Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | August 29, 2011

Types of Meditation

I was sitting with two friends the other day discussing different types of meditation. One friend is practicing a form of Buddhist meditaiton, the other is a Yoga teacher practicing yoga meditation.

My practice in meditation began more than 25 years ago as a Catholic practicing centering prayer. In in, one quiets onself, focuses the mind on an object, phrase, or subject, obviously a catholic one, and centers the spirit. Physically centering, imagining the self in the center of the body, helps the mind focus.

In my taoism studies, my teacher taught us dissolving meditation, in which we scan the body from top to bottom, looking for blocks or uncomfortable feelings, and slowly dissolving them from ice, to water to steam. Recognizing the mind body spirit emotional connection, it is not necessary to know what the block is, just to work at dissolving it. We find that as a physical discomfort is dissolved, an emotional one goes too.

There are other meditational practices in taoism as well. Visualizing healing light coming in and filling the body(this is probably common in yoga practice as well), focusing on the dan tien, energy center, and cultivating and circulating the chi is foremost. There is also use of visualization, or what I like to call daydreaming with a purpose. Your own guided visualizations are very fruitful in gaining self understanding. My favorite is creating, visiting, and talking to your inner sifu(teacher). At a yoga class with the above teacher, we visited in a visualization our inner temple. One fascinating part of the guided meditation is that we were told we could not enter the temple unless we took off our burdens and left them at the gate. We were not to worry, we could put them back on when we left, but they were not allowed inside! I actually resisted, but complied, and was surprised to take notice of what things/people I was unburdening myself of!(I don’t like thinking of certain friends and family as a burden, but more as the responsibility we feel out of love, for our friends and family).

But perhaps the most important type of meditation, the type I am currently ressurrecting and working on, is the recognition that we are part of a larger source, and that through tai chi practice, qi gong, and seated meditation, we can tap into and develop our awareness of this larger picture. It is tapping into the tao, tapping into the collective unconscious, tapping into the wellspring, tapping into the universal mind of God, tapping into the Holy Spirit.

All things, all people, are a manifestation of the tao, and as such we are connected to everything and everything is connected to us. Cultivating this is important work. Is it possible to communicate with others through the mind? Is it possible to send out and receive energy thoughts of love, peace and compassion? Is it possible to get creative thoughts from the tao? Is there a wellspring to be tapped?

In silence, we listen, eyes closed, we listen. Listening in silence is hard work. It may seem for long long periods to be unfruitful. But ocassionally, we do get some confirmation that there is something to listen to. I have not had a grandiose satori or revelation or enlightenment. I have not heard the voice of God. But I have experienced very mini enlightenments, little confirmations that I am on the right road, spontaneous creative moments that seem to come from no where.

Meditation begins as a “get.” We need to cultivate chi, we need to cultivate love. Once we are full, the we can meditate to “give.” We can send out powerful thoughts and vibrations of love, peace and compassion, of balance and harmony that can affect the world. There is no doubt in my mind that the many monks and nuns throughout the world, of different religions, throughout history, have collectively contributed amazing positive energy that has kept us from devolving into complete chaos.

One last idea. We have a tendency, as humans, to focus and concentrate, and actually “meditate” on so many negative influences–anxiety, fear, desire, anger. The more time you allow your mind to focus on these things, the more it builds, and the more of it you are sending out into the world. So be aware of your thoughts throughout the day and work to cleanse them and let them go.

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