Every time I start meditating again, I wonder why I ever stopped. Over the years, meditation has proved to be the best strategy I’ve ever found for reducing stress and anxiety. Not only is it very relaxing, but meditation seems to ramp up my creativity as well. I have had some truly visionary experiences while meditating, and, in that quiet inward-looking state I feel much more in tune with myself, with the world around me, and with the essential nature of things.
There is no right or wrong way to meditate. In fact, I’ve long suspected that meditation is a natural state that we practice unconsciously as children, but tend to forget as we grow older. I used to watch my daughter when she was a toddler, and her usual way of relaxing herself was to sit down quietly with her blanket, stick two fingers into her mouth, and suck. She would continue in that dreamy state for 10 or 20 minutes before coming out of it, energized.
But all too often we have to rediscover and teach ourselves the wisdom that we knew as children. I have tried various methods of meditation — all are efficacious. Here’s a simple meditation that always feels wonderful to me. It is both calming and revelatory.
You begin by putting yourself into a relaxed state: sitting still and quiet, breathing slowly from the belly, exhaling for a little longer than you inhale. Let your thoughts drift, and don’t follow any particular line of thought. After a few minutes, when you feel relaxed, you are ready for the four segments of the meditation:
1. Aspire toward the Light.
Inhale slowly, reaching up mentally (or physically stretching up your arms) over your head, toward the source of all light.
2. Receive the Light.
Exhale gently, while lowering your arms and cupping your hands in a receptive state. Feel the light pouring into you.
3. Incorporate the Light.
Inhale with your arms crossed gently over your chest, imagining the light filling your chest and moving up into your head, down throughout your torso and legs, and out through your arms to the very tips of your fingers.
4. Radiate the Light.
Exhale as you spread your arms, palms outwards, envisioning the light flowing through you and out to touch and nurture everyone and everything in the world.
When you have completed the meditative chant, begin again and continue for your usual time period (15-20 minutes is what I usually do), breathing slowly and evenly as you Aspire, Receive, Incorporate, and Radiate the Light.
Depending on your own personal spirituality, you can imbue these meditative actions with whatever imagery best suits you. Here’s what works for me:
1. Aspire toward the Light — Mentally I reach upwards toward the Light/Love that flows through everything. That light is always there, but most of the time I am not consciously aware of it. To Aspire toward the Light (or toward God) is to open myself up and know the Light — see it, feel it, experience it. To aspire is to yearn or desire, and my state of mind is prayerful. Although the Light is always present, I have to direct my attention to it.
2. Receive the Light. This is often quite an ecstatic feeling. Again, it can be argued that we are always receiving the light, but it often feels to me as if I am separated from it, and must re-attune myself to it before I can truly appreciate the splendor and power of divine Light/Love moving through me. I am not, in my ordinary everyday life, a particularly spiritual person, nor do I currently practice any form of organized religion, although I am reasonably knowledgeable about several of the world’s great religions, and have been observant in the past. Meditation puts me back in touch with my spirituality, and makes me aware of certain aspects of reality that do not figure into my day-to-day life.
3. Incorporate the Light. Here’s the rub, I believe. The Light is, by its very nature, spiritual. To incorporate the Light is, on one level, to channel its energy through one’s physical body. But on another level, to incorporate the Light is to bring oneself in tune with the spiritual on a real, diurnal basis, which, as I have already noted, I don’t typically do.
During this phase of the meditation, I envision clear, bright, healing light moving through all the pathways, structures, and cells of my body. I breathe in the Light, and breathe out everything negative, everything heavy, everything dark, cold and painful. (Well, I try to, at least!). I imagine what it would be like to truly and fully have the Light incorporated within me, so that I am aware of it every moment of every day. I wonder how many people actually achieve this. Fortunately, I can experience it briefly during my meditation.
4. Radiate the Light. In this phase I feel the light moving through me and out — coursing down into the earth, radiating out from me at all angles. Briefly, I shine. The purpose here is to allow the Light to use me as a conduit through which to touch other people, other animals, other creatures of all types, and indeed to all of creation. When I smile at someone, or touch him or her in comfort or in joy, I am radiating the Light. If I were capable of incorporating the Light fully, I would be able to radiate it all the time, instead of only in small spurts of love, kindness, and generosity.
I love this particular mediation because it feels to me as if it touches the heart of things and reflects a truth common to all (or most) religious traditions: The love/light of the divine is always with us, but in our daily lives and thoughts, we separate ourselves from this love and lose our awareness of it. When we once again allow the love/light to work in us and through us, we find peace in our selves and are able to share this peace and this love with others.
This article was written by Linda