The Zoo Fence

Meditation Primer

While cleaning out a box of collected papers, pamphlets, brochures, and the like, we came across these meditation instructions. We do not remember where or when or how they came into our lives. The author’s name is nowhere to be found on the document, and neither is the name of an organization or group which might have published the document.

Meditation is a very personal practice, and so a set of instructions that works for one seeker may not work for another. All the same, it is our opinion that whoever wrote these pages did so very thoughtfully. We are glad to post them here, in the hope that they will be of help to some TZF visitors.

For Brother Theophyle’s take on meditation, or if you came here from that cartoon and would like to return, please click here

For a simple meditation practice, please click here.

Meditation does not mean just sitting quietly for five or ten minutes. It requires conscious effort. The mind has to be made calm and quiet; at the same time it has to be vigilant so as not to allow any distracting thoughts or desires to enter. When we can make the mind calm and quiet, we will feel that a new creation is dawning inside us. When the mind is vacant and tranquil and our whole existence becomes an empty vessel, our inner being can invoke infinite Peace, Light and Bliss to enter into the vessel and fill it. This is meditation.

I meditate
So that I can inundate
My entire being
With the omnipotent
Power of peace.

Why Do We Meditate? We meditate because this world of ours has not been able to fulfill us. Take peace, for example. The so-called peace that we feel in our day-to-day life is five minutes of peace after ten hours of anxiety, worry and frustration.

It is only through meditation that we can get lasting peace, divine peace. In the morning if we have meditated soulfully and received peace for only one minute, that one minute of peace will permeate our whole day. And when we have a meditation of the highest order, then we get really abiding peace, light and delight. We need meditation because we want to grow in light and fulfill ourselves in light. If this is our aspiration, if this is our thirst, then meditation is the only way.

If we feel that we are satisfied with what we have and what we are, then there is no need for us to enter into the field of meditation. The reason we enter into meditation is because we have an inner hunger. We feel that within us there is something luminous, something vast, something divine. We feel that we need this thing very badly; only right now we do not have access to it. So our hunger comes from our spiritual need.

Spirituality cannot be achieved by pulling or pushing. We cannot pull down spiritual Light by hook or by crook. Only when it comes down on its own, on the strength of our aspiration, will we be able to receive it. Otherwise, the Light will descend beyond our capacity of receptivity, and our vessel will break. How do we receive this Light from above? How do we expand our consciousness so that our receptivity will increase? The answer is meditation.

If we enter into the life of meditation in order to escape from the world and forget our sufferings, then we are doing it for the wrong reason. If we enter into the spiritual life because of outer frustration or dissatisfaction, then we may not remain in the spiritual life. Today I have failed to satisfy my desires; so I am dissatisfied with the world. But tomorrow I will say. “Let me try again. Perhaps this time I will get satisfaction.” But after a while, we will see that the desire-life will never satisfy us. We will realize that we came from the Vast and will want to enter into the infinite Vast. This is aspiration.

To keep your energy alive in this field, you can ask yourself: Does my environment enhance my life? Do I feel soothed when I walk into my home or office? Do my friends, partners, neighbors support me? If the answers to any of these is not energizing, take the action steps necessary to change it. If your home is cluttered and messy, de-clutter it. If friends are draining your energy, re-evaluate the friendship, or let them know how they can be supportive. Set your intention for what you want in your near field, and commit to its being the way you want it.

What are the benefits of meditation? Some of the benefits are: greater relaxation, a sense of well-being, more hope and interest in life, less anxiety, greater effectiveness at work and more joy in play. You will also find that your ability to concentrate is improving. You are needing less sleep, you are getting to know yourself, and your consciousness is expanding. Meditation becomes your friend.

How quickly does meditation work? There is some benefit from each meditation session. Overall progress depends on the individual. Your only race is with yourself, so there is no gain in comparing yourself with others. Generally, progress seems fast at some times, slow at others. Success depends on “sticking with it”.

When is the best time to meditate? For most people, the morning, just before breakfast is the best time. As the saying goes, “morning shows the day” — starting the day with meditation can make your whole day better. Getting up just a few min- utes early will give you the few minutes needed. Other good times to meditate are at noon, before dinner and at bedtime. It is best, although not absolutely necessary, to meditate on an empty stomach, at least two hours after eating. Progress will be fastest if you have a specific time each day when you practice your meditation. Sporadic practice often leads to not meditating at all. Your daily meditation period is the time when you are putting money in the bank that you can draw from as you need it throughout the day. You can also meditate at additional times during the day, such as on the bus or on your work break or study break.

Where is the best place to meditate? You can meditate anywhere, but the best concentration will occur in a quiet place. If you can pick a place in your home or room and meditate there regularly, you will find that the specific place, along with . your regular meditation time, will form a solid meditation habit. Candles, incense and flowers help to set the atmosphere for meditation.

Do I have to sit in a full lotus position to meditate? You can meditate in any sitting position with your back straight. If you use a chair, try not to use the seat back for support as the “laid back” posture tends to produce a “laid back” meditation: drowsiness and daydreaming.

What clothes should I wear? Loose, comfortable clothing will help you to avoid physical distractions. Undoing a belt or button may be all that is needed.

How long should I meditate? To begin you can try five minutes and then gradually build up to 15 or 20 minutes at a stretch. The important thing is to meditate with intensity and wholeheartedness. Please feel the necessity of meditating, even if it is only one minute once a day. If it is done whole-heartedly, then it is worthwhile.

When you meditate.
Think of a flower
Smiling and smiling,
Radiating its beauty
And offering its fragrance.

Meditation vs. Thinking

Thinking and meditating are absolutely different things — totally, radically different things. They are like north pole and south pole. When we meditate, we do not think at all. The aim of meditation is to free ourselves from all thought. If undivine or hostile thoughts enter into us, we reject them. Eventually a time will come when only divine thoughts and divine ideas will enter into us and be written on the tablet of our heart. But when we meditate, we should reject thought as much as possible.

Even reflection, which is a quiet kind of introspective thinking, is far from the disciplined vastness of meditation. Only in meditation is the divine bliss to be found. In the thinking mind there is no reality. Each moment we are building a castle, and the following moment we are breaking it. The mind has its purpose, but in the spiritual life we have to go far above the mind where there is eternal peace, eternal knowledge and eternal light. When we go beyond thinking with the help of our aspiration and meditation, only then can we see and enjoy God’s reality and God’s vision together.

How To Still The Mind

The most important thing is practice. As many times as the mind comes to you, just chase it away or deliberately place your conscious awareness on something else. If you allow it to distract you, it will only gain strength. You have to know that in this world everybody has pride, vanity and self- esteem. So if you keep your heart’s door closed each time the mind comes, if you pay no attention to the mind, then after some time the mind will find it beneath its dignity to bother you.

Concentration paves the way for meditation by making the mind calm and quiet. When you want to practice concentration, you should choose something that gives you immediate joy. Select something that is very beautiful, divine or pure, like a flower or a candle flame. Concentrate on the smallest point possible.

Try to breathe in as slowly and as quietly as possible, so that if you placed a tiny thread in front of your nose it would not even move. You will see that your concentration will be deep and your mind will be very calm and quiet.

Next you can imagine something very vast, calm and quiet. When you start meditating, feel that inside you is a vast ocean and that you have dived to the bottom, where it is all tranquility. If you can identify yourself with this vast ocean, with this flood of tranquility, then it will be extremely easy for you to meditate.

How Do I Know if I am Meditating Properly?

If you are meditating properly, you will get a spontaneous inner joy. If peace, light, love or joy have come to the fore from within as a result of your meditation, then you will know that you have meditated well.

Also, if you have a good feeling for the world, if you see the world in a loving way in spite of its teeming imperfections, then you will know that your meditation was good. And if you have a dynamic feeling right after meditation, if you feel that you have come into the world to do something and become something, this indicates that you have done a good meditation.

There is another way that you can know. If you are actually entering into a higher plane, you will feel that your body is becoming very light. If it is a really high meditation, you will feel that your whole existence, like a divine bird. is soaring high, higher, highest

Suggestions for Meditating At Home

Set a regular time to practice at least once a day, even if for only 5 or 10 minutes. Best times:
· First thing in the morning, ideally at 6 a.m.
· On your lunch hour
· When you get home from work or school, before you eat dinner
· Just before you go to sleep (but not lying down!)

If you can find the time to practice at least twice a day, you will see the benefits much more quickly.

Wait at least two hours after a heavy meal. If you are really hungry, have some juice or a small snack so that your hunger won’t distract you.

Try to sit up straight so that you stay alert. Use anything that makes it comfortable for you to sit up straight — a chair, cushion, meditation bench, etc. Lying down is an open invitation to fall asleep! (But if you want to use meditation to help with insomnia, you can try meditating lying in bed at night.)

At first you will probably find it less distracting to meditate with your eyes closed, but eventually it will help if you keep them open or half closed, because then your meditation will be more power- ful and you will be better able to integrate it with your daily life.

If you can find a small comer of your room where you can set up a special meditation spot, that will help you considerably in the long run. Tradition- ally candles, flowers and incense are used to create a special atmosphere.

Concentration/Meditation Exercises

Concentration. To concentrate on a candle flame: sit with your back straight, with your eyes half open, and breathe slowly, deeply and gently. Begin by taking a few long deep breaths. Then focus on the candle flame, holding it in your mental gaze, and try to feel a narrowing of all your mental energies on that one point, the candle flame. If thoughts come up, just let go of the thoughts and feel that they are flowing out on your outgoing breath, like flowing out on the outgoing tide. Don’t be disturbed by thoughts; don’t follow the train of your thoughts; just let go of your thoughts and return to the candle flame. Try to feel that you are piercing the flame with the intensity of your concentration, like shooting an arrow with a bow.

Breathing Exercise. Breathe in and out slowly, in a relaxed fashion. While breathing out, feel that the opposite of peace — restlessness — is flowing out; you are emptying the garbage. While breathing in, repeat “peace” inwardly, and while breathing out, repeat “restlessness.” You can use this with other feelings also — joy, love, light, etc.

Candle Flame in Your Heart. Now imagine in the centre of your heart a candle flame just like the one you were concentrating on. Try to see a can- dle in the centre of your heart. Feel that as you breathe in the candle flame is glowing more brightly and as you breathe out, the light from the candle is gradually spreading … first it is spreading to fill your chest … now it is spreading through your shoulders and down your arms … down past your elbows … down your arms to your hands … as you breathe in the candle flame is glowing more brightly, and as you breathe out the light is gradually spreading … now it is spreading upwards, filling your face with light, relaxing the muscles in your face, filling your face with golden, glowing light … now the light from the candle is spreading into your mind, relaxing knots of tension in your mind, chasing dark thoughts from your mind, filling your mind with golden, glowing light … as you breathe in the candle flame is glowing brighter; as you breathe out the light is gradually spreading out beyond your body, out into the room, filling the room with light, then out beyond the room, out to the universe, until you feel that the entire universe is filled with golden, glowing light radiating from the centre of your heart. When you want to end, you can feel that the light is gradually withdrawing, coming back into your heart, becoming more concentrated and more intense, filling your heart with a light that you can carry around with you for the rest of the day.

Select a specific time for your morning meditation, preferably before 8:00 a.m. (the best time is 6:00 a.m.), and each morning concentrate and/or meditate at this time in the same area of a room in your home for 7-15 minutes. As soon as you can, add a second time for your meditation session, spending another 7-15 minutes in the evening.

Begin each session with concentration to calm your mind. Then try the concentration/meditation exercises given here. It is best to do only one or two during each meditation session. After a while you will naturally find the best way for you to meditate — each person develops their own favorite way.

Open Space