Spiritual meditation is concentration on a spiritual idea, an idea associated with Consciousness, that idea is bigger than our selves.
As we meditate on this vast and beautiful idea, our mind is moving into pure consciousness that has no boundary. Centering prayer, a meditative method, is a seeking of a real relationship with God. Take time each day to be with yourself, out of respect for yourself.
In this tumultuous, noisy, and active world, you need to be in touch with your deeper self, beyond the ordinary psychological awareness that preoccupies you.—Father Thomas Keating
Spiritual meditation is taking some quiet time to sit; focus your attention on your breath, mantra, or stillness; and witness your thoughts. When you catch yourself thinking, you just put your attention back on your breath, mantra, or the silence in or around you.
After a while, thoughts subside, at least for a moment or two, and when that happens, you feel peaceful. Any anxiety you think begins to fade.
If you meditate as a spiritual practice, then those quiet moments are a time to connect with higher consciousness. Mental meditation trains you to become more conscious of what’s happening in your body and mind, and teaches you to be aware of life in the present moment.
Spiritual Meditation helps you to witness and identify thought patterns that contribute to anxiety, and because meditation orients you to the present moment, it nourishes and comforts you as only being in the now can do.
So that you can observe your mind and avoid getting lost in the past or future, meditation practices give your attention something to focus on. And, in the moments when your mind is quiet, you’re aware of stillness and experience inner peace.
One way to focus your attention is by paying attention to only one of the senses. A simple way to experience this is to shut your eyes and press your thumbs against the openings of your ears, closing off your hearing. Hum gently and listen to the sound of your humming.
This simple exercise focuses your awareness on what you hear. Doing so narrows your attention and withdraws your engagement from the world around you.
Since we take in information from the outer world through our sensory capacities, withdrawing your senses means to retreat from active, multiple-sensory inputs.
The restriction can be to one sensory input, such as gazing at a lit candle, or you can retreat from all sensory inputs.
Lying awake in bed at night is similar to spiritual meditating with your eyes closed. During the night, the world around you is quiet and still, taking rest.
The room is dark, and the surrounding environment recedes from your awareness. You experience withdrawal of the senses, yet you can still have all kinds of experiences.
Your mind may generate thoughts, emotions can arise, and you may have bodily sensations, but then a few minutes later, you might lie there awake, contented and peaceful. While both meditating and resting in bed are times of little sensory input, they have different goals.
As you lie in bed, your purpose is sleep and nonawareness, whereas when you sit for meditation, you intend to be awake and aware.
You may feel sleepy during spiritual meditation since sleep is highly associated with sensory withdrawal. Don’t be discouraged if this occurs, because it may indicate that you need more sleep. See what happens when you witness the sleepiness.
You may discover something interesting about yourself, and if you doze off, it’s no big deal. Sooner or later you wake up again.
Another option is to meditate with your eyes open, gazing softly at the floor or some object, since open eyes are associated with alertness.
When you concentrate, you direct your attention to something specific. Like a laser beam, you home in, aiming to stay focused. Concentration involves intention and is the opposite of drifting or distracted attention.
The yogis of the East taught that a preliminary stage of meditation is teaching the mind to be thoroughly engrossed in a single focus.
Developing the capacity to concentrate takes some practice, but the benefits are well worth the effort because concentration calms your restless mind, which is an excellent medicine for the troubled mind that jumps hither and yon.
You prepare for concentration by sitting in a quiet room. The absence of external stimulation makes it easier to train your mind to become one-pointed.
The next step is to give your attention to something to focus on. Breath and mantra are two excellent choices for concentration.
Breathing is essential to life, and mantra aligns you with higher consciousness. Experiment with both to find which is more appealing.
Most likely you’ll gravitate toward one. Go with what works naturally for you. Make your practice enjoyable so that you don’t want to skip out on it.
A concentration consists of focusing, discovering when you’re not focusing, and returning to your desired focus. Having something to concentrate on is like having an anchor to the present moment.
When you realize you’ve drifted off into thoughts, put your awareness back on whatever you’re focusing on, and once again, you’ll be alert and aware. It’s like saying, “Oops, I drifted away, and here I am again.”
The breath is lovely to focus on, because putting your attention on breathing tends to slow it down, which triggers the relaxation response. Also, as long as you live, you breathe, so breath is readily available. You can pay attention anytime you like.
Focusing on the breath as you meditate trains you to be more aware of your breathing in general, which has two effects: your breath evens out, becoming more rhythmic, and you find yourself being aware of your breathing off and on throughout your day.
You begin to experience your breath as an intimate friend, always there. There’s no one way to attune your awareness to your breath. Experiment to find a way to become aware of your breath that feels right for you.
One suggestion is that if you’re new to spiritual meditation, you may find it comforting to focus your attention on the movement of air going in and out of your nostrils.
The nostrils are a distinct and specific area to focus on. The nostril openings are at the surface of the skin and concentrate on that area can feel safe if you’re uncomfortable tuning into sensations inside your body.
You may also focus your awareness on the breath in your chest area, inside your body. Put your attention on the movement of your ribs. Feel them expand as breath comes in, and contract as the breath goes out.
Another way is to focus exclusively on your abdomen. Feel it rise and fall in response to your breath.
The belly area is larger and less distinct than the nostrils and involves a diffuse, soft focus. Alternatively, you may find it appealing to follow the breath’s entire journey as it travels in and out of your body.
Focusing on a mantra is equally enjoyable. When you fill your mind with the words and sounds of higher consciousness, you align yourself with wisdom, love, and peace, which soothes your body and mind, and expands your perspective.
Silently repeat your preferred word for the divine, such as the Hebrew word abba, meaning “father,” or use a word that represents some spiritual quality, such as “mercy.”
Reciting a mantra while meditating cultivates concentration, and plants the mantra in your consciousness, where it takes on a life of its own.
It begins to recite itself, in the same way, that lyrics to a song you heard on the radio replay in your mind.
If you say your mantra daily in meditation, it will plant itself in your mind with deep roots. Then, it’s with you, like a true friend, giving you the steady support you so need when you’re nervous.
Some people find it uncomfortable and anxiety provoking to focus on the breath during spiritual meditation.
If that’s true for you, select a mantra as your focal point. If you’re anxious, experiment with saying your mantra on the out breath. Doing so tends to lengthen your exhalations, which triggers the relaxation response.
After you’ve acquired some experience meditating, experiment with focusing on stillness.
It’s quite lovely, and can lead to a deep inner state of peace that Father Thomas Keating described, while teaching during a retreat, as “sitting in the lap of God.”
You may want to begin by focusing on your mantra or breath until your mental activity subsides, and then switch and pay attention to silence.
Notice the silence outside of you, in the room you’re in, and inside of you, in the space between thoughts.
Allow yourself to become absorbed in stillness. Doing this gradually helps you to become comfortable with silence so that over time, you’ll grow to love it.
Attention does drift, especially back to your thoughts, which is perfectly reasonable. Ideas are stimulating and are used to having your attention. Attention is a creature of habit and does what’s familiar.
As you sense the power of the pullback into thinking, you realize how untrained your attention is.
In meditation even evocative, mundane thoughts snare your attention, which helps you appreciate the difficulty of disengaging from highly evocative, scary thoughts.
During meditation, when you notice that you’re paying attention to thoughts, calmly redirect your attention back to your breath or mantra.
It doesn’t matter how many times you have to do this; it matters that you do it. Each time you refocus, you strengthen your concentration.
Select a quiet and peaceful place to meditate. Place a chair or meditation cushion in your spot.
Designate a time of day for meditation so you can practice at the same time each day. Early morning is often recommended as an excellent time to spiritual meditate, but any time that fits your lifestyle and appeals to you will work.
Once you have a time and location for spiritual meditation, commit to practicing daily.
Even if you have only a few minutes, take time for meditation each day. Make meditation approachable in the beginning. Start small; sit for five or ten minutes.
This makes your meditation practice friendly and achievable. Then over time, gradually build up your sitting time from fifteen to thirty minutes, or longer.
When you started spiritual meditation, you feel that you’d tapped into rich new ideas and insights.
The writers and thinkers observe that their inspiration usually comes when the mind is quiet. When you meditate your mind calm, that’s the way it gives us more comfortable access to the broader, creative level of our minds.
You discovered the sense of Purpose in life. You have a growing sense that all life is moving towards greater awareness, and towards a greater feeling of harmony.
You are developing a sense of universal love. As you more in touch with the source of your consciousness, you more aware of the consciousness in everything. You feel more love within your self and greater love for others.
It’s not exactly difficult to understand why when we’re healthier, happier and living more at the moment we’re a lot easier to be around.
And that ends up being a good thing for the other people in our lives and attracts better people to our life.
Twice a day, spiritual meditation gives you a direct experience of your most essential self; of that unique kernel of awareness that lies at the core of your being.
And it gives you this knowledge not through hours of exhaustive talk therapy, but by allowing your mind to settle effortlessly into its own depths.
What results is that you feel more grounded in the person you truly are and are more able to both hear and honor the impulses that arise from within.