Yesterdays dive off Tobago Island was just astounding. Barbara and I spent the morning marveling at the incredible diversity of life supported by the reef’s ecosystem. Today we were at Sisters Rock, diving a bit deeper, but still intent on exploring the marine diversity that our beautiful planet supports. We made our way among the rock outcropping and coral on the near vertical wall, as our air bubbles rose to the surface.
Concentration and contemplation meditation practices take place at the surface level of thinking. Referring to the bubble diagram, they are analogous to swimming back and forth (contemplation) or treading water (concentration) on the water’s surface.
Some examples of contemplation meditation are:
Contemplation on a particular topic
Nature’s connection to the earth
Stimulation of imagination
… and many others.
Some examples of concentration meditation are:
Body, breath, or heartbeat awareness
… and many others.
Some forms of concentration may help to sharpen our attention span or develop portions of the brain (visualization) while others can be detrimental. Those practices that try to stop the thinking process or focus on the gap between thoughts (silent listening) are unnatural since they involve force, and can lead to headache and dulling of the mind.
When discussing meditation practices it’s important to understand that mimicking, or trying to copy/simulate an enlightened attribute, is not the same thing as actually living that quality in life.
Spiritual and philosophical proponents may point out that a silent mind is a characteristic that is common to all enlightened individuals. But don’t confuse the cause with the effect. The effect is a peacefully sublime mind, while the cause is the minds intimate infusion and relationship with pure consciousness or being, not forced exclusion of thoughts.
Transcending practices often utilize a vehicle. In the bubble diagram the practice of transcendence is illustrated by the downward vertical line with that same title. That vehicle is called a mantra. It is an instrument used for its sound value, and not for any word meaning.
For example, the word “flower” has a specific meaning that we have learned to associate with that sound.
Pronunciation – flau(e)r, like flour
Meaning – that part of a seed plant that normally bears reproductive organs; has dazzling colors, delicate textures, and often smells wonderful.
All sound has an effect on the human nervous system. Southing music may calm us down while finger nails scratching across a school blackboard may send shivers up our spin. Some sounds are life supporting while others are not.
The minds natural tendency is to move toward greater charm and happiness. Diving into water involves taking the correct angle, and then letting go to allow gravity to follow its course. Like that, the correct personal mantra takes aim and the mind natural transcends on its own.
Do not use “flower” as a mantra. Mantras such as “Om” are often employed for chanting or transcendence, but may not be suited for everyone. Using “Om” in meditation has the tendency to make an individual reclusive. That may be alright for the ascetic but for the majority of us (social householders) other mantras are better suited.
It’s best to learn meditation from a qualified personal teacher.
Spirituality is more than the sum of its parts. It’s a holistic synergy born from the proper functioning of our nervous system anchored in the absolute state of being. Meditation is a vehicle that can help to uncover the shroud hiding our true nature. A single day passed cannot be returned, so take advantage of the opportunity to make every day count.
As bubbles rise from the ocean depth, so to our thoughts rise from an infinite source within. Shake hands with the source of thought every day in meditation, and partake in the glorious wonder and excitement of life.