Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Imagine Merging 3 Cool Ways to Meditate...

“As a man thinks, so he becomes.” 
Proverbs, 23:7

That very Buddhist saying from the Bible always strikes me as a bit of a wake-up call, snapping me out of my typical rolling stupor. It just makes so much sense that it has to be true, doesn’t it? It takes me back to the challenges I had in my earliest efforts of sitting and trying to meditate – challenges I still have, sometimes, because (if you’ve tried it you know) meditating isn’t as easy as it sounds. 

I used to sit uncomfortably cross-legged and think: I'm gonna do this now. Okay, it’s time to meditate. Here we go. Meditating... meditating…meditating… I'd keep my eyes closed, and wonder when it was all going to happen. Whatever it was. The image I always ended up holding in my mind was of myself sitting there, trying to meditate. It never worked, but somehow I knew that if I wanted to free myself from the vexing constraints of my typical thoughts, “imagining” would have to play a major role in the process.

For me, it meant slowly formulating three ways that could help me step aside from the incessant demands of my "normal" semi-conscious stream of thought. Then, as I practiced them, I noticed how they began to merge within my meditations. Maybe my three ways can help you too.

It's said in Gnana Yoga – the Yoga of Wisdom, that "the intellect is a ladder that can be used to transcend itself." Well, being a ‘complicated’ guy, that's what I needed at first – an intellectual entry point to a meditative state. But that's just me, because I think I think too much. So I had to start by using that –  to recognize my thoughts themselves as being a simple, ongoing process that was always available to me, rather than as the self-defining dictation of every second of my life. 


I used the image of me sitting in a theater in my mind, watching my thoughts parade across the screen, with an insistent narrator listing the important details of my haphazard newsreel, one after another. I became an audience member, which was a start, but I needed something more concise, more organic if I was going to use my thinking to transcend my thinking. As often happens, nature showed me a helpful metaphor.

One day, I was sitting by a river where there were a lot of little flying insects, tightly swarming. Suddenly, a flock of beautiful swallows appeared, gracefully wheeling and sweeping through the insect cloud, devouring the gnats in an incredible silent choreography of circular aerobatics. I began to watch my gnatty little thoughts being swept up by my more organized, more elegant thoughts – the product of a calm, detached objectivity. Then the flock of swallows passed, and I sat there, neither insect nor bird, but simply the witness to this remarkable process of nature. That was it! I needed to become the witness to all my different thoughts before anything else.

That was the first way.

Another way I was taught to meditate at first was to observe my mechanical, physical process of breathing. The old in breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth. Of course, the point in having you sit and count your breaths in and out, is that it gets you to shut up and sit, and to practice just sitting. Then I happened to read Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and Pema Chodron, about what they called tonglen meditation, and it added powerful emotional images to the boredom of just breathing in and out. I breathed in my anxiety, and breathed out serenity. I breathed in frustration, and breathed out compassion. I breathed in the evils of the world, and breathed out the answer: I breathed in fear, and breathed out Love.

While I sat, breathing in and out with my eyes closed, I couldn't help but notice that play of energetic activity inside of my closed eyelids. What was that dance of fluctuating, effervescent energy? A kind of subtle, electric storm – vibrating, coalescing, alive. And when I coupled that optical awareness with my controlled breathing, I could see my changing internal energies – a calming of that inner, electric ocean that connected me to everything. And naturally, through observing and feeling these physical experiences, I wasn't thinking anymore.

Finally, in that place where I could be a witness to my thoughts, and to my amazing internal processes, another way opened up: I became more and more aware of not being alone. There was a benevolent, eternal presence with me all the time, calmly waiting for me to get out of my own way. It was my Native American forefather; or the lovely angel who had rescued me from my personal precipices so many times. It was the huge heart of Gandhi, the compassion of Jesus, the omniscient understanding of Krishna. I remembered a Buddhist meditation where you sit, directly facing the Buddha, sequentially mirroring the energies of his chakras down from the crown, and up again.

In my heart, I identified with the spinning dervishes, recreating Rumi's search for his lost soulmate, Shams, through the circular landscapes of his heart. I saw the rocking Hasidim, pouring over scripture, oblivious to the life of the subway car. Suddenly, I knew the ecstasy of that devotional focus. The moment of dedication to one pure, true, shared spiritual soul. I stumbled upon the devotional aspect of meditation the other approaches had allowed me (called Bhakti Yoga by Hindus).

A witness to my thoughts, to the internal magic of my very being, to the company (wholly imagined, or absolutely inter-dimensional) of transcendent, benevolent, eternal spirits carrying me along the river of Life, I suddenly discovered that I could sit in meditation. That I’d really done a lot of sitting in meditation. And that––best of all––I could find that incomparable sixth sense of freedom whenever I wanted, and whenever I needed.

And I didn't even have to think about it anymore.

“As a person doesn’t think, well…they don’t have to become that.”

Read about concepts like these and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor  from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct on this page, or online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for it at your local bookstore!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

What Is Childhood to a Reincarnating Soul?

         What is childhood? Sounds like kind of a dumb question, doesn’t it? After all, it’s pretty obvious what childhood is – it’s the beginning of your life, and what happens before you grow up. That’s simple enough, isn’t it? But we all know childhood isn’t that simple, and that so much happens in our childhood to pre-condition the course we take that maybe it’s really the most critical part of life.

But what if we put childhood in a different context, in a larger context – in the context of our lives reincarnating, life upon life upon life? Then childhood isn’t just a stage we pass through in this life (since this entire human life is a stage we are passing through), but part of a continuum of human life-stages along with puberty, young adulthood, midlife, and old age (and even death and re-birth) – but notice none of those other stages seems to carry as much weight as “what happened to me when I was a kid”. 

In this larger “reincarnative” sense, the childhood we experience in our present life is something we’ve prepared for ourselves – something we’ve preconditioned, a foundational stage arising in the middle of our eternal soul adventure, over and over; similar to a re-booting, so to speak.

Most of us who can relate to this ‘lives of our souls’ intuitively understand that we carry the causes and effects of our life actions – our karma – along with us in every moment of whatever life we’re living; and that our karma is an indicator (and result) of the choices we’ve made, or paths we may take. So perhaps we can think of childhood as a 're-booted' starting point; a pre-conditioned ‘empty’ space, where our potential will begin to realize and manifest. So what kind of "re-start" is it?

Childhood is a time of innocence, of playfulness, of discovery, of awakening. It’s a time when, ideally, we are intuitively carefree, and unconsciously surrendered to the care of our providers. This is so for one simple reason: These are the forms and characteristics of our authentic selves. These are the characteristics of our souls:


Our soul is innocent – part and parcel of a pure, loving, creative force. Our soul is playful – it’s not weighed down by the gravity of self-importance. Our soul is in a constant state of willingness, and curiosity. Our soul is always open to awareness and expansion. Our soul is secure in its connection to, and complete dependence upon a loving, creative source – a divine matrix of loving intelligence.

So karma delivers our soul into our place – into our family, into our physical being; but the forms our life lessons will take have yet to be determined. This is the crucial period of forming our interface with the world – our ego interface. This is the time when our soul’s true nature is either suppressed or energized, dependent upon how the potential of Love’s energy is demonstrated to, and realized by our child. The actual conditions of life may be bad around us, but Love in the right places can lead us to a transcendent path. 

When we look back at the hardest parts of our own beginnings, it’s clear that it was the absence of Love that created them. This results in children feeling abandoned by those they naturally want to trust in most –  a serious, in a way imaginary condition many of us may carry for the rest of our lives that underlies so many of our personal struggles. Our soul always knows better: We are never abandoned. That is only the great illusion of human life, that we so easily feel separate and unloved. 

So here’s what childhood can mean to our karmic practice in this life (or How to Get a Great Childhood – next time): 

  • Intuitively, we all know how precious childhood and children are, and how important it is for children to be shown as much Love as possible, so we need to honor that responsibility absolutely – without fail.
  • It is simply the lack of Love that has created the difficulties we carry with us through life from our childhoods, so we can only overcome these difficulties in this life by becoming channels – givers and receivers – of Love. (You’ll notice 'karmically awakened' children do this from the very get-go!)
  • Realize that when life seems hard it’s because you’ve lost touch with your soul’s true nature – with your authentic self. Stop taking yourself so seriously. Do your best to open your heart, and return to a state of willingness. Try to be aware of the wonder and promise alive in every moment. Surrender to the natural design of your life, by releasing your willful urge to control things. Know that you are cared for.
  • And then...just be more playful! Have fun, be creative, and enjoy all the lovely little moments of life!

Here’s something one of our greatest “reincarnated” spiritual engineers said about it all, a long time ago… 

Yeshua himself called them and he said to them, “Let the children come to me and do not refuse them, because the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these.”

  Luke, 18:16

Read about concepts like these and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor  from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct on this page, or online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for it at your local bookstore!