Spiritual meditation is the art of inner listening, but the word actually has a lot of different meanings depending on one’s perspective. To many, and perhaps most, especially in the Western world, meditation is used in the sense of pondering such as: meditation on a gorgeous sunset, or meditating on beautiful music, or, “meditating” on an interesting subject.
But spiritual meditation is far more than any of those conceptualizations as you will see. Meditation is not an esoteric practice limited to monks and monasteries in secluded mountain retreats. It can and should become a part of everyone’s daily life, and with practice, meditation can become a mindful awareness of every experience, rather than just a single, isolated practice which take place in seclusion.
The Mind Once Enlightened Cannot Again Become Dark
Spiritual meditation will yield an appreciation of life and give perceptions beyond what is normally experienced. Everything comes to be seen through different eyes. For instance: Relationships become richer. Everything reveals something to appreciate. Insights and understanding of life deepens. Feelings and realizations of being one with the divine and all creation emerge. All of this and more unfold like the beautiful blossoming of a flower. What may seem like a slow process at first will eventually be seen in retrospect as a very fast one.
What is experienced through this meditation is eternally yours. As you continue with meditation over the years you will find your life rising above the fears, struggles, and pain that are so much a part of most people’s lives. You will move into levels of lasting peace, beautiful fulfillment, and sustained happiness.
What Does Meditation Involve?
In the West meditation has often been equated with problem solving, but there are fundamental differences between any analytical or contemplative approach and true meditation which involves a mind that is relaxed and at peace. Spiritual meditation sets aside the reasoning, analytical, and thinking aspect of the mind. That is not to say contemplation, inquiry, or other more active forms of altered state activities are unimportant or of little value. While having importance they are adjunct processes which can work well along with a meditation program, but they are not technically meditation of themselves.
There are also many spiritual and religious practices which can enrich one’s life in many ways including devotional practices, kirtan, chanting, prayer, and special ceremonies, but these also are not meditation.
Spiritual meditation is a process in which you come into contact with a deep inner part of your spiritual self and through that connection you bring the realizations to the surface and have them manifest and integrate into your everyday life.
The Search for Meditation Experiences
Sometimes reading articles or books or hearing of the meditation successes and experiences of others can create an expectation on what meditation is or should be. It would be a mistake to utilize meditation for the purpose of seeking experiences because that expectation in itself can either push the experience away or distract you from higher goals. If an experience unfolds naturally then it is right for you at that time, but it is best not to seek experiences as an end in themselves.
A meditator once came to Buddha and said, “I have meditated for 20 years and now I can levitate across the river.” Buddha replied, “you have been misdirecting your time for you could have taken the boat across the river at any time.” While the Sidhas or so-called magical or psychic powers can unfold as a result of meditation and mind training, in most cases it is far wiser to focus on increasing your consciousness level and connection with your spiritual source from which all emanates. There are many who have attained enlightened states who have little psychic ability, and there are many unenlightened ones who have developed psychic ability. One does not equate with the other.
Prayer vs. Meditation
There is a clear distinction between prayer and meditation. Prayer in a traditional sense is making a confession to a deity or making a request for intercession. In a more nontraditional sense or a metaphysical form of prayer it is an affirmative statement such as repeating a positive phrase or reciting a mantra. This can be done while in a meditative state, but it is less commonly thought of when the term meditation is used. In the Western world the Christian community has explained meditation is a process of pondering a topic or a quotation from the Bible or other religious source.
Depending on the form or the approach to meditation the eyes may be either open or closed. Some techniques even include body movements such as whirling, walking mindfully, or tai chi. In some instances music may be included or total silence. Meditation may be done in private or in a group. Many practitioners find that meditating with a group enhances the experience for them, but you would want to be sure the nature of the meditations the group is engaging in are consistent with your goals. Meditation is a practice that leads to letting go of all thoughts and resistance and results in a deep peace and realization of the underlying nature of truth.
Sometimes spiritual meditation leads to a new realization or understanding. These experiences are sometimes referred to as epiphanies or awakenings. What you may not be aware of is the fact that all the meditations you have been doing prior have been preparing you for that experience. Sometimes a person will meditate for weeks or months and think little is happening. However, if you are meditating there is always something happening, whether you are consciously aware of it or not. When you look at a flower bud day after day, it may appear that little is changing, but one day when you look you find the bud has opened to reveal a beautiful flower.
Not experiencing something profound or significant in meditation doesn’t mean you are not successfully meditating so let go of judgments, expectations, and feelings of disappointment. Be assured that whatever you are experiencing is the best thing for you to be experiencing at that time, and it will lead you to the next best experience for you. I have an article for you on meditation here.
Meditation techniques are only tools. Mantras, colors, visualizations, and various forms of breathing are not meditation. They are tools to help open you attain meditation. They may help to facilitate the meditative process of setting aside distractions and conceptualizations in order to allow deeper truths to reveal themselves.
There is wisdom, love, understanding, patience, joy, light, peace, and empowerment residing within you at the core of your true self, and meditation is the way to that discovery. The more you connect with your spiritual inner essence the more your life will reflect the natural qualities of goodness and happiness.
For many, perhaps most, who lived on earth, their entire lives are filled with satisfying the needs and desires relate to life here. But there are some who become aware that there is a consciousness that existed before the body was formed. That consciousness was instrumental in setting the foundations for a person’s life. This is the spiritual component which is within every person. It is the soul and everyone can access it. In order for a person to become aware of its many resources the active mind must settle and become quiet, and meditation is the best tool to achieve that.
It is our soul and spirit which enables us to form the highest spiritual realizations and awaken to our spiritual connections with the divine. Through experience over time, it will become apparent to one who practices attuning to their inner spiritual nature that there is a resource of greater wisdom and insight than the conscious mind accesses. With practice this deeper spiritual nature can replace much of the functioning of the outer mind or conscious mind.
In other articles I outline specific methods on how to meditate and what to do about some problems which sometimes arise during meditation.
Meditation Programs & Resources
7 Step Self-Guided Meditation
Meditation Course – mp3
Soul Merge mp3
SuperStill – Deepen Meditation – http://www.jonathanparker.org/catalog/spiritual-growth-enlightenment/super-still-deepen-meditation-1-cd