Alex Jones

Meditation Instruction

The following meditation instructions are taken from the chapter, Third Step in Awakening Your Diamond Essence in my book Meditation Where East and West Meet.  

In the Yoga Sutras Patanjali speaks of disciplining the body to maintain the correct posture,  a "stable and relaxed posture." By right posture he means any  comfortable position where the spine is erect so the energy and  consciousness can flow freely up the spine. Patanjali insists that  the meditator must  be able to maintain a fixed posture without fidgeting or physical  restlessness so that the motions in the body are stilled.

This  is very important. The body needs to be still and the spine straight  so the energy can flow inward and travel up to the higher centers in  the spine and brain so you can actually feel your Diamond Essence.

Patanjali  tells us that the devotee must be beyond the dualities of heat and  cold and so on. In the Yoga Sutras he encourages the devotee to be  unaffected by extremes. Patanjali does not however advocate the  necessity of practicing the more strenuous yoga postures of Hatha  Yoga, but only that which is necessary to make the body fit and  prepared to receive the extra current that accompanies ecstasy or  union with The Divine in meditation.

At  this level  Saint  Teresa  talks about  self-control.  In her  book Interior Castle Saint  Teresa of  Avila tells  us in  the "third  mansion," that the  power of  discipline  does  manifest  and causes  a  spontaneous  tendency  towards  acts of  charity for  others,  while  prudence,  discretion  and order  appear in  one’s  life. This  inner sense  of control  manifests  in all  levels of  our being,  in the  control of  speech,  dress and  in  relationships  with  others. The  awakened  power of  self-control  aids in  disciplining  and  controlling  the body  and its  appetites  and also  each  attempt by  the will  to control  the body  leads to  a greater  expression  of  self-control. It  certainly  takes  self-control  and  discipline  to sit  still for  a period  of time  without  restlessness.

If you are a  beginner in meditation, I highly recommend you keep your session  short so you can sit still without moving. As you learn to sit still  for short periods of time, you can gradually increase the length of  your meditation practice. If you make your meditations "short and  sweet" in the beginning, you will want to meditate again and again.  If you attempts a duration longer than you're comfortable with, you  will not look forward to your next meditation engagement.

Depth of  meditation is more important than length, but as you progress, both  are necessary. So, in the beginning, learn how to sit still and  develop depth, then gradually increase your meditation time.

Five minutes of  concentrated meditation is more effective than fifteen or thirty  minutes with the mind all over the place. Naturally, long  concentrated meditation is even more effective.

Strive to  establish the habit of meditating at least once a day. If you can fit  two meditation periods -- morning and evening -- into your daily  schedule, you will find yourself becoming more centered and advancing  more quickly toward your desired goal.

Where  and How to Meditate

Where is the best  place to meditate? An ideal place is in a quiet spot free from  distractions and activities. Just as the kitchen is the place for  preparing food, it is necessary to create a special area dedicated to  meditation. A special room or the corner of a bedroom may be ideal  because there will be less traffic or interruptions.

You will also  want to choose a spot where you will feel comfortable and that is  usually available. By meditating regularly in the same spot, you  build up meditation vibrations that will help you to go deeper in  your practice. Take the time now to determine where you can best find  the conditions you need in order to meditate.

The next thing  to decide is how you will be sitting. If you can sit in the  traditional yoga meditation position, with your legs crossed and  interlocked, then practice this method. (See Diagram 1.) This  position is known as the lotus posture and is ideal, as it keeps the  body in a stable position to prevent falling either forward or  backward. This allows freedom to concentrate and go within without  worrying about balance. Sitting in the lotus posture can be done on  the floor or on a bed with a firm mattress.

For most people,  especially in the West, this posture is uncommon and therefore  uncomfortable. If this is true for you it is recommended you sit on a  chair or the edge of a firm bed. (See seated in chair in Diagram 1.)  Your meditations can be just as effective by sitting on the edge of a  bed or on a chair. I recommend the position of sitting up, because if  you are trying to meditate lying down, you will find much of your  meditation efforts may be hindered by the tendency to fall asleep.  You have programmed yourself for many years that lying down signifies  it is time to go to sleep.

Also the  Christian posture of kneeling at prayer keeps the spine straight  allowing the mind to be awake and alert on the object of meditation.

I would like to  offer a few more suggestions before you set up your place of  meditation.  If you are going to sit on a chair, choose one with no  arms and one that will allow your thighs to be parallel to the  ground. In this way you will not be tilting forward or backward and  your spine will be straight. I would like to emphasize once again  that a straight spine is very important in allowing the energy to  flow freely up and down it. In meditation you are striving to take  the energy up the spine so you can take your consciousness inward to  the higher centers of the spine and brain where you can experience  your Diamond Essence.

The Bhagavad-Gita gives  specific  instructions  in the  practice of  meditation  to be  employed in  achieving  the  mystical  consciousness:  "The  yogi's  seat should  be neither  too high  nor too  low,  situated in  a clean  spot and  can be  covered  with  Kisa-grass,  deer skin  and then  cloth.  Meditating  on that  seat for  purification  of the  self the  yogi should  concentrate  the mind  until it  is  one-pointed.  Controlling  the senses  and  restless  thoughts he  should keep  his body,  neck and  head erect  and still  and focus  his eyes  at the  origin of  the nose  (spiritual  eye) and  refrain  from  letting his  gaze  wander.  Completely  serene and  fearless,  with a  disciplined  mind  focused  solely on  Me (God),  the yogi  should  regard Me  as his  Supreme  Goal. The  yogi who  thus  becomes  Lord of  his mind  attains the  peace of  Nirvana,  the supreme  peace that  is in  Me."

In  the above  passage the Bhagavad-Gita mentions  placing  Kisa-grass,  deer skin  and cloth  on the  meditation  seat since  many yogi"s  practiced  meditation  out of  doors.  Whether you  practice  in- or  outdoors a  woolen  blanket  would be  sufficient.  The woolen  blanket  helps you  lift your  energy.  Silk is  also a  great  insulator.  This will  isolate you  from  magnetic  earth  currents  that tend  to draw  your energy  downward.  In  meditation  you want  to bring  your energy  up the  spine.  Earth  currents  tend to  pull your  energy  downward to  the ground.  If you  are sitting  in the  lotus  posture on  the floor,  the woolen  and/or  silken  blanket can  be under  you.

If possible,  face east when you are meditating. Subtle magnetic currents are  always coming from the east and this will help you.

Think about your  meditation area and the objects you feel may be helpful to your  concentration. You might choose to have a little altar, perhaps with  pictures or sacred objects on it. Burning incense or playing soft  music is conducive, for some people, to the meditative state.  You  may wish to burn a candle or have flowers on your altar. Set up a  meditation area that pleases and inspires you. Make it a special  place of spiritual renewal, inviting you to come to practice on a  daily basis.

Do not postpone  your meditation practice until you feel you have created your ideal  environment for it. It may take time to set up the area. You can  enhance your special place over time. The main thing is to find a  comfortable chair or the place where you want to sit cross-legged in  order to start meditating.

As one  meditation instructor said: "The tush must touch the cush."

Meditation is  too important a practice to put off until tomorrow. If you put it off  you may never begin.

Time  for Meditation

When is the best  time to meditate? The answer is anytime you feel the inspiration to  do so and it is not in conflict with some other important duty. It is  advantageous to begin and end your day with a meditation. In the  morning it prepares your mind for the day. In the evening, just  before bedtime, it prepares your body and mind for a restful sleep.  Upon rising and just before going to sleep are the easiest times for  your consciousness to interiorize and explore the world within.  Remember though, at these times you are more susceptible to  sleepiness. If this is a problem for you it is best to choose a  different time in the day. You know your tendencies better than  anyone else, so find the time that works best for you.

Recommended  times for meditation are anytime in the morning between 5 and 8 a.m.,  from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., or from 10 p.m. to 1  a.m. There are vibratory changes at these four times and these are  helpful in deepening your meditation and making it more effective and  beneficial.

When you are  practicing meditation correctly, you will feel awake and more alive  than you have ever felt before. The mind becomes calm, concentrated  and focused, filled with energy and power. If you find you are  becoming drowsy while trying to meditate, this tendency needs to be  corrected immediately.

Proper  Posture

You have now  determined how you will be sitting. If you are sitting on a chair or  the edge of a bed, make sure your thighs are parallel with the ground  and your feet are flat on the floor.

Meditation Postures

In whatever position you are sitting, if it is possible, keep your back away from any surface. This helps concentration and prevents you from becoming too relaxed and falling asleep.

If you are just beginning meditation practice, or you have back problems, this position may be uncomfortable for you. Make whatever commonsense adjustments necessary. If you can train yourself to not depend on a surface to lean against this will eventually be to your advantage. As you go deeper in meditation you will feel a greater sense of freedom and expansion. Having your back against a surface leads to an increased sense of body identification and may minimize the sense of expansion felt in meditation.

Your chin needs to be parallel to the ground. Gently pull your shoulders back, with your chest up so the body is erect and yet comfortable. The lumbar region of the spine (opposite the navel) should be gently crooked forward. Remember, the correct posture is where the spine is straight so energy can flow freely up it, and you can sit comfortably for a period of time without fidgeting or restlessness.

If it is comfortable for you, place your hands at the junction of the thighs and the abdomen. (See Diagram 1.) If you turn your hands downward you will find this position is more passive. If you turn them upward, it induces a more receptive state of mind, and I recommend this for meditation.

You can also bring the tip of your thumb and forefinger together. In India they talk about different nadis or energy flows in the body. The position of the thumb and forefinger together utilizes one of these energy flows and is a very peaceful position for meditation. I personally like to meditate with my thumb touching both my forefinger and second finger.

Eye Position -- States of Consciousness

In your daily activities and during meditation there are three basic ways you can focus your eyes, and each one will activate a different state of consciousness:

  • If your eyes are open and you are looking around you are operating through the conscious mind. 

  • Eyes closed and lowered draw the subconscious state of mind and tend to lead to fanciful daydreaming and eventually to the sleep state. If you are looking down with eyes open, as some meditation instructors recommend, this still may lead to the subconscious state. 

  • If your eyes are upraised and focused at a point between your eyebrows, in the middle just above the bridge of the nose, this activates and eventually awakens your superconscious mind. This spot is known as the Spiritual Eye.

There are different names given to this sacred spot are: the Spiritual Eye, third eye, eye of intuition, the Christ Consciousness center or Single Eye. (See Diagram 2.)

Spiritual Eye

Focusing on the point between the eyebrows, or the Spiritual Eye, stimulates the superconscious mind, which contains all the positive qualities of the soul. It helps to develop the sixth sense of intuition. Working with the Spiritual Eye is a great way to tune in with your meditation goal and awaken your Diamond Consciousness.

Jesus is referring to the Spiritual Eye when he said, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of Light.”The Bhagavad-Gita also advocates meditating focused at the Spiritual Eye: “Firmly holding the spine, neck and head erect and motionless, let the yogi focus his eyes at the starting place of the nose [the spot between the eyebrows]; let him not gaze around in various directions.”

To do this, upturn the gaze, with eyes closed or half open. The raising of the eyes needs to be done gently, without strain, not looking cross-eyed or with tension. Don’t lift your gaze so high that you are looking toward the ceiling. You just want to gently uplift the gaze slightly above the normal horizontal position. To give you an idea of how high to lift the gaze, stand in front of a mirror. Look straight into your eyes. Now look at your Spiritual Eye in the mirror and notice how the lifting of the gaze feels. Close your eyes, maintaining this same upliftment of the gaze, and be aware of how this upliftment of the gaze feels as you concentrate inwardly on the Spiritual Eye. Keep this same sensation when you concentrate on the Spiritual Eye in your meditation practice.

Another method is to lift your gaze imagining you are looking out of a tiny hole in the area of the Spiritual Eye. You can also mentally focus on the Spiritual Eye and you will find your eyes will automatically lift to be centered at this sacred spot.

If you continue to meditate on the Spiritual Eye you will, in time, intuitively know when you have located the correct spot.

Some people tell me that in the beginning they have difficulty looking at the Spiritual Eye. Some have said they sometimes feel dizzy, lightheaded, off balance, and even experience a slight headache or nausea. I also experienced these symptoms at first. I learned to keep checking mentally to see if I was gently uplifting my gaze and not creating strain or tension. I later learned from a teacher that I had a clogged Spiritual Eye. What this simply means is that the energy was blocked and was not flowing freely through this center. Gradually I was able to change this and over time I found these troubling symptoms disappearing.

Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the classic book AutobiographyofaYogi and founder of Self-Realization Fellowship, a worldwide spiritual organization, encourages us in this practice by stating that “The ordinary man, concentrating his vision with half-closed eyes at the point between the eyebrows, feels eyestrain in the beginning, owing to the unfamiliar practice. The yogi, on the other hand, used to concentrating upward on his spiritual eye, finds it distasteful to identify his consciousness with the downward material vision of his two physical eyes.”As Yogananda indicated, when I look at this spot now I immediately feel a concentration of energy which transforms into deep peace and joy. If you are patient with yourself and continue your practice of looking at the Spiritual Eye, the same process will happen for you as well.

It is good to remember that in meditation you will be reversing the energy flow in the body to move inward. By concentrating on the Spiritual Eye, you are directing energy to this center. You will be creating new nerve channels or re-establishing those that have been dormant. This takes time and practice.

One method I used when I first started meditating on the Spiritual Eye was to bring my forefinger to this spot and hold it there for a few seconds. This helped me to orientate myself to where the Spiritual Eye is and the sensation of the slight pressure of my finger would remain after I dropped my hand, thus helping me to keep my gaze fixed at this sacred center. You can also wet a finger with your tongue and when you touch the area of your Spiritual Eye it will leave a cool sensation which will aid in your concentration and focus.

The Spiritual Eye is the center of will. It is also the door to the Infinite, the seat of intuition. This spot is where you will see inner visions. As already stated, Jesus said when the eye is single the whole body will be full of light. The Single Eye he is referring to is the Spiritual Eye and when the energy of the body is raised and concentrated at this spot, you will eventually see the Light of God. As you concentrate more deeply, you will come to feel that your whole body, each and every cell, is full of vibrant light. Experiencing the White Light is another goal we will explore later in the book.

The Old Testament refers to seeing the Light of God in meditation: “I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me…When I sit in darkness, The Lord shall be a light unto me.”

The upturned eyes of a person who has just left the body is focused at the Spiritual Eye. Just before death, people see a vision of the major events of their life passing quickly before them at the Spiritual Eye. This gives them an overview of their life and preparation for the next stage in their evolution. A person who is deeply concentrated on a particular endeavor often has their awareness centered there, hence the knotted eyebrows in deep thinkers.

While focusing on the Spiritual Eye, you may see colors as well. This is a reflection of the color vibrations working through the chakra centers. (These centers and their locations will be explored later.) When seeing and feeling these colors, you will become sensitive to their qualities. For example, if you are receptive to the red energy you will feel strength, power and vitality. Orange denotes optimism and courage. Yellow is imbued with mental power and joy. Green carries love, peace, balance, harmony and healing. Creativity, faith and devotion are inherent in blue. Indigo embodies intuition. Violet is the vibration of creative imagination and humility; it also is associated with spiritual perception. White contains the sum total of all the colors. When you can see the White Light in the Spiritual Eye, you will be experiencing all the qualities of the various colors.

Many of my meditation students comment on the colors they see at the Spiritual Eye and enjoy this aspect of their practice. This can also be a valuable meditation goal.

In Buddhist practice, the solar plexus is considered to be the power center and one tries to keep one’s awareness there. It is also recommended to keep the eyes open and down in meditation, focused on an object or a spot on the floor a short distance away. The object or spot is not to be focused on directly but is to be looked at with a soft gaze. Buddhist meditation instructors say keeping the eyes open and on an object are helpful to those who tend to be distracted by inner subconscious images when they close their eyes. Some Christian meditation systems have adopted this practice because of the popularity of Buddhist Meditation. However, I have talked to many students who practice this method and they complain of struggling with sleep in meditation. If you lower the gaze in this way, try to be extremely careful that you do not enter into the subconscious state of sleep while meditating. Buddha talked about being “awakened.” He did not recommend falling asleep in meditation.

Sleeping in meditation can be a real trap and one should guard against it. I had this difficulty in the beginning and I do not know of anyone who has practiced meditation and has escaped from experiencing this problem at one time or another. Of course, if a person is learning meditation to help with a sleep disorder and wants to relax and fall asleep through meditation then this is a different story. If, however, we desire to achieve the ultimate state of yoga meditation (union of the soul) with Spirit, then we need to work on overcoming the tendency to fall asleep in meditation.

I was fortunate to be in the presence of a God Realized master and she was adamant in her position regarding sleeping in meditation and in a very direct way she said: “If a person nods off when they meditate, and this develops into an established habit which will become very difficult to overcome, then the individual might as well kiss God goodbye in this lifetime.”

We can have a pleasant experience in the realm of the subconscious but this is very different from the effects of deep meditation. Once a student asked me if an experience he had was a deep meditation experience. He felt peaceful and relaxed but the state he was describing was the state of consciousness we have when reading a book in bed and we end up reading the same sentence over and over again, before finally drifting off to sleep. This is relaxing but not a deep meditative state.

When you go deep into meditation your mind will become so calm, so peaceful, so still and centered, like a crystal-clear mirror reflecting the infinite beauty within you. As you begin to experience your divine essence no words will be able to adequately describe this sublime state. I therefore highly recommend concentration on the Spiritual Eye because it will lead you to more rewarding benefits when practiced consistently. Focusing there will keep your consciousness on the superconscious plane of peace and away from inner subconscious images, memory or the sleep state. It will also lift your consciousness beyond the constant movement of a restless conscious mind. When practiced consistently, it will give you a joyous feeling of being centered and secure.

Just meditating on the Spiritual Eye alone is a very powerful meditation technique and will lead to nourishing your soul.

It is very beneficial to focus on the Spiritual Eye when you are praying, doing affirmations or repeating a mantra. (A mantra is a form of meditation you will practice later.) When you are trying to receive a response through intuition and feel your goal of meditation such as peace, love and joy, then it is best to focus on the Spiritual Heart. You will learn how to focus on the Spiritual Heart later in this chapter.

You have now been introduced to two simple but powerful and essential meditation skills: correct body posture and where to focus your gaze. Now it is beneficial, and time, to practice these two skills so you will become comfortable with them. As you progress in this book you will learn additional meditation techniques.