February - Purification thru Meditation
As we arrive mid-February, the month of purification, it is the perfect time to use meditation to purify our minds. Meditation is an ancient powerful tool used for thousands of years to focus attention, train awareness, reduce stress and attain an emotionally stable state. The benefits seem endless with medical research showing improvements in both psychologically and physiologically health. You can truly effect the body with the mind.
There are a plethora of techniques developed by many religions and disciplines but the oldest documented are in the Upanishads, Vedic Sanskrit texts of Hindu philosophy, written over 2000 years ago. Everyone can benefit from connecting to this ancient discipline.
I came across a simple but effective technique decades ago during my comparative religion studies. It is quite popular and can be easily adapted for many uses. For optimal benefit I recommend finding a calm and quiet place, assume a comfortable position and have an open and relaxed mind.
No, you do not have to sit cross-legged! I cannot sit this way for any length of time, even when I was a child, and find it very off-putting. I sit or lay down but be careful, it is easy to fall asleep, unless that is your goal. I use meditation almost every night to slow and clear my mind, slow my breathing and heart rate and focus on pleasing thoughts for a restful nights sleep. A comfortable chair is a great place to start until you find an ideal location for daily practice and may depend on what you plan on achieving.
The technique I use is simple and involves breath control. There are four stages in which you count, to yourself in your mind, the number of seconds. You can use any quantity but my go-to is 4 and I call it the "4, 4 Technique". The stages are: breathe in and count for 4 seconds, hold your breath and count for 4 seconds, breathe out and count for 4 seconds, and hold your breath and count for 4 seconds.
The number of counts can be shorter for a quick meditation for an immediate release of negativity and tension (see "The 36 Second Release" technique below.) or longer for a more controlled breathing technique. Sometimes I start with a shorter number and as I calm down and fall deeper into a meditative state lengthen the interval time. This type of breath control is an effective tool in developing the ability to use ones mind to control the body.
What I love about this meditation technique is it so versatile. It can be used quickly, over long periods of time, the interval can be changed, you can focus on a word instead of numbers, or use chants like the Sanskrit phrase Om Mani Padme Hum.
February we are focusing on purification and this technique can be adapted perfectly for this task. Start with the 4, 4 Technique and lets add a twist. As you settle in on the breathing and counting, start to visualize a flow of pure energy emanating out of the core of the earth. As you inhale, imagine that energy flow up into your body, entering at the core of you body, your solar plexus (the nerve center behind your stomach). As you hold your breath, continue to imagine the energy flowing into the nerve cluster and energizing your nervous system. Now as you exhale, imagine the stream of energy continuing to flow into you but it is now filling up your body from the inside, pushing the negative energy out of you. As you hold on the exhale, keep your focus on the positive energy pushing the negative energy out.
Now repeat. Breathing in, positive energy from the earth flowing in, breathing out, pushing negative energy out. As you continue to repeat the 4,4 rhythm imagine the positive energy filling your core, then you head, then throughout both arms all the way to your finger tips and finally through your legs to your toes, all the while pushing the negative energy out. This purification and purging will cause an overall increase in energy and a tingling sensation through out your entire nervous system as it becomes activated.
Meditate for as long as you feel comfortable and achieve a feeling of renewal. Listen to your body, you will now when to end the session. I use this particular variation when I am feeling down, have a racing mind of unwelcome thoughts that I want to purge, or just need an energy boost. It is a very effective tool for clearing my mind and body in preparation for a new endeavor. It helps me reconnect with the universe, allowing energy to flow in both directions, revitalizing my natural guiding intuition. I hope you find it useful in staying positive and preparing for the challenges of the new year!
"The 36 Second Release" is an abbreviated version of the 4,4 Technique excellent for a quick release of negativity, to slow a racing mind or just to be calm. Breathe in for 3 seconds, hold for 3, breathe out for 3, hold for 3 then repeat 3 times. Counting to 3 through each stage helps focus attention.
In the Upanishads, illumined sages share flashes of insight, the results of their investigation into consciousness itself. In extraordinary visions, they have direct experience of a transcendent Reality which is the essence, or Self, of each created being. They teach that each of us, each Self, is eternal, deathless, one with the power that created the universe.
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