Practical Methods of Meditation
"Meditation will provide material for meditation,
if we just observe the observer." - Richard Rose
Many methods and practices can be found under the name meditation, not all lead us to true self-discovery. Self-analysis or higher thinking, effortless meditation, unbiased self-observation and self-inquiry can yield profound results and guard against the trap of simply languishing in a visualized thought-world of our own creating.
We cannot expect to follow a path leading to the Truth if our mind is filled with anxiety, fear, and ambition. A clear head is essential. Once we have done the digging necessary to give us clear thinking and the ability to hear the voice of intuition, we can begin the inward journey of self-discovery, assured our motivation and direction are true.
First, let's take a look at two types of meditation which accomplish the task when practised together. Mike Connors has compiled an excellent primer to his methods of meditation, as seen below.
Next we take a look at Roy Masters and his method of freeing the attention from the inner drama we have inherited from our environment.
Then, we look at methods of further freeing our attention from the world of thought and illusion with dream work, and the insight method of Jim Burns.
MEDITATION: " It's Not What You Think..." by Michael Conners
The Two Types of Meditation that Work Together and Lead to Self Knowledge
(Click on the titles below for a more detailed explanation)
(To Identify our True Self)
Position of the body and time of meditation not important
Problem-solving by the mind as taught in school, work, society
We call this "thinking"
Deals with words, meaning, concepts
Seeking; self-inquiry; Shankara's Vedanta; Richard Rose's "back through the projector"
This way of highly intellectual and abstract thinking develops a person's ability to discriminate the Real Substance of existence from the Apparent Objects that seem to exist
Is an energy consumer
Hard work for most folks
Nuts and bolts method of science and Jnana Yoga;
Knowledge through doubtless understanding
But this alone may not make us identify with omnipresent existence (Being)
The value of contemplation is that it ideally leads to integration, identification, wisdom.
But the key is that one must be looking to identify one's self so that when the Real is found it is Known to be the Self
Self-inquiry's goal is intellectual, for certain, full and doubtless realization of the insubstantial nature of the world and the body, and the realization of "space of intellect" as the Self:
"I am that Nothing and the only Real
Substance of all the universe."
(Sinking into Transcendental Consciousness)
Position of the body sitting and eyes closed every morning and evening for 20 minutes
Not directed thinking
Essentially not recognized in western society, so effortlessness is not taught
Few are aware of effortless meditation, even though there is a lot of talk about surrender, mindfulness, St.Theresa's "Prayer of Recollection," Mahesh's TM, Zazen's no-mind
This is not intellectual, but a simple experience of subtler, quieter levels of thinking
Sets up a condition where one is able to perceive subtle thoughts, and transcendence to silence can just happen
Is energizing and easy
The Key is to not "do" the technique, so that the automatic nature of thinking can be realized and self can be known as not the thinker or doer, not these thoughts or feelings or memories!
But this alone may not cause us to identify with silent Being!
The benefits of effortless meditation are deep relaxation of the nervous system, which gradually releases the accumulated stresses of a lifetime
The goal of yoga is realization by the direct experience of transcendental pure consciousness as the innermost self: "I am this emptiness, silence, the absolutely real, eternal,omnipresent Being and the only Real Substance of all the universe."
Doing both methods alternately is very reinforcing and leads to full Realization.
Next, I've listed two forms of meditation that have been helpful in my search. The first group are tools to clear the mind of tension and stress, giving us freedom to use the second: self-discovery through a relentless inquiry into our true nature. Through these two methods we are carried to Self-Knowledge.
The Classic Meditation Exercise of Roy Masters is a means to freeing one's mind from the tensions of our modern world. Higher thinking is impossible without a certain degree of peace. The hypnotism of daily life exerts a powerful force, locking us into worry and stress. Roy Masters leads you through a simple, yet profound exercise, giving you freedom from brain-chatter, and insight into the associative patterns of your mind. To obtain one of his tapes or books, click one of the links below.
This simple concentration-observation exercise with Judeo-Christian roots enables the practitioner to remain calm and patient even in the face of extreme stress and cruelty. Praised by psychiatrists and laymen alike, it is perhaps the finest and most profound stress reduction method in the world. The only requirement for the practitioner is a sincere desire to be a better person.
The Insight Method of Jim Burns re-connects us to our own inner wisdom, providing a practical way to discover one's nature. For a look at his method of using insight, click here.
" When you begin to have experiences of the information from within, you learn how perfectly attuned the inner mind is to your immediate and momentary circumstances. The fountainhead lies totally within. All we discuss here pertains to the methods and particulars that are involved in uncovering the wellhead." - Jim Burns
Getting in touch with the Inner Self is an individual matter, blocked at every turn by our own waking mind. We will need help in learning techniques to get past our own egos. Here's a site with connections and info on the art of dream work.
Dream analysis is an effective technique which provides insight into our true motivations, and leads to the loosening of energy knots, giving us
freedom to go within.
We all dream-- every night of our life. And, beneath awareness all day long. Dreams may be one of the oldest, most natural, and most universal forms of direct inner guidance.
Dr. Ron Masa offers dream therapy via teleconferencing. For more info, visit the website at
Dreams are nightly letters from God...
Are you reading your mail?
"All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream."- Edgar Allan Poe
Retreat from Untruth
The retreat from error can keep us safely grounded, while paradoxically leading us back up the ray of creation to our Source. We cannot expect to succeed in finding Reality by first postulating its existence and characteristics, and then using the intellect to 'prove' these postulations. Wishful thinking about our goal will not help us, no matter how noble the imaginings. Rather, a backing away from that which we find to be absurd, will lead us to the less absurd. We need to look for the final reality, no matter what that might turn out to be.
"Man is not going to find reality if he accepts that which the body tells him. -You must be prepared to find that which is, not that which you wish to find, even if it is oblivion."
One of Rose's most effective techniques is that of looking at one's troubles: afflictions to the individuality sense. This act of looking at what is troubling us helps to bypass our ego or sense of self, thus setting up the possibility of a shocking surprise: we may discover we are awareness watching awareness; the Observer.
Ramana Maharshi was the greatest Indian sage of the twentieth century. His purity and strength of purpose are unmatched. So was his system of meditation, which consists of a relentless inquiry into one's nature. This takes the form of the question "Who Am I?". (full version, short version below) This questioning takes us into ourselves and away from the myriad forms of illusion and ego. For a look at this dynamic inquiry, click on the link above.
Contact ramana-maharshi.org for more information on his active legacy, the ashrama at Tiruvannamulai in India, and a full catalogue of writings and videos.
Who Am I?
As all living beings desire to be happy always, without misery, as in the case of everyone there is observed supreme love for one's self, and as happiness alone is the cause for love, in order to gain that happiness which is one's nature and which is experienced in the state of deep sleep where there is no mind, one should know one's self. For that, the path of knowledge, the inquiry of the form "Who am I?," is the principal means.
1. Who am I?
The gross body, which is composed of the seven humors, I am not; the five cognitive sense organs, i.e., the senses of hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell, which apprehend their respective objects, i.e., sound, touch, color, taste, and odor, I am not; the five cognitive sense organs, i.e., the organs of speech, locomotion, grasping, excretion, and procreation, which have as their respective functions speaking, moving, grasping, excreting, and enjoying, I am not; the five vital airs, prana, etc., which perform respectively the five functions of in-breathing, etc., I am not; even the mind which thinks, I am not; the nescience too, which is endowed only with the residual impressions of objects, and in which there are no objects and no functions, I am not.
2. If I am none of these, then who am I?
After negating all of the above-mentioned as "not this, not this," that Awareness which alone remains--that I am.
3. What is the nature of Awareness?
The nature of Awareness is existence-consciousness-bliss.
Links to Helpful Sites on Meditation:
Zen Camp: series of informal videos on topics such as meditation, retreats and nostalgia.
The Headless Way: The Work of D.E. Harding. This method of self-enquiry, sometimes called 'headlessness' or 'seeing who you really are' ('seeing' for short), is a contemporary approach which investigates the question Who am I? and suggests that you can see Who you really are here and now. It provides simple but deep awareness exercises that direct you to this Seeing within yourself. http://www.headless.org/
The Listening Attention: A companion site to the Missal which examines the need for direct perception in the spiritual quest. In the spiritual search, the quest for true self-definition, we soon come to the realization that our best efforts, and even our very selves, are mechanical and reactive. A different level of seeing is needed, a pure awareness that is not itself a product of the world or mind, but primary to the reaction pattern we call ourselves.
Copyright 2003 - 2006 Robert Fergeson. All Rights Reserved