Into the mystic, part 4
My spiritual journey has probably been like many of yours. I was an inquisitive kid with an almost insatiable appetite for reading. I was and remain, skeptical of anything I am told is “absolute truth.” That phrase has me scrambling to do research faster than a firefighter runs to the hook and ladder when the station alarm sounds. After Jesus claims he came to testify to the truth, and that anyone interested in the truth sides with him, Pilate retorts, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38). This is a deeply philosophical question we must all constantly ask ourselves, especially concerning our spiritual beliefs.
One of the most powerful tools in my quest for truth has been meditation. When this ancient practice was introduced to me, I discovered a connection to the Infinite, the Holy, to God that I didn’t even know was possible. Everything before meditation had been an intellectual quest—which is an extremely important spiritual foundation. Yet, in meditation I felt the presence of God flowing through me, so powerfully that every atom of my body began to vibrate at a different frequency. I sensed my Oneness with everything in existence, and began to discover just how vast, glorious, and loving the universe truly is. Outer space is a cold vacuum. But the stuff that holds outer space together is pure, warm love.
I learned to meditate with some friends who discovered a little book called The Infinite Way. Written by someone many consider a Christian mystic, the influences of that book are part of the reason I still prefer to call union with God “connecting with the Infinite” rather than “Worship.” I remain unconvinced about God’s need for worship. I do believe that, since we are beings of God, connecting with God’s constant presence in a very conscious way is what the ancients were getting at when they discussed worship. Remember though that in their worldview, gods were responsible for things, and gods demanded worship and tribute. Hopefully, our spiritual development over the past several thousand years has helped us grow beyond this idea of petty gods—especially given Jesus’ revelation of God within us (Luke 17:21).
I’d like to share some meditation techniques from The Infinite Way with you. These are techniques I use to this day, in one form or another. They share similarities with other meditative traditions such as Buddhism, Taoism, and the Christian mystical tradition, which, sadly, has been largely lost, crushed under the weight of denominational dogmas and creeds.
Feel free to experiment with these techniques, to tweak them, to adjust them or discard them as you see fit. Meditation is a very personal experience, because it is about personally connecting with God. The methods, tools, and mechanics we each need for meditation are a little different for each of us. Hopefully, these ideas will guide you as you develop your own techniques for constant connection with the Infinite One, whose presence is always around and within us, guiding us ever into more conscious awareness and enlightened ways of being human.
Meditation Techniques (adapted from The Infinite Way by Joel S. Goldsmith)
1. Make yourself comfortable. Sit erect, with your spine straight, your feet firmly planted on the floor, your hands relaxed in your lap, and breath normally. Do not lie down. There is no mystical or occult reason for this, it is very simple: when your body is perfectly comfortable one is not conscious of it (yet lying down makes it very easy to fall asleep). We want to be comfortable, but aware. Take a breath and count to four. Breathe in and out four or five times, counting to quiet your mind. Breathe normally.
2. Next repeat silently or audibly, “I turn within to the Christ of my own being”. If thoughts enter, repeat this phrase. Always go into meditation by yourself. Never let another lead you into meditation.
3. We will never be able to stop the mind completely. If human thoughts or concerns enter, do not fight them. Relax, let the thoughts come and then let them go. As you practice, this interference will subside. Be patient.
4. Now, move to the subject, “What is God?” You are not interested in another’s concept of God; you are interested only in asking “What is God?” and receiving the answer from God. The kingdom of God is within you, so the answer must come from within your own being. Sit quietly and ask, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening,” or “Father, I am here, speak,” or any other conversational phrase that works for you.
5. Assume a listening attitude as if you were waiting to hear the answer. Thoughts may come. Think about God as the source of our being and all that is.
6. Someday, while meditating and pondering the idea, “What is God?” realizing now the nature of prayer, you will suddenly find that you cannot think anymore; you have come to the end of thought about God and prayer. Then you will sit there, quietly, at peace, no more thoughts, no more questions, no more answers, just peace. Thoughts will be quieted, the inner ear will open and a long, deep breath like a sigh of relief or a sense of release will come to you. It is as if you were escaping from something, as if a burden were dropping off your shoulders. It will appear in many different ways, and when that release or relief comes you will be so full of the Spirit that you will get right up and do the work that lies ahead for the day, or perhaps some work that has been neglected. With that release will come divine wisdom, divine guidance, and divine strength, for that deep breath, the click or release, was a God experience, the actual presence or activity of God in your consciousness.
7. We never stay in meditation for more than 10 minutes at a time. It takes a long time to be able to stay in meditation 10 minutes or longer.
Prayer: Quiet my mind and still my thoughts. Make your presence known to me, God who is constantly leading me back to you. Amen.