Learning how to Meditate
There are plenty of practices out there that teach a person how to meditate. One of the most powerful practices I tried in the mid-nineties came from The Book of Secrets by Osho. I observed my breathing for two months in a row, which was the minimum he recommended doing it. I had signs all over our Oakland apartment that reminded me to breathe consciously. Osho interpreted the Tantric Sutras that are said to have been transmitted between Shiva and Parvati, two deities from the Hindu pantheon. There are 112 Vigyan Bhairav Tantric Sutras that are created for every archetype, all ages and all times. When one of these techniques is practiced properly it is said to lead to enlightenment, nirvana, or moksha – all different names for the same thing. There is supposed to be one Sutra that fits anyone. Read on and find out how you can learn to meditate.
Different levels of awakening can be induced by meditative practices. The sooner you start the further you go, unless you are very lucky and go all the way immediately in light speed. Anything is possible and nobody should limit themselves, but it took Gautama Buddha six years to meditate under a tree before he was enlightened – the same time it takes a student to become a doctor. Although he already was a prince and did not seek further material gain. The story also has it that he came through an orgasmic birth. It might take each person longer or shorter to learn how to meditate before it is possible to reach meditative levels at all times, 24/07, which is the goal! How long it will take you to learn how to meditate depends on your readiness to investigate the true nature of the authentic self.
Many Buddhist cultures teach Vipassana Meditation and its variations that are often preparatory practices. There are Vipassana centers in many countries and anyone can register to learn how to meditate for FREE. Mr. Goenka made this essential practice available for non-Buddhists. Therefore, millions of people are able to learn how to meditate around the world. The simple technique focuses on the breath. One feels the breathing on the nose or watches the belly rise and fall, with closed eyes while sitting in silence.
Advanced pranayama practices in Yoga include mudras and breathing, in through one nostril and out the other, while focusing on the “third eye” or other parts of the body. This is said to activate the autonomous nervous system and create balance in the body and the mind. Breathing seems to be the central element in many meditations. Some practices use visualization, which means to imagine something very specific in the mind’s eye. This can be similar to dreaming, but one should not fall asleep while meditating. Learning how to meditate starts with sense-withdrawal while concentrating on certain energy points and/or breathing movements. In the eight limbs of yoga – not to be mistaken for the noble eightfold path– meditation is said to ultimately lead a person practicing it into liberation – the freedom from illusion. But the continuous process of learning how to meditate takes time and repeated effort before it is possible to advance as a meditator. My meditation experience – and I have had very little compared to some who meditate six to twelve ours every day for years – has taught me that every little bit of meditation I manage to do can go a long way! After thirty to forty minutes of meditating daily, things can change drastically, even within a month. The mind gets much calmer and more clear. The body experiences profound relaxation and healing. Cravings seem to mysteriously disappear. At least for me they did. That’s why I’m writing about it so that you can know that it is possible to become a more happy and healthy individual, without the help of pharmaceutical or other drugs.
Some Buddhist traditions say that only monks can really teach a layman and woman how to meditate. That has also been the case for me. When I was taught by monks how to meditate, the level of meditative practice and depths increased exponentially. Many spiritual traditions and practices can prepare a person to dissolve into cosmic union. It does not mean when practicing any spiritual method that the person practicing it is not realizing the true nature of the self, as it is stated in some Vedic texts that are only for advanced pupils on the spiritual path. Surely, it’s easy from an ego-based perspective to misinterpret the term advanced – a piece of cake to justify being lazy. We have become masters in finding convincing reasons to hide our true identity. Being advanced spiritually can easily be misunderstood without the graceful guidance of a truly enlightened master, which is hard to come by. Any type of spiritual practice is said to prevent the advanced person from realizing since they put a limit on their own nature by thinking that they have to practice something in order to realize what is ever-present in any given moment. Letting go is crucial in the end, but that end does not have to be our physical death, which none of us can escape. When words stop and it is utter peace and joy in silence, I remember who I am.No matter what technique you choose, adding any type of meditation to your regimen of spiritual practices requires rhythmic daily repetitions so that you can gain momentum. Embedding any healthy program into a daily life style needs an established pattern. After a while, learning how to meditate begins to naturally pull you in. Although, doing absolutely nothing other than sitting still with eyes closed for extended periods of time can be hard! The mind begins to aimlessly wonder and the meditator becomes aware that this is always going on, inside us. Trying to escape the internal processes is what we usually do externally and unconsciously. The imaginary self wants to get out of being seen, because it knows that there is no solidity in reality. That we are not real, but a projection of our imagination! To not realize that and escaped this ultimate truth, we have developed myriads of escaping mechanisms. However, when our minds are still they are also naturally empty – hollow – and that’s not boring at all! There is deep wisdom hidden inside us all and meditation is the crucial key-practice through which we can access this deeper soul-knowledge. The longer we manage to meditate the deeper we can go. In that sense, learning how to meditate is similar to free diving. More advanced levels get us in touch with the cosmic (self). Meditation is accumulative over time and the effects of a gradual meditation practice ripples over life-times. Learning how to meditate certainly creates a more peaceful vibe and attitude in the meditator and their environments. Don’t we need more peace in the world? Who says you can’t do anything to propagate world peace through inner peace that is the slogan of both; Unify and Dhammakaya.
I practice a daily mediation that is very simple. It’s a Buddhist practice I picked up in Thailand that was taught to me by The Great Teaching Monk of the Dhammakaya Temple that is the biggest Buddhist temple in Thailand and the world. Apparently, kids learn this meditation easier than adults. Their imagination is still vivid and this technique requires visualization. The Dhammakaya Meditation is said to be the original meditation Gautama Buddha taught to his disciples. The Dhammakaya people say that it was rediscovered by The Great Master Phramongkolthepmuni. During initiatory life-transforming moments in 1993 in Indonesia, in Lake Toba, I saw my soul-star shining in the middle of my body – in this visionary journey. To visualize a sphere of the sun – the star – is a huge part of the essential visualization in the Dhammakaya Meditation and also the central focal point. So for me, having found a meditation that utilizes what I already saw twenty-six years ago is auspicious! That’s me in the Dhammakaya Temple (in Thailand) in the picture below. It felt just like being on another planet – a very evolved planet!
Practice Dhammakaya Meditation as follows:
You can start meditating by sitting cross-legged, placing your right leg over your left leg and your right hand over your left hand. If you cannot sit in this position, you can sit on a chair or sofa. Have the tip of your right index finger touch the tip of your left thumb. Rest your hands in your lap. Sit upright with a straight body and head. Adjust your position until you find one that allows the blood to circulate freely. Close your eyes as if you are going to sleep. Then take a deep breath two or three times, allowing the breath to reach as far as it will go inside. Then breathe out slowly. When you breathe in, feel as if all the cells in your body are receiving happiness and joy. When you breathe out, you should release all the worry and sorrow at the same time. Take your time to let go of all your thoughts and then return to regular breath. Relax every part of your body from head to toe. Ensure that there is no sign of tension or stress. Evoke a feeling of happiness, cleanliness, purity, and emptiness in your mind. Free yourself from all thought. Feel as though you are sitting alone in a space filled with peace, void of all stress. Feel as if your body is an empty space without organs like a hollow body. You may feel your body grow lighter and gradually disappear into the atmosphere. Then gently rest your focus in the center of your body at a point two finger-widths above the navel level. Do not worry about the exact location of the center of body. Keep your mind in the abdomen area. At the same time, relax your body and mind.
Once you are relaxed in body and mind, gently imagine an object as a focus of attention. Imagine a shining sun of any size. It may be as bright as the sun at noon. Its light may be as soft as the moonlight on a full moon day. Use the subtlest of efforts to visualize it. Do not force yourself. It is okay to not see it clearly. Imagine it as best as you can. Allow your mind to come to rest. Continue imagining the shining sun. If you find that your mind wanders, you can bring your mind back by repeating the mantra “Samma Arahang” along with visualizing the sun. Repeat the mantra slowly and silently, as if the sound of the mantra is coming from the center of the bright sun inside your abdomen. “Samma Arahang” means if you purify your mind, you will be freed from suffering in this life. Or you can repeat the phrase “clear and bright.” Keep repeating and visualizing it until your mind comes to a standstill. Eventually, the sound of the words will die away.
If you have an experience that differs from just seeing the shining sun, do not get excited or emotional. Treat it as though it is normal. Observe the image without emotions. Eventually, your mind will become more refined and seated more firmly at the center of the body. It may move further inside to a place which is clean, pure, and bright. You will access deeper happiness and more profound knowledge, going further into a succession of increasingly purer knowledge. Eventually you will reach the purest form, a universal form, which is inside every human being in this world.
You can visit the Dhammakaya Temple or the international centers to learn how to meditate directly from the monks.
Torsten E. Klimmer aka Omananda is the author of Transcendental Journeys – A Visionary Quest for Freedom, a book published in 2018.