and purpose energy radiating out to the world from your ajna center, in the middle of your forehead. It’s important to share and circulate the energy you’ve received in meditation so it makes a complete circuit of receiving and giving energy. 

Lastly, visualize light, love and purpose energy pouring down through your whole being, energizing, balancing and healing your physical, emotional and mental bodies.

Some people like to begin and end their meditation by sounding three OMs (which can be done silently if needed).  OM is a sacred word that helps to still the physical, emotional and mental bodies, and closing the meditation with three OMs helps distribute the energy. 

After you end the meditation, you might want to write down anything you’ve received in meditation-- ideas, visions, inner guidance—as a way to remember it and ground it so you can apply it in your daily life, as this is a key purpose of meditation.

(Excerpted from a forthcoming book)

 

Corinne McLaughlin is co-author of Spiritual Politics and co-founder of the Center for Visionary Leadership, and has been teaching meditation around  the U.S. and Europe for 27 years.  Her CD on Creative Meditation, with instruction and guided meditations, can be ordered from cvldc@visionarylead.org; www.visionarylead.org

 

lives and help citizens build communities that are environmentally sound, economically prosperous and socially just.

 

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