Whatever your spiritual beliefs, there is no better way to honor God or yourself than
by developing the vast potential of your own mind and soul. This is not a strange and
mystic practice, but a simple and innate ability we are born with.
The ultimate aim of this page is to teach you to utilize your mind in a more effective
and efficient manner through the use of various meditation techniques. I do not preach the
effectiveness of one form of meditation over another. So my techniques are taken from many
styles and traditions. As for myself, I have learned my meditation skills through the
study of Tae Kwon Do, and through personal research and study in the area. I cannot
claim to have the expertise in this area that, say, a zen master would have. But maybe I
can teach you some basic skills and get you moving in the right direction. In the end, you
are the only person who can teach you these skills anyway.. Good luck and practice often.
In order to more easily enter and control a meditative
state, it is necesary to first train your mind and senses to prepare them for the
experience. Many people are able to easily jump right into basic meditation practices
(especially children). But many people have serious problems with concentration and
visualization. The following exercises should help to develop these skills. They may seem
a far cry from sitting in deep meditation and solving all of our problems, but you do have to start from the
beginning and progress from there.
Observation- Many of us skate through life never really noticing
anything we don't have to. The richness of sensory input all around us goes completely
unnoticed until it offends or pleases us into noticing. Try walking down the street
without the dog or kids or any other distractions. As you walk, notice things around you.
Purposefully seek out mundane things to look at. Notice colors, textures, and try to
absorb as much detail as you can. Do not limit this exercise to sight alone. Notice the
ambient noise around you. Try and distiguish what caused each seperate sound. Do the same
with smell, touch, even taste (next time you eat, try to really taste what you're eating,
even if it's not a gourmet meal.). Also, focus your attention inward. Notice how things
feel such as the sensation of warm and cool in various parts of your body. Spend as much
time as possible simply observing the details around you and interpreting them. You'll
find that this alone can bring on a sense of calm and appreciation that you've never
Active Visualization- If you are an adult, chances are you're
not nearly as good at this as you used to be. When we are children, we "pretend"
constantly. For this reason kids are inherently skilled at imagining and visualizing. For
adults, we've got to start basic. Try sitting comfortably, away from distractions, and
closing your eyes. Now visualize a simple two-dimensional shape. Try a square or circle.
Try to picture it as vividly as possible in your mind. (if you're having trouble, stare at
a picture of one for several minutes first.) Once you can do this consistently and hold
the image for as long as you want, try manipulating the shape in your mind's eye. Turn the
square into a circle and back. Now turn it around. Change it size, and so on. Now find a
small, ordinary object (brush, ball, vase, whatever.). Spend several minutes observing the
object. Look at it from various different angles. Note it's color and any patterns on it.
Now close your eyes and visualize the object. At first you may get just a glimmer, but
practice and keep concentrating. Soon you should be able to see the object in your mind's
eye, turn it around, change it's size, etc.
Passive Visualizaion- Now try using your visualization and attention skills to
see something in your mind's eye. Try to eliminate any preconceived notions of what you'll
visualize. It needn't be anything at all, as long as there's a picture in your head.
Approach the experience with a sense of curiosity. It may take some practice. But
eventually, you'll be able to allow your subconcious to place an image into your concious
mind without any prior idea of what it will be. A similar exercise is to stare at clouds,
cracks in a wall, or similarly abstract designs and look for familiar images in them.
Awareness and Control- Lay down in bed or on the floor with no distractions.
Close your eyes and notice how you feel. Conciously scan through your body, searching for
various sensations. Sense how long your arms and legs are. Notice hot and cold sensations
in your body. Also look for areas of muscular tension or relaxation. Now try to control
them. Experiment with warming you hands or feet simply by focusing on the effect. Seek out
areas of tension and relax the muscles in that area. Imagine your body expanding or
shrinking. Focus on the sensations that this causes. It can be highly entertaining, but
don't get distracted. (This exercise has a tendency to cause a natural sense of euphoria.
Don't be alarmed. It's like drugs, but it's actually very good for you.)
Balance- Stand in a natural, comfortable postion (but don't slouch.). Close you
eyes and begin to slowly rock back and forth very slightly. Search for your body's center
of gravity. Look the point at which your body doesn't naturally fall forward or back. Now
repeat this process from side to side. Make your movements more and more subtle until you
are perfectly in balance. Now notice exactly how this feels. Note the feeling well and try
to acheive it at various points throughout your day (sitting at a desk, walking, waiting
in line, etc.).
There are many different types of meditation. I
could never possibly begin to explain them all here. However, there are a few types that I
have found fairly easy to use and quite useful.
Breathing Meditation- I often use this to calm down and focus on what I'm doing.
If you find yourself distracted, on-edge, or just generally uncomfortable, it is often
very helpful to spend a few moments refocusing your mind. The rest of you will then
follow, quickly. Sit or lay in a comfortable position. Just make sure that your breathing
is not at all restricted. Close your eyes and breath deeply. Do not force it, but let your
body find a natural, complete breathing pattern. Focus on the air coming in and going out.
As you inhale, picture and try to feel the air rising up into your head, then going down
all the way to the pit of your stomach. As you exhale, simply release the air and let it
flow out of you naturally. Keep doing this as you relax your body. Some people find it
easier to concentrate if they count breaths. If this helps, do it. Soon you should find
yourself totally relaxed and you should be easily focusing on nothing but your own
breathing. From this point you can easily focus yourself on your task, relax any
anxieties, or simply put yourself to sleep. (I myself am an insomniac. I can use this
technnnique to put myself to sleep REALLY fast.)
Mind/Body Meditation 1. - If you suffer from chronic pain, soreness, fatigue, or
stress, this can be an incredibly useful technique. Lay comfortably in bed or on the
floor. Close your eyes and scan through your body. Notice tension and relax it. Begin to
notice and concentrate on your heartbeat. Pay close attention to it and experiment with
controlling the speed of your pulse. Now experiment some more with warming your hands,
your forehead, then your whole body. Over time you will gain control over many of your
body's "automatic" functions. The reaction of pain falls within this category.
Once you feel fairly confident with altering you heart-rate, respiration, and warmth of
extremities, go on to section three and experiment with controlling pain and soreness. Remember
though, that pain is your bodies way of saying "HEY! There's somethin' wrong
here!" If you are experiencing an inexplicable or recurring pain or soreness, go see
Mind/Body Meditation 2. - This exercise is aimed at martial artists. Relax and
find your balance as in part 1. Then open your eyes and begin to very slowly perform one
of your forms (kata). Make each movement slow and deliberate, focusing on body
positioning. It should feel and look very much like Tai Chi. As you practice, visualize an
energy rising through your legs, into your hips and outward into each attack and defense.
Feel this energy flowing naturally through you. Do not try to control this energy, as it
is only following a natural course. Concentrate instead on developing the sensation of it.
(this is a very frustrating part of your practice.)
In this section, I'll be showing some of the ways in
which you can put your newly learned skills in meditation to work. I've found that much of
the use for meditation is in improving your self-image. Almost all of us put concious and
sub-concious limits on our own abilities and skills. When we meditate, we can easily
picture ourselves doing things perfectly. In doing this, we reprogram the subconcious
mind, allowing us to rapidly improve our performance in almost anything. As I come from a
martial arts background, this is what most of my experience is in.
Healing- Remember, no amount of meditation can take the place of a doctor. If
you suspect that something is really wrong with your body, don't try to fix it
yourself. Go see a doctor.
This is perhaps the greatest ability of any meditation entusiast. My experience is with
healing myself. I can often cure headaches, muscle soreness, pain from minor burns or
other trauma, and I've been able to reduce a fever pretty effectively. But many people
claim to be able to heal others with the same skills and who am I to disagree? First I'll
deal with headache pain as an example. Close your eyes and relax. Using one of the methods
from part 2 (or any way you like), place yourself into a meditative state. Focus your
attention on the area in your head that hurts. Observe the pain as though you were not
attached to it in any way. Is it throbbing? sharp pain? hot? and so on. Now draw you
attention away from the pain and focus on the rest of your body. Imagine that you begin to
radiate a warm, natural energy. Feel this energy flowing throughout your body. Notice
again the area that hurts. Is there too much energy locked up in this area, or is it not
getting enough? Is it a different color? You should notice some differences that strike
you as being problems. Imagine that you can move and alter this energy with your mind. Use
this ability to correct the problems you see. Now picture the energy flowing through your
body perfectly, with no blockages or problems. As you bring yourself slowly back out of
meditation, affirm that you have done good by telling yourself that your headache is gone
a few times. This should correct the problem. This meditation works very well on all kinds
of pain. For muscle soreness and trauma, increase the flow of energy to the afflicted
area. Also imagine the area getting warmer. (cuts heal really quickly and scar very little
when you use this technique on them frequently. For fever, I imagine heat radiating off of
my body and out with my breath, cooling my whole body. Then I imagine things like,
swimming in cool water, and a light breeze. While I can't usually bring a bad fever all
the way down, I can usually bring it down to an acceptable level. Remember though, that a
fever is your body's way of dealing with infection. So if it's not dangerous (up in the
hundreds), my advice is not to reduce it. In healing, remember that the most
important thing is Positive Imagery. The key is to to "think forward" and
believe in what you are doing.
Improving reflex speed- In the martial arts, your ability to quickly process
incoming information and translate it into a correct response is vital. The same ability
is used in just about every action sport there is. In order to inprove this ability, close
your eyes and place yourself into a relaxed, meditative state. Now visualize yourself
participating in the sport of your choice. I'll use martial arts as an example. Picture
yourself facing off with an opponent. As he attacks you react flawlessly, blocking the
strike and immediately countering with one of your own. Picture your opponent moving
practically in slow-motion as you quickly attack and defeat him. Imagine the same with
multiple attackers, an opponent you are particularly worried about, or a weapon situation.
Building confidence- One method for doing this is identical to the method
outlined above. Simply picture yourself doing the selected activity (sports, standing up
for yourself, speaking in front of a crowd. etc.) perfectly, over and over. Another is a
little weird but kind of fun. It's called fantastic imagery (sounds fantastic!
huh?). I'll go through a few examples here, but making up your own is really best. Say
you're having trouble relaxing at the end of the day. Try sitting down comfortably and
closing your eyes. Use the breathing method to place yourself into a light meditative
state. Now imagine you are walking slowly down a flight of stairs. With each step down,
you become more relaxed and at ease. As you near the bottom, the light dims slowly until
you it is barely bright enough to see by. As you reach the bottom, you walk into a light
fog. The mist around you is a cool blue. It swirls around you and into your skin, relaxing
all your muscles. As you breath it in, it swirls up into the top of your head, then down
through your body. When you exhale, it comes out red, carrying with it all your anxieties
and tension. This red fog immediately disappears, allowing you to inhale more of the
relaxing blue mist. Once you are completely relaxed, take a deep breath, and open your
eyes slowly as you exhale. Imagine that you have not left the place in your mind. You
should feel oodles better. (I've had people tell me that this whole thing sounds like a
drug reference. I don't care.) The next one is for a martial artsist who is having doubts
as to his ability to really defend himself (or herself). Imagine you are standing outside
an ancient Shaolin temple. You are dressed in the orange robes of a warrior-priest. As you
enter, through the huge temple doors, you see a large, ornate table. The table has all
sorts of bottles and jars on it, as well as a large goblet (a cup, silly!). You approach
this table and read the labels on the bottles. There are bottles that say courage,
strength, speed, discipline, stamina, etc. (Whoo! don't drink the etc., it's nasty! just
kidding) You select bottles for the attributes you desire and pour them into the goblet.
They are a strange, shimmering liquid of various colors. Once you've got the drink you
want, you pick up the goblet and drink it. As the liquid enters your body, it courses
through you, filling you with vigor and strength. You feel yourself becoming stronger,
faster, etc. As you open the doors to leave the temple, open your eyes (in reality). How
do you feel? Like I said it is best to construct these fantasy scenarios for yourself,
they'll work better. Don't feel silly, just make up a short situation in which you become
improved in some way.
Here I will attempt to scratch the surface of some of the many "physical" or
movement meditations. These exercises are an extremely healthful practice if used
correctly and are of value to people of all ages and conditions. I am purposefully leaving
out most martial arts as each of them qualifies and a definitive list would be impossible.
Tai Chi- This is almost definitely the most well known movement meditation
practice. The practitioner of Tai Chi practices a preset pattern of movements (kata)
intended to gently strengthen the body and focus the mind. This style is technically a
form of gungfu (kung fu) but, unlike many "hard" styles, Tai Chi does not focus
on quick, hard movements or strength. Instead, the Tai Chi stylist strives to perfect the
form and beauty of each movement through total mental focus while building and focusing
the internal energy (chi). When learning Tai Chi, a good instructor is vital. I would
suggest shopping around and finding a teacher who; practices Tai Chi daily, is
knowledgeable in the healing arts (some acupuncturists are Tai Chi teachers), and can
demonstrate the ability to "root" themselves. Rooting is a skill which utilizes
the chi developed in Tai Chi. The instructor should be able to remain stationary while
several large people try to push him back. This skill is among the most basic energy uses
and any good instructor should be able to use it easily. Yoga- Yoga is actually
divided into a number of different types of indian meditative, exercise, and breathing
disciplines. Yoga is concerned, much like Tai Chi, with the health and balance of the
internal energy. According to yoga, there are a number of energy centers or
"chakras" which focus and produce the various types of internal energy. The good
yoga instructor will have an intimate knowledge of the workings of the body on both the
physical and energy levels. There are any number of people with no knowledge in these
areas who claim to teach yoga. Usually they are teaching yogic stretching and and strength
exercises. While these exercises can be very beneficial, I would look for a teacher with a
Meditation can be used in many ways. One of the most common and fulfilling is to seek
the answers to life's great questions. Who am I? Where? do I come from? Where am I going?
These are questions which have plagued mankind for centuries. Little do most of us know,
that the answer to all questions lies within the mind and spirit of every being. The
process is simple. Empty and calm the mind, then simply remain in this state and look for
the answers in your own heart. Often, it can be very rewarding simply to sit back and
meditate on the very nature of the world and life. The following are some of the ideas and
thoughts I have spent a great deal of time meditating on. I hope that you find them