Meditation is the process/ritual of attuning with Divine Essence, with that universal life energy that streams through everything that is. It is the raising of one's consciousness to a loftier and more profound plateau of discernment. There is a perceptual transposition from the mental/physical to the immaterial, from boundaries to boundlessness, from the finite to the Infinite. Meditation is the means by which our inner Self recognizes its own imperishable ageless totality and perfection.
The television comedy SEINFELD became a hit because of brilliant writing and droll press-agency blurbs like - It's a show about nothing. In a similar vein meditation is so effortless and yet (to many) so onerous because the ulterior purpose is actually to move nowhere and to think of nothing.
Many people first heard about meditation in the 60's and 70's when the Beatles met with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and other celebrities started talking about it but the practice has been in existence for thousands of years. And there are millions today who see meditation as the optimum method leading towards inner tranquility and harmonium. In the silence we remember who we truly are and always have been. We awaken from the sleepwalking morass that characterized our former course of life.
During recent years there has been an onslaught of scientific research promulgating the latest therapeutic discoveries. Eat this and you'll reduce your risk of prostrate cancer. Drink that and help unclog your arteries. Do this and lessen your chances of heart disease. Do that and you'll live forever. Scientific study has now confirmed that certain types of meditation can lower blood pressure, one's stress level and so on. Ergo, if nothing else, meditation has practical value physically speaking (besides augmenting one's intuition and productivity).
Attunement is the ultimate growth/spiritual realization process. We tap into a higher understanding. Ego is forsaken. Our perspective changes - like seeing the world from an airplane window for the first time. We realize that true peace and harmony are not engendered or powered by externals.
Although there is truth in the notion that there is no specific proper way to meditate sincere neophytes would be wise to explore methodologies that resonate with their particular mindset. After all, you don't point your children toward the new piano you have just purchased and say - There it is; now play something. Guidance and practice are essential.
Beginners should develop their own rituals of preparation and purification. A cross section of options are listed below. Experiment and then choose the most efficacious series of meditation rites for you.
Nominate one room as your sanctum sanctorum where you will not be disturbed by anyone else. You can construct your own altar if you wish ( a table with a mirror, candles, or any object that you consider sacred).
Shower or at least wash your hands. You are entering your personal holy place, and not going to a beach volleyball game.
Don't meditate if you've just had a big meal or a number of cups of coffee (and you should not be so hungry that your stomach noises are loud enough to be heard by the neighbours next door).
Clothing should be loose and comfortable. You may want to set aside a robe / shirt / pants that are exclusively used in your sanctum.
Appropriate music can be played during the preparatory stage - but not during the meditation itself.
Good times to meditate are early in the morning or just before retiring for the day. Ninety-five percent of Westerners will probably find the lotus position quite uncomfortable (leg cramps can be distracting to say the least). Leave this way of sitting to yogis who are used to it. Find a firm but cozy chair and sit with your spine and neck straight, your feet apart on the floor, and your hands resting on your knees/thighs palms down (or palms up with thumbs touching middle fingers).
Light a candle or some incense.
Deep breathing exercises relax the body and stimulate the psychic centers. There are various methods (for example, inhale through the nose, hold the breath as long as comfortably possible while concentrating this influx of energy into your feet, and then exhale. With the next breath focus on your calves, then your knees, and gradually work your way up the body to your head).
Mantras are words/phrases that are mentally iterated by some meditators to help still the mind. Others prefer to chant out loud or utilize ancient vowels to fire the emotional/psychic self. The correct pronunciation of certain mystical sounds (OM, AUM, RA, MA) has a noticeable vibratory effect on various bodily glands. Our energy centers (chakras) receive and distribute the universal life force (Chi/Prana).
Concentration is NOT meditation - but it can be an important preliminary stage. At any time of the day the mind is usually flooded with thoughts, distractions, worriments, and one way to jettison this unwanted association of ideas is to focus on one particular object for a few minutes (a candle flame). If your mind starts to wander (and initially it will) just bring yourself back to the flame. Don't get irritated if someone in the next room drops something, or the phone rings or there is a commotion in the street outside your window. Grappling with a specific disturbance will only prolong its duration in your mind. Just try to let it go.
Concentration (objective stage) can then lead to contemplation (subjective).
Again, contemplation is NOT meditation. It can be a brief analytical process - when we ask ourselves why we are meditating this evening (enlightenment or unification?).
When the above practices and rituals are completed, when we progress from active mind to passive mind - this is when meditation commences. And the most common reaction of beginners is - It's difficult to just think of nothing. Yes, it can be. Minds/dispositions that have been strangers to silence, passivity and receptivity will initially rebel. And if we further assume that this practice is going to be arduous or complex or boring - then it probably will be.
Those individuals who are restless type "A" personalities, who feel that sitting motionless for twenty to sixty minutes verges on torture yet still desire some form of spiritual discipline in their lives, may want to look into the martial arts area, yoga or some other mind-body training. People who feel that they don't have a single mystical bone in their bodies would still do well to practice the following exercise regularly: Set aside 15 - 30 minutes to just be alone with yourself. No music. No cell phone. No platter of chocolate chip cookies. Just pull up a chair to the window or go out into the backyard and gaze out at the horizon. Your only focus should be peace of mind - symbolized by the tranquil clouds floating above you.
Those who decide that meditation is going to become a regular daily happenstance in their lives should initially examine their motives. Are they sincere? Are you trying meditation simply because everything else has failed and you're still down in the dumps? Or do you truly want to open your heart, grow spiritually and become aware of the Whole as you attune with your Higher Self? Meditation will give back what YOU bring to IT.
Once you start meditating daily it is normal to want to compare your experience with that of others. This could set you up for disappointment. So you've been sitting in the Silence for months and it doesn't seem as if much is happening. Your friend Peter, on the other hand, tells you how totally "blissed out" he's feeling, how he sees angels in fiery chariots descending to personally provide him with the keys to his spiritual/mundane problems, and how yesterday he was transported to another dimension for a Kaffeeklatsch with the Ascended Masters. First of all, Peter may be delusional but even if he's not, so what? You are unique! Your sacred journey and inner awakening should also be personal, unparalleled and 'right' for you.
F.Y. believes that her power of intuition has been heightened after a couple of years of meditating. Helping others is her priority and daily attunement has provided her with some creative ways to accomplish this goal.
A.E. has very visual experiences. He sees images, colours and symbols which correspond with his metaphysical cultivation and erudition.
P.C. oftentimes goes into meditation seeking answers to specific queries. Some very inspirational clues and resolutions have presented themselves to conscious view - but never during the actual attunement itself - always the next day or even later.
W.H. always felt at peace after his daily ritual but there was never any rush of inspiration or influx of knowledge. This continued for years. Then he noticed that periodically he would come out of a meditation thinking that only 10 or 15 minutes had elapsed, look at the clock and realize that he had actually been sitting there for an hour and a half. He had not fallen asleep but he had a sense that he had been somewhere. However, there was no memory, no realization of anything that had happened. W.H. may have reached what certain people on the path call the Void. When you encounter Divine Essence the sensation is that there is no sensation.
If you're just acquainting yourself with the fundamentals of meditation remember that attitude is more important than any intricate preparatory ritual. End the attunement when you start getting fatigued. The best advice I ever received I'll now pass on to you. I was explaining my difficulties and frustrations with the techniques of meditation and my apparent lack of success to a mentor and he calmly looked at me and simply said - Don't try so hard!
Remember that there is no one "correct" end result. Sometimes the spiritual by-products of regular meditation are so subtle that you may not notice any personal changes for quite some time. Never sit down expecting to experience Cosmic Consciousness. The sooner you set aside your active desire to merge with the Light, with the Absolute, the sooner you'll realize that you have never been disconnected from IT in the first place.