Currently in the Western world much is said of meditation; few, however, create their lives in ways that make it a priority. In many there is the recognition of the need to quiet mind and body – to find calm in a world that can feel chaotic; peace and harmony are intuited and desired but seldom is there understanding of the perseverance required to master the mind.
The doorways to spheres of awareness that provide rest and nourishment for the soul are available but they do not come upon us by magic, by chance, or by entreaty. They open as a result of consistent choice, focus and invitation. A life gifted with ‘inner peace’ does not just happen; there is a pathway clearly marked by those who have gone before. Consistently, those who have moved beyond the turbulence of ordinary consciousness have urged us to know that we can release ourselves from the bondage of emotion and unruly mental activity. The pathway has often been described.
If you are one who desires to transcend the clamor and confusion, the opportunity is available and immediate. You could begin right now by deciding to set aside 15 minutes or more each day to develop the ability to focus your mind – to strengthen spiritual muscle.
* Find a quiet place to sit. It is best to be in an upright position – not lying down as you could become drowsy and less than alert. As much as possible let the spine be straight, but effortlessly so. You could imagine a thread of gossamer running from above your head, down through your body just in front of the spine and into the earth. Then feel a gentle tension of the thread draw you into relaxed vertical alignment
* Bring your attention now to the very center of your head at about the level of your eyes. At the same time let the awareness of your finite body dissolve into the moment, letting yourself melt into whatever sounds or kinesthetic sensations may be happening, not denying or shutting off from that within which you are immersed, but not focusing there – permeable to all that is happening – ‘melting’ through it. It is a sense of deep relaxation. Continue to bring your attention to the center of your head. (There is an existential paradox here: Your focus is one-pointed, centered and steady, yet simultaneously you are permeable. Nothing is shut out. Nothing is separate.
* Allow thoughts to arise but if they begin to take you away from the moment, return, gently but with determination. You may begin to feel that the movement of the mind is movement of subtle substance – call it energy – perceptible but requiring careful attention to be recognized. Once you have this focus, stay alert to it. It is from this place that we open ourselves to levels of intuition that transcend ordinary consciousness.
* Leave yourself open and available to be informed – not by mental means but by means beyond the understanding of the finite mind. Wait, but it is not a passive waiting. Intense waiting. Focused. Effortless.
It can take years for our brains to catch up with the information given in such times of true in-tunement with Cosmic Intention. Practice patience rather than search for results.
It is of course possible to learn to meditate alone. However, as part of a group of people practicing focused attention one has the benefit of collective energies. When a number of people sit together, and with guidance in the direction already practiced by some members of the group, it is much easier to steady the mind and slip into deeper meditation. At Three Mountain retreats this is our practice; then we work with the effects and realizations arising from more expanded states of awareness.