Meditation is like working out – we do it to build up our muscles so that we can perform and advance in all sorts of different activities.
The point of the practice is to develop and strengthen the capacity to remove the attention from mental process altogether. It is our overdeveloped ability to interpret and explain things to ourselves mentally that keeps us from fully experiencing the now. One of the simplest ways of describing meditation is that it’s the absence of contemplation or narration. The following is a review of a few of my favorite techniques and how to practice and integrate into your life.
The Space Meditation allows us to come to neutral mind by envisioning a starless night sky, just behind closed eyes. As though looking up into the vast, expansive sky – the only thing to observe is open space. In this meditation, each time the mind begins to formulate a thought, the goal is to simply return the awareness to the starless night sky, to the space.
The True Self Meditation can be used to restore the intuitive presence. It is said that the reason we become ‘depressed’ is because we become so focused on the outer world and how we are being perceived there, that our inner sense of Self collapses or deflates. Meditation is said to bring us back into alignment with our True Selves simply by having us turn the attention inward and ‘repressurize’ this inner world. In Kundalini Yoga, the mantra Sat Nam means ‘True Identity’ or ‘Truth is my Name’. You may realign with your True Self by mentally repeating Sat Nam - inhaling ‘Sat’, exhaling ‘Nam’. Use this meditation when you feel disconnected, distracted, overwhelmed, overworked, or depressed.
The Cellular Inhalation Meditation is a powerful antidote to the feeling of fragmentation or anxiety that comes when our minds are ‘all over the place’. With all the distractions of the outer world, meditation serves as a powerful way of reconnecting or re-membering all of our divergent parts - a way of consolidating our attention and returning to wholeness. One beautiful way of experiencing this wholeness is to envision every cell in the body inflating with oxygen during the inhalation. It can be very helpful to imagine the breath in a soothing color or as a fluid or vapor containing the antidote to all stress and disturbance. As this inflation of the cells is imagined, it can be felt and can be a simple way of returning the body and nervous system to a state of harmony, balance and coherence. Use this meditation to calm and soothe yourself.
The Chalkboard Countdown Meditation has the practitioner count backwards from a chosen number. We inhale and envision writing the number on a chalkboard (or whiteboard), then exhale and envision the number being erased. This is a powerful technique for wiping the mind clean and flushing out any emotional stagnation as well.
In realizing the potential we have in being able to direct and select our thoughts, we can really start to upgrade our experiences. We can reframe our not-so-lovely experiences in real-time to steer out of negative spiraling like worrying, stewing, fuming, and wallowing. The faster we can pivot out of these negative head spaces, the less we find ourselves confronted with unwanted experiences. One way of steering out of negativity is to give the mind something to keep it busy and diffuse negative emotion.
The Pivoting Meditation in a mental exercise in which you are to consider something unwanted or unpleasant and begin to reframe the thoughts on this topic to bring about a sense of relief. The suggestion is to come up with a few more general thoughts on the topic – the kinds of soothing things you might say to a friend to encourage them to look on the bright side. From here, your point of attraction begins to improve, and you can start to ‘see the light’. The less time we spend in negative emotional states, the less magnetic these states become.
As we strengthen the meditative muscles, our self-awareness naturally expands. With this awareness comes the realization that what we think about, we bring about. The implication is that by becoming more selective in the kinds of thoughts we are thinking, we may have more say in how we are feeling and what we are attracting.
The Optimal Self Visualization practice is to create vivid imagery that brings you to the experience of your best self. Whether it has to do with body and health, relationship and romance or work and aspiration, this visioning work can have a powerful impact on our emotional state. The more we use our minds to evoke positive emotion, the more time we spend feeling good and the more time we spend feeling good, the more ‘prone’ we are to positive thoughts! This type of visualization is recommended as an add-on at the end of a neutralizing meditation like the Space, True Self, or Cellular Inflation or Chalkboard Countdown.
I recommend using any of the first 3 meditations daily and using the fourth and fifth as add-ons to your daily mind-quieting practice. The last two are meant as opportunities to practice pivoting and elevating your thoughts and mood in real-life and real-time. My suggestion would be a short daily practice where you spend a few minutes simply neutralizing mental process and at 2-3 times a week using the pivoting or optimal self practices to prime yourself for mental challenges that are bound to arise.