What is Meditation?

by Ray Yungen 

What exactly is meditation? The meditation many of us are familiar with involves a deep, continuous thinking about something. But New Age meditation does just the opposite. It involves ridding oneself of all thoughts in order to “still” the mind by putting it in pause or neutral. An analogy would be turning a fast-moving stream into a still pond by damming the free flow of water. This is the purpose of New Age meditation. It holds back active thought and causes a shift in consciousness. The following explanation makes this process very clear:

One starts by silencing the mind–for many, this is not easy, but when the mind has become silent and still, it is then possible for the Divine Force to descend and enter into the receptive individual. First it trickles in, and later, in it comes in waves. It is both transforming and cleansing; and it is through this force that divine transformation will be achieved. (from Holistic Health magazine, Winter 1986)

This condition is not to be confused with daydreaming, where your mind dwells on a subject. The way New Age meditation works is that an object acts as a holding mechanism until the mind becomes thoughtless, empty – silent.

English mystic Brother Mandus wrote of his adventure into these realms in his book This Wonderous Way of Life. He spoke of being “fused in Light” which he described as “the greatest experience of my life” which gave him “Ecstasy transcending anything I could understand or describe.”

In order to grasp what this movement really entails the reader must understand what was happening to Brother Mandus. He wasn’t merely believing something on the intellectual level, he was undergoing a supernatural encounter. In truth, he had created a mental void through meditation and a spiritual force had filled it.

The two most common methods used to induce this “thoughtless” state are breathing exercises, where attention is focused on the breath, and a mantra, which is a repeated word or phrase. The basic process is to focus and maintain concentration without thinking about what you are focusing on. Repetition on the focused object is what triggers the blank mind.

Just consider the word mantra. The translation from the Sanskrit is man, meaning “to think,” and ti-a, meaning “to be liberated from.” Thus, the word means “to be freed from thought.” By repeating the mantra, either out loud or silently, the word or phrase begins to lose any meaning it once had. The same is true with rhythmic breathing. One gradually tunes out his conscious thinking process until an altered state of consciousness comes over him.

I recall watching a martial arts class where the instructor clapped his hands once every three seconds as the students sat in meditation. The sound of the clap acted the same as the breath or a mantra would – something to focus their attention on to stop the active mind.

Other methods of meditation involve drumming, dancing, and chanting. This percussion-sound meditation is perhaps the most common form for producing trance states in the African, North/South American Indian, and Brazilian spiritist traditions. In the Islamic world, the Sufi Mystic Brotherhoods have gained a reputation for chanting and ritual dancing. These are known as the Whirling Dervishes. Indian Guru, Rajneesh, developed a form of active meditation called dynamic meditation which combines the percussion sound, jumping, and rhythmic breathing.

From Ray Yungen’s book, For Many Shall Come in My Name

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