Guidance & Meditation

Connections to Guidance: The Role of Meditation

If you want to connect with “Guidance” and Your “Intuition,” the place to start is with Meditation. Meditation allows you to quiet your mind and reduce distractions while it moves you into the Present moment. As you quiet your mind, for many people known as “Monkey Mind,” you can focus on messages which will bubble up from your Divine Spirit in whatever form it will manifest for you.

Let’s break this down a bit.
Quieting your mind and reducing distractions allows you to connect with the “quiet” feelings and thoughts which can move forward into your consciousness. I have a hearing problem due to a damage done to my ears. If I want to hear a conversation or the television, I may have to ask that background conversations or noise from the environment be reduced or eliminated so my hearing aids do not amplify all the extra sounds and prevent me from hearing my partner or the TV. Well Guidance and Intuition are easier to hear if the environmental distractions, internal or external, are reduced or eliminated.

This leads to better Focus. Until you are very familiar with your connection and pathway of communication with Guidance, you are better able to hear it or feel it or see it when internal and external distractions are reduced. This is simple as a concept but often difficult to achieve. If you are studying difficult materials for a test in school, most people (if they are honest) find that a quieter environment helps interpret the material and store in the memory when external noise is less. In the beginning of your process searching for and then listening to Guidance, it is easier to pick this information out if your mind is not racing around.

Being “Present” is the ability to release the memories and the motions tied to these memories from the past while minimizing the fear or anxiety about the “unknowns” of the future. It is a gift to be “Present.” One of he reasons we like to meditate in front of a fireplace as we watch the flames or we lose ourselves while watching waves break upon the shore is because we become more fully “Present” watching, “thoughtlessly,” as these random but predictable actions occur. The subtle messages coming up from Spirit are in the “present” and the most accurate filter will be found in a mind which is in the “present” moment.

There is a strong phenomenon that happens when you meditate, stay present, and reduce distractions in your mind. You become more sensitive to the subtle messages. As if you get “tuned in” to the vibration that was always there but hidden behind all the backgrounds noise. You are more open and more sensitive when you practice mediation. I have shared (or will share) some major messages from Guidance that happened for me during meditation. I refer to the NDE experience when I was 19 years old and the feeling of Oneness in the “River of Life” which occurred during and afternoon meditation when I was 23 years old.

Now when I sit down to write a blog which is coming from Guidance, I get better results if I have recently come in from a walk in nature or just completed a meditation practice. A thought will come and then the supporting words and information flow from the “tap” of Guidance. It appears to be easier for me to do when I am not disturbed by phone calls, social media, roommates, or noises from media or traffic.

There are many ways to meditate and you need to find the ones that work best for you.
Betty Bethards (A Psychic Mentor) – Taught me a version of Kundalini Meditation
Autogenic Training
Zen with open eyes to: nature, candles or mandala
An Altar with Your Meditation objects
Formal chanting or mantra repetition (certain types of Praying)
Breath work and Yogic Breathing
Guided Visualization or Hypnosis
Meditation Music or Tones
Self-awareness (Progressive Relaxations)
Movement: Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong
Biofeedback
Even, Pendulum or Dowsing Work
Focusing on Chakras (especially Heart Chakra 4th, Third Eye 6th and Crown Chakra 7th – and then beyond/above into higher chakras above the physical body…)

Regular practice for 15-20 minutes is what I recommend but for many people 5 minutes will work for some people or for other people 30 minutes or more may be the best amount of time. Ongoing repetition and developing this skill will improve your results in connecting with Guidance and your Intuition. Though meditating in a cave for 20 years is NOT usually required. It takes practice to learn to quiet “the Monkey Mind” and to learn how to release the physical distractions that occur so often. Some people can learn to have a brief one minute meditation practice that can work well for them. From my experience, 20 minutes of deep relaxation from meditation can take the place of as much as 2 hours of sleep. So meditation, though requiring time, can save you time in the long run.

Meditations led me to “awakenings” which included visiting: Death (a NDE on the other side of the Veil,) the “River of Life” (to experience connection and “oneness” as Buddha may have experience,) Guides with Healing advice and insights, and connecting with Divine Wisdom. No small things, though not an every day experience. Beginners Mind and innocence in my early years seemed to assist these epiphanies. (More about innocence and Beginner’s Mind in future, and past, Blogs.)

There comes a time when you learn to feel the Guidance and then you learn to trust the Guidance more effectively. This can take some trial and error. If your “Gut” begins to get your attention, it is trying to tell you something. For me, this has been true. Even when seemingly irrational, the message is worth paying attention to. YOU have a choice to follow this suggested path or not. YOU are the one who responds and be responsible for your choices and actions. When my “Gut” told me to drop out of UCLA in 1970 and to get out of Los Angeles, I did not know where it would lead me. Looking back, it was one of the best decision I have ever made! Think back and YOU will find “gut feelings” offering choices which assisted you into the profound changes you needed and which you have learned from.

If you are READY and looking for a supportive community where you can share your story, your wisdom, and grow spiritually in a non-religious environment, consider Masters of the Journey.
You are a Blessing! You are a Master!

The Masters of the Journey has events which are updated on our Facebook page which is found at: www.facebook.com/mastersofthejourney Please comment on this blog and share, if appropriate. More of our blogs are based on spiritual consciousness and can be found at www.dstress.com/blog

Meditation for the New Year

It is time for Meditation! The calendar tell us that we are beginning a New Year. This year will be as filled, or sadly, even more filled with turmoil and change. It is time for us to bring Wisdom, Awareness, Love and Joy to our cultures as we struggle with the impact of accelerated evolution! We can fear this evolution or we can embrace it! We can know the benefits of our struggles which will eventually lead us out of fear and into a radiant light. (Or, we can hide in our fear and let anger hold us back from our appointment with enlightenment.)

Wow, what wonderful times we live in! So many billions of us have shown up at this age of mankind to witness and participate together in the chaos which leads to awareness and then to a higher Divine Consciousness. If we get stuck dwelling in fear and anger, we will find ways to manifest this darker consciousness. If we embody Joy, and Love, and Remember our Connection to the Divine Wisdom, we can be the “Lightworkers” we came here to be! This does not mean we have to approve of all the weird behaviors we bump into. However, we must engage in the lessons which we are confronted with.

To better prepare you to bring light and love into this world, you must honor and prepare yourself. We can only take responsibility for our own actions (and reactions.) We must regularly “ground out” the judgements we make and fold our hearts around the brilliant light of peace. Yes, this is easier said than done. I will not argue with you. We can create a healing buffer to surround each of us. Not to insulate but to nurture our core where the “Joy” resides and then shines out to bask the world in the healing energy of Love!

So, our meditation can include a time to “Ground Out” and to find our balance. Breathe in slowly and fully. Pause for a moment. As you slowly exhale, imagine that you can release excess energy with the warm breath you release! On the next breath, feel the cool, soothing air as you slowly inhale. Pause and then slowly release the warm breath. Do this several times until you can join your body in the “Present Moment.” Then continue to breathe slowly in and out with an image that you are drawing in Golden White Light to Heal Yourself with every breath. As you exhale imagine that you can send this Golden White Light and this Unconditional Love and Support out to everyone in the world. Focus on those people you love and then on all the rest of the planet. It is a blessing that you give this energy unconditionally as a gift to all living things in our Universe (and beyond.) This meditation does not have to be more complicated or drawn out. Focus on Love and Joy. Look for the positive growth from every interaction. Take responsibility for what you give out to this world! Choose LOVE! When you laugh out loud, laugh like no one is watching. Embrace Joy!

By the way, the more of us who can engage in this meditation, sending out unconditional Love and Joy, the stronger this will resonate and have greater impact on Universal Consciousness Development!!!

Whether you know it or not, You are a Master. You are a Healer. Without you and your soul/spirit, the Universe can not exist. So play YOUR part! Actively give and share love. Know that your positive light shines brightly and everyone & everything is better for sensing that your unconditional love as it is radiated outward.

Remember Your Divinity! Remember the Perfection of the Spirit within YOU! Remember to enjoy these tough lessons we have come here to experience and remember that we will be better and stronger from embracing these challenges NOW rather than having to repeat this learning again in our future incarnations. When you say Namaste, LIVE Namaste! We are all in this together, joined by our Divine Spirits. See the person in front of you knowing that at a deeper level they are YOU! Help them. Serve them! Support awareness and consciousness until WE ALL reach enlightenment.

Along the way, use Meditation to find your center and then higher consciousness. Meditation is not complicated it is an attempt to be “Present” and open to Divine Wisdom. (These few words are interesting. You following through makes these words Powerful!)

If you are READY and looking for a supportive community where you can share your story, your wisdom, and grow spiritually in a non-religious environment, consider Masters of the Journey. You are a Blessing! You are a Master!

The Masters of the Journey has events which are updated on our Facebook page which is found at: www.facebook.com/mastersofthejourney Please comment on this blog and share, if appropriate. More of our blogs are based on spiritual consciousness and can be found at www.dstress.com/blog

In the “Present” to Connect and to “Witness”

Often lacking in our culture is the deeper connections which allow for growth of consciousness and spirit. (“Often” is a judgement which, in this case, means “Most of the time.”) We are all here, in the present incarnation, to learn and to grow. Most importantly, we are here to support our fellow spiritual pilgrims on their (“our”) path toward “Enlightenment.”

One factor that gets in the way of connecting is our weakness in a key area of communication. We are resistant to using our ears and our intuition to fully “Hear” the person/soul who has “bumped” into us. Our culture teaches us to interrupt the “story” being shared with our own thoughts or past experience so we can “control” the conversation. We are rarely using questioning to assist our conversation partner to be more clear with “their” storytelling. We are lacking in the skills as a “witness” to the story, and possible wisdom, which is being shared. If we were fully “Present” in the interaction, we might invest fully in soaking up the story/lesson with all of our senses including our intuition. We are ALL “Masters” with much to share. Mastery includes being fully present and being aware as a “Student” to the experience. Appreciation and respect is often neglected due the lack of “Time” or energy or interest… What if God, yes the God we have heard about, was standing in front of us, perhaps as a “burning bush,” and sharing some wisdom with us? Would we/you/I listen fully and with respect? Or, would we discount this message because we are lacking focus? Would we interrupt God to share our story?

An individual soul who has awakened and begun to “remember” their connection to the Divine might be “Serious” about consciousness and spiritual development. Curiosity and openness would be a common thread in all interactions, with people or with nature. If you ever get “serious” about your practice of spiritual consciousness, you may wish to participate by “listening,” “watching,” “being fully aware,” and “Taking it all in.” Do this not just to support the next pilgrim with a story which needs to be “heard” but for yourself! This is YOUR learning and by raising your consciousness, you raise ALL consciousness (because we are ALL connected and “One!”)

You may find yourself in conversation with questions like:
What is a human being?
Who is this person in front of me and what am I to learn from them?
What are we to learn together?
They are equal to me and they have their “lessons” and challenges but their “pains” are the same as mine (perhaps experienced slightly differently.)

Listening and “Witnessing” are challenging skills which are worth developing. In our lives, we experience many “relationship challenges” which are often associated with OUR lack of listening skills. We might find ourselves interrupting or getting defensive when perhaps we could be asking questions and exploring the pain or blocks to intimacy.

We are not “perfect” and we come into this life to take the next steps toward higher consciousness and more fully remembering our Divine source. Do not give up! The challenge is our lesson! Even if you were “Perfect,” You want the experience of being human with the intense emotions and the difficulties with our limited abilities to communicate. This is part of the cosmic fun! Celebrate and take responsibility for the challenge before you. We are ALL in this together and, at some higher level, we are participating for the “greater good.”

You are a blessing! You are a Master! Your purpose is to learn, to grow, and to assist every soul you bump into to!

Be Present! Share your story! And, be a Master of Witnessing the story of the person in front of you!

If you would like more conscious connections with people who are actively “remembering their Divinity” and moving forward to higher consciousness consider participating in the non-religious community, Masters of the Journey.

You are never alone! You are loved, unconditionally! Enjoy the pilgrimage or, at the very least, appreciate the value.

Meditation: The First Step to Higher Consciousness

Meditation practice regularly helps you to be more calm and present. When you release your thoughts in meditation, your body relaxes and energy is freed for you to use in other activities or to rest and heal yourself. Letting go of thoughts, fear, anxieties, and distractions allow an emotional environment where fewer mistakes are made and you save time. When you are calmed by meditation, you are less likely to be “Triggered” and you can be more available for positive decision making and better choices.

This is nothing new. Yes, it does take time and practice to learn to meditate but it saves you time and energy in the long run. I have found that people require less sleep and can focus better during their work day. Meditation also allows connection with the divine source of wisdom and unconditional love. You may not know this and even may want to argue about this, but if you quiet yourself and become more fully “present” you will find these benefits.

Or, you can continue to be caught in your emotional drama and allow fear & anger to run your life. This is perfect also. Being open and positive will help you to find more joy and contentment in the challenges of life.

Blessings to you on your path. Just remember to breathe slowly and feel the warm breath that you exhale assist you in letting go of unwanted tension and troubling emotions.

More information at:
Stress Education Center and
Masters of the Journey

Books on Meditations include:
Curt Remington’s Simple Meditation at http://curtremington.com
and
Paula Forget’s, “Guided to a Higher Realm at http://paulaforget.com/inspired/

Count Your Blessings!

Have you ever heard that expression, “Count Your Blessings?” Why would someone say this to you? What is the purpose for looking for the “Positives” in the life you are here to live? For many people, it is easier to look for the problems and the negative interactions and perhaps even play a “Victim” to these challenges. But does looking for and living within the “negative” give you the joy that can be found in this world?

What do YOU give thanks for in the world? Even the most brutal lessons can be honored as important opportunities to learn from, even if the learning is what NOT to do. Personally, I have learned more from my mistakes and my painful relationships than I have learned from when my life was most easy and successful. The 8 years I lived with my wife’s terminal cancer I would not wish upon anyone and yet these were some of the most important years for learning in my life. The lessons of empathy and compassion were so valuable. The fear and the sharing within our many crisis’ was such a powerful tool for learning about the human dilemma. The closeness that we grew into, with the love at a level tested by trauma, was an amazing and important experience for me. AND, from all of this learning, I find that I have wisdom and gifts to share.

So, look for the difficult experiences as well as the joys when you look for the many blessings that YOU have been granted. Do not keep these a secret. Share them! Challenge others to appreciate being more fully “Present.” Bask in the drama that is your lessons of this life. Do not hesitate to reach out for other people. Allow them to support you AND reach out to share your love and support with them. Find compassion and caring. Find the perfection of the divine spirit within every soul you encounter, even the ones who trigger your fear, anger/frustration, and your defenses. Each encounter is there for a reason. Each encounter is there for your learning.

Blessings to you! Love and appreciate each moment and share your love and wisdom whenever you can.

If you are looking for support and resources to focus upon your spiritual growth and development, consider the Masters of the Journey community. YOU are a Blessing! You have a Purpose! The Universe would have a huge hole in it if you did not exist… With Love – Namaste!

Guidance From Within

Have you ever felt “Guided” to do something or to make a decision at one of the cross-roads of life? Has that “Voice” in your head or heart shared a feeling or thought with your conscious mind? Have you ever “Remembered” something that you had not ever known at a conscious level? If you have read my past blogs, I have made reference to times in my life where I was blessed with a “Knowing” or Feeling or Thought which offered a chance to move in a direction, in my life, which I “needed” to take because the lesson or opportunity was so important for me to experience. This has happened over and over for me AND it has always worked out for me & my learning. (Even though some of these learning experiences have been laced with pain or difficult challenges.)

Not long ago I visited a professional psychic/medium who gave me great insight into things that I already “Knew” deep inside. It was reassuring and from a perspective that I needed at the time. This professional psychic was a person who was highly respected and referred to me by someone I know and trust. It was a spectacular experience. As a part of this session, she introduced me to one of my “spirit guides” who I did not already “know” at a conscious level. I liked meeting this new “Guide.” My new Guide offered me support and insight which was very useful and needed at that time. One of the best things for me about “Guides” is that they seem to be more directly plugged in the “Divine Spirit.” They seem to have authority and are hanging around to serve me, to guide me. I have learned to trust and love this “external” Guidance and recommend that other people learn to pay attention so they might benefit from listening or feeling or remembering these messages.

Where I am going with this blog, it is not as simple as to just look for and learn from external Guidance, it is actually about the true source of this guidance. This past week, I was at my study group for the book, The Way of Mastery, at the local Bellingham Unity Center. This book has a lot of words and some very interesting concepts. I believe that the source of this book is a channelled monolog from the Ascended Master, Jesus. (I am not Christian or a church goer so this was difficult for me to come to grips with…) A passage was read that changed the way I look at “Guidance.” The prelude to this passage discussed taking responsibility for your/my life. The good and the challenging events and experiences are MY creation and are available to me for MY lessons in this life. I know this. I even try to accept responsibility and live my life without blaming other people or situations… (You know….) Well, the dictation that was read to this group, and turned a light on in me, was a passage saying that what we assume as external guidance is not external. It springs from a deeper part of you. And, if you follow your guidance or learn from the insight provided to you, you can benefit from taking responsibility and honoring the wisdom of the Master that lives within your soul and spirit. Your soul and spirit are connected to the Divine Spirit with all the wisdom which the “Divine” shares with all souls.

My lesson, and this sharing, suggests that we do not find “external” guides or sources but we can benefit from looking within to a “Remembering” of our own Mastery and connection to Divine Wisdom. It is easier for us to blame or even trust an external guidance that triggers us to move down a certain path to achieve a certain life lesson. It is easier for many of us to look externally because we do not think that we (YOU) are worthy of knowing this wisdom, internally. But perhaps, if what I have recently learned is true, we must honor that the answers are within and we are more powerful and connected than we may have consciously realized. Now, get your ego out of the way because it it is NOT the “separate YOU” that is powerful but the connected to the “Source YOU.”

You are a Master! You are in the process of “Remembering” your Divinity and the “Oneness” which connects you all souls as part of the “Divine.” Bless you and your perfection! Your purpose in this life is to serve other people you bump into with a message of consciousness, by role modeling your Divine Light. Know or Remember that the Guidance you experience is coming from that deepest wellspring of the wisdom you have as connected being. Learn to listen to your intuition by clearing away the conscious distraction of the ego mind through meditation. Clean this mirror for the most accurate reflection of the message you are to receive, and here in this life, to share.

If you can benefit from support or resources consider your local Unity Center or the community we are building known as The Masters of the Journey: A Transformational Community. Namaste

Feedback: John, it can be both. Your Higher Self does have access to all knowledge and nudges you along through your intuition. You also have Helpers who help you and guide you.

Some people become too reliant on their Helpers to the point of using them as a crutch, being unable to make a decision on their own and limiting their own growth in the process. That is my opinion.
We each carry great wisdom and our goal is to use it to benefit others as well as ourselves.

Hello John,

There are some very wise words within your blog. You probably already knew that, so I’ll address the couple of things I would address in the middle of a Toastmasters evaluation sandwich. A very minor one is your use of the word “thought” when I think what you’re describing is intuition. My issue with this is that I’ve found that an intuition may seem like a thought, but they come from very different sources. In describing that, I usually refer to a thought as something created by our conscious mind, rather than a more divine source. Maybe that’s just my terminology.

The other topic I’d mention in the sandwich is that the spiritual world is vast and varied, with all sorts of beings. We can get great wisdom and insight from what I’d refer to as “our higher self,” that inner spiritual part of us that is already calm, content, and wise. There are also a variety of advanced beings, like angels and spirit guides, that can provide valuable information and insight. Often, it’s difficult to know exactly where our intuition or spiritual message came from, but I don’t believe they all come from within us, which is what your blog seems to imply. I definitely think a lot can come from within us.

Curt Remington, author of: Simple Meditation: A Spiritual Connection for Transforming Your Life.

Words to Live By

Brother Bob Trask of Bellingham’s Unity Center spoke last Sunday. Several thoughts bear repeating.

Trust that who you are is uniquely needed, special, AND you have a unique purpose!” Yes, YOU have a purpose and a reason for being! Every soul is a piece of the Divine Source and whether you know this or not the seemingly larger Divine Spirit is not whole without YOU! “You are Loved. You are Blessed. You are Safe. You are free.”

EVERY soul that you bump into is there for a purpose and there is a mutual “lesson” that you derive from each encounter. It has been said that we are all connected as souls and the hate or fear you may feel or express for another soul is to hate or fear yourself. So it is better to accept the souls you encounter because you may not know the lessons they are here to learn and the role that you may have in creating higher consciousness.

Namaste is a concept I am only beginning to fully grasp. But everyone you encounter is part of the perfection of the divine. Even if you do not seem to resonate with a person, their spirit has value and the lessons you share are not always easy, but important.

Be well and travel safely the road to your full consciousness. I bless you, Namaste, and salute you and the struggles we share as we seek to remember the perfection and unconditional love of the Divine Source we share.

Masters of the Journey

Basking in the Light

Have you ever enjoyed the experience of sitting in the warmth and healing light of the our sun? Have you ever experienced beyond the warming of sunlight and feeling the healing and nurturing of your precious  moments of presence while basking in this unconditional energy?

Many of us have found pleasure and enjoyment in sitting in a peaceful environment while soaking up the benefits of these serene moments in our lives. At some point, after your “tank” was filled with this glorious healing energy, have you found yourself wishing to get up and move? To step away from the “recharging station” of mellow and to push back into your life. (I have, with some impatience, which a characteristic I very often have.)

It is September and in the Northern Hemisphere (actually Northwest Washington state.) The days are growing shorter with some Fall coolness is in the air. The sun is gradually finding its way lower in the sky and for some people there is preparation for the darker months of the year. This is not a message about geography or weather patterns. It is a message about the metaphor of Basking in the Light for a “limited” amount of time.

In meditation today, an image of beauty of our lives beyond our human existence popped into consciousness. When unencumbered by our current “meat suit” (our body of this incarnated life,) we find ourselves basking in the light of unconditional love, pure wisdom & consciousness, and surrounded by the timelessness of pure connection with the “Divine Source.” We celebrate the freedom, beauty, and perfection of life without the “lessons” of living incarnated within the challenges of the body. Yet, we will become impatient and turn away from the love, the freedom, and the light to find physical form again… And, WHY?

The lessons I have learned in this life have come readily from the mistakes and the pains of my travails more than from the ease of my successes. I have been strengthened and grown more through my hard times. Perhaps our souls and our divine spirits return to Earthly forms to face the challenges of living in the flesh and, perhaps more importantly, have the opportunity to share experiences, even learned wisdoms, with the  other travelers we meet in our lives. This act of mastery, and service, is our way of growing and helping other souls to grow so we can all benefit in the Divine, together. (Remember, we are all in this together and it does not serve you to allow your fellow pilgrims to wallow in their life lessons, alone.)

So, the image that was shared with me in meditation was of the joy I feel basking in the sunlight until I am recharged and then MY impatience to get back to pursuit of my life’s purpose… which is to serve. My meditation showed me basking in the unconditional love and connection. Taking it all in until I needed to get back into my next incarnation to continue, in an excited way, to pursue my lessons. Deep within me, I strive to eventually be conscious enough to not simply bask in the light, BUT to BE the light!

Does this resonate with the part of you which seeks to “Remember” your connection with the “Source” (the Divine?)

Blessings to you along your path. We have touched paths and connected for a reason. Please go out and find your ways to serve with the wisdom and the mastery you have achieved. You ARE a master, whether you know it or not!

If you seek a supportive community which supports your spiritual growth and development, and offers you the opportunity to “serve” consider, Masters of the Journey or its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mastersofthejourney Please take good care of yourself!

Prayer for all Masters of the Journey

God smiles upon all, as we are the pure essence of life itself.

Be we seemingly simple or complex and multi-faceted expressions, each is gifted with the extraordinary nature of the divine. 

To live our gifts, abilities, inclinations, radiance, nuance, and sparkle, is the purpose of life. 

It glorifies the unlimited forms of divine fragrance.

All carry the Masters’ beauty and power and love.

  • * * *

Each are given the divine map leading to eternal communion with the Great One where we rest.

Walk upon the path of discovery, tasting, savouring in the mystery of your destiny. 

Fill your heart with the immense awe and splendor of the universe.

Rejoice and uncover the secrets within each experience you encounter upon your way. There is no limit to the depths and heights that can be realized. 

  • * * *

You carry magnificence and uniqueness that is indispensable to the whole.

You are a Master among Masters, upon a journey unique to you, driven by your true divine nature to express beauty and love. 

  • * * *

Thank you for sharing the gifts you radiate upon your path, it benefits us all along the way.

 

Namaste.

Paula Forget, author of “Guided to the Higher Realms

Member of and Content provider for: Masters of the Journey: A Transformational Community

Meditation for Stress Management

For thousands of years practitioners of meditation have used various forms of meditation for stress management and as a tool leading toward “enlightenment.” I have had personal experience using 4 forms of meditation for stress management and to a lesser degree for personal “enlightenment.” Each form has been described as an “Eastern” philosophical approach but all have been researched and used successful in Western cultures without religious or deep philosophical barriers. In fact, I would not put these techniques into a box that creates limitation for religious or philosophical reasons.

I will describe these 4 forms and the benefits that I have experienced without deep historical or philosophical backgrounds.

1. A Yogic breathing practice. At the core of every stress management technique that I teach, I ask clients to become fully “present” by breathing slowly and diaphragmatically. Yoga is an ideal form of reflection that asks the user to focus upon their bodies in positive ways while remaining in the present moment. It has been used for maybe 5,000 years. I ask my clients to lie back comfortably in a peaceful environment and to breathe slowly, focusing on cool air coming in with the inhale and then the warm breath as they exhale. To gradually slow breathing to 4 or 5 breaths per minute will gradually slow their heart rate and can help to reduce blood pressure (researched by Western scientists.) This is simple and effective.

2. Zen meditation is a mindfulness exercise that asks the user to keep their eyes open and to learn how to “soft focus” on the world which surrounds them. Breathing slowly and watching a candle burn or bubbles in the fish tank or the waves rolling up unto the beach or a campfire or a stream flowing will all give a similar result. A good exercise is to go for a short walk, moving at about 2/3’s of your normal pace, and feel the pressure of your toes and heels landing on the ground. Taking 50 slow steps can help create a more peaceful consciousness especially if you can also feel for the warmth of the sun or smell the fragrance of the woods/grass or listen for the soothing sounds of running water.

3. TM (Transcendental Meditation) was very popular in the 60’s and early 1970’s. It was a form process of sitting for 20 minutes (or longer) and holding your attention on a word or phrase by repeating this word over and over. Sanskrit words like “Ram ma” were assigned based on your “vibrational pattern” by your teacher. I like to use a word like love or peace. The difficulty for many Western people is that it requires a lot of mental discipline to “quiet the mind” and remain on the simple word/phrase. The skill of concentration requires motivation and lots of practice.

4. I learned a form of Kundalini meditation that was very “enlightening” to me in my mid-20’s. It was a 20 minute exercise that has 3 parts. The first 10 minutes, “focusing,” are spent holding my attention on an “uplifting” word or phrase. I used the words love, peace, or calm. After 3 months my mind cooperated better and was not so distracted. The second 10 minutes, “meditation,” are spent letting the mind watch images flow through as if I were watching a blank movie screen or blank TV. Thoughts that flowed through my consciousness during this section of the meditation were sometimes very revealing and interesting. The third section, “closing down,” was to take 3 deep breaths at the end, picturing myself surrounded and protected by white light. This ritual was useful for me and I had some pleasantly surprising revelations using this technique.

If you require instruction or support with getting started and using meditation, look for classes or workshops in your area. Some people find coaches or teachers to learn meditation. I found a group to meditate with (one time per week) and over several months this was very beneficial for me.

Meditation does not have to be a religion or dogmatic philosophy. It can be a mental, physical, and spiritual practice which allows you to “connect” your mind and body, in the present moment. Studies have indicated that even 20 minutes of meditation can take the place of up to 2 hours of sleep and you can be more focused and productive in your daily activities.

Western style meditation can be found in practices such as Autogenic Training and visualizations. Consider learning more at the Stress Education Center’s website at www.dstress.com.