A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF MEDITATION
The purpose of writing a simplified overview of the stages of meditation is to clarify how the technique of focused, connected breathing is used in all the stages of meditation. The singular difference in each stage is where one’s attention is focused. Connected breathing is explained in detail in Just Breathe and Stage 1 Meditation. Before beginning the transformative work in Stage 1 Meditation, one needs to have a relaxed proficiency in this breathing technique as inner peace and smooth breathing are the keys to success for each stage.
Transformational meditation is a bottom up process which begins by developing an awareness of the creaturely body we humans inhabit as well as understanding its instinctual energies, physical urges and impulses, and compelling appetites. These primal forces, energies, and desires of the body influence critical decisions we make every day, like: what we ingest, what we avoid, what we like and dislike, and what habits we develop, etc. Many people never experience the inner peace and confidence of meditation because they have pre-determined that sitting quietly and breathing is boring; thus they remain lost in the illusion of the world.
In the circular technique of focused, connected breathing, we begin by keeping our attention focused in the lower mid-section behind and a little below the navel (a primary source of vital energy) with the intent of sitting quietly and being still. We consciously follow the breath up the central channel of the body past the solar plexus, the heart, into the pineal gland in the head.
Then, it continues upward to the crown of the head and showers the energy downward stimulating the pituitary gland before entering the vagus nerve and descending back down into the lower abdomen where the breath returns to the navel for a new in-breath. Connected breathing means we eliminate the pause between breaths; instead the inbreathing smoothly flows into the out-breathing and vice versa.
This is a very simple circular breathing cycle that energizes, pacifies and revitalizes the body. The idea is to gradually slow the breathing and relax the body until breathing is smooth and easy. However, those who are new to breathing and meditation will quickly find out that their chattering mind will not shut up and their body wants to move, scratch an itch, or fall asleep. Let me assure you, this happens to everyone; if you get this far, you are making good progress!
What we discover in this first effort to breathe and meditate is the animal nature of the body tries to dominate and overrule our intention to sit quietly. It will interfere with any effort we make to do something that does not include pleasing and pacifying it; it resists all efforts through itching, sleepiness, wiggling, boredom and impatience. This begins the tug-of-war as to who ultimately rules in this life – you or your body-mind!
What is being encountered in this confrontation with the body could be considered as an energetic layer of the “wild animal” nature of the body we are training to be domesticated and peaceful. The technique of focused, connected breathing is the means of keeping the animal nature on a short leash while we tame and subdue these instinctual impulses of the body. Consistent breathing and meditation practice will strengthen your will to the point that the primal energies of the physical body will gradually submit. When this is accomplished, you, as an individual self, have risen above the influence of the “animal impulses” of the world, literally.
The reason we focus on the vital center behind the navel in Stage 1 Meditation is this point arouses the animal nature and draws it into the light of our attention where we can perceive it for what it is, subdue it, and rise above it so we are free of its adversarial influences. These bodily influences include the sexual drive, self-preservation, self-gratification, and the drive to have power over others.
These various drives are referred to as the auto-erotic drives; they are felt in the body as urges, impulses, pain, hunger, compulsion, anxiety as well as vital energy. These drives are vital energy which has been contaminated by the body’s animal desires. Meditation is a process for cleansing the vital energies of these dark, sensual, self-centered energies, and recycling these subdued, purified, and revitalized energies to the body.
Everyone’s experience is different; everyone has different degrees of intensity in their impulses, urges, and appetites; everyone has a different history and different fears, but the same animal instincts. All of these earthly or physical energies are powerful enough to adversely affect the psychic “waters” which is our psycho-cognitive awareness of who we think we are and how we feel about ourselves and life.
Stage 1 meditation engages the coarser aspects of our physical nature, so our task on this level is to purge and purify the body’s vital energies and the corporeal soul. (See diagram below; one soul imprinted by four states of being) This stage of meditation is simply a process of cleansing the vital energies and the soul of these detrimental animal influences, which in turn, brings health, vital life, stability and calmness to the body.
Stage 2 Meditation
The work in Stage 1 must be fully completed before beginning Stage 2 transformation or the chattering-mind and the restlessness of the body will disturb one’s concentration. The same connected breathing technique described above is used in Stage 2 Meditation, that is, breathing begins in the area behind the navel, but now the focus of one’s attention changes to the solar plexus area.
The solar plexus is where the animal nature interacts with the psycho-cognitive nature which produces emotions, feelings, desires, likes/dislikes, wants/don’t wants, etc. in the self-image we all know as the ego-personality. The three lower centers of the body produce the dark and negative aspects of the lower psychic nature; this area is the domain of the shadow (See diagram below).
The negative characteristics above can cause us to get stuck in the lower psychic. In order
to advance into the higher psychic, identify and transform those that resonate with you.
For those who are not aware of this, the solar plexus is the open portal through which we receive energetic input from the surrounding world. We recognize this reality as a knot in our stomach when we are suddenly confronted with a frightening or embarrassing situation or under pressure; in more peaceful circumstances, it often receives practical, life-oriented intuitive input like knowing there is a parking spot in the next aisle. However, most people are too busy looking at their phones to recognize it.
In this system of meditation, the solar plexus, the psycho-cognitive consciousness of the ego-personality, and the animal nature of the body is referred to as the body-mind or the ego-mind. The body-mind is where we experience the turbulence of life as human beings with its ups and downs, plus the sensual enticements, urges, impulses and influences from the animal nature of our body.
In the first part of Stage 2 Meditation, focused, connected breathing continues, but the transformative work focuses on the weaknesses of the self-concept. The personal self with all its insecurities, opinions, likes/dislikes, prejudices, prideful conceit, arrogance and selfishness is primarily what comprises the negative aspects of the ego-personality in today’s world.
For the majority of people, the personal self is so confused, conflicted, and insecure that people find it necessary to wear a social mask in public so no one can see who they truly are or what they are really feeling or thinking. Ironically, this mask has so many faces that people become confused as to which of the faces is truly their own.
There are so many changing faces, feelings, thoughts, impressions, fears, moods, and opinions about self, life, and others that they do not really know who they are. This whirling, changing, shifting perspective of life and self is comprised of the ego-personality and the body-mind; it is who most people think they are.
The work of Stage 2 Meditation is to focus on one’s self-concept/self-image and unravel the confusion by clearly determining and eliminating all that isn’t
you. In the stillness and illumination of meditation these illusions of life can be brought forth, recognized, evaluated and the energy of them eliminated by speaking the word of power, telling them “to be transformed” or “be gone” and knowing it is so.
Through this transformative work, one cleanses and purifies the self-concept/self-image as well as the psychic soul; this work is preparation for truly being born again within. When there is some degree of clarity and confidence in the self-concept, the next step is to focus on exposing the shadow.
The shadow self, that is, the dark personality traits which produce negative behaviors, the 7 deadly sins, and the fragments of one’s personality from traumatic life experiences which have been repressed because of unresolved issues resides in one’s personal unconscious. These unconscious fragments are part of one’s life experience and need to be brought into the light and known; this is the only way a person can achieve self-confidence, clarity, and peace within. This paper explainsthe shadow.
This transformative work takes place in the waters of the lower psychic and can be summarized as purifying the emotionally-contaminated psychic waters with fire (focused attention), which transforms these waters into vapors (air) that will help us to rise to a new center of awareness above the diaphragm (the higher psychic), which is the location Sacred Heart center. See diagram above.
In the diagram above, the Human Self is comprised of feeling (F) and desire (M); these are the passive and active energies of the psychic nature. Feeling is the passive aspect of the psychic nature which is present above and below the diaphragm; below the diaphragm, it manifests as emotion. When properly transformed, emotions become feelings above the diaphragm; these purified feelings are clear, loving, perceptive and receptive to intuition. Simply stated, feeling below the diaphragm is comprised of many varieties of emotion, and above the diaphragm is enlightened feeling.
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 lower desires, appetites, and sexual impulses of the body. Desire also stimulates feeling and often leads it astray; it is the cause of misdeeds, anger, greed, lust, violence, 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, desire above the diaphragm inspires and motivates us toward the divine nature. Men are primarily desire and secondarily feeling, whereas, women are primarily feeling and secondarily desire.
In the ego-persona, feeling is passive until stirred by desire; when aroused, feeling in turn, stimulates desire and the interaction between the two constantly creates waves which agitate the waters of the psychic nature. The ego, shadow, and elemental energies of the body are the source of waves and mind-chatter which is the voice of the shadow and ego. Connected breathing can eliminate mind-chatter and meditation calms the waves. The shadow of the ego-persona keeps one’s attention constantly focused on the external disturbances, illusions of the world, inner turmoil, and unsatisfied desires which are felt in the body and solar plexus.
The work on this level focuses on transforming these energies, allowing for your real, unblemished self to emerge. Meditation work below the diaphragm is about purifying and transforming the dual-perspective of ego-reality (like-dislike, want-don’t want, etc.), the lower emotions, the instinctual impulses, the psychic nature, the shadow, and the behaviors which result from this inferior experience of life. And the work above the diaphragm is about recognizing: your true Self, selfless love, virtue, goodness, gratitude, and unifying the psychic energies of feeling and desire; the work of Stage 3 meditation.
Stage 3 Meditation
In Stage 3 Meditation, the higher psychic nature above the diaphragm is considered as non-dual or integral consciousness, so the work in the Sacred Heart center does not begin until duality and corruption have been transcended through the purification and transformation of the psychic energies around the solar plexus. When one has severed attachments from worldly influences and internalized personal power, then one will be free from the experiences of dark and depressing emotions and lower desires. One then experiences non-dual reality (union) and virtuous feelings of gratitude and love in the heart center as the Sacred Heart begins to awaken.
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 perception and fear into love. This is an alchemical marriage in which the masculine/feminine become one or androgynous. Spiritual androgyny (genderless) is where purified humanity’s destiny lies. In the future, our non-physical, spiritual bodies will conform to this new spiritual reality blending both genders into one genderless state similar to the angels.
Stage 3 meditation requires the same focused, connected breathing as well as maintaining a focused, still, selfless state in the heart center for a prolonged period of time. 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 the meditation.
The final step in this meditation process is to be clear and selfless enough for the dual energies of feeling and desire to immerse themselves into one another like a divine marriage; this union means being contained, complete, virtuous and serene in one’s consciousness as well as in the activities of life.
There is a point in this level of meditation when the reconciliation of the opposites (the union of feeling/desire, male/female) is fulfilled and one experiences an involuntary, spontaneous union of the psychic nature. The closest description of this experience is that it is a knowing/feeling of the wholeness of Self – not a personal intellectual understanding, but a higher knowing which comes from above and within.
This is the experience of wholeness, and Wholeness of Being is the goal of Stage 3 meditation. Wholeness of Being is Self-realization. When this state of consciousness is established, continue with focused-connected breathing, but now breathe in and out from the heart center. In this meditation, let go of the body, mind, self, and time; just BE in the Sacred Heart and feel the presence of the Christ Light and Spirit in the atmosphere surrounding your body.
Breathing in and out from the heart center will have profound effects on the body, but most especially, it will create a harmonious resonance, coherence and synchronicity on brain activity preparing one for Stage 4 meditation. There is a sacred spot in the heart which emits the first impulse of life in the fetus and it is in this spot that the final light of life dies out. However, in life, from this spot emanates the aura of the heart or the “flame of life” which contains potential mind, life, energy, and will.
The aura of the heart is a miniature expression of the greater aura surrounding the body and is a reflection of one’s spiritual existence. According to ancient teachings, there are seven brains in the heart and seven hearts in the brain. Breathing deep, smooth breaths from the heart center will put the mind into a peaceful, serene trance-like reverie making it receptive to higher states of divine consciousness.
This meditation overview is meant for those who are evaluating the stages of meditation. There is sufficient content to consider in these stages of meditation; certainly enough to recognize the journey of personal transformation. The best way to “test the water” and get a taste of the meditation experience is to practice breathing. See the link below.
FREQUENCY IN MEDITATION
Next: Just Breathe