Note on MeditationBy Ronen Divon

In addition to a previous article on this topic, the following are notes and observations from a continued practice.

Ronen Yogi1. Some years ago, I started incorporating the following into my meditation. I start with breathing focus, which means I either just observe my breathing more closely, or use a breathing exercise such as Kapala Bhati or 1-2 breath (and the likes,) spending a few moments with my inhalations and exhalations. Not only does this serve as a concentration technique, but it also calms and extends my breaths. In turn, I relax.

When I relax, the next thing I can more easily do is smile. Be it a small smile or a large one, smiling has an effect of removing tension from the face as well as the rest of the body; physical tension as well as emotional stress.

When this takes place, I reach out with my mind to probe my heart; the emotional and mental, as well as the physical pump in my chest. I imagine it opening to the universe. When that is obtained, I look further inside and practice forgiveness; I forgive others and, more importantly, forgive myself.

Next, I sense a beam of light, multiple rays, expanding out of me; onto my immediate and distance surrounding. I practice spreading the light.

The above process I wrote down as a simple mantra:

Keep my heart open
Spread the light

2. Some intellectuals divide the different meditation techniques by methods such as counting, breathing, concentration, etc. I found that there is one definition that encompasses most, if not all of these methods. The definition is one, though the techniques are many. Here it is: out of many one, out of one, nothing(ness).

I find that many meditation practitioners, seasoned but more so new to the practice, are misled to believe that if they will sit down to meditate, as if by magic, their mind will empty. When this emptying doesn’t happen, the disappointed aspirant gives up, declaring that “meditation is not for me,” or that “I am just not good at it,” or “this is B.S.”… Out of these statements, I would tend to most agree with the latter. Having such expectation is B.S. So what is one to do?

The issue is that there is a constant buzz in our mind. Thoughts come and go, arrive and depart, like in a busy train station. The way to address it is by forging the brain activity into a white noise, focusing only on one item. If you prefer to visualize this approach rather than to use analogy of sound, imagine aiming a camera at a busy street and locking the focus on a single object, so all else becomes background blur. That is much easier to do vs. attempting to “empty your mind.” I will mention a handful of techniques for turning noise into white-noise in a moment.

For now, let’s imagine we can indeed turn the noise so it dissolves into the background and we have a single point of focus. The next step would be to drop that singular object as well. What may follow next is… Well, nothing. If you are not experienced with this practice, what ensues the moment of nothing is a flood of thought rushing in to fill the vacuum created. That is absolutely okay; it is why we call meditation a practice. We keep at it, experimenting time and again. What you are likely to find is that as you repeat the process over and over, the space of nothingness that is created when the single point of focus is dropped, that space starts to increase. Maybe half a second at first, to a second or two. Keep at it and suddenly it knows no boundaries. That is, of course, if your goal is to empty the mind, which is a different discussion altogether... :-)

3. How to move from many to one? Multiple techniques exist and, for the most part, they all use concentration.

  • Focus on your breath and whenever your thoughts drift off, just… go back to the breath.
  • Count. Count in repetitions of 7 or 10 or whatever number you feel is magical for you. Count seconds, count your breaths, count your heartbeats, count whatever you wish. Or count to infinity. Rumor has it that if you can focus enough to count to the thousands, you will reach that destination of nothingness. But as with what I said earlier – when your thoughts pull you away, drop the strand of thought and refocus on counting, even if you need to start the count all over again.
  • You can also focus on an object e.g. a statue of the Buddha (that is right – you can open your eyes when meditating, but keep the gaze focused).
  • You can focus your eyes on the flame of a candle. It is another favorite technique of mine (called Tratak.)
  • You can concentrate on a simple sound, whether the banging of a stick against a wooden fish as in a Zen-Buddhist technique, or the sound of a Tibetan singing bowl, or the sound of Om (made by a recording or that you chant yourself).
  • You can focus on the soles of your feet caressing the ground as you ever so slowly engage yourself in walking meditation.

Almost anything can be made into a point of focus. But remember, once you master a focal point, you let it go i.e. from many one, from one, nothing.

4. When I practice meditation and find myself where I wish to be (nothingness or elsewhere,) next, I look for my center. That concept evaded me for a while. But it is really simpler than it may sound. For me, in most cases, it is the area along the spine. I imagine it as a central axis; a pipe rising. At other times, my center may shift and be more abstract, or more singular e.g. the third eye or the heart.

When I connect with this center, which is a mind-game thing, I imagine the top of it being a flower (lotus or any other flower, real or imagined you fancy), and let the petals open all around me. I allow anything positive to pour into me, absorbed by the petals, and light and goodness to shine out from me onto the universe. Some days it doesn’t resonate that much, other times it feels amazing; true bliss.

5. I do not believe in holding a static, motionless pose, during meditation. Meditation is not separate from life; it is life, and life is not rigid. Life includes moving, shifting, growing, changing. I do not encourage motion when you are just getting started with the process. Take time to sit comfortably and then hold a steady pose. But once you are settled in -- finding your center or whatever else you do to arrive at a moment where some sort of connection is being made between you and, well, your inner self or the universe or God, if that what you choose to believe, I allow head to move slightly (if I feel like it,) and my hands depart from their position upon my knees. The hands start to free-float into mudras. I do not concern myself with what hand-positions they form, what are the mudras names, what significance it holds, etc. It is all inconsequential. I just follow what feels right to me right that moment. Sometimes a hand will find its way to my heart in a giving gesture; sometimes a hand will find its way to the side of my head, or be sent forward with the palm turned in or out. All I do is allow this to happen while, at the same time, remain attuned to how it feels; energetically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. I feel like a conduit to something else and I let it happen; a small yet important wheel in a larger apparatus called life.


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