What IS Meditation? What IS an Expanded State of Consciousness?
Did you know that there are literally thousands of ancient forms of meditation? They are all very serious. Most of them originated from India and other Asian cultures, centuries ago.
These forms of ancient meditation were created for, and by, men: monks, rabbis, yogis, priests, etc. who wanted to support their vows of chastity, celibacy, poverty, and obedience. These are very different reasons than why we would take up a meditation or expanded mind practice, in the present age.
Early sources of meditation and expanded states of mind accurately believed it was the connection to the God-force or the universe, but it wasn’t until the mid-1800’s that the practice moved into more philosophical realms.
It was then that people began talking about meditation and expanded states in connection with yoga, for example. There was even a literary understanding that went with its mystical powers. By the 1950’s and ‘60’s, it moved into the streets with us ordinary folk.
Nowadays, there are many kinds of ancient and as well as contemporary forms of accessing meditative states of mind.
Some of these forms branch out into areas that understand the significant functions of the brain and how it all relates to the power of the experience.
Some forms are more religious; some more spiritual. And others forms are more clinical.
You may know these forms by names such as Buddhist, Vipassana, Transcendental Meditation (TM), Kundalini, Zen, Shamanism, Kabbalah, Yoga - in all its many branches - Biofeedback, Hypnosis, Gestalt, Ericksonian, Neuro-linguistic Programming, Feldenkrais, guided imagery. The list goes on.
Different teachings involve some or all aspects of:
- Watching the breath
- Awakening the heart
- Experiencing bliss
- Quieting the mind
- Emotional healing
- Reducing stress
Some of these aspects are byproducts of the practice, and some are fundamental to the practice itself.
You’ll find much information nowadays about the scientific benefits such as cerebral hemisphere cohesiveness, reversal of the physiological aging process, stress management, etc. The TM movement has conducted the best research over the years, publishing it often, and it holds up well under scientific and public scrutiny.
For the most part, I find ancient methods of meditation old, outdated, too ritualized, and sadly lacking in the practicalities of being a human on the planet in the 21st century.
To put it simply, traditional meditation techniques were not developed for the modern world so they are not designed to address our current needs and desires. They haven’t adapted to today’s stressors and unbalancing lives of increasing complexity and accelerated change, either.
How can you expect to experience the deep stillness and connection and expanded awareness that is the hallmark of authentic meditation while fighting with your busy mind in the intensiveness of the Information Age?
The truth is, you can’t.
But you can navigate this new rhythm and change to the best of your ability by adapting formal, structured meditation practices to the current times.
We’ve evolved. So should our mind-expanding practice. Therefore, modern forms of meditation are an ancient art updated for contemporary times. They are for the evolving person.
Now I want to make it clear that modern does not mean without soul. It means, with a clean, unfettered connection to the soul.
Modernism is an orientation toward life, a way of living in the current, rather than the past.
If you want to move beyond your old stories, your perceived wounds, your perspective of lacking, then accessing expanded states of consciousness expresses the speed and energy and needs of these current times we live in.
Modern science - modern anything - questions and finds a new way, a new pathway. There is always controversy: endless quarrels between those who support the ancient and those who subscribe to the modern.
I’ll state up front that I’m not opposed to anything old or ancient. Not at all. I love my antique pieces of furniture, my favourite period films, my nostalgic whims, my socio-historic explorations.
But when I connect to my soul, it can’t be just a thing of the past. It needs to be here and now, existing with me, in love with me, fresh and current. Or it’s stale.
My training and experiences (both personal and professional) have allowed me to develop modern forms of accessing expanded states of consciousness as a way of connecting to divine, sacred, timeless messages. This distinguishes the meditation forms from ancient and religious-based forms.
These more modern forms are natural, but they’re also an innovative and eclectic methodology that works specifically with your internal guidance systems - whatever you believe those systems to be.
The best part is that in working with these systems, this style of accessing expansive states of consciousness activates and integrates life-changing experiences.