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  1. 1. The Provolution Center, Phuket PresentsOvercoming the Basic Challenges and Misconceptions of your Practice
  2. 2. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really Works THIS GUIDE IS FREE! Please Circulate it to Friends and Acquaintances who May Wish to Start Meditating! STAY IN TOUCH WITH MIKE, PROVOLUTION, SHARE CIRCLES & OTHER FREE SPIRITUAL RESOURCES BY VISITING: Website: www.michaelpaulstephens.com Mike’s Blog – “Provolution Now” Michael Paul Stephens on Facebook HELP US ALL PROVOLVE TOGETHER!www.michaelpaulstephens.com   2
  3. 3. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really Works A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really Works Overcoming the Basic Mistakes and Misconceptions of your Practice CONTENTS Chapter Page 1. Introduction……………………………………………………. 3 2. Why Meditate?…………………………………………………. 4 3. Setting Up a Meditation Space……….………………………. 9 4. Practical Essentials of Meditation ..….………………………. 11 5. Building Purpose……………….....….………………………. 17 6. Barriers to Meditation………….....….………………………. 18 7. Ten Basic Meditations………….....….………………………. 27 8. Final Notes…………..………….....….………………………. 40www.michaelpaulstephens.com   3
  4. 4. Have you Discovered Michael’sThat Really Works A Practical Guide to Meditation Other Books Yet? “Provolution – A Guide to Changing the World Through Personal Evolution” and “Equanimous - A Channeled Dialog ofWhy You are Here and What You Can Do About It Right Now!” are both out now. For more information please visit Michael’s SiteIntroductionAnyone can successfully practice meditation. Failure only occurs because manypeople practice things that are notreally meditation at all. Whenpeople say to me, ‘Meditationdoesn’t work for me’, it alwaysreminds me of what a great friendof mine said to a corporatec u s t o m e r wh o , wh e n a s k e dwhether he’d tried a certainmotivation technique with his staffreplied: “Oh we’ve tried that, itdoesn’t work.”, to which my friendretorted, “It may not be what youtried, maybe it’s just how you triedit.”Many people who have given upon meditation complain that theycannot concentrate, their mind isfull of thoughts, they cannot getany peace, saying “It is sofrustrating, I don’t seem to begetting any better at it”, buteveryone of these comments tellme the same thing: you’re doing it all wrong!If you are sitting down to meditate in order to attain something, becomesomething or transform something, that’s the start of your frustration right there.It’s like a power station transforming coal into electricity. If you mine the rawcoal, just one part of the process, and then say, “Well I’ve failed, I didn’t createelectricity”, it would be obvious that you had not completed the whole processand your expectations are too high. This analogy is the equivalent of peoplesitting down to attain a focussed mind from meditation. There are parts to theprocess that need to be observed before you can attain concentration.Anyway, concentration is not the point of meditation either. It too, is just anotherpart of the process. It is not simply having created electricity that is important, itis how we apply the power that makes a difference in our lives.This Practical Guide to Meditation That Really Works is part of my commitmentto helping people with their awareness practice. This beginners guide isexplored in more detail on my website www.michaelpaulstephens.comThis guide will help you overcome some of the pitfalls and barriers tomeditation that I have faced in my practice. Meditation is not aboutenlightenment, although it is a tool for its attainment, it is not about being ableto sit with single-point focus in a full lotus-position, although the focus is useful;www.michaelpaulstephens.com   4
  5. 5. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really Worksmeditation is about you learning more about yourself than you knew before yousat down and tried.Every single time you meditate, you will achieve that. There is no failure if yourgoal is to be a witness of who and what you are in the present moment,whoever and whatever that may be. Read on and learn how meditation can besimple, effective and bring great clarity to your world as it has to mine.Michael StephensFebruary 2011www.michaelpaulstephens.com   5
  6. 6. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really WorksWhy Meditate?Have you ever tried repairing a machine that you knew nothing about? What ifyou didn’t know what it was for? Could you repair it? Imagine looking upon acar for the first time in your life and someone saying to you, “Well? Make itwork!” It would be difficult, right? Probably impossible.The same thing is true about fixing yourself. If you do not know yourself, howcan you fix you? The thing is, most of us live in this shady belief that we doknow our self and we know our self very, very well. But what if this wasn’t trueat all and the fact that you don’t know yourself is the very reason why you sufferin life?You don’t suffer, you say? Life is an endless procession of joy, angels andchocolate ice cream? Congratulations. But perhaps you might consider thepossibility that you are just not aware of how you suffer and shrug off yoursuffering as a part and parcel of living. Whether it is emotional pain, physicaltrauma, energetic blockages or mental aberrations, each of us suffers in our own unique way, but the causes of these problems, rather than also being unique, are common to all people: non- awareness. All the normal solutions to life’s suffering have been tried and yet still the pain remains the same. You’ve tried pleasure as the solution, but the high only lasts for a while and the discomfort always comes back. You’ve tried buying stuff but no matter how much stuff you buy it doesn’t keep the discomfort away forever, it always creeps back in. You’ve tried changing locations and jobs but as soon as you think you’ve got it licked, there it is again, coming back to haunt you. Discomfort keeps returning as if it never left. And that is essentially true. Whatever you seem to do to get rid of the discomfort using the same old solutions that everyone else in the world is using, the same old discomfort just comes straight back.Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Everything and everyone suffers becausewe are physical beings and suffering is a purposeful natural phenomenon thatcomes from within, not from being without. It is not your enemy but there areways and means by which we can identify the roots of this suffering within usand dissolve it to such a considerable degree that our lives become a lot morepeaceful. This is where meditation comes in.www.michaelpaulstephens.com   6
  7. 7. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really WorksYou see, people live their lives obeying only certain natural laws and completelyignoring others. Imagine if you were to ignore the Law of Gravity for a day? Youprobably wouldn’t live through to the end of it. You’d walk off tall buildings, tryto leap wide chasms and catch a falling tree or two! Ouch!The one law that we constantly fail to observe is the Law of Transience. This lawis simple. It says “everything changes.” It shouldn’t be too hard to live bybecause most of us already know it but really, how many of us actually apply itto our mind, body or energy system? Application is the only thing that matterswith regard to knowledge. Leavingknowledge on the bookshelf isuseless and evencounterproductive. We begin tobelieve we are too intelligent forany subtle solutions to escape ourwisdom. But true wisdom is notfound in knowing but in doing. Ouractions define us and our reality,not what we have stuffed our brainsfull with, but most of us completelyignore the Law of Transience,despite knowing it. Every time wecling on to people, objects,situations and our self image, wethumb our noses at it, as if webelieve our desires can somehowbe permanently sustained in anever-changing world.Where do you think fear comes from? It is the feeling that arises in us when weexpect something we currently possess to change in such a way as isundesirable. So, we fear sickness, unemployment, debt, divorce, being late,poverty, criticism, embarrassment, spiders and all manner of other projectionsthat stem from a desire to permanently keep what we have or permanently avoidwhat we don’t have. Why should we fear a natural phenomenon, unless we arenot truly conscious of it? Fear is only a lack of wisdom dulling our faith in thepresent moment. Why do we know that everything changes and yet expend somuch of our lives fighting it; clinging to what we want and pushing so hard atwhat we don’t want, as if we are capable of creating a life divided from the verylaws of nature that brought us to this earth in the first place. That isn’t wisdom.This approach to living is the basic nature of all human suffering. It is the desireto become something that you are not when the fact of the matter is plain andsimply this: none of us really know who we really are. We don’t look. We don’tobserve. So how do we know what we should become and whether it will serveus any better than who we already are? It is no wonder that our solutions don’twork when the person we think we are doesnt really want or need any of thethings we create for ourselves in our desperate pursuit of happiness!www.michaelpaulstephens.com   7
  8. 8. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really WorksOne of the fundamentally basic purposes of meditation is (read the next part ofthe sentence very carefully) to observe without judgment who you are in thepresent moment. There, I’ve said it. The secret’s out. It’s not about becomingBuddha, reaching enlightenment, single-pointedness or emancipation from thechains of suffering, it is about simply listening to who you are here and now.Then, perhaps, you will know what needs fixing and simply let it fix itself.Yes, you may have noticed the irony in that last statement. You see, you cannotfix yourself. There’s nothing broken. The observation process that occurs duringmeditation will teach you that, in an ever-changing, ever-evolving reality, youcannot be wrong, you cannot be broken, you cannot be in need of repair. Youare simply in need of letting change happen at its own pace and in its own way,like a flower allowing itself to bloom, not through any effort, but through thenatural process of being present, grounded and getting your bias andexpectation out of the way! We do not live in a world of straight forward rightand wrong, good or bad, broken or whole. We live in a world that tells us in allmanner of subtle and gross ways just two very simple things: 1. You’d be better off if you did a little less of that 2. You’d be better off if you did a little more of thisAnd it sends its messages through suffering.You cannot listen to those messages tomorrow or yesterday, you can only listento them now. You cannot create anything for yourself last year or next montheither. Only now. But how many of us are truly wise in what it means to be nowand what life would be like if we truly were? Very, very few. But it is quiteobvious even to the uninitiated that if everything happens now and we spend30% of our time in the future, and 30% of our time in the past, we are leavingonly 40% of our potential to create here and now. It is like buttering only 40%of your bread. That is not enough to be genuinely happy. It may not even beenough to be slightly cheerful.The medical benefits of meditation are recorded in hundreds of studies acrossthe world, so don’t just take my word for it. • STRESS: “Meditation decreases oxygen consumption, heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure, and increases the intensity of alpha, theta, and delta brain waves—the opposite of the physiological changes that occur during [stress]”. 1 • SLEEPING DISORDERS: 75% of long-term insomniacs who have been trained in relaxation and meditation can fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed.2 • BLOOD PRESSURE: Meditation significantly controls high blood pressure at levels comparable to widely used prescription drugs, and without the side effects.31 Herbert Benson, M.D. Harvard Medical School, author of The Relaxation Response2 Dr. Gregg Jacobs, Psychologist, Harvard3 Journal of the American Medical Associationwww.michaelpaulstephens.com   8
  9. 9. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really Works • PERIOD PAIN: Women with severe PMS showed a 58% improvement in their symptoms after five months of daily meditation.4 • HEART ATTACKS: Meditators over 6-9 months showed a marked decrease in the thickness of their artery walls, while non-meditators actually showed an increase.  This change translates to about an 11% decrease in the risk of heart attack and an 8% to 15% decrease in the risk of stroke.5 • PAIN MANAGEMENT: Relaxation therapies are effective in treating chronic pain, and can markedly ease the pain of low back problems, arthritis, and headaches.6 • AGING: Meditation may slow aging. A study found that people who had been meditating for more than five years were physiologically 12 to 15 years younger than non- meditators.7The list goes on and on. The medical benefits of meditation are known: you willattain greater wellbeing by meditating: fact.You have spent most of your life to this point practicing being there and thenand wondering why suffering keeps coming along to remind you to do a little bitmore of that and little less of this,but, if you were to listen to the subtlemessages and change now, thosemessage would obviously becomeless and less. Physical pain woulddecrease, stress would alleviate,emotional pain would subside, threatof illness and sickness would fallaway, in short; life would changeand all because you paused thereand then for a while and startedliving here and now.So, meditation is not a magicalprocess of transformation. It is apractice that aligns your entire beingin the ways of nature that most of theworld is currently ignoring, hencethe sense of conflict between manand nature. It is the act of watchingwho you are in order to learn,without any shadow of doubt, totallyand through to the marrow of yourbone, that everything changes, thateverything that lives also dies, that everything you possess will one day be lost,4 Health, September, 19955 Stroke Journal, reported in Psychology Today, 20016 National Institutes of Health, 19967 International Journal of Neuroscience, 1982www.michaelpaulstephens.com   9
  10. 10. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really Worksthat everyday gives birth to a new one, that every speck of sadness will one daybecome joy and that every hope or fear that can be realized will be realized ifyou wait long enough - so, enjoy the journey. If you do that, life becomesextraordinarily pleasant.You cannot enjoy a journey when you’re worried about who’ll be meeting youat the station when you arrive or whether you left the gas on at home. That iswhat causes suffering. You can only be happy now and meditation is learningthe art of being now. You don’t need to focus on creating happiness, peace,concentration, clear-mindedness or any of the other barriers to your attainmentof them. Happiness will arise all on its own because your inner nature ispeaceful. Peace will arise when it’s ready because your true nature is at onewith everything. Joy will come along when suffering dies as suffering is merelythe manifestation of your struggle to become. Thus, meditation is about nottrying to be anything. It is about finally allowing yourself to be who you are,perfect, light and magnificent.It’s an effortless process that requires just a little effort.www.michaelpaulstephens.com   10
  11. 11. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really WorksSetting Up a Meditation SpaceI don’t know about you, but if someone had told me when I was 20 years oldthat sitting and listening to my mind, body and energy was the key to myspiritual freedom, well, let’s say it would have taken more faith than I possessedat that time to believe it possible. So, I understand the difficulty in changing amindset that wants to do stuff, change stuff, get stuff completed and feel as if theeffort is towards something.Fo r a n y o n e s t a r t i n ganything new, I think ittakes a little faith. It issad that we live in aworld where thepreferred view is thatfaith is non-scientific,therefore it cannot haveapplication other than assuperstition but faith is avital ingredient in what itmeans to be human,whether we believe in itor not. Think about it.Without faith, you wouldnever make a choice, start any new ventures, be creative or intuit anything.What is clear in our world is that you cannot wait for things to appear, you haveto have faith that you can create them.A good friend of mine said recently that faith is living in gratitude for everythingyou have in life. It is a great way to live. You give thanks for what you have andmeet every event and person knowing that the universe doesn’t do excess. It isperfectly neat, perfectly economical, perfectly waste-less. It is living in thepresent.Faith is the magic ingredient that turns logic and planning into belief and allowsthe energy of potential to be actualized into reality. This is why, as you begin onyour journey of meditation, it is important for you to build faith in something orsomeone that represents your course or the foundations of what you believe. Idon’t care whether that person is Christ, Buddha, Nelson Mandela, MotherTeresa or Sarah Palin, each of us needs a figure who represents the values thatwe can aspire towards and has demonstrated to us that they can be lived in thehuman form. This gives faith a face. Then, your path is not about wonderingwhether it is possible but about allowing it to be realized from within.Part of this process of faith is setting up a space that meets the needs of yourmeditation practice. When you dedicate a particular space to an activity, it isboth literally and figuratively creating space in your life for it. The practicebecomes a part of your existence and the space you create will help supportyour practice because of it.www.michaelpaulstephens.com   11
  12. 12. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really WorksMany people that come to see me and my wife, Koong, are ungrounded,meaning that the foundations of their life are shaky. They may have had adifficult childhood or feel insecure, but much of this will be down to theirhome. If you have a home that doesn’t feel home, like a building with weakfoundations, this complicates your energetic foundation and creates greatuncertainty. Making a nice meditation space is a great way to fashion a homebrimming with your nurturing energy, plus the nurturing energy of those peopleyou believe in most.Everyone can set up a meditation space. You don’t need a spare room or aseparate area to do it. You just need a little ingenuity and creativity to put things in the space where you will sit and practice. Of course, if you do have a s p a r e r o o m , t h a t ’s fantastic, but don’t give up just because you don’t have the space. It’s an excuse. Bring together a collection of those things that inspire you and find a table, shelf or top of a cabinet where you can leave them relatively undisturbed. Thisbecomes your little shrine. You can add incense and candles (taking care not toburn down the entire community in the process) and anything else that kindlesfeelings of attainment, aspiration, and motivation.Our shrine at home in Thailand is a set of shelves that contain things that Koongand I respect and admire as spiritual guides and mentors. We have things frommany faiths on these shelves, from Buddhism to Hinduism, Christianity to Islam;items of faith that bring us into our spiritual space. When we look at them theyremind us of something important and motivate us to want to emulate the valuesthat the person or object embodies in our mind. This is a powerful foundationfor any practice. It is hard enough trying to maintain your practice withoutbelieving that people have been there before you. You start out knowing thatwhat they have attained is possible. You can do it. That’s what a shrine says tome. I hope it will say the same and more to you.It is important that your shrine helps you generate the sensation of support foryour practice and that your statues, pictures or objects of faith inspire you insome way to be committed to the process of change that occurs overtime you sitand observe yourself.www.michaelpaulstephens.com   12
  13. 13. Have you Discovered Michael’sThat Really Works A Practical Guide to Meditation Other Books Yet? “Provolution – A Guide to Changing the World Through Personal Evolution” and “Equanimous - A Channeled Dialog of Why You are Here and What You Can Do About It Right Now!” are both out now. For more information please visit Michael’sPractical Essentials of MeditationTimes to MeditateIf you want to change you life, change your diary. This is the clearest message Ican give to you. It is the oldest trick in the book to keep telling yourself that youdon’t have time to change. It is also a poor excuse. What you really mean is thatyou can’t be bothered. Importantthings get prioritized, that is clear, sowork out what is important in your lifeand then change your diary toaccommodate those things. Hopefullya regular awareness practice will beamong them!BUT, don’t be too strict or hard onyourself. Make the pledge that you willcommit your time and effort, but, ifyou really don’t feel like it or havesomething important come up, changeyour schedule. You don’t wantmeditation to become a chore. Just askyourself what your motivation is. Areyou missing your appointment withyourself because you want to or haveto? If you cannot meditate for somereason it is no good at all makingyourself into a victim of your own self-loathing. It rather defeats the point,doesn’t it?Find a middle path to your practice. Like working out your body, keeping aregular practice ensures the effects multiply and grow but going to the gymthree times a day every day, because “it is your duty” or “a matter of life ordeath”, well, that’s just being zealous and will result in the opposite of what youare trying to attain. Peace cannot be created by being at war with yourself, yourtime, your schedule, your space or anything else. Just be cool.I like to meditate in the morning. This time is when I am most alert. There is nofixed time for it, although the Buddha did suggest between 3-5AM as being thebest time! You will find your own time but book it into that diary of yours. Don’tgo through your day waiting for an opportunity. It will never arrive. And then,neither will you.Before bed is another good time, when the day has died down and quiet mayhave descended in the house. However, be wary of sleep. It is a barrier topractice and sleepiness can create frustration as you will learn in the hindrancesto practice later on in this guide.www.michaelpaulstephens.com   13
  14. 14. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really Works F i n a l l y, h o w l o n g should you meditate? Well, it is up to you, but I would recommend at least 20-30 minutes but that is not to say that ten minutes is not worthwhile. Any time that you commit to the process is better than nothing. Whatever timeyou do decide to commit, make sure that you keep a clock nearby so you knowwhat the time is. If you wish to set an alarm, this is a good idea, but make sure itis something gentle that will not be a sudden shock. This is very important.Bringing you out of a meditation sharply can be very upsetting for you energy.Sitting, Standing or Lying?Yes, is the short answer. To be honest, it doesn’t matter which posture you adoptbecause you can be aware of yourself in any of them but there are certainpracticalities to be aware of and certain postures are better at certain times.First of these is that lying down is more likely to make you sleepy, so avoid it ifyou are prone to being plagued by sloth or torpor. This has been one of mygreatest hindrances, which basically means my mind gets heavy and sleepy, solying down is a position I have rarely used. This is not to say it is inferior to otherpositions and is certainly great before bed in order to have that 10-minuteawareness check before drifting off into a wonderful sleep.Standing is very possible, especially if you plan to open your eyes, and there aresome great meditations that make use of it, as you will see. Walking is one ofthem, especially for those of us (yawn :o) who have a tendency towards fallingasleep. Another is grounding, which can be very powerful. If you do plan tomeditate standing up, choose wisely and perhaps learn to meditate with youreyes slightly open, which will help with balance.However, sitting is the favored position for many meditators. Some levels ofawareness can be quite intoxicating and disorientating, so in a strong sittingposition your body should stay upright, especially if you adopt the toughersitting postures such as the lotus or half lotus. These postures offer stabilityalthough they are hard to impossible for beginners. If you start young, however,it is a lot easier!In conclusion, choose a posture that feels best for you. One of your challengesas a meditator will be to bring your body to a point where the posture itself isnot a barrier to your meditation. In theory, no posture should be a barrier at all,if you are simply observing how things feel in your mind, body and energy, butin practice, few of us want to sit through 30 minutes of excruciating knee orback pain when there are easier ways to become acquainted with the practicewww.michaelpaulstephens.com   14
  15. 15. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really Worksbefore moving on through postures that may help you attain higher levels lateron.Again, don’t be too strict with this. If you want to lie down one day and sit thenext, do it. Do what feels right for you at the time. There is no right or wrongway. When you are sensitive to your needs, sitting when sleepy, lying when needing to relax for example, the practice will take care of itself. Getting Comfortable Meditation is not a chore. It should be enjoyable. It should, OK, eventually, be pleasurable but there are a few tricks that can be employed up front to avoid some of the inevitable pain that occurs when your body is asked to sit in a posture that, for the first 92 years of life you have singly refused to practice! Firstly, don’t be cheap on a good cushion. If there is one thing absolutely guaranteed to screw up your back it is a soft, limp, squishy-thing of a cushion. You won’t notice it for about the first 4 minutes but after that you will realize that your body is moving ever-so- slightly with every breath and pump ofblood, causing your back muscles to make slight adjustments as the cushionmoves. While these may be the most minuscule, even imperceptiblemovements, your back won’t care. It will just hurt.I like to use two cushions, one to place my bottom on and the secondunderneath and large enough for my legs to rest at a slightly lower level. Thisposture naturally pushes my hips forwards slightly, straightening the back andcreating a solid base, when coupled with good, solid cushions, of course.There are plenty of cushions designed especially for meditation. However, agood, old-fashioned study chair will do just as well. You don’t need a cushion atall, if you choose to sit upright. Just be sure that chair is solid and won’t move.Don’t use your office swivel chair or the Fitball. It won’t work.Another great device is a meditation bench, which you sit on and tuck your legsunderneath the seat, as if you were kneeling. The seat takes your weight, notyour knees and it gets over the problem of painful knees and legs, while alsohelping to straighten the back naturally.Another part of being comfortable is to wear the right clothes. Loose fittingclothes are probably preferable but you have to be aware of climate andwww.michaelpaulstephens.com   15
  16. 16. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really Workstemperature of your meditation space. It is also preferable to wear natural fiberswhenever possible as human-made fibers are not so cool energetically.If you have chosen to sit, there are also numerous postures that you can choose.There are a number of different cross-legged postures that are common but,once again, I urge you to find the right position for you and not feel that there issome accomplishment in being able to sit for an hour with your legs wrappedaround your ears or something like that. This is fine, if you are in a circus, butunnecessary for meditation.The old fashioned cross-legged posture you used to sit in while watching TV as achild is one of the most basic positions. Try it out and see how it feel. If you findthat your back is getting sore, stiff or collapsing in the middle, try leaningagainst a wall for support. Over time, you will get used to the position and notneed the support any longer.You can put one leg in front of the other, if you so choose. This is called theBurmese sitting posture. Another is the half lotus, where you bring one leg overthe other, like the child’s cross-legged position, but end up with the bottom ofyour foot pressing into the opposite thigh and the bottom of the foot facing up tothe ceiling. This can be hard on the ankles at first, so be warned.I won’t even go into the full lotus position.The final point about creating comfort is to be aware of the shape of the posturethat you have chosen. Sit with your back straight, but not tight or even forcing itinto a concave shape. This creates tension and you will feel it as the meditationprogresses. Be aware of tension in your shoulders, neck, stomach or any otherareas where there should be no tension. Focus on it and let it go. Stretch yourback, swivel your arms, move your hips until any kinks are ironed out and relaxinto your posture.Keep your head slightly back, as if it is resting on your next, not pushed forwardor artificially back. Due to its weight, having your head forward or backwardscan unbalance you and create tension. Be aware of whether you are pushingout your chest too. You shouldn’t be.Finally, slightly open your mouth and push your tongue gently to your paletteand against your teeth. It should feel quite natural to rest in there without anyeffort.Creating AmbienceNone of these things are necessary, of course, if you live beside a beach, in aforest or on a mountain. Just go outside and sit down! Nature is the ultimatemeditation support as, in effect, all flora is meditating at all times. You don’tneed better companions than that!However, for those of us who live in the smoke and choke of a city or don’thave the luxury of a rock to sit on in some national park, creating the rightambience is a nice way to give your meditation a little boost.www.michaelpaulstephens.com   16
  17. 17. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really WorksI always like to have a shower just before I meditate. This is important to mebecause meditation is about listening to what is called your ‘higher self’, so Iwant to respect that. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, my mother used to say,although she’ll probably claim that I made that up, which I did, but never mind,it’s still a fair point.Creating little rituals that are significant to you can help to create an ambienceand an air that what you are doing with your meditation is a significant part ofyour day. It is. It is not something to get out of the way. It is not something tohurry through. It should be respected or it will quickly descend into being nomore meaningful than taking a pill for your headache. What you are about to dois listen to the essential nature of yourself. There is really no higher purpose ormore powerful act than that. Respect it.Prior to taking my shower, I like to light a candle under my oil burner and addthe burner an oil that is suitable for how I am feeling. If I am feeling a little lowin energy, lethargic or sleepy I may add peppermint, rosemary or lemon, forexample, or if I want to enhance the depth of my relaxation, ylang ylang ororminis flower (camomile) are useful. There are many possibilities and a goodlist can be found in our shop at The Provolution Center. Then, when I return, themeditation space smells inviting and relaxing, just what I need to get going.Some people like to perform a little ritual before starting to meditate. This is apersonal issue as it may relate to a religious prayer or rite, all of which are coolas long as they get you into that space where your mission is the awareness ofnow. Any methods that help refine the ambience towards being more aware,concentrated and focussed will help.I like to light incense for my Buddha, respecting what he attained within thehuman form. When we look at the attainments of these beings in this way, webegin to realize they only did what we too are capable of doing. When youcome back next day and have had a crappy 24 hours, don’t fret that you didn’tlive up to the highest values, principles or actions of your master. Turn to themonce more for inspiration and guidance. They will never say no. They will neverturn you away. Only you can choose to walk away from them but they willalways give more when you ask to receive.www.michaelpaulstephens.com   17
  18. 18. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really WorksBuilding Purpose When I was about 24 I read in a wonderful meditation book that I should keep a meditation diary, which I did. It was a good suggestion because it helps us to look back on the experiences we have, draw on the strong ones and put the less strong into context. However, I took it all a little too seriously. I started giving myself grades in order to have a more empirical gauge of my success. Obviously, to my logical brain at least, a meditation witha score of 8w a s betterthan o n ewith a scoreof 4, so it madesense to me that Ishould keep shootingfor 8, 9 or 10! Right?Wrong! What I didn’t realize at thetime was that such an approach wassetting me up for abject failure allcreated by my own expectations. Oneday I had one of the most amazing meditation experiences. I felt totally focussedand I drifted through a world of light and color that left me full of bliss, on ahigh that I assumed had been a product of my diligence, hard work and thefantastic decision to grade my effort out of ten and really push myself towardsexcellence (that’s irony by the way.)Most skills that we learn are such that you can expect a learning curve wherethe improvement is generally upwards and things become easier as we practicebut what I did not know was that meditation is not like really that. It is likepeeling an onion. When you get through one layer, you have a breakthrough butthere is always another layer and the challenges may come back even harderthan before because the layer is deeper ingrained into us. So, the next day Iexpected the same result and it set me up for failure. After all, wasn’t I right toassume that the more I practice concentration, the more concentrated I willbecome? Yes, if the point of meditation is concentration, but it is not. The pointof meditation is to use awareness to let go of attachments and sometimes, whenyou are feeling at your absolute worst, you may be letting go of far moreattachment than when you are feeling bliss.www.michaelpaulstephens.com   18
  19. 19. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really WorksIn meditation, there is always what you might call ‘improvement’, but it is notimprovement in ways that I was gauging my success,. I thought I had to becomemore focussed, concentrated and therefore, inevitably, I would attain more andmore of these wonderful experiences. But that is not the way.When you do attain these blissfulexperiences, which if you keep goingfor long enough you probably will,clinging to them and expecting more isabout as useful as clinging to themountain that will launch you andhoping to fly. It becomes the veryantithesis of what you are trying to do,which is to let go of your attachment tobecoming anything tomorrow, nextmonth or ever and simply experiencingwho you are right now. Sometimes thatwill be in bliss, other times that will bein absolute misery, but it is better to betotally aware of it and let it go, than tobe totally oblivious to it and prolongthe process as if it is really who youare.So it is vital that you create a purposefor your meditation that avoids theusual gauges of success/failure, improvement/decline or attainment/non-attainment.I understand that this may be anathema to some people. We have trained ourminds to be goal centered and predictive, but this is only one possible outcomeof training, not the only one. Meditation is the process of retraining your mindto live with the true nature of nature, so, different or abnormal processes orpurposes are bound to feel a little weird at first. You will be fighting a life-longvolume of conditioning that makes anything outside of that conditioning feel‘wrong’ or ‘uncomfortable’ but as soon as you feel this, remember, this is whatchange feels like.Your purpose for your meditation, at least initially, should be nothing more thatexperiencing your own private present moment. You’re going to take a look atwho you really are and that can be ugly, beautiful, focussed or splattered allover the place; it’s anybody’s guess who you will meet on any given day. Just sitdown being prepared to greet the ‘you’ who you are today without judgement,without emotion, without reaction and you will begin to realize that whoeveryou are right now is good enough. Indeed, it is all you are and that cannot beless than perfect.www.michaelpaulstephens.com   19
  20. 20. Have you Discovered Michael’sThat Really Works A Practical Guide to Meditation Other Books Yet? “Provolution – A Guide to Changing the World Through Personal Evolution” and “Equanimous - A Channeled Dialog of Why You are Here and What You Can Do About It Right Now!” are both out now. For more information please visit Michael’sBarriers to MeditationYou will encounter and How to Deal with ThemEgo is a many-splendored thing. It is more devious than you ever thoughtpossible and it will throw up countless barriers to make meditation seem weird,impossible, sleepy and too much effort without even breaking a sweat. Here’s some of the barriers you’re bound to meet and ways to help get through them. External Barriers Let’s start with those external barriers that can become a huge pain. First of these is finding a place quiet enough for you to sit and listen to yourself and not the neighbors TV or your kid playing the trumpet. Of course, you could break off your meditation mid- way through and scream for your family to ‘Shut up!’ before returning to your meditation, but that may be counterproductive in the pursuit of peace and quiet. It is imperative that your meditation space is as unpolluted as possible with outside interference. Turn off your mobile phone. Unplug the land line. Switch off TV and radio, make theenvironment as unpolluted with distractions as you can. This will help.However, you are unlikely to be able to remove every possible distraction,indeed, you don’t really want to. As you will learn, including rather than tryingto exclude sensual experience is the key to meditating without frustration ordashed expectations. Kate, a dear friend of mine and a highly experiencedmeditator was encountering all sorts of external interruptions in her earlymorning meditation, not least of these was morning prayers for a local mosqueblaring out across the neighborhood, and a host of early morning delivery trucksdoing everything they possibly could to distract her from her meditative object.Often, a meditation is about bringing your mind to an meditative object, likeyour breath or a candle but frustration can easily set in when your perceiveoutside disturbances as being the cause of your distracted mind.So, what do you do? Seeing as you cannot stop a mosque from calling its peopleto prayer or change the delivery time of the truck that bang their doors and revtheir engines, you should deal with those disturbances as a part of yourmeditation and, rather than focussing on one object of meditation, focus onthem all. This is exactly what Kate did and soon, the frustration was gone. Youwww.michaelpaulstephens.com   20
  21. 21. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really Workscannot change the outside world, and if it keeps entering your meditation,embrace it rather than feeling the frustration of continually failing to exclude it.Sensual BarriersAnother aspect of external distraction is sensory desire. One of those that ismost common for a student of meditation is physical pain! When you startsitting cross-legged for a period of time, you may feel your body screaming forsubmission. Of course, you could always move your body, which is fine, but wecan also use pain as an object of meditation. If you do this, you will note thatpain changes too and has many qualities that we do not usually recognize inour panic to be rid of it.In effect, your senses will always be trying to seek pleasure in one form oranother. It is the way we have been trained to think and feel, so duringmeditation, why should they stop? Well, it is important to help them stopbecause seeking pleasure through sensory objects is exactly the kind ofattachment that causes suffering.In effect, seeking pleasure through the senses is like taking out a loan. As withany loan, you must repay the debt with interest. The interest we pay takes theform of suffering which arises when we are separated from the object of ourdesire, or all the pleasure from it is used up and we are left with that hollowfeeling of needing something else to from which to derive our pleasure. Thus,we must set out on the endless pursuit of the endless experience...A good example is going out for an ice cream. Once you have had one, youprobably don’t want another. More ice cream would just make you sick. So,even if you crave ice cream, you have a real yearning for it, once you haveeaten the ice cream you will feel great. It will have done it’s job. Now what’snext? The excitement and expectation of the experience is over. Your senseshave been stimulated and you are now left with a gap which your senses willslowly begin to fill with desire again. Now I want this and then that and afterthis and that I will need these and those, never ending, always taking out theloan and repaying it with sadness that it is gone or emptiness that must be filledagain with the objects of my desire.So, these sensations are like addictions that our mind clings to. We keep feedingthe senses and so we keep going through the same cycle of suffering. Of course,when we start meditating, these things don’t just stop. It is not that easy. Theykeep coming at us. We are uncomfortable. We are hungry. We are cold. Wewant to be at peace. We want to be doing something else. We are bored. Themind keeps asking to have the senses stimulated when all you are doing issimply watching what is happening within your mind, body and energy withoutjudgment, without clinging, without pushing away.This takes practice. The mind doesn’t want to give up its pleasures but it is onlywhen we can let go of these sensual attachments that real peace can break outfrom the war of desire.www.michaelpaulstephens.com   21
  22. 22. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really WorksIll WillIll will is like hatred towards people or objects. There are meditations that arespecifically designed to help us grow our heart energy through love andforgiveness, but ill will can unrest any mind if it cannot treat the object of itsmeditation with love and compassion.Every meditation that you conduct will have an object of meditation, that is,something you will concentrate on. The point of the meditation is not to attainconcentration but to be aware of your ego arising to distract you from it. Yourmind, like all minds on this earth, will wander away from a meditation objectbecause you have never noticedyourself training your mind to seek outmore and more desires almost byautopilot. As soon as you stop doingthis, as in a meditation, it is a shock tothe mind and so it resists. Your job asa meditator is not to catch it, scold itand drag it kicking and screamingback to the object of meditation, butto be aware of how and when themind is straying and gently remind itof your purpose.One of the ways we do this is toimagine the mind as a blue sky andwhen thoughts or feelings enter thatblue sky we make them like cloudsthat slowly fade and are blown gentlyaway. This is a calming metaphor andavoids the tendency of goal-orientedminds to view any distractions as afailure to concentrate. This labeling ofexperience in this way is very debilitating and will eventually cause more ill willto grow. You will begin to loathe your practice because you are ‘not very goodat it’, or ‘keep failing to concentrate.’The trick to avoiding ill will against the object of your meditation (I hate staringat that boring old candle! Or My stupid mind can’t concentrate on my breath!)is to develop love for it. Many meditations involve watching the breath in someshape and form. If you treat the breath like it was your toddling child, howwould you treat it? Would you stop watching it? Would you drop it and becomedistracted by sensory desires? Of course, you wouldn’t. You would be diligentand loving. If it did wander off, you would gently bring it back to your attention.Ill will can be quite subtle but it is a serious hindrance because of its insidiousnature. We may find it hard to believe we can hate our own breath or bodyparts that we may be using as our meditation object, but we can and we maywww.michaelpaulstephens.com   22
  23. 23. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really Worksnot even know it. As you are meditating, treat the object of meditation withrespect and love and it will instantly be easier to connect with.Energetic BarriersHaving low energy is a barrier to meditation that has been a particular friend ofmine over the years. This low energy, perhaps due to physical tiredness,energetic weakness or lack of motivation, can cause the mind to become easilydistracted from the object of meditation to the point where it is even possible to fall asleep (not that it has ever happened to me, of course. Ahem!) The point of meditation, if you understand that the mind has two functions: doing and knowing, it is to maintain the mind in a state of knowing but to dull the state of doing so that enough space opens up to truly know the nature of the object of your meditation. Tiredness can cause both the doing and the knowing to become dull and lethargic. That’s why you fall asleep. To overcome the energy barrier of lethargy the first thing you do with meditation is fix the object of your meditation before you begin and set yourself a time limit. This becomes a kind of goal but without the usual criteria of success and failure.The second thing you do is approach the object of your meditation with themind of the child. To the child everything is new and exciting. My three year oldboy, Jacob, is a perfect example. Even if he’s half falling asleep inside, he willsummon up the energy to force himself to be alert and boisterous if there issomething he really wants to be doing. So, before you kick off your meditation,bring into your mind the idea that you will be meeting the object of yourmeditation for the very first time and you will learn entirely new propertiesabout it that you have never experienced before. You are about to embark on ajourney of discovery! This is how you can develop a sense of delight inexploring the mundane and that is a sensation full of energy.If you are prone to a little sloth, prior to meditating a third approach is to makesure you have that cool shower to wake you up. Use it as a mindfulnessexercises, feeling what you are doing as vividly as you can. This primes themind for the upcoming meditation.Also, quickening the pace of your breathing during meditation can be a goodway to bring the mind into some active energy. Alternatively, slow down thewww.michaelpaulstephens.com   23
  24. 24. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really Worksbreathing and make the breath deliberately long and slow, feeling with greaterintensity the breath as it goes in and out of your body. This can build alertness inthe mind and shake off any cobwebs.Perhaps you might try an open-eye meditation, or a walking meditation. Both ofthese are very effective and certainly get over the problem of falling asleep.Finally, think about changing the time and/or location of your meditations. Itmay be better to meditate earlier, before you get tired or in a place with better ordifferent energy, such as in the garden or a local park rather than in the confinesof four walls. Energy really does make a difference. Restlessness The classic simile for the nature of mind is it being like a monkey. It is always grabbing at things that fascinate it; sensory objects, stimulants, colors, shapes, running endlessly and seemingly without a break from one things to next like a ceaseless game of word association played all on its own. It is restlessness of the mind that, I would argue, many people find most difficult to come to terms with because they perceive this restlessness as a failure to concentrate or to focus. So they give up. It is understandable, of course, especially if you have been led to believe that meditation is about being calm, focussed and serene. Thus, it is somewhat of a shock for people to sit and realize that their own mind, thething they think they know the best about themselves, is actually completely outof control and filled with accumulated junk that they didn’t even know theyowned.What if you went about your meditation with the intention of being grateful forwhat you have, not desiring what you do not have? Disappointment inmeditation is always a creation of trying to be something that you are not, ordiscovering parts of yourself that you don’t like and don’t want to see. Truemeditation is discovering who you truly are without judgment, withoutdisappointment, without expectation.So, the practice of observing whatever it is you find when you are meditating iscrucial to overcoming the monkey mind. What you must avoid is trying to forcethe mind to stop thinking. It is like pushing against a wall of ego. The harder youpush, the harder it will push back and you will never break down a wall just bewww.michaelpaulstephens.com   24
  25. 25. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really Workspushing. It will take time, but you must let the wall rot away, which it will do ifyou stop building it with more and more energy. Simply observe the monkeymind, observe who you are, observe its changing nature and, over time, it willcalm itself because the energy that you have fed it over the course of you lifethus far will one day be exhausted.And then you will be able to observe what is left.DoubtThe last but certainly not least of thebarriers is doubt. This can take manyforms, each of which undermine thewhole intention of your meditation.Prior to meditation, you may wonder,“Why bother?”, or “I hope I don’thave an unfocussed session again”,which instantly places doubt andexpectation on the whole endeavor.What is clear about meditation is thatstarting with doubt will impact uponeverything that happens as you beginsitting. This is why cultivatingcompassion for the meditationobject, compassion for the mind thatobserves it and confidence in theprocess of meditation is essential.Many people may find thatmeditation as a beginner is not asrewarding as they thought it might be.Others will take to it instantly. It is crucial that you maintain a mind that is opento what it receives, which may be bliss, or it may be frustration. Treating bothwith compassion and acceptance avoids doubt.A second way that doubt creeps in is during the meditation proper. If you beginwith plenty of confidence and good will, this can soon ebb away, particularly ifyour ability to focus on the object of meditation is hindered by other barrierssuch as a lack of energy or a monkey mind. It is easy for the beginnerpractitioner to want to give up and scream “This isn’t doing me any good. It’sjust making more frustrated than before I started.”This may be true. But what you encounter whenever your mind begins to sowseeds of doubt, or lurches from object to object or begins to drain energy awayfrom the meditation object, is not a realistic interpretation of what you areexperiencing. It is merely your ego arising with the objection in order todemand attention. It tells you “Wouldn’t it be better if you stopped this nonsenseand went to see a movie instead”, when it wants sensual stimulation. It may say“This will never work. How can doing nothing create something?”, when itwww.michaelpaulstephens.com   25
  26. 26. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really Workswants you to be full of doubt and to give up your gentle diffusion of the energyupon which ego thrives. There are many ways, and all the barriers to meditationare the ego placing hindrances in your way, some of which may seeminsurmountable but, of course, they never are.You have spent many years in the future, and many years in the past. Beingpresent is a skill which is unfamiliar to the beginner and even some of the more experienced meditators who are seeking something through their practice, and therefore it seems a little tough. It is even tougher when you don’t make that connection between the very real benefits of meditation and the need to create them in the present moment. It doesn’t seem possible when you’re in the clutches of monkey mind during your meditation, that simply observing the monkey at work is a powerful way by which to diffuse its energy, but it is indeed. The ego will always offer you attractive ways by which to fuel its need for sensual stimulation and activity but it cannot fuel it if you simply watch it working away, becoming more and more tired, more and more exhausted, more and more used up. There will, of course, be many manylayers to your ego and just when you seem to have got it licked, it comes backrenewed, as if born again. But don’t despair, don’t doubt. Faith is a crucial toolin your practice. Look at your masters on your shrine. Remember the greatteachers who were just human beings practicing what you are practicing. Theyhad monkey mind too. They had doubt. They had ill will. But they could do it.And so can you. Practice anew and take each session as a new day, freshthrough the eyes of the child and full of boundless potential.www.michaelpaulstephens.com   26
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  28. 28. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really WorksTen Basic MeditationsThe following is a list of ten meditations that I have found very useful throughoutmy meditation life. It is by no means an exhaustive list but is intended to offeryou a nice cross-section of choices when choosing your meditations.You will find some that you like, some that suit you and others that you don’tlike and are unsuited. Bear in mind that this will change as your practiceprogresses. I have chopped and changed my meditation techniques over theyears and have begun to know how, eventually, the different techniques you learn from each begin to integrate into a single, flexible approach to meditation that you can allow to adjust and evolve just as you yourself adjust and evolve. Remember, all meditations are best practiced using a middle path. The mind should not be too strict or too lax. You should be compassionate with yourself and your abilities. Through love and diligence will you progress best, not austerity or apathy. 1) Mindfulness of Breathing It is said that the Buddha himself attained enlightenment through this meditation. Needless to say then, it is one of the most powerful, but also one of the most difficult to master. That is not to say that the beginner cannot use it. Indeed, it is often the foundation of many retreats and has been for 2,500years. What is often not taught is that there are three different techniques, any ofwhich you can use and all of which will help you to attain the same thing:awareness.The point of following your breath is simple. With awareness you will begin togain insight into the true nature, individuality and connectedness of everybreath. You will begin to notice that each breath is different and unique and thatthe very nature of breathing, and therefore of the person who breaths, isimpermanent and changing. Impermanence is the very antithesis of ego thatholds onto things and says this is ‘me’, this is ‘mine’, as if these things existed ina permanent state. It is liberation from these ideas that Buddha attained throughobserving his breathing. So can you. Part 1: Following the breathwww.michaelpaulstephens.com   28
  29. 29. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really Works I will assume for each of these meditations that you have gone through your meditation preliminaries; preparing your space, getting comfortable and conducting any rites and rituals that you need to. The first part of Mindfulness of breathing is to observe the breath as it goes into your body and out of your body. You do this by simply training your mind on the sensation of it passing in through the nose, down into your lungs and into the pit of your stomach, where the energetic properties of the breath, called prana, feed the body. Watch this process from one breath to the next, returning your mind to the breath as and when it diverts or attaches to a sensation or emotion. As you observe your breathing, you will probably find that there are gaps in your sensitivity, places on the journey of your breath where you cannot follow it. Do not be frustrated by this, but keep observing. Over time these gaps will be filled as the subtle nuances of feeling begin to be revealed to you. Also, these gaps will probably move around from place to place. This is quite normal. Take it as another indication of the transient and changing nature of living and of life. This is exactly what you are learning in real time. A little trick that has been very useful to me over the years is to begin this process by counting the breath in my mind in rounds of ten. As you breath in and out, that’s one. In and out again, that’s two etc. If you lose concentration, go back to one and start again. This technique is excellent if your mind is really tending to wander and can help you build up a rhythm and some confidence. You might want to start a meditation with two or three rounds of ten until the mind calms down, or you can conduct the whole meditation counting. It is up to you. As you progress and grow your practice you may wish to stop the counting and work with pure awareness. But it’s a great tool. Part 2: Watching the Breath Enter, Watching it Leave You can also watch the breath at the two points in your body where the process of breathing starts and ends. As you breath in, observe how the breath feels as it enters your body through your nose. Bring all of your attention to that point on the in-breath.www.michaelpaulstephens.com   29
  30. 30. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really Works Then, on the out-breath, shift your attention to the pit of your stomach at your navel, where you observe the breath leaving the body. This is a variation on the first part in that you are becoming more focussed on particular areas on your body. It can be a little tricky at first, as shifting the focus can seem to limit the sensitivity you are building up, but as you begin to master this technique, you will see how it leads to the third part. Part 3: Observation of the Breath at the Nose The final part of this technique is to fix your attention at the point on your nose where the sensation of breathing is strongest. This may be your nostrils, inside your nose, or even your top lip. As you begin breathing, note where the sensation is most vivid and use that point as your meditation object. Follow the breath in and out at that point only, observing the changing sensations from each moment to the next and each breath to the next.You can use these three meditations individually or together, progressing formone to the next as you master each stage or choosing which is best for you andsticking with it for some time. It is really your choice.2.Candle MeditationThe Candle meditation is an open-eyemeditation. All you do is light a teacandle and place it on the floor infront of you at a point where youreyes would be angled at about 45degrees from looking straight ahead.You then adopt a sitting meditationposition, close your eyes and thenslightly open them to reveal theburning candle. This then becomesyour object of meditation.This can be quite effective for thewandering mind as, in the flame, themind is observing a phenomena thatis obviously always changing. Thiscan keep it more occupied that, say,breathing, which at first can be verysubtle or even fairly numb.Eventually, as you focus yourattention on the flame, everythingaround it fades and you being to achieve a single-pointedness but don’t let beyour motivation. Simply watch the mind, observe your body, observe the flameand let what will be, be.www.michaelpaulstephens.com   30
  31. 31. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really WorksA variation on this is to use anything on the floor to focus upon. I used to use acrack or a mark on the floor in front of me as a meditation object, and it becamea popular technique of mine. It is one way of demonstrating how meditationobjects can be anything that is available. It needn’t be anything special at all. Aslong as you maintain the technique of observing the yourself as you observe theobject, the result will be the same.3. Chakra MeditationChakra meditation is a classic visualization technique to clean your energy fieldand empower your center. It is great for centering awareness in your body andto sensitize you to your true self.In your body you have 7 major energy centers called chakras. These centersrespond to your emotional, physical and energetic conditions as well asinfluence them. Each has acorresponding color that, whenvisualized in the region of thecorresponding chakra, helps toopen up the energy and expand it.When all your chakras are workingwell and full of energy, this is amajor contributing factor to goodhealth, quality life and contentedfeelings.Begin your meditation by bringingyou attention to your breath andconducting three rounds ofbreathing mindfully.Next bring your attention to yourroot chakra. This is represented bythe color red. It is located at thebase of your spine - the coccyx ortail bone. The root chakra is yourgroundedness and is responsive toyour sense of family & groupsafety/security, ability to provide forlife’s necessities and to stand up foryourself.With every in-breath imagine a ball of glowing red energy to be growing at thebase of your spine. With every out-breath, imagine a grey cloud of smoke isexhausted from you, as if you are clearing your body of any old or stagnantenergy that you no longer need. Spend about 3 minutes expanding the energy inthat area.Cycle through the other 6 chakras like this:www.michaelpaulstephens.com   31
  32. 32. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really Works 2. Sacral Chakra: Orange - Located one inch below your navel - Responsive to your sense of blame & guilt, money & sex, power & control, creativity, and ethics and honor in relationships 3. Emotion Chakra: Yellow - Located in your solar plexus just under the sternum - Responsive to your sense of trust, fear & intimidation, self- esteem, self-confidence, self-respect, care of oneself and others, responsibility for making decisions, sensitivity to criticism and personal honor 4. Heart Chakra: Green - Located in the center of your breast plate - Responsive to your sense of love & hatred, resentment & bitterness, grief & anger, self-centeredness, loneliness & commitment, forgiveness & compassion, hope 5. Throat Chakra: Blue - Located in your thorax - Responsive to your sense of choice & strength of will, personal expression, following one’s dream, using personal power to create, addiction, judgment & criticism, faith & knowledge, capacity to make decisions 6. Third Eye Chakra: Purple - Located between your eyes - Responsive to self-evaluation, truth, intellectual abilities, feeling of adequacy, openness to the ideas of others, ability to learn from experience and emotional intelligence 7. Crown Chakra: Golden white - Located on the top of your head - Responsive to your ability to trust life, values, ethics and courage, humanitarianism, selflessness, ability to see the larger pattern, faith & inspiration, spirituality and devotionMeditate on each of these chakras or, if you feel particularly drained in one ortwo areas, focus on them and invigorate by using the same technique4. Awareness of BeingAwareness of being is simple, easy to practice and applicable virtuallyanywhere. All your do is cycle your attention through each area of your body,and, as you do so, expand your awareness to include all your sensessimultaneously. It is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle of sensitivity.Start by concentrating on your toes. How do they feel? Can you feel anything?Concentrate on them, patiently, with intention, until you can. Now feel the solesof your feet and your toes together. Can you feel the blood pumping throughyour feet, or your socks cutting into your ankles? Now add your calves, thenyour shins, and slowly work your way through your body parts, becoming moreand more aware of where tension exists, pain, coldness, hotness etc. If you feeltension, pain, heat, cold, it doesn’t matter , just examine it. Don’t judge whatyou are feeling or become despondent if you feel nothing - just move on to thenext body part.www.michaelpaulstephens.com   32
  33. 33. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really WorksMove to your torso and cycle through your organs. You may imagine that organsdon’t have much feeling, but you will be surprised. They are all living tissue and you can feel them at all times, not just when they are hurting. Build up a picture of your body all the way up to your neck and down to the tips of your finger tips. Next, when you move onto your head and neck, follow the same pattern of e x p a n d i n g awa r e n e s s o f e v e r y sensation, but this time include the taste in your mouth, the smell in your nose, the colors behind your eyes and, last but not least, the sounds coming in through your ears. Reach out your ability to sense as far as it will go beyond the room and across the street, including, never excluding and never judging, every sound, color, smell, taste and sensation flooding into your body. When you have a complete sensual picture from the soles of your feet to thecrown of your head, you will have enlivened and become aware of who youare. This awareness brings with it a sense of peace in the present moment wherethere is nothing to worry about or fret over.You can practice this in just 60 seconds and, if you practice three of four times aday, you will soon be able to ‘remember’ the peace and awareness associatedwith it and recall the feeling instantly whenever you feel ungrounded or upset.5. Loving Kindness MeditationLoving kindness is the act of growing compassion. Nobody deserves your angeror hatred, certainly not your poor heart that, each time you practice hangingonto your hatred or bitterness, holds on to the resulting energy and is affectedby it. Why do you think heart disease is one of the leading killers in the westernworld? No, it’s not just fast food. It’s slow love. And love in your life surely startswith you.What if you could feel compassion for everyone you meet, no matter who theyare? Wouldn’t that make you world a little freer of anger, jealousy, frustrationand resentment? Of course it would, and it is only because we have become soaccomplished at holding onto our judgments about other people that this seemsso idealistic. In fact, we can learn to love even our greatest enemies, if we learnhow. All it takes is a little bit of effort and the belief that we can do it.www.michaelpaulstephens.com   33
  34. 34. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really WorksIn loving kindness we consciously generate love from within for three differentpeople. Sometimes you might to choose three people before you begin,especially if you have some forgiveness to practice on particular people.However, you can also practice this meditation and see who comes up as yougo through it. You might be surprised. • Start by getting comfortable, perhaps practicing 5 minutes of mindfulness of breathing or being in order to get yourself in the zone. • Now, begin breathing green light into your heart. Visualize with every in- breath, green light filling up your chest. Perhaps visualize a green rose in the middle of heart, opening up each time you inhale. • Once you feel relaxed and full of green light, bring into your heart the image of a person who you love very much. Visualize them standing opposite you in your heart space and hug them with as much love as you can generate. Feel also their love flowing back at you. This is an important step and reminds you that you too are also worthy of love and appreciation by others. Spend about 5 minute on this step. • Next, bring into your heart the face of a person who you are emotionally neutral about. This may be a co-worker, someone yo u s aw o n t h e b u s t h i s morning, or a relative who you hardly know. It doesnt matter. Bring that person into your heart alongside the first person and hold hands in a triangle. Generate the same degree of love for the second person as you did for the first, looking back at the first if you need to be reminded how unconditional love feels. Spend another five minutes on this part. • Finally, bring into your mind a person for whom you hold onto a painful emotional reaction. This reaction is just a learned and repeated response, based upon judgment and memory. Whatever you think that person deserves, you don’t deserve to feel pain for them anymore. So, bring that person into your heart alongside the first two people and yourself and practice generating some love for them. This may be difficult at first, but so is riding a bike. Each time you fall off, brush yourself down, and get back on.www.michaelpaulstephens.com   34
  35. 35. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really WorksThis meditation is cumulative in effect. You don’t just top yourself up with loveand go out and be Jesus for the rest of your life. It takes continuous effort andpractice. After a while, you may just begin meeting people with an open mindand, more importantly for you, an open heart.6.Walking MeditationWalking meditation is great for those of us who have a tendency towards slothand torpor. It is far more difficult to fall asleep when walking! The beauty of it isthat it can be done anywhere and at any time. If you couple this with Awarenessof Doing, together they can be a very complete awareness regime that stretchesacross your whole day.At first, walking meditation should be conducted very slowly. It is best donewithout shoes and, if possible, outside, but this is by no means essential. It isgreat to practice walking meditation on the beach or on grass, as the sensationscan be more heightened than on a plain floor. When you start this meditation, begin with a four point process of feeling: 1.Lift the foot, 2.Place the heal 3.Place the foot 4.Bend the toes before lift Take each part of the process in turn, focussing all of your awareness on each part, feeling with as much attention as you can muster how each part of the process feels. At first, you can make this very mechanical and be conscious of the four parts, but as you get used to the meditation, it will be more flowing and you will see that each part of the practice actually flows into the next in one fluid movement. As with all meditations, walking and the sensation of walking is merely theobject by which you grow awareness of change and movement.7.Awareness of DoingThere is a great line in the 2010 Karate Kid movie where the master has beentraining his student by instructing him to take off his jacket, hang it up, put in onthe floor and pick it back up again. After many days of this without explanation,the student is very upset and finally refuses to do it anymore. The master beginsto fight the student and the student, by following the instruction of the master to‘Hang up the coat’, ‘Put it on’, ‘Take it off’ and various other instructions, haswww.michaelpaulstephens.com   35
  36. 36. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really Workslearned many of the movements of Kung Fu and can fight effectively. Whenasked how he had learned this by picking up and wearing his coat the masterexplains, “There is Kung Fu in everything.”So it is true with meditation. There is the potential to meditate in everything thatwe do, because the Martial Arts and meditation both serve to realize the sameinsights into the nature of energy and movement. However, few of us find thislearning in the mundane, preferring to seek more glamorous pursuits that stokeour desires and pander to the modern craze of multi-tasking, which is basicallynon-awareness turned into an professional art-form.I remember well sitting in thedeparture lounge of Singapore’sChangi airport and seeing a windowcleaner performing his task with suchskill, awareness and dedication, Icould tell that he had foundcompassion in his object ofmeditation. On the other hand, howmany people have we allencountered who find only boredomin their tasks when a world of insight,compassion, learning and wisdomexists in all that we do? These areminds that seek sensations, notinsight. The mind that seeks insightfinds awareness and compassion ineverything.So, the next time you are brushingyour teeth, brush your teeth. The nexttime your are eating, eat. The nexttime you are cleaning dishes, cleandishes. Start extending your practice into your day; application. Your thirtyminutes in the morning is designed to be practice for 23.5 hours of applicationafterwards. Find the essential nature of each action in performing it withawareness and you will find pleasure in everything that you do, not justtemporary pleasure through sensual stimulation.8. GroundingGrounding is a quick easy way to reconnect with the present moment. Strongemotional outpourings un-ground you, as if you lose yourself in the emotionand this brief meditation brings you back to your strong foundation.Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, eyes open, knees slightly bent (notlocked) and relax your body. Imagine that you are a tree and roots are growingfrom your feet into the ground. With each in-breath the roots grow deeper,www.michaelpaulstephens.com   36
  37. 37. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really Worksbeyond the floor, into the soil, into the rock, into the very core of the earth thatcreated your body and feeds and nourishes you every day.Imagine that each breath, draws energy up through the soles of your feet, all theway up your legs, into your shoulders and head and down through your hands. Maintain this breathing and visualization for a minute or two. Keep visualizing your roots growing deeper and wider. Feel solid but natural, empowered but in control. In a few short moments of grounding you should feel your body calming down, your mind balancing and your emotions subsiding. As you practice this frequently it will be easier to bring yourself back to this state creating instant relief and empowerment. As this exercise can be easily practiced sitting down at work, on the bus, in the car or anywhere really, it is a great exercise to fall back on several times during the day. Whenever you feel a strong emotional response to a situation, simply start breathing in through your feet, comeback to the breath, watch the way your breathing changes as you becomeemotionally excited. Soon, by grounding and breathing with awareness ratherthan thinking about the emotion , letting your head get involved and justifyingor rationalizing it, you will regain your composure and the emotion will havepassed through you rather than holding onto it as if it was a part of you. This ishow you learn to change a reaction, which is automated and insensitive, into anobservation, which occurs with awareness and sensitivity.9.CenteringYou are an energy being and working with energy is what you do.Unfortunately, most of us believe we are primarily physical beings and workexclusively on developing our physical energy, which eventually weakens ourenergy body, which places our physical body at risk of illness however powerfulit may seem to be.While the grounding meditation creates a solid foundation and connection tothe earth, the centering meditation helps create power. Rather than meditatingon the earth, this time we begin to open up the crown chakra that connects uswith our higher self, and begin to draw energy into our system through thesource.www.michaelpaulstephens.com   37
  38. 38. A Practical Guide to Meditation That Really WorksHowever, please remember that this exercise should always be conducted afterthe grounding exercise, as working only with the crown chakra can result inheadaches, light-headedness and out of body experiences in people susceptibleto such things. The crown chakra is our connection to our higher self, so playingwith this energy center without working with the others can create imbalances.Alternatively, you may like to use the chakra balancing exercise as a precursor,for the same reason. The point of this exercise is not to revel in what we can doas energy being, but to create practical ways in which we can create power.To begin this exercise you focus on the crown of your head and imagine thatthere is a cord connecting you to your higher self. Visualize it pulling upupwards, straightening your spine, creating an uplifting sensation.Now visualize that your crown chakrais opening up like the aperture of acamera. Feel it widening on your headand a bright golden-white lightbeginning to pour along the cord andinto your head.Visualize that energy traveling slowlydown your back, feeling it every inchthat it travels. Observe it all the waydown to the base of your spine,traveling between your legs and up intoyour belly where it becomes a light ofyour choosing. Don’t think too muchabout the color. Just let it become thefirst color that you can visualize. It willbe the right one.Finally, just keep breathing andfollowing the energy. With the in-breath feel the energy flow into the ballin your stomach and with the out breath feel that energy condensing into agreater and greater power.Once more, this meditation is flexible enough to be very mobile and can beconducted anywhere and included as part of the awareness of being meditation,including all your senses. I used to love doing this meditation riding mymotorbike around the countryside of Phuket, breathing in the awesome powerof nature!www.michaelpaulstephens.com   38