Meditation Tools: Aids to Help You on Your Inner Journey

Before embarking on important undertakings, sit quietly, calm your senses and thoughts, and meditate deeply. You will then be guided by the great creative power of Spirit. --Paramahansa Yogananda

Meditation is the technique of living in prosperity, peace, energy and happiness. -- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

In Truth, no meditation tools are needed, because, in Truth, we are the Infinite Self right now. However, we believe what the mind tells us as the mind has been our master for so long. The mind tells us we need all kinds of things to get from A to B. The mind likes all kinds of journeys and demands to be the guide upon all of them. With that said, since we believe we are bodies, or individual pesonalities, operating and struggling in time, the following are some meditation tools I have found helpful. Take them or leave them; it is up to you. Experiment to see if what I say is true or not.

Diet

Diet is very important, especially at first. If you are eating heavy foods, such as meat (particularly red meat), you are going to feel heavy. In the Hindu tradition foods have been categorized into three classes: tamasic (sluggish), rajasic (energetic), and sattvic (light). In a nutshell, tamasic foods consist of animal meat, fermented food, such as alchohol, dairy (cheese)and old food; rajasic are those foods that are spicy, have garlic and onions in them, caffeinated, salty, have eggs and fish, are sugary; and sattvic is the kind of food that is basicly just good wholesome food, such as fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains.

The first group, being that they produce sluggisness are not helpful in producing good results in meditation. They literally weigh you down. If your mind was water and you looked at it after eating this type of food, the water would be muddy.

The second group is very stimulating for the mind. They are great for invigorating the mind, but you don't want your mind all excited going into meditation. Here the water would be filled with crashing waves.

The third group is the best for meditation. Such food, and eaten with moderation, helps produce a calm mind, like a clear reflecting pool. You can experiment by just eating this category of food and you will see how buzzy you'll feel, especially if you are eating primarily fruit. You will feel high and your mediations will be greatly benefited.

I have found, however, that having a physically active lifestyle with family was not conducive to such a prolonged sattvic diet. I approach diet as an aid, but nothing to be rigid about. As Jesus said to his disciples: "Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a man; but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." (Matt:11). Experiment and be moderate.

Fasting

Periodically I have done fasting to help clean out the body as well as elevate the mind. I have used the Master Cleanser fast, which is a concoction of fresh lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. I have gone up to 24 days on nothing but this lemonade and my mind was extremely sattvic. But you have to be careful with any kind of fasting, and, of course, check with your health practitioner if you have one. Another good thing about fasting, even if it is for one day, is that it breaks the eating habit, and is a reminder that, while food is important, we don't always have to worry about it.



Disciples dance in joy of devotion, singing the songs of God. Good Company

You are known by the company you keep, as the adage goes. If you want to spend your time with the angels then hang around people who seek that company as well. If you look at everything as vibration, some people are vibrating at a grosser, slower level, while others are just buzzing. If you have ever been in the presence of a holy person, or you have just gone through an uplifting seminar, you probably have experienced that increased vibration.

On the other hand, if you spend your time with those who complain, are needy, who are consistently sharing their fears, you will feel drained and heavy. If you are just around worldly people you will remain embedded in the earth, your flight plan will find you grounded, and not in the good grounded way.

Ramakrishna advised that when one is a young sapling, one needs a good fence to protect them from the goats of the world. When one has grown into a tree later on, then one can provide shade for those same goats.

Satsang, or meditating with others, is an excellent meditation tool and will enhance your meditations. It's kind of like a gaggle effect--it is much harder for a goose to fly alone than when it flies in a gaggle. Just as bd company can bring you down, so can good company rise you up.

Meditation Room or Creating a Sacred Space

When I lived down in Los Angeles in the 80s I lived near Tara Singh's center where he and his students lived together, studying the teachings of Krishnamurti and A Course in Miracles. He had created a meditation room that was exclusively set aside for meditation, and there was always someone in there meditating--24 hours a day, seven days a week. He did this to raise the vibration of the room so one could slip easily into a meditative state. It was like a bath that had warm running water pouring into it, which made it easy to plunge right in.

While I have never had the luxury of living in a large enough house to fully dedicate a room to meditation, I have had, from the beginning, at least a corner to set up an altar. The closest I have had to a meditation room was in a little loft/crawl space. I was going through a rough relationship at the time and I would often ascend the latter to my holy spot, my refuge, above it all. There I would replenish and descend once again into the mud and blood of the relationship.

In my little meditation room/loft I had my statues, photos of various teachers, crystals and gems, and sacred books. I also had my prayer shawl and prayer beads or malas. I sat on a zafu or meditation cushion. I would often have a tarot card to help me focus on bringing forth some archetypal quality in me. I also had Tibetan bells and a singing bowl. And of course I had incense.

You can make your meditation room however you want to. Just surround yourself with objects, sounds and smells that uplift your state of mind. And make sure it has a comfortable seat. If your mediation space is just an altar, then make sure everyone respects that space.

Your altar is really a symbol of what you want to aspire toy or, more accurately, to remind you of who you already are.

Routine

There is an expression in Waldorf education that applies to meditation: Rhythm replaces strength. In other words, when you do not feel like meditating, if you have established a habit of meditating every day at a certain time, then you will just do it. Your moods are not dictating your meditation practice. Then the habit will kick in and you will be meditating. So routine is very important as you are setting aside time for meditating, setting your spiritual practice as a priority in your life.

Should you feel guilty if you didn't meditate as usual? Of course not. A meditation routine is a tool and not a god. It should not be worshiped, for a routine is of time, and nothing that can be affected by time should be worshiped.

Keeping it Simple

Whatever your meditation is, make sure it is one you can stick to over a long period of time so you can see the benefits of the practice. Make sure it is simple enough in order that it will be easier to come to. If it is a strenuous meditation that requires a lot of time at one sitting it will be much harder to be consistent with it, unless your life is such that you have few responsibilities, and you already have good discipline. But for most of us householders, where children and jobs and chores clamor for our attention, the meditation needs to be simple and effective.

Inspirations: Music, Books, Movies, Videos, Internet, and Art

I constantly feed my mind inspirational work; whether it is watching an inspiring movie, reading an uplifting or spiritual book, listening to music that gives me goosebumps, watching positive videos, going on spiritual websites (like this one), or viewing visionary art. It is probably more important what you feed your mind than it is your body. If you feed your mind a bunch of fear, you will have that much more to work with in your next meditation. If, however, you feed the mind inspiring food, your vibration will be on a higher plane and thus will make your meditations easier to achieve a quieter mind.

I have a list of books, music and films that I have compiled that I consider wonderful spiritual food for the mind.

Mountain peaks rise to the sky, inspiring one's meditation.

Nature

There is nothing like meditating in nature. Nature abounds with a Silence that is far removed from the city. Even the noises of nature are silent, for there is no ego in them. They just are part of the Moment. Some places in nature are even more conducive to meditating. I have found high places and deserts to be my favorite places. I find the Silence very loud in such places. But I am sure it is different for everyone. Those recognized sacred sites, the ones that people for centuries have traveled to for worship and communion with the Divine, have a greater vibration that is conducive to meditating. A Hare Krisna said to me in Australia, "Everywhere on the cow is sacred, but you can only get milk from the teats." Such are sacred sites like Mt. Shasta, the Ganges, Mt. Kailash, Stonehenge, Lourdes, etc.

The drawbacks about meditating in nature are the insects and finding a comfortable spot to sit in. My meditations in the jungle were plagued by ants, flies and all manners of insects attracted to my sweat and blood. Mosquito nets or tents can be the greatest of meditation tools for such places that are plagued by mosquitoes and such. See Sacred Sites

Mindfulness

The more you are aware of your mind and are able to keep it disciplined throughout the day, then when you sit for meditation the mind will quickly come to a peaceful state. And the more you do that, pretty soon you do not even need to sit to achieve what you would in meditation, for then you are in that meditative state all the time. The goal of meditation is to get you to be aware or mindful of your true nature at all times, no matter what you are doing. And being in that mindful place there is emptiness of any possessions or any definitions. And in that emptiness there is freedom.

So I hope you have found some of these meditation tools helpful for you upon your inner journey. Experiment and enjoy.




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