There is no one right way to meditate ‘properly.’ There are many different ways to meditate in the world’s mystical traditions, as there are many different types of people. The best way to meditate is to do what works for you personally.
Meditation has to do with your ability to simply BE, whether walking, standing, sitting or lying down. It has to do with shifting your attention over from being the doer to the observer.
When you close your eyes, you will typically notice a steady flow of thoughts, as well as sounds all around you and feelings and sensations in your body. You may find, as Hindus and Buddhists have found over the centuries, that the mind is a “drunken monkey.” How then, can you stop your process, stop time, itself, and enter into the Eternal Now Moment, when you are totally present?
If you are meditating for healing, yourself, or someone you love, this becomes all the more challenging. If you have aching or pain in your body, or you are worried stiff in the face of a pending medical diagnosis, how can you Be Here Now in such a way as to meditate?
You start by making it as easy as possible for yourself. For most people, meditating while walking or standing opens up the possibility of a host of distractions. Sitting or lying down are much more feasible. However, lying down greatly increases the likelihood you will inadvertently go to sleep.
Lying down facing the sky is very effective for using the technique of progressive relaxation taught in yoga, where you systematically close your eyes and concentrate on every single muscle in the body, from your head down to your toes, tightening each muscle group, then relaxing it.
Most practical is sitting down, either in a comfortable chair, ideally where you can put your feet out, or sitting cross-legged on the floor, in Lotus position if you are adept with yoga asanas, or postures. While the Zen tradition has students stare at a blank wall with eyes half open, most traditions have students close their eyes and begin focusing on their breath.
Zen, itself, can be performed by continuously counting your breaths from one to eight. The TMTM tradition begins with an initiation where you are given a special mantra based on the time and place of your birth. This mantra is a divine name thought to specially suit your life in this incarnation. You repeat the mantra with the instructor loudly, and then softer and softer, until finally it is simply a whisper, and you begin to subvocalize it.
It has been found in extensive research that ANY sound, name or phrase can work. Dr. Howard Benson at Harvard had people in his studies simply repeat the sound “ONE,” in an attempt to induce what he called the “relaxation response.” He was attempting to generalize on the work of the Maharishi, who backed up his claims with extensive clinical research on the effectiveness of the TMTM technique.
The brain waves transform to deeper and deeper ones, such as Alpha, Gamma and Delta. They become highly coherent in the brain. Typically, the meditator is not asleep or dreaming, but in a place of concentrated alertness, which is referred in the Eastern traditions as superconsciousness, or the Fourth State.
It is most likely that a divine name, especially one associated with your own spiritual tradition or devotional practice, will be more powerful than simply repeating internally the word “ONE.” In conjunction with prayer, the name of a deity or divine being, whether it be Jesus, Mother Mary, Rama, Krishna or a Bodhisattva, such as Kuan Yin or Avalokiteshvara, will actually invoke, or call forth, that very being within you.
Some devotees will then visualize their Divine Master, or in rare cases, have an actual vision of Him or Her with their eyes open. For healing, this has profound implications. Jesus of Nazareth, for example, has an unexcelled healing record. It is thought and experientially felt by many, that when you feel His sacred presence, the healing process is initiated, in some cases, instantaneously. Often, in such experiences, you can feel an overwhelming sense of love where you practically melt in bliss.
You can technically meditate “with seed” or “without seed” as yogis are fond of pointing out. “With seed” is using a mantra or verbal device of some sort that you can focus on. It can even be watching a flame while cross-legged for a few minutes, and then closing your eyes and seeing it burn in your imagination.
This practice, however, is problematical, due to the danger of unwittingly starting a fire. “Without seed” is an approach where you have no point of concentration. With closed eyes, you watch your thoughts, hear sounds and feel body sensations come and go wherever they will.
For the purposes of getting well, you can visualize yourself in a gorgeous alpine field flooded with golden light, yourself radiant, bursting with energy and enthusiasm. You can silently repeat, “I am a whole, complete and perfect.” This can be enhanced by having your Divinity touch you and declare to you that you are whole, complete and perfect.
This is not so far fetched as you might first suppose. Christian Science and the New Thought Movement, along with metaphysical approaches worldwide, hold this to be true. The real YOU, beyond all appearances, IS whole, complete and perfect. This is held to be so despite any and all appearances, despite any adverse condition you may find yourself in.
The amazing thing is that with deep conviction, people ARE actually healed, and the condition more or less disappears right before their very eyes. If you study the life of the founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, you will find that she performed this in hundreds of cases, fully documented by written testimony. In some cases, limbs grew back, eyes could see and people were resuscitated from death.
Meditation is not something you do once or twice, and then forget about it. It is powerful only when done as a practice.
While you can meditate for any length of time—Zen students and advanced TMTM practitioners will meditate literally for hours—you will typically meditate for manageable amounts of time.
The Maharishi recommended for his initiates 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening twice a day.
Other techniques, including Centering Prayer in the Catholic tradition, have adopted this. It is probably a solid block of 15 minutes, where you need a couple minutes before to come into it, and a couple of minutes after to go out of it. What is remarkable is that students can actually experience profound relaxation with just 15 to 20 minutes when done as a habit.
What is most important is to keep in mind the essentials. You want to focus your attention on the present moment, especially your breathing. Closing your eyes, and therefore sitting or lying will minimize distractions. You may want to start each session with the yogic alternate closed nostril breathing, by progressively breathing in and out each nostril for four deep breaths, breathing with your belly as well as your lungs. This will most definitely put you in a conducive state for deep meditation.
Whatever comes up for you should not be a cause of undue concern. Just observe. Let thoughts, sounds, sensations and feelings drift right by you like light cirrus clouds through the sky. If you keep doing this, you may find an enlightening or revelatory experience like what the Japanese call Satori, a momentary pop where you experience complete unity with the entire universe, or even God.
Here is a visual meditation guidance for an additional clarity…
You may then awaken, if only for a moment, to your larger Self, to Whom and What we call “God.” It is of the greatest significance that Jesus declares himself “I AM,” which is the core notion of the most sacred name in the Biblical tradition. “I AM the Bread of Life.” “I AM the Resurrection and the Life.” “I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Given Jesus backed up these declarations with unprecedented miracles, we may suppose that pure being is the end game, and by being “I AM,” we become one with Him, with God... with our Supreme Being.
Personally, I was joking about it lightly… until… I started practicing it. Then, my brain got hooked. Every time I do it, my body get’s re-charged. So, no… spiritual healing meditation is not a joke! It calms, heals and brings me clarity.