6 steps to meditate efficiently

Meditation.JPG

By Martin Gauthier

Meditating is both easy and hard. It is easy because it requires nothing else but time and a bit of space to practice it. It can be hard to accomplish it without some basic technique and patience. For those who had the opportunity to do so, do you remember when you learned to ride a bicycle? The first real test was to keep your balance and react appropriately as you pedaled along wherever the bicycle would bring you. In other words, you needed attention. Meditation requires just that.

Step # 1: Keep yourself focused on the goal to reach

In his formative years in India, the famous yogi Paramahansa Yogananda met a teacher, Bhaduri Mahasaya,  who reminded his young pupil, after meditating for an hour, not to “mistake the technique for the Goal.” There is a reason for meditating. Maybe you want to attain peace of mind, find an answer to a question, elevate your spirit to other dimensions or communicate with your Higher Self. Whatever your objective, it must be on your mind at all times when you prepare yourself to meditate. Call it a mental bookmark.

Step #2: Find your space, inside and outside

I have three main areas in my house in which I meditate: in my basement, in my sanctum and in my bed. I choose one of the three locations to ensure I will not be disturbed for a given period of time. Choose a spot where you will feel comfortable and adorn it with anything that will get you in the proper mood: it may be incense, candles, music or a picture or painting that you like to look at before you start meditating.  In any case, it is important that your Self knows what you are doing to prepare yourself for the inner session. This is an important ingredient for success; your soul will know you are placing yourself in a situation to enter your inner space and will act accordingly to ensure you achieve your goal.

Step #3: Get into the right frame of mind and position

Meditation is concentration and the reverse is also true. You can meditate standing up, walking, playing pool or chess, climbing up a mountain or listening to music. It all depends on what you intend to accomplish and how much you put your heart into it. If that goal of yours is to remain focused on what is outside of yourself, so be it. But be reminded that when you are doing so, you are honing your sense of observation and acuity for what is perceived, in the world of effects. To reach the world of ideas, intuition and imagination, you have to tune in a higher realm and go deep inside yourself. To do this, you have to shut off the outside world and there is no better way to do it than to close your eyes and plunge into the domain of silence. The best position to adopt is to sit with your back straight, preferably in a lotus position or in a chair. The reason behind this is not to fall asleep in the process, which is too easy to do when you start relaxing.

Step #4: Breathe correctly

Your goal is set, you found a quiet space, your spine is in an upright position and you have just closed your eyes. You are ready to meditate. What you now have to do is breathe correctly. Most of the time, we do not pay enough attention to this vital function and are engaged in shallow breathing: inhaling and exhaling in a matter of a few seconds, using only the chest area. Deep breathing, which is key during meditation, requires us to fill our lungs entirely, in a smooth fashion, and empty them completely before repeating the process. As you can now understand, breathing can be as much a voluntary and involuntary function. This is an excellent opportunity to use the power of your consciousness efficiently because at first, breathing deeply can certainly make you impatient. To avoid this, use your will to focus on the air slowly entering your nostrils and traveling downwards to fill your lungs; when you exhale, feel the air leaving your lungs and moving outside your body through your nostrils. Keep your attention on the process for a few minutes if you can. If you succeed, congratulate yourself: you have begun meditating. The next phase is crucial.

Step #5: Be your goal

This affirmation can seem very strange at first. But being your goal brings yourself a step beyond the intellectual level and that is exactly where you want to be when you meditate. The first part of this process is to think about your goal. It requires you to fill your mind with whatever you wanted to do before you settled somewhere to meditate. By thinking of your goal, you trigger a process whereas your Self puts you in a mood to explore this thought. But unless you have attained some incredible peace of mind, another thought fills your mind in a matter of seconds; and another. Soon enough, you are dealing with a train of thoughts and comments on a variety of subjects. Your inner voice, your ego’s way of disrupting your peace, has kicked in and is very relunctant to give you the peace you wanted to have in the first place. The only way to move beyond this stage – when you become aware of it – is to go back to your original intent and focus in a way that it fills your entire being. You then become the object of your meditation, you become your goal,  whatever it is. There will come a time when your ego will have no space to entertain you with its blabbing and will let you be.

Step #6: Let yourself be

Now that you have achieved your goal, it is time to switch from the active aspect of your meditation to the passive one. You cease to think about being your goal and enter into a bona fide silence of mind. That is very hard to do but it is feasible, do not despair. Even if you think of nothing for a few seconds, pat yourself on the back, you have progressed! The objective here is to enter that space inside where your higher self resides. If you are conscious of this space, you are fortunate. Await for any answer you have been seeking for; it will come to you, either within that precious moment or it could be revealed to you later in the form of insight. In any case, when you feel it is time to stop meditating, do so by opening your eyes, stretch your body and resume whatever occupation you had before entering your private world.

Back from Heaven

By Martin Gauthier

The survival of a part of us after the disappearance of the physical body is something that does not surprise a lot of people anymore. Since Antiquity, thinkers have tried to understand and explain to others what was happening to those who leave us behind, in order to give not only a meaning to life, but also to death.

We therefore became accustomed to beliefs that send souls to places as diverse as the Kingdom of the Dead in Egypt, Hades underworld in Ancient Greece, the Elysian Fields in Rome, Hell and Purgatory for Christians, the Sheol and Garden of Eden for Jews, Barzakh for those of the Islamic faith and the Happy Hunting Ground for Native American tribes.

In short, the departure from our world is a given, there is a transition to another world and even a destination. Religions, sects, movements and philosophical schools offer a range of options on the subject, some good, some outright bad, which are often based on services provided during the existence, in order, no doubt, to prepare us before we jump into this novel adventure.

Karma

What still surprises many of us, however, is the idea of the transmigration of the soul, especially in the West. The Hindu religion has been interested it for a long time and even exported the idea. To showcase it and wet our appetite, it exposes this concept known to most of us: karma. This Sanskrit word does not appear at a basic level to have a secret for anyone slightly interested in the human condition. It is used in all manners. Philosophers, proponents of spirituality and public opinion make use of it, jokingly or seriously.

We usually tend to link karma with fate. It is considered an inherent part of our destiny. The logic that underlies karma is rather simple and can be stated as follows: the evolving being – you or me for example – is shaped by its past actions and past lives. Karma presupposes that for every action, there is a reaction or compensation. Life leads us to make decisions that translate into actions that inevitably bring consequences to which we react and thus turns the wheel of life.

And whoever talks about past lives talks about reincarnation, a concept Hindus have placed in the heart of their religion. The Bhagavad-Gita, an epic poem of the Hindu tradition, states it quite clearly in Chapter 2, Verse 27: “Of that which is born, death is certain, of that which is dead, birth is certain.”

Reincarnation

Hindus regard the body as a temporary material envelope from which the soul frees itself when death occurs. If bad actions predominated in the course of the lifetime, the soul comes back in a new body to compensate for them.

Although Christianity, Judaism and Islam do not espouse this way of viewing life, other movements, groups and philosophical schools accept it and develop the principle. Karma is based on two factors: the survival of what we are beyond the physical plane and the return in the flesh to continue our evolution.

Reincarnation thus implies that the soul needs to take a physical envelope more than once to complete its evolution. Why this need? It’s difficult to give a definite answer without having completed our evolution, but the notion put forward by Rudolf Steiner that the destiny of the human and of the Earth are inextricably linked due to the fact they are born at the same time is something to take into account.

As this evolution first took place in an intangible way, some spiritual seekers say that the physical portion of the being, chiselled over this long period, has reached a level of evolution and perfection the astral body is still far from having attained. It is this learning phase of the emotional portion of us that has so much impact on the physical body. Thus, this body of ours is, ultimately, only a receptacle and the tactile memory of our decisions that reflects the impact of actions decided through the use of our free will.

The dynamics inherent in karma are consequently set in motion. The results of the successive chains of causes and effect somehow elicit a return in a corporeal structure, in matter. It is a question of rebalancing the being that created an imbalance while indulging in excesses during a life experience.

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This text is an excerpt from my book We only live once, available in paperback and ebook format at Amazon.com and Amazon.uk. Watch what it’s all about on YouTube. Visit Seek Publications on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

December 21 2012: a new dawn for mankind or just another doomsday scare?

Photo courtesy of NASA

Photo courtesy of NASA

By Martin Gauthier

Two weeks away from the famous doomsday date of December 21 2012, things are moving up a gear. Sales of emergency shelters are on the rise. A blogger ‘reports’ that a UFO has been spotted near the sun. According to the Indiana Statesman, a lawyer is planning to jump off a cliff in Arizona at exactly 11:11 universal time, confident a cosmic portal will then open up to propel him God knows where. Then, you have a lot of worried people with their eyes set on the Pic de Bugarach, in southwestern France, believed to be a refuge in face of the ultimate disaster. But authorities have abruptly cut short any expectations on the matter: access to the mountain has been shut off from the 19th to the 23rd of December.

Others plan to dance it away in Guatemala. Meanwhile, the American government has its own spin on the event, saying there is nothing to worry about. And what about the Mayans? Some of their priests are supposed to celebrate the event at the archeological site of Izapa near Tapachula, Mexico.

You don’t know what December 21 is all about? Where have you been for the past few years? To sum it up, a Mayan age is coming to a close. So says a calendar. There have been scores of books, articles, blogs and research papers published on this, as well as tendentious video footage circulating on YouTube to prepare us for the worst. Even National Geographic jumped on the Armageddon bandwagon. Popcorn munchers can remain comfortably on the watch with the so-called official countdown. But beware: all this material will be outdated come the end of the month, if we’re still there.

Doomsday culture

Will we still be around in three weeks’ time? This is the hot million-dollar question these days…or is it?

It’s not like we’ve not been there before. The list of failed predictions for apocalyptic events is detailed. For all we know, it appears to have started with the Essenes. This Jewish mystical sect reportedly considered a Jewish revolt against the Romans in the years 66 to 70 as the battle to mark the end of time. A few centuries later, a bishop from Gaul, Hilary de Poitiers, announced our end for 365. Christians were again at the forefront on the matter (as they should be, after all it’s their calendar) for the year 1000. Several of them announced from various points in Europe the fatal ending of life on Earth for January 1 of that year.

The list goes on and on. Enter the 20th Century and wouldn’t you know: doomsday cults are thriving. One of the most famous preachers in the business, Herbert W. Armstrong, told the members of his Worldwide Church of God that only they would be saved from the Rapture that would take place in 1936. He revised his predictions three more times (1943, 1972 and 1975) before he called it quits. Harold Camping’s crystal ball took over for the Rapture scene in 1994, before he stepped aside last year. And for those who think they’ll make it past 2012, there’s good news: psychic Jeane Dixon anticipated Armageddon will take place in 2020. Eight more years to wait…

There have been other more astute persons in the prediction field; Nostradamus, for one. I have often read over the years the French seer’s prophecies in his famous book Les prophéties, written in 1555. These obscure quatrains – poems consisting of four-line verses – supposedly predicted major world events like the Coming of the Antichrist and World War III; some even interpreted one of these stanzas as predicting the events of September 9 2001. That is pretty easy to say after the facts are known. The truth of the matter is, you would have had to be in Michel de Nostredame’s head to make sense of his prose. He himself wrote he did not consider himself a prophet.

The Mayans and their prophecy

All this brings us to the case at hand: the Mayan prophecy for 2012. For those who do not know, the Mayan civilization covered a vast territory, stretching from Central Mexico to Central America, including Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and El Salvador. The origins of the Mayans remain mysterious. The Olmecs are considered to have founded the first Mesoamerican civilization. There are theories that the Mayans evolved from the Olmecs, but they could have been around earlier than we think, as their civilization seem to have flourished earlier and in an independent fashion.  The Mayans themselves refer to their arrival in America as a result of a migration from the destroyed homeland they called Aztlan. This seems to refer to Atlantis which, according to Tradition, sunk in the year 9,654 BC.

Among other talents, Mayans were meticulous timekeepers. They figured out cycles of time to understand the patterns of the spiritual essence and their application for everyday life, be it planting crops or building temples and pyramids. How precise where the Mayans? They worked the year length in days to a precision greater than the Gregorian calendar: 365.242036, to be exact.

One of their calendars, the Tzolk’in, has been in use for the past 3,000 years. But what interests us here is the Long Count Calendar. It spans 5,126 years. Its ends on what has been translated by some in our way of counting time, December 21 2012. This date supposedly marks the end of the Fourth Mayan Age. After that, the Fifth Age begins. According to Mayan mythology, the three previous worlds were destroyed and the present one will be destroyed by fire.

Analyze this

What does this means exactly? Are we slated for oblivion before we even celebrate the passing of 2012? Much has been written on the ‘signs’ leading up to this year. Let’s look at some of them, all coming from above the skies:

  • Galactic alignment: some claim that the rising of the solstice sun on December 21 will be in alignment with the center of our galaxy, something that happens once every precession cycle of 25,630 years. NASA scientists say the coming solstice will be normal and debunk claims of a significant planetary alignment for this date.
  • The return of Nibiru: this planet mentioned by the Sumerians is supposedly headed toward Earth. But where is it? According to NASA, such a world, sometimes refered to as Planet X, does not exist.
  • Sunspot activity: the next peak of activity was forecasted for 2012. If the worst happened, it is safe to say that nothing remotely significant happened so far and that our communication grids and satellites are intact.

To top it all off, news came out earlier this year about the discovery of a Mayan calendar that gives us an extension on life at least for a few thousand years.

A new paradigm?

What do Mayan Elders have to say about the present hype? Author and spiritual teacher Drunvalo Melchizedek talked with some of them. In a newsletter published on his website last month on the subject of 2012, Melchizedek says that “According to the Mayan elders, there is a window of opportunity for a global shift in consciousness until January 2016 and every day during this period of time is equally prone to this possibility.”

Shift in global consciousness…This could certainly makes sense. Twenty-five years ago, on August 16-17, a self-proclaimed expert on Mayan cosmology, José Argüelles, organized the first planet wide synchronized meditation to correspond with a rare alignment of planets. Whether we believe or not Argüelles’ assertion that the so-called Harmonic Convergence began the final 25-year countdown to the end the Mayan’s Fourth Age, one thing remains: events like those help foster a new awareness to help know ourselves better, who we are as a race.

We have entered the Aquarian Age, symbolized by air. Increasingly, inventions and technologies have been using frequencies – airwaves – to reach out. People make an extensive use of their gadgets, phones and computers to communicate with one another. We are more connected than ever before. We want to be in contact as fast as we can.

The next leap in the matter will see us use consciousness to reach out. Welcome to the new spiritual age.

Those expecting celestial fireworks on the winter solstice could be very disappointed. What will you do on December 21? Stay home and do nothing? Have a party? Rush to the supermarket to pick up as much food as you can before heading for your emergency shelter or bunker? What about finding a quiet place to meditate and help foster a planet-wide change in consciousness?

The choice is ours to make.

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Martin Gauthier is the author of We only live once. The book is available in paperback and ebook format on these links at Amazon.com and Amazon.uk. Watch what it’s all about on YouTube. Visit Seek Publications on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.