Basics of Meditation: Development of Self Awareness

The Development of Self Awareness


Distant Learning ProgrammeTo discover inner psychic potential it is very necessary to go ‘back to roots’ and start the journey with the discovery of self. This may sound unnecessary, as people tend to think they know exactly who they are, their place in life and their personality. Unfortunately, the knowledge of self, which is contained within each person, is not always at conscious level as many think. Quite often people reflect the personality others have given them. It can be difficult to be ‘your own person’ as this may conflict with the image other people have and in an effort ‘to be accepted’ the nominated role is played out to the mutual satisfaction of all.

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It is also a fact that people do not like to examine themselves and the lives they have led too closely. The reason for this being that, although they made decisions at specific times based on all the information at hand, in hindsight it is so easy to see where a better decision could have been made. Aesthetics used to flagellate themselves with leather whips with metal nuggets on the end in an effort to be ‘without sin’ and it still occurs. People beat themselves unmercifully mentally and emotionally and can spend the rest of their lives saying ‘if only………..’ instead of accepting that every action and every word was made and said for the right reasons and leave the matter there.

It is time to move on!

To find self is to gain a greater understanding of self and  not necessarily to improve or change self. It has been found, however, that often some improvement and change does take place as understanding dawns. The majority of people have been brought up to view all the virtues as things to be actively sought and sometimes, in striving to achieve perfection, their whole characters change; they become pious, holy, severe, with doleful countenance and somehow they have lost the joy of life from their lives.

A discovery of self, therefore, is not to change and become goody-goody. It is a journey of joyful self-realisation wherein the voyager will discover inner truths and knowledge which will, in turn, activate hidden strengths waiting to be released. To discover self is not necessarily an examination or investigation of self; it is often a journey to the innermost sanctum of the soul to find sacred space; to find sacred time; to touch the God essence that is within all people.

Once a person has been able to realize his or her own God potential, then it is so much easier to recognize the God (good) in all other people.

Self Awareness through meditation, affirmation and visualisation techniques.

To find self, therefore, it is necessary to find some time for self which statement is very simple but often very difficult to put into practice. It is not possible to discover one’s potential in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day living. A discipline must be introduced into life so this journey can be effected. The easiest way to make this journey is by using the discipline of:


So what is Meditation?

“Meditation is an ancient technique which is used for physical and mental relaxation as well as for personal and spiritual growth. It can be described as sitting quietly, keeping the mind alert, focused and concentrated while the body is totally relaxed.” (D Fontana)

It is also important to realise that meditation is a personal practice and usually done alone. Quite often relaxation and visualisation exercises are called meditations, as are exercises to help people link with the world of spirit. These exercises are not meditation. Meditation is a simple process of going within, usually concentrating on the breath, allowing thoughts to filter through and then letting them go. Meditation is a gradual disciplining of the body which will remain relaxed for longer periods as the mind takes a firmer control. As the meditation progresses there will often be a change in consciousness and an even greater awareness of life itself. Meditation stimulates an inner tranquillity, which reflects in the life of the practitioner.

Meditation can sometimes be a bit of a bind when first starting as the body fidgets and the mind wont relax and it really is difficult to force the discipline upon a resisting mind and body. Once these resisting forces are tamed, however, the practitioner will look forward to his/her daily sessions as a time in which to be alone with self in that inner silence which cannot be found in the physical world.

What are the benefits of Meditation?

“A decrease in:

Tension and anxiety

Stress related physical problems such as high blood pressure, palpitations and abnormal heart rhythms, insomnia, stuttering and tension headaches

Drug addiction and drug dependence

Depression, irritability and other negative psychological states

And an increase in:

Feelings of peace, optimism, and self-worth

Creativity, efficiency, productivity and energy

Emotional release, spontaneity and contact with emotional life

Openness to the unconscious and to repressed memories, aspirations etc

Independence, self-discipline and sense of identity.” (D. Fontana)

So how is meditation practised?

Initially – find the time. Decide upon a time that is the most suitable, taking into account all family and social commitments. A time must be found when it will be possible to be alone and relax. Meditating when tired will only induce sleep so do not do it after a period of hard work. Midday is a good time – before lunch or again, sleep will take over.

Do not meditate more than once a day initially – it is better to move into the practice slowly until it becomes part of daily life, like bathing, eating and sleeping. Meditation is not rhubarb and doesn’t need forcing.

How long is it necessary to meditate?

There is no hard and fast rule for the length of time required. A beginner should not force him/herself to sit for a certain length of time – 5 minutes is a long time when basically ‘nothing’ is happening and 30 minutes is a lifetime. In the early stages the physical body usually decides when to stop It is not necessary to set an alarm as if it rings when bodily relaxation has been achieved and the mind is totally focussed, it will startle the practitioner and put him/her off meditation. Trust self. A sure way of knowing whether meditation is being practised correctly is when it is thought that only 5 minutes have elapsed and then discover that the meditation has taken 20 minutes and the ticking of the clock had not registered at an audible level.

Where is the best place to sit?

The meditator should find a place which can become a ‘sacred place’ which can be made his/her own and it should be permeated with positive, loving vibrations. Meditating in the same place will make it sacred.

Are special clothes required?

Not necessarily but the meditator must be comfortable. It is not possible to enter the meditative state if the mind is conscious of pressure around the waist caused by tight clothing. It might be nice to make a kaftan from one piece of material, fold it in half, cut out a head hole and sew the sides leaving space for the arms. This could be kept for meditation and made special by the energies of self and the sacred place

What is the best way to sit in meditation?

The body must be balanced so it must be allowed to assume a natural place with a straight spine. The Yoga lotus position (the triangle) is the best position but not everyone can sit in this position even without legs tucked up (the half lotus). If this cannot be managed then it might be a good idea to make a meditation stool which has the front legs three-quarters the height of the back legs so the meditator can kneel on the floor with buttocks supported by the stool. As a last resort the meditator should sit on a chair with feet flat on the ground or supported by cushions if necessary.

It is better to adopt a meditative posture, and not sitting on a chair, if possible, as this then becomes another prop which will help settle the mind and encourage it to enter an altered  state of awareness.

Is there a special way to position the hands in meditation?

The hands should be relaxed and comfortable, lying on the knees. If it is desired to make use of a mudra, the most universal one is the ‘O’ shape which symbolises the unity of all things. Sit with palms uppermost with forefingers touching thumbs, creating the circle of life.

How can meditation be applied in life?

Once an individual has become an adept with the discipline of meditation there are all kinds of places where it can help: dentists waiting room,  long journeys, before performing in public, even walking down the street. Meditation is a technique which once learned can be utilised in, and to enhance, life.

Students who wish to learn more about Meditative Practices are referred to Meditation by David Fontana which has exercises to help beginners in this discipline.

Hindu yogis and gurus who practice meditation a lot in their daily rituals tell students that there will come a point in their meditation when the psychic faculty kicks in and they train themselves to ignore it. The psychic who wishes to use this faculty will not ignore it, but will learn to control it.

This can be done by:

Opening and Closing

Learning to open and close is learning to enter levels of consciousness and so become aware of the psychic energies and their interaction with others and then to leave these levels and return to the usual state of consciousness. It is often described as ‘being out of focus’ or ‘being with it and yet not with it’. With practice this state becomes instantly recognisable and a psychic will know if an accidental opening up has taken place and quickly close down.

The opening up process is very simple and is a positive command to self: “I am opening up my awareness centres” and to close is an equally positive command to the effect that any ‘open door’ has now been closed.

Novices are not always initially able to be sufficiently positive in their approach to what is basically a new technique so exercises are devised that will help. These exercises usually take the form of some symbolic opening carried out on the mental level; e.g. a person imagines him/herself in a sleeping bag and unzips it and then reverses the process to close down. Some people carry out a ritual symbolic opening of the psychic centres (chakras) followed by a closing down. People may choose to open a door and go through, returning at some later stage. Whatever method is used it must be one with which the novice is comfortable; using one of these rituals is only telling self: ‘I am opening up my awareness centres’ which is where this paragraph started.

At this point it is necessary to talk about the need for protection, not necessarily because opening up is a risky business but it is important to realise where problems may be met.

If a person has been ill and energies are depleted, s/he will react in a different way to a verbal or physical attack, than would be the case if energies were high and the person was ‘fighting fit. When first opening up people can be vulnerable and unless this opening up is done in controlled conditions, they may find that they are susceptible to conditions and emotions with which they are in contact. They will find themselves ‘picking-up’ people’s aches and pains, their frustrations and impatience and until the novice can recognise that these conditions do not belong to themselves but are reflections of the people and atmosphere around them, it can be problematic. Once recognition is reached a positive command to self that these conditions are removed and a closing down should be carried out.

As novices develop their psychic ability so will that development protect them from these influences and they will be able to open and close at will.  The need for a positive attitude is very important and to the help with achieving such an attitude, there follows a little information on Affirmations which may help.

What are Affirmations?

There is a truism which can be found in all religions that what is given out will be received back. In the Water Babies Charles Kingsley introduced Mrs Be Done by as You Did to Tom and to his readers. It is, therefore, very important that life is lived in a positive framework, mentally alert and focussed. It is appreciated that there are times in life when the best of intentions are ‘thrown out of the window’ but when possible, positive thinking should be the aim.

Thinking positively is not always as easy as it sounds and if an individual is surrounded by negative people who are constantly moaning and being critical of others, it can be very easy to slip into their slovenly mental habits. Thinking positively can be achieved in the same manner as any other ability; practice, practice, practice until there is no need to even think about being positive, it will have become automatic. Seeking the good in people is far more stimulating than noticing what is considered to be bad.

Affirmations can help to achieve positivity and by their continuous use, a discipline can be achieved which will not only be beneficial to the affirmer but also to all those who come in contact with him or her. A ‘sunshine’  attitude is far more welcoming than one of ‘doom and gloom’.

So what are affirmations?  Affirmations are exactly what they would seem to be: Positive statements affirming the speakers’ absolute conviction of their validity and truth. The most well known affirmation being: “Every day in every way, I am getting better.” People are advised to repeat this sentence many times during the day until they have convinced themselves of its truth. Physical bodies do respond to the mental outlook. This has been proved many times with the ‘placebo’ effect. A doctor will prescribe an innocuous vitamin tablet to a patient with indeterminate aches and pains and the patient gets better. Sometimes just visiting the doctor eases a patient’s tension and pain; the very fact that the patient trusts the doctor to diagnose the problem and prescribe medication which will help, removes stress which is aggravating the condition.

It is not enough to practice affirmations a few times a day for a few days. If the intention is to change from negative to positive then it will need to be worked at. It need not be the same affirmation all the time; it can be whichever one is felt right for the current situation.

A suggested first affirmation:

I will stop saying I can’t and give it my best shot.

There are so many negative words that are used constantly so trying to remove some of them is a good basis from which to start.

Is the glass ‘half full’ or ‘half empty’?  It must always be half full!

Start with self: stand and look in the mirror and say:

I am so pleased to be me!

I am an expression of God’s unconditional Love

I give myself permission to allow that Love to manifest

I glory in my Godliness!

And believe it!

Look at friends; some are experiencing difficulties; some are having huge problems. Think of appropriate affirmations that are considered would help each one of them. It may be found that those same affirmations can be applied directly into the life of the writer of them!

The following affirmations are given only as a starting point for the most positive affirmation must be the one written by its owner who is the only person who has knowledge of his/her individual needs.

I do not need anger, it weakens my spirit.

I forgive myself as I forgive others and then I let go!

I have no weaknesses; all are but differing degrees of strength!

My greatest riches are my friends and I am wealthy beyond measure!

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