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Posted Under Meditation

10 Experiential Pathways into Meditation


As busy beings with daily chores aplenty, we're quick to rank "intangible" activities like meditation low on our priority list. After all, doesn't meditation require us to stop all activity and sit in silence? More than that, it's difficult, right?

Nope! Meditation is, in fact, a very natural activity, where we engage our inner energy and open our hearts. We start to see the self clearly, and the magnificence inherent in simply. Being. Me.

The beauty of meditation is, of course, that it's not limited to any singular approach; a myriad of paths are out there inviting us to reconnect with our sacred inner space. And once there, seated comfortably at the center of our being, we begin to see, and feel, and grow. In this activated state, insights into our inner world, and the world around us, are quick to follow. We carry this alertness into our day, too, bringing precision and fullness to whatever we do.

Let's look at ten uncomplicated pathways into depth, power, and a world of peace.

1. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
Being relaxed is surprisingly underrated as a basic feeling for which we should all strive. Just think about the immediate, tangible benefits relaxation delivers: our bodies feel good and our minds become lucid. We have more confidence in ourselves and our abilities, our personality flows, and our relationships—both with ourselves and others—improve.

PMR, where we gradually move through all the muscle groups in our body, consciously releasing tension, is wonderfully effective in inducing that feel-good, relaxed feeling across the length of our body. And when our body is relaxed, our mind follows suit; before we know it, we're thinking clearly, feeling calm, and ready to take on the world!

I breathe into my toes, and as I breathe out, I release all tension, saying to myself: "My toes are soft and relaxed, warm and full." I feel that softness and warmth in my toes, and notice a buzz of comfort surfacing there. I now gradually move up my body, inch by inch, through my feet, calves, knees, thighs, hips, stomach, hands, arms, shoulders, neck, mouth, cheeks, eyes, forehead and scalp. I’m simply breathing into each area, then releasing tension alongside my breath. I am coaxing my body into feeling relaxed and full. Once done, I observe the totality of my body, and notice how good it feels, how calm and settled it has become.

Scanning the inner space of my mind now, I appreciate the clean atmosphere that has surfaced there, too, observing the serenity and clarity, and feeling the light.

2. Breathing
Breath is life, as they say! Let's experiment with this idea, and observe how conscious breathing can make us feel truly alive.

I become aware of my breath, drawing it gently in through my nose, all the way down my body and into my feet. Exhaling very slowly, through my mouth now, I listen to the swoosh of air exiting my lips. Inhaling again, I appreciate the cool current of oxygen flowing in, down my core, through my legs, into my toes. Exhaling, I feel my body sinking comfortably into stillness, into peace. Inhaling, I become aware of the life-force inherent in this oxygenated air, touching and awakening all parts of my body as it streams in.

Repeating this simple activity—breathing deeply in, slowly out, energy in, tension out—I feel how my vibration rises with each breath. My senses sharpen, my mind lights up. I am focused, in the present, existing in a state of full life.

3. Visualizing
We are creative beings, building our lives every moment of every day. By flexing our creative potential and bringing the power of our imagination into play, we can see, then feel, and live our dreams. Visualization, where we paint beauty on the palette of our mind, then step into that painting, is one such method to create, then access the wonderworld of our dreams.

Go on, paint, then step into the masterpiece that's uniquely yours. Make it as magical and perfect as you wish; it is your creation, after all.

I visualize any natural scene, a landscape soaked with peace. Perhaps I see a still lake surrounded by mountains, or a vast, green meadow, or a forest alive with nature's vibration. Whatever vista appears before me, I notice how the colors, saturated with golden sunshine, sparkle with impossible depth.

Now, stepping into my creation, I stand very quietly in its midst, simply taking it all in. I listen to the sounds, the calm hush, the calls of nature. I smell the freshness, the heady fragrance of the damp grass, or sweet-smelling flowers. Now, as I begin to walk, I feel the spongy grass or rich soil massaging my feet. A cool breeze caresses my skin, and I breathe it in, filling my body with fresh, countryside air.

This is my paradise, existing at the center of my mind. I feel a sense of comfort in knowing it's always here for me to step into, whenever I wish.

4. Letting Go
Consciously stop, and check yourself, asking: "Where am I holding tension?" In your shoulders, lips, or eyes? Focus on that area, breathe into it, and as you exhale, let go. Release the tightness, and watch it evaporate like mist. Now, notice the change, feel how clean and light the area has become. Ah, that feels better!

Our minds, too, can become blocked with tension. Let's lift those mental blockages, now.

Breathing oxygen into the room of my mind, I aerate my inner world. Exhaling, I let go, discharging all the clutter, all the noise, all the waste. Inhaling again, I observe how my mind is opening up, expanding on all sides as it stretches out far into the distance. Inhaling, I invite freshness and light, and with the light, clarity. Exhaling, I cast off all the unwanted, all the excess, and give myself permission to simply be. How good it feels to relax and release, to free myself into being just me.

5. Opening Up My Heart
Our heart is that pure, spiritual space inside us, a soft expanse we tend to neglect in the busy-ness of our lives. By taking a moment to look within, and acknowledge our heart's presence, we ignite the beauty, the energy, the wisdom of this immaculate space. As our heart comes to life, we're given an instant reminder of spirituality, and that infinite world we all carry within.

I turn my vision inward, finding that clean, warm, wholesome space that is my heart. Just by observing this sacred inner space, by acknowledging it, I am giving my heart permission to emerge, to shine and flow. And flow it does! I feel a current of energy rising from my heart, overflowing into my body and caressing me with its glow. As I release this energy across the broad landscape of my inner world, I watch as its radiance finds every nook, every corner of my being, bringing the sparkle of spirit to life. Lit up from within, I surrender to the blaze, to the bliss, to the might rolling out from the space of my heart.

6. Surrendering to Light
Light is a symbol of positivity, of clarity, of strength. And as luck would have it, light is precisely what we carry within! That light, of course, is the soul, pure and powerful, and always shining. Look within right now, and you'll see it, a star both full and bright. Now feel it, as you embrace your very own light.

I turn my gaze inward, to the cool space within, and look for the light. Ah, there it is, shining like a soft, silent star at the center of my being. I edge in closer, toward its warmth, its gentle glow. One more step inward now, and into the very essence of my light I go. Light permeates my vision as I find myself at the source. This shimmer, so uniquely mine, is pure and spiritual, full and powerful.

I offer my light to my body now, saturating my core, my limbs with healing energy. I observe my muscles absorbing its nourishing glow, feel my skin start to tingle. I now release the force of my light into my mind, simply flooding my mental space with radiance, and immediately witness my mood brightening and lifting.

Offering this shimmer outward now, I shower the world with purity and light.

7. Reflecting on Virtues
Our heart is like a treasure chest, replete with all the virtues: peace, love happiness, purity, and strength all exist like jewels within. And though we know each one of these jewels intimately, having experienced them at different times in our lives, we're inclined to wait for outside events to trigger their release.

Let's stop waiting for the stars to align, instead taking the initiative, via meditation, to activate inner beauty and wonderful feelings. Let's emerge the jewels, now.

Glancing inward, into my depths, I look for peace. And I see it, shining calmly at the center of my being. I feel it, too, that serene vibration touching and uplifting every part of my being.

Now, stepping inward, into my own quiet space so saturated with peace, I surrender to the gentle atmosphere, the beauty, the warmth. I now consciously open my inner world up, and emit this peace outward, allowing it to surface across the plains of my skin.

Resting here, within, I observe my glow, appreciating the halo of calm that has spread out warmly around me.

8. Talking Lovingly with Myself
When the subject of relationships emerges, the focus falls largely on our relationships with others. We neglect the most important one: the relationship we have with ourselves. Ask yourself: "What is my relationship like with myself? Am I offering myself warmth and love, right now?"

Let's bring our focus squarely back within, to our hearts, our minds, our souls. Let's nurture this beautiful being that is me, via an encouraging, loving conversation with ourselves, and coax ourselves back to health and wholeness.

I choose to spend time with myself, right now. Looking gently inward, to that quiet, beautiful inner space at the center of my being, I recognize the importance of my relationship with myself. I am deserving of my attention, my energy, my love. And so, very gently, I say to myself: "I'd like to heal myself, right now, to invite wholeness and peace to my inner world. To do so, I simply need to send love inwards. And I do so now, sending a current of warmth toward my center. I fill myself light."

As my inner world begins to sparkle, I see and feel my beauty. Loving myself becomes both natural and easy.

9. Healing through Sound
Auditory vibrations, like the hum of a deep, resonant Om, can ease and energize us. By opening up to vibrations, allowing them to flow first through our body, then into our mind, we can invite an experience of holistic healing.

Besides om, we can use a host of other sounds to induce this therapeutic massage. Singing bowls are great, of course, as is music, the swish of the wind, the gurgling of a stream, or the murmur of people's voices. Each one carries a unique vibration that we can tune in to and absorb, then observe its effect as it rolls through your body and mind, massaging and cleansing all in its wake.

I inhale deeply, then slowly and consciously breathe out an Om. Ommmmm. I feel the vibrations of this sacred syllable thrumming through my bones, into my muscles, across the surface of my skin. I inhale again, then exhaling, hum another long, rumbling Om. It pulses through me, massaging my muscles with its tremors, energizing every part of my body it passes through. Inhaling, then releasing another deep Om, I now direct its rich vibration toward the room of my mind. Waves of peace and strength roll through my mental landscape, healing and uplifting me from within.

10. Sending My Energy Upward
Conversing with God, in whatever form we consider this higher energy to exist, is a powerful way to enter meditative states. By doing so, our attention goes to a dimension of purity and power, and we experience that spiritual atmosphere, first-hand. This dialogue may be in the form of prayer, via an actual expression of words, or simply by us directing of our focus upward, toward the sacred world of spirit.

Let's send our energy out to that higher dimension, then pause and listen for the response. As we wait, with hearts open in anticipation, a critical shift in our energy occurs: we move from a condition of incessant production, to a more receptive, absorptive state. Our senses sharpen, and we're brought into the present. We attune ourselves to subtlety, to the flow of spiritual energy, to those divine whispers directed our way. We begin to truly commune with God.

Sitting quietly, I direct my focus toward God. I may wish to say a silent prayer, or perhaps all I do is offer my energy upward, to this highest light. Now, with my attention focused solely on God, I wait patiently, listening for a response. By opening up my heart and mind to the energy of spirit, I have invited communion with God.

I feel a soft energy entering me now, indeed God's warmth, her strength, her love. It flows into me like a stream of golden light, filling me from the tips of my toes. Absorbing all the goodness so inherent in God's light, I feel myself growing, gaining strength, becoming whole. Connected to the divine, my world fills with radiance and might.

If you found the above pathways rewarding, you might consider Modern Meditations, where 101 guided commentaries are presented in an easy-to-follow, experiential way. Organized into twelve fields—including relaxation, abundance, transformation, and healing—each meditation encourages discovery, growth, and adventure through the power of focused thoughts.

Happy meditating, everyone!

About Murray du Plessis

Murray du Plessis has studied and taught meditation for fifteen years, and he assisted the running of meditation centers in England, Burundi, Namibia, and South Africa. He has an MA in English education and is currently an ...

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