STAGE 3 MEDITATION - AIR
Awakening the Sacred Heart
The Spiritual Christian meditation system is a bottom-up process of personal transformation beginning with the most dominate forces of nature which impact the human being, i.e. the earthly primal drives, instincts and impulses of the physical body. The physical body and its auto-erotic drives are the densest energetic experiences we humans have in this life. We are at the mercy of the body’s cravings, urges, dark impulses, desires, hunger, elimination, sexual drive, sleep, etc.
Spiritual awakening is not sustainable unless we first learn to manage and subdue these elemental forces. Three stages of meditative transformation must be accomplished consecutively to reach Self-realization or God-realization in the Sacred Heart. Stage 4 is not a transformative process, but a letting go to the Divine Presence and the Holy Spirit.
Stage 1 Meditation transforms, refines, and manages the earthly, vital, and primal forces of the physical body; when successfully completed, it will bring us to the threshold of the lower psychic waters. Stage 2 Meditation works to purify the dark waters of the lower psychic and to reveal the content of our personal unconscious referred to, by Carl Jung, as the shadow self.
The second stage is about exposing the shadow, reclaiming our fragmented unconscious self, purifying, and balancing the psychic energies of the lower psycho-cognitive nature until they are capable of merging and blending with the higher psychic energies above the diaphragm. The third stage begins by purifying and vaporizing the “psychic waters above the diaphragm” (moist air) and refining these Life and Light energies in the “crucible of the heart” until they are refined into Spirit (fire or radiant light) which merges with the Divine Presence in Stage 4. This is the threshold of Stage 3 Meditation which is explained below.
THE PHILOSOPHY & KNOWLEDGE OF STAGE 3
The Christian meditation system presented on this site differs somewhat from other meditation systems in that we strive to be consciously still and clear in the Light, Love, and Spirit of Christ and to keep this inner holiness ever-present within so we feel love for God and for others. As Christians, it is our goal to be clear within so we can know the Light and Spirit in our body, heart, mind and soul, and to experience oneness with the Divine Presence.
We achieve clarity by resolving and transforming our personal weaknesses, fears, lower desires, unstable emotions and psychological pain. In this purified and renewed state we can know stillness and peace in our service to God and humanity.
The conscious experience in the Stage 3 heart meditation is the highest awareness experienced by the personal self. This experience awakens a sense of wholeness within our Self and is literally the experience of the Kingdom of Heaven within; this experience becomes the foundation or “departure point” for selflessly entering into Spiritual Knowing in the Divine Presence of God in Stage 4 Meditation. In this stage, the union of the heart-brain becomes the center and highest impersonal or selfless meditation experience.
In spiritual consciousness, we “let go” of the personal self so we can experience stillness and knowing within the Divine Presence. To use an analogy, it is the radiance in the heart which sends warm currents of inspiration to the brain; and these currents sync with the brain to establish a link between the heart and divine knowing in the spiritual consciousness of Stage 4. Without the heart being in resonance, synchronicity, and coherence with the brain, higher consciousness would be elusive and beyond our ability to discern. Stage 3 Meditation is about awakening and bringing to life the radiant light in the Sacred Heart as the pictures of Jesus and Mary illustrate.
The Waters of the Psychic Nature
In order to understand the context of this meditation work it is important to recognize the living symbolism of the waters of our psychic nature. The knowledge revealed from symbolism is possible because of these universal laws: As it is above so it is below and as it is below so it is above; as it is within so it is without and as it is without so it is within; and for every macro perception there is a micro perception, like the sun of the solar system, our solar plexus, and the nucleus of the atom. With these universal laws in mind, Genesis has always been thought of as the Macro perception of the Creator creating Creation, but now consider that the Micro perception is the Creator creating the matrix of the human body.
In the symbolism of the KJV of the Bible, Genesis 1:6-10, the nature of the upper psychic water is distinguished from the lower psychic water of the body. Verse 6: And God said, “Let there be a firmament (our diaphragm) in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8. And God called the (upper) firmament Heaven (our spiritual divine self). And the evening and the morning were the second day. 9. And God said, “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 10. And God called the dry land Earth (elemental physical body): and the gathering together of the waters he called the Seas (our psychic nature): and God saw that it was good.”
It can be argued that earthly manifested life below the diaphragm is comprised of our rational ego-persona, the emotional body-mind, the elemental-animal body, the fluids of the circulatory system, air (oxygen) for life to flourish, and the fire (light energy) of the nervous system while everything above the diaphragm is unmanifested heavenly life in the waters above the waters (purified psychic energy), the reasoning mind, conscience and the spiritual light. In the NRSV of the Bible Genesis 6-7: And God said, "Let there be a dome (diaphragm) in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." 7. So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. In the RSV Genesis 6: “Let there be an expanse in the middle of the waters, and let it exist to make a distinction among the waters, in the waters.” Keeping this symbolism in mind let us continue.
Feeling & Desire
The diagram above shows 3 circles representing 3 states of mind: the Noetic, the Psycho-Cognitive, and the Physical, Instinctive Mind as well as the diaphragm. The middle circle, the psycho-cognitive mind, is the subject of this discussion as it represents both Stage 2 and Stage 3 meditation. The definition of mind is: the part or faculty of a person by which one feels, perceives, thinks, remembers, desires, and imagines.
So, the “psycho” in the psycho-cognitive circle is comprised of the feeling mind (-), the desire mind (+), and the cognitive (intellect or rational) mind. The feeling, desire, and cognitive minds exist above and below the diaphragm, but there is a distinct difference between these two states of consciousness.
For the purpose of making this distinction clear, let me say… in the “dark” waters below the diaphragm where the shadow exists, the 3 psycho-cognitive minds are mostly unconscious; whereas, the same 3 minds, in the waters above the diaphragm, are mostly conscious. This is why God separated the waters from the waters because they are distinctly different states of consciousness and must be dealt with differently.
It was explained in Stage 2, that the primary work is to make the personal unconscious (the shadow) conscious by focusing the “light of our attention” into the darkness of our unconscious. We are to retrieve those broken parts of ourselves and bring these fragments into the light in order to make the lower waters clear and to make our lower psychic nature whole and conscious.
Feeling is the passive aspect of the psychic nature which is present above and below the diaphragm. When it is created below the diaphragm through negativity, it manifests as dark emotions of the feminine principle adhering to the instinctual, bodily consciousness. These lower psychic energies become the substance of the body-mind, affecting it psychologically through negative emotions, moods, and resentments.
This dark energy is part of the unconscious shadow which is below the diaphragm and felt in the solar plexus. When these negative energies are properly transformed in Stage 2, they become positive feelings above the diaphragm in Stage 3 which are pure, loving, sensitive, kind, and receptive to intuition.
Desire is the active aspect of the psychic nature which is present above and below the diaphragm. When it is present below the diaphragm, it manifests as the dark-side of the masculine principle which stimulates the lower desires, appetites and impulses of the body. Desire also stimulates feeling and often leads it astray; it is the cause of misdeeds, anger, insensitivity, and compulsive behaviors.
As a result of these errant behaviors, desire is often the cause for transgressions which are “hidden” in the unconscious shadow. When properly transformed in Stage 2, desire above the diaphragm in Stage 3 is inspiration and purified desire; it motivates us toward our divine nature.
The higher psychic above the diaphragm is non-dual reality, so the work in the heart center does not begin until duality and corruption are transcended through the purification and transformation of the psychic energies in the waters below the diaphragm. When one has severed the attachments from worldly influences and internalized personal power, then one will be free from the feelings of dark, chaotic and depressing emotions and the lower desires.
One then experiences non-dual reality (union) and virtuous feelings of gratitude, inspiration, and love in the heart center as the Sacred Heart begins to awaken. This is the work of Stage 3 Meditation. That is, the work in the heart center begins to purify, synthesize and unite the energies of feeling and desire; turning duality into non-dual perceptual understanding. This is an alchemical marriage in which the masculine/feminine, anima/animus become one or androgynous.
The Sealed Vessel
In John 2:1-11, the very first miracle Jesus performed was turning water into wine. This reminds me of the transformation process we are discussing here of turning the “dark” waters of the lower psychic into the “new wine” that will fill our “wineskin,” our purified and regenerated body. In order to have new wine for our new wineskin, we must prepare a sealed vessel as the alchemists say; one that can contain the intensity and protect the increase of purified light energy.
The transformation of the psychic energies is the sacred work alchemists have referred to in all of their writings – we humans are the sacred vessel that is prepared to illuminate the world. A sealed vessel is required in the transformation process so that what is within stays in and what is without stays out; otherwise, we would continue to be adversely influenced by the world and trigger our old habitual patterns of behavior instead of separating ourselves from them.
A sealed vessel is often shown in alchemical diagrams as representing a wall meaning that our virtues are the bricks in the wall and our will is the cement which holds these bricks in place. This is what is meant in Ephesians 6:11 that says, “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” If one can build this wall of virtue and truly separate from the enticements of the world, he or she will understand what Christ meant when he said, “I am in the world, but not of the world.” In reality, this wall of the personality is built on the qualities of our character – honesty, integrity, sincerity, kindness, compassion, selflessness, and love of truth. This is the foundation upon which the true Self is realized.
Meditation within the sealed vessel means the psychic energies, which are very volatile, will continuously circulate and bring into the focused attention of the practioner any unresolved issues, personal weaknesses, and/or non-personal instinctual energies for the purpose of transformation. Transformation means recognizing these undeveloped, unconscious energies as being a part of oneself and putting them into the light so their true nature may be understood and healed and the redeemed light energy can be integrated into the wholeness of our being.
In this way, unacceptable behaviors, reactionary anger, disappointments, resentments, unconscious responses, and negative projections can be transformed and eliminated by turning this energy into virtues, goodness, and personal dignity – the new wine. Note: Today’s so-called “safe space” is nothing more than a hiding place for the shadow so it does not have to face the challenges of life which reveal an individual’s personal weaknesses. It is only when we face prejudices, weaknesses, and adversarial circumstances that our true strengths are revealed.
In this quest for Self-realization, another way of understanding these alchemical stages of transformation is to recognize that we are in an elemental body of earth, water, air, and fire (see diagram below). The focused meditation work begins on the physical level by engaging the non-personal forces, self-preservation, self-gratification, instincts, impulses, and sensual urges. Directly confronting these elemental forces loosens the earthly bonds we have with the body so we can become more fluid (psychic nature) in our actions, understanding, and perceptions of life and self; this relationship with the body is our first center of awareness.
The work of Stage 2 meditation is in the second center of awareness, i.e. the psycho-cognitive nature which includes the solar plexus, the ego-personality and the shadow. The ego-mind resides in the “waters of the lower psychic” surrounding the solar plexus. The transformative work purifies the emotionally-contaminated psychic waters (the body-mind) with fire (focused attention) and turns these waters into vapors (moist air) which helps consciousness to rise to a new center of awareness, Self-realization in the Sacred Heart, where the air becomes dry from the warmth and radiance of the heart.
When our true Individuality is realized in the stillness of meditation, this signifies that the ego-persona is no longer in control, but has taken a backseat to the authority of our true Self. As long as we are in the body, we need the ego/body-mind to function in the world, but it is no longer the decision maker.
There are many references in the Bible which refer to the meditation process and these transformative experiences: The eye (singular eye or focused attention) is the light of the body; the Light is the life of man; man is spiritually born out of water (feeling) and fire (desire) that is, the psychic nature; and except a man be born of water and spirit (purified emotion & purified desire), he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John the Baptist says, “I baptize you with water: after me shall come one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
The purified state of the psychic nature is considered the Kingdom of Heaven which will lift all above the misery of life and be the foundation for the Christ Light. The breathing and meditation practices in Stage 3 guide the practioner into oneness with the love of the Christ Spirit in the Sacred Heart. This is the third center of awareness.
As mentioned above, the 4 stages of meditation correspond to universal laws of “as above, so below;” they also correspond to the Hebrew Tree of Life and to alchemical symbolism. There has been a good deal of elemental symbolism mentioned in the three sub-headings above from psychology, the Bible, and alchemy. For those who are interested and understand the importance of elemental symbolism, the following text comes from a very old alchemical document called “The Turba Philosophorum” which explains the relationship of the 4 elements with one another. These elements also represent the 4 levels of consciousness in the body which correspond with the stages of meditation.
“The stars are igneous (resembling fire) and are kept within bounds by the air. If the humidity and density of the air did not exist to separate the flames of the Sun from living things, then the Sun would consume all creatures. But God has provided the separating air, lest that which He has created should be burned up. Observe that the Sun when it rises in the heaven overcomes the air with its heat and the warmth, penetrating from the upper to the lower parts of the air. If the water did not nourish the air by such tenuous moisture, assuredly the Sun would overcome the air. The fire, therefore, extracts moisture from the water, by means of which the air conquers the fire itself. Thus, fire and water are enemies between which there is no agreement, for the fire is hot and dry, but the water is cold and moist.”
“The air, which is warm and moist, joins these together by its concordant medium; between the humidity of water and the heat of fire the air is thus placed to establish peace. A spirit arises from the tenuous vapor of the air because the heat being joined to the humor issues something tenuous, which will become a wind. For the heat of the Sun extracts something tenuous out of the air which then becomes spirit and life to all creatures. The air is thickened and it is also made thin; it grows warm and becomes cold. The density of the four elements reposes in the earth; for the fire falls into air, the density of air received from the fire, falls into water; the density of water increased by the fire and air reposes in earth.”
“Fire is the rarest; that which is warm and dry is rarer than the warm and moist; water is cold and moist; earth is cold and dry. Air is a tenuous matter of water and it is not separated from it, but remains above the dry earth, to wit, the air hidden in the water which is under the earth. If this air did not exist, the earth would not remain above the humid water. The air which is hidden in the water under the earth is that which sustains the earth, lest it be plunged into the said water; and it, moreover, prevents the earth from being overflowed by that water. The province of the air is, therefore, to fill up and to make separation between diverse things, that is to say, water and earth; and the air is constituted a peacemaker between hostile things, namely, water and fire, dividing these, lest they destroy one another.”
This diagram is the Tree of Life superimposed over the body.
THE BREATHING & MEDITATION PRACTICES OF STAGE 3
Stage 3 Meditation
In order to begin this stage, it is necessary that the dark energies, psychological issues, and the dual-perspective of the lower psychic have been resolved and neutralized so nothing from that level disturbs this meditation. The next step in this meditation process is to be clear, virtuous and selfless enough for the dual aspects of feeling and desire to immerse themselves into one another like a divine marriage (the alchemical symbol above when heat [focused will] is applied); it means duality is united; to be contained, complete, serene and flowing within your higher Self in the activity of life. This is the experience of wholeness, and Wholeness of Being is the goal in Stage 3 meditation. Wholeness of Being is Self-realization and the source of Wisdom (Sophia) in our lives.
~ Step 1: Begin with focused-connected breathing. Hold a focused attention on the heart, and surrender this focused attention to the Sacred Heart in the middle of the chest. When consciousness in the heart is steady, continue with the diaphragmatic breathing until the autonomic nervous system moves it effortlessly. As the breath slows, “breathe with a breath within the breath” softly and slowly in and out of the heart center.
Place the tip of the tongue on the roof of the mouth at the location which is comfortable for you: on the ridge of skin above the front teeth; in front of the bump on the roof; or behind the bump where the tissue is soft. This closes a circuit allowing for electro-magnetic energies of the body to flow smoothly. In this meditation, let go of the body, mind, self, time and all expectations; just BE in the Sacred Heart and feel the presence of the Christ Light and Holy Spirit in the breath and aura of the heart and in the atmosphere surrounding your body. Be still and surrender to the Christ Spirit in your heart during this meditation, and be receptive to the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
BE STILL in the light and love of the Sacred Heart and simply let the light radiate. The symbolism of the Rosy Heart represents purified desire and the refined conscious self, that is, one who has died and been reborn into the Kingdom of Heaven. The heart chakra is represented by two interlacing triangles (Star of David) which means the union of heaven and earth. Jesus is pointing to this heart above.
The beginning goals in this meditation are: first – let go of the personal self until you realize selflessness and purity of heart; awaken to wholeness of being within; and realize your True Self, your internal divinity. In human consciousness, this means wholeness of being and it is the experience we seek in this meditation. There is a point in this meditation when the reconciliation of the opposites (the union of feeling/desire, anima/animus, female/male) in the psychic nature is fulfilled and one experiences an involuntary, spontaneous union of the psychic nature which feels like a knowing of wholeness of Self.
THE TRANSFORMATIVE EXPERIENCE: The heart meditation really begins when one has attained purity by letting go of the lower emotions as well as the pettiness and superficiality of the ego-mind; balance and wholeness are realized in this phase. When stillness is achieved in meditation, this begins a more powerful transformative experience. Stillness means one is consciously entering a state similar to lucid dreaming; this placid-conscious region is where we, under normal circumstances, unconsciously program our autonomic nervous system (ANS) from our reactions to life’s experiences. Our thoughts and emotional reactions imprint the neural networks of the ANS with our: likes/dislikes, want/don’t want, prejudices, preferences, deep fears, hurts, disappointments, cravings, inferiority issues and insecurities, etc.
This ANS programming is the source from which arises anxiety, fear, sadness, anger, resentment, lower desires, hurt feelings, insecurity, etc. When we are really still and peaceful in the heart meditation, we can passively erase this negative programming from our ANS; these “shadowy forms” will evaporate as they encounter our stillness, light, and strength of will. This reprogramming is making the unconscious conscious and clear; it does so by removing those “trigger points” which cause us to react to life experiences and people with anger, jealousy, envy, resentment, uncertainty and low self-esteem etc. – behaviors that do not represent the kind of person we truly are within.
The experience we want to achieve in the heart meditation is to completely clear out this detrimental programming. Get clear so the love and light of Christ will fill this space in our hearts; this sanctifies the Sacred Heart. The goal is to feel whole, selfless, peaceful, loving, and needless. At this point, through the exercise of the Will, one should be able to reduce or even stop the chattering-mind. Learn to hold a quiet state of mind (no chattering), be selfless (no feelings of the personal-self), and just BE until you can feel your True Self. This is the beginning of Self-Realization. Those who reach this experience will truly know what it means to be reborn.
For those who are really serious about their spiritual development, this is the perfect time to practice celibacy, especially men. God created us with an excessive amount of sexual force. We are always “sitting on ready, ready.” Celibacy directs the sexual forces inward and upward rather than outward. It is like the alchemical process of distillation; turning water into steam. These forces build up when they are retained and initially, they super-charge the vital system of the physical body.
As they continue to be refined, they rise, like steam, moving through the lower psychic, uninhibited by lustful thoughts since these were purged in Stage 2 meditation. As these sexual forces enter the higher psychic, they begin the process of transformation from sexual force to spiritual energies. As these purified energies enter the heart center, they act like an accelerant to the fire or radiance in this chakra. This transformation will be apparent in those who have reached this level: in their “inner glow” and positive attitude; in their confidence and self-esteem; in their joy of living life; and in the serenity and peacefulness of their being. In time, as the meditation practice continues, the presence of the Holy Spirit will be felt. When it is recognized, this is an indication to begin Stage 4 Meditation.
THE POSSIBLE IMPOSSIBLE
At first I saw just a glimmer, and then the wind rippled the surface of the deep well of life,
Into which I dove down willingly and began swimming as quickly as I could to the light.
I only had one thought then, to cross to the brilliant other side,
But I soon found myself passing through the deep place where all my real shadows hide.
Then, I wanted to turn around, but suddenly the way was narrow and the light grew dim;
And I had no other way to go but onward; and I was kicking as the walls closed in.
Holding my breath with all my might, until there was nothing left of me but heart,
As stroke after stroke, I drove through the darkness, guided by the fire of a distant star.
Then, just as my body disintegrated, the Christ reached out for my life,
Drawing me gasping through the eye of the needle as a brilliant thread of light;
And though I leave everything behind, to be stretched in the rare air of heaven above,
I rejoice to breathe in eternity, reflecting so clearly in the light of love.
The terminology of the Triune Self, the 4-fold body and the breath-form are taken from the book Thinking and Destiny by Harold W. Percival. Basic terminology regarding the instinctual body, the shadow and the psychic nature come from Analytical Psychology and the collected writings of Carl Jung, volumes 6-13 . The application of these terms to the different stages of meditation is based on my own meditation experiences.