Meditation Beyond Relaxation
"Using meditation to relax is like taking your Ferrari to the grocery store next door" - Dr. Samuel Sagan, M.D.
Meditation often conjures up lukewarm ideas mainstream media: deep relaxation and vegetable soup. If this is what you think, you might be surprised by the quote above, a favorite of meditation practitioner Kat Lui. "Studying with Dr. Sagan was a real eye opener. I had never had any interest in meditation until I realized all that it could do. There are different traditions of meditation, Zen Buddhism, Vipasana, etc. But with Inner Space Techniques, I found the work more akin to martial arts, or kundalini yoga. You're really learning, from tangible experience, what it means to move and build qi as you would with qi gong or acupuncture. Exploring different states of consciousness isn't just some vague, philosophical thing you hear about monks doing in a monastery, but something that is concrete, achievable and reproduceable for the modern working human."
Meditation can be redefined as a dramatic raising of the voltage of consciousness - awakening!
Awakening happens on multiple levels. It can mean a clarity of thoughts, emotions and feelings. The experience of an awakened mind is one that can make quick, confident decisions based on choice rather than reaction. It is light and mobile. In contrast, a sleeper's mind is one that feels sluggish, heavy, weighted by past traumas, belief systems seen as truths. There is a feeling that the world is happening around them, and they are a passive and probably unhappy observer.
An awakened etheric body, one that is strong and harmonious in the flow of qi and prana, is a body that is feels robust, alive, vibrant, energized and clear. Your energetic body feels primed to climb a mountain or sit in meditation for days. In contrast, a polluted etheric body is one that feels stagnant, heavy, weak; there might be knots, aches and pains; there is low sex drive and fatigue.
The Inner Space Techniques taught by Kat use clear and simple meditation methods for awakening the third eye. This is the first step to experiencing why meditation is like the Ferrari, not vegetable soup.
This life force we speak of, also known as prana and the etheric body, can be nourished and built up through the foods we eat, through herbs and supplements, through acupuncture, through movement practices like yoga, qi gong, and tai chi, and through meditation. When using meditation to build and move Qi, the important thing to remember is that it's not about visualization or positive thinking! It's about being receptive and perceptive. It's about 'awakening' the third eye, not 'creating it'. By 'letting things come, letting things go', whether it's ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’ you see in meditation, the mantra is always 'let it come let it go'. It's like rowing the boat that builds the 'muscles', one of the basic steps to building up your life force.
One of the first things our naturopathic physican Dr. Laura Wollman advises for building immunity is sleep. When we are awake, the psyche, our thoughts, emotions, feelings and psychological stressors are 'gripped' if you will, in our etheric body - our qi and prana are affected by our psyche. Think of the effect coffee has: there is a sensation of being 'on!' Your body feels wired, your brain is ready for some fast thinking and talking, but after the initial rush, it's like your body has run out of fuel. Not only has some of your vital force been depleted, it has been gripped by the busy-ness of your mind, with no chance to rejuvenate.
When we sleep, this connection between our thoughts and our life force is loosened; our psyche is floating off in dreamland, which gives our physical and etheric bodies a chance to rejuvenate, rearrange, and revitalize. This deep restful sleep is a key ingredient for boosting the immune system. If we don't get enough sleep, or if our dream spaces are negative, then our psyche still has 'control' on the overall movement and flow of our life force.
So, how can meditation help?
Do a short meditation before going to bed. Watch the inhale and exhale of your breath while counting backwards from 33. Recall images of the day in reverse, starting from what you were doing just before bed. As you lay in bed, practice 'let it come, let it go' by allowing random images to come and go, paying attention to them, without analyzing or holding on. Create a night time ritual like the one suggested in the Mind-Body Cleanse to ensure a positive, deeply restful night time dream experience.
There are also meditation practices that work on protecting your energetic body. These techniques densify your qi and increase your defense systems when confronted with overstimulation, distractions of stressful situations. For the curious, you can check out "Awakening the Third Eye" by Samuel Sagan. A caveat - while the practices are simple to do on the cushion, it takes practice practice practice to enjoy the benefits of the work in actual stressful situations.
If you have questions about the practices and models mentioned here or are curious to learn how a meditation practice can enhance your life, please email Kat Lui, IST meditation practitioner, at email@example.com.