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Suggestions for Meditation

Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.

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"One hour's reflection is preferable to seventy years of pious worship ...."

- Bahá'u'lláh, Prophet-Founder of the Bahá'í Faith


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This page will offer a technique of meditation. It is based on the various approaches to this art which I have studied over the years. Please note that this essay is only meant to be suggestive. There are many valid ways of meditating, and, frequently dependent on one's disposition and temperment, an approach which may work well for one person may not be be suitable for somebody else.

One point I would emphasize, however, is that, as I see it, meditation is not a process of simply blanking one's mind. One should, I feel, maintain an attitude of anticipation, of prayerful expectation. Meditation, like prayer, is an aspect of communion with God.

Meditation (or reflection) is directed thought. Those who claim not to meditate may misunderstand the concept. We all meditate, and we do it regularly. However, one's contemplative focusing may not always be ideal, and, due to a lack of discipline, one may become easily distracted.

The scientist engaged in hypothesis or theory development is meditating. Likewise, the impressionistic painter meditates as she or he strives to understand the purpose and powers of the material universe. The student preparing for an examination is also meditating. In meditation, one uses one's human spirit to know them more fully.

More concretely, before practicing meditation, I would suggest a period of private prayer (either silent or aloud). Prayer attunes the heart to the melodies of the heavenly Kingdom and makes the spirit susceptible to the cosmic forces of spirituality.

Spend considerable time pondering something with which you wish to become more familiar. Perhaps it is a virtue that you want to acquire. Maybe it is a topic you desire to become knowledgeable about. Locate some passages in the Holy Books which, at least on some level, deal with your reflective orientation.

Either sit or lay down in a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Now watch your breath. Each time you exhale, you feel your human imperfections diminishing. Then, as you inhale, you feel filled with the cleansing grace of the spirit of faith.

Visualize yourself laying on a beach. Hear the sounds of the seagulls. Smell the salt water from the sea. Begin to count the waves. Each time that a wave falls on the shoreline, you become more and more relaxed.

Feel the bright sun shining down on you. Notice that a single ray from that sun has fallen on the top of your head. Experience the ray as it slowly floods through your entire body; as it bathes your temple in pure, white light.

Should any anxiety yet remain in your body, tense that muscle up for a few moments and release it. Continue to watch your breath. You are now experiencing a tremendous sense of spiritual inner contentment.

For the next twenty to thirty minutes, begin repeating (mentally not vocalized), as a mantra, a short, but meaningful, phrase from the Holy which you consulted earlier. If your mind becomes distracted, do not be concerned. It is the nature of the mind to have a rush of thoughts. Do not attempt to stop it. However, do not consciously focus on any of these thought energies either. Just observe. And, as you do so, inwardly recite the mantra over and over again.

Gradually, if you are like most people I know, and you continue practicing this technique daily, your thoughts during meditation, throughout your day, and, especially, in your dreams will become more godly and positive.

The word mantra comes from the Sanskrit, manana, meaning thinking, and trana, or liberation from the bondage of the phenomenal world (sansara). Thus, japa, the repetition of mantras, is liberatory thinking.

More simply, spiritually, what you will to think, you will become.