There are many forms of meditation. Used appropriately – meaning the practice meets the present needs of the individual – all are self-healing processes. They access the innate healing power and underlying wellbeing of the individual through altered states of focus. The focal point may be the Spirit, the Mind, or the Body.
Most often, it is the mind that spurs a person to begin a meditation practice. The pace and pressures of daily life create a frantic storm of thoughts that exhaust us. Seeking mental respite and peace, one is brought to consider meditation. Unfortunately, the best known forms of meditation evoke resistance precisely because they attempt to tame the wild mind. Slowing the mind appears impossible and is even physically repugnant. Who wants to sit quietly in the face of the urge to jump out of their skin?
Meditations of the Spirit
New meditation practice may be more easily undertaken with meditations of the Spirit. Spirit here refers to the Life Force or Divinity that resides within every person as breath. Breath is both sacred and mundane. Mundane because we need pay no attention to its presence. Breathing is involuntarily within us every moment we are alive. Yet, breathing is also connected to the presence of the Divine Within. When breath departs so does our spirit. The human being we have known ourselves to be ceases to exist.
Such Meditations of the Spirit include Transformational Breathing and Kundalini and Yogic breathing exercises. Each of these processes focuses on the breath. Breathe in, breathe out. Pay attention to your breath. Some have the practitioner breathe in a circular pattern. Others prescribe counting on the inhalation, holding a breath and counting for the exhalation, etc. The monkey mind is diverted by putting the mind to use until the process takes over and puts the mind to rest. Thus, a healing state ensues. Breath is so powerful it can unseat trauma from the body cells and seat significant and empowering insights into the body cells.
Meditations of the Mind
Meditations of the Mind call for the mind to focus in a specific way. The simplest are the mantra meditations. In mantra meditations the monkey mind is put to work repeating a simple word or phrase again and again. When the practitioner realizes his attention has wandered, he simply returns to the mantra.
My favorite Mind Meditations are two. The first is an ‘open listening’ meditation. In this meditation, the practitioner sits, waits, and listens intently for the voice of the universe. He doesn’t know what he will hear. He waits patiently with open ears like a soldier waiting for orders, or a researcher waiting for a pattern to emerge from chaos. This is an exquisite form of meditation that can be put to specific purpose. For example, open meditations can be used to ‘sit with’ a plant or even a passage of spiritual text, in order for the subject to reveal itself. A plant may reveal its medicinal purposes, or a text may reveal its hidden meaning.
The second of these meditations I find so useful is the Dzogchen meditation. In this meditation the practitioner takes his attention into the gaps between his thoughts, dropping down through his thinking to the well spring where thoughts are formed. This extraordinary meditation induces powerful feelings of joy.
Meditations of the Body
Finally, there are what I call Body Meditations. These meditations are attentive to the body. The practitioner drops her awareness down into the interior of the body, noticing its physical state: what hurts, is tense, what gurgles, etc. And, having thus centered her attention in the body itself, then widens awareness to include emotions that may be present as well. Then, simply continues to notice the shifting sensations and feelings for several minutes. A variation on this meditation can be especially helpful in times of unease or mild anxiety.
Other Body Meditations utilize movement. These practices include walking meditations in which the practitioner pays such close attention to the lift, motion, and placement of each foot, that eventually each microscopic shift of bone and muscle is conscious. This type of movement is highly disciplined and isn’t appropriate for everyone. Not all movement meditations, however, require this level of control. Other spontaneous movement meditations are equally powerful. In these, the practitioner takes his attention inside the body. Then, mindfully aware, allows the body to select its movement in a profound unwinding and healing process.
Meditation practice is a personal exploration. As noted above, different forms are best suited for different individuals at different times. In my practice, I teach all the forms of meditation noted here – and more. My own practices evolve and shift depending on my needs. If you are looking to begin a meditation practice that is a fit for you and your needs, I would be happy to work with you.
Sandra Egli, Th.D.
If you’re ready to let go of the negative feelings holing you back in life, Dr, Egli is here to support you through the process. learn more about how the Center of Intention can support you through the healing process. Call (480) 582-3374 to learn more or email Dr. Egli today.