By Christopher Calder
Meditation is inner astronomy.
You discover the
stars, the Moon, and the Sun are all inside you.
What is Meditation?
The Eastern definition of
meditation means not thinking, but rather focusing consciousness on the
cosmic whole, without thought, judgment, or distraction. We can
define meditation as the art of consciousness becoming aware of itself
on the grand and cosmic scale.
Meditation brings a sense of fullness and completion and can become a
long-term source of tranquility if practiced correctly. The
euphoria of drugs quickly leads to misery and self-destruction.
The wholesomeness of love, so beautiful and ethereal, is a relatively
short-lived and fleeting experience. Meditation is the eternal
essence of nature taking on conscious form within the mortal human
Meditation is an adventure of
self-discovery. How can you live intelligently without knowing
who or what you are? If someone asks you who you are during the
day, you may state your name, as if a temporary label means something
important. Ask yourself who you are when you are in deep sleep,
unconscious, and without even a dream to prove that you exist.
Ask yourself who you were ten months before you were born, and who you
will be after your body dies. Meditation increases awareness of
the natural phenomenon that is going on behind your eyes.
Self-knowledge has intrinsic value, but it is also important to
understand the limits of meditation techniques. Genetics is by
far the biggest factor in determining how conscious you become, not
methodology. Your DNA code determines your level of
consciousness more than your lifestyle.
Classic sitting meditation is a vital part of all meditation traditions
and has taken many forms, some more effective than others. Some
traditional approaches demand that the student sits motionless for
hours on end as if becoming a frozen human statue is the key to
enlightenment. A more scientific approach does not make the human
body our enemy but rather works with our natural physiology to allow
more intense meditation with less effort and discomfort.
Masochism is not an effective path to self-realization. You can
sit cross-legged Asian style on a meditation pillow on the floor, or
use the Recliner Chair Method described below.
The Recliner Chair Method
The Recliner Chair Method is the most healthful method of sitting as it
avoids blocking vital blood circulation in the legs, yet has 100% of
the benefits of sitting on the floor in the full lotus position with
the back held rigidly straight. Sit in a recliner chair that is
set to a medium reclined position. Shoes and socks should be
removed for best results. If your feet get cold, drape a towel
over your feet to keep them warm. The bare soles of your feet
should be pressed against each other and your legs relaxed, knees
pointed out to the sides of the chair. Hands can be locked
together, laying comfortably in your lap, or pressed against the center
of your chest, one on top of the other over the center of your
emotional heart. The energy that is normally washed out through
your hands can be channeled directly into your heart center.
What do you do while sitting?
The most basic approach to meditation is to relax, let go, and do
nothing. Surrender to the moment and watch yourself as a silent
witness. If thoughts come to mind, observe the thoughts without
adding to them with your active participation. Be a passive
observer and simply feel your most basic fundamental being. This
immense entity has been called 'the ground of being.'
Consciousness is like a glass ball floating in the depth of
space. Light and sensory input flow into the field of
consciousness from all directions. When you think, you focus your
attention on just one area of sensory input, or you create a thought
from a memory stored within the brain. With choiceless awareness,
you are not thinking or remembering, just floating and letting sensory
input flow through you from all directions without manipulating that
input with the thought process.
useful method is to lend special awareness to the breathing process
felt in the belly. Just behind and below your navel lies the
Hara, which is felt as an ethereal ball of energy. The Hara is a
natural balancing point of your consciousness which can be thought of
as the center of your being. Subjectively and poetically
speaking, the Hara is where man and universe meet. It is the
gateway where we merge and become man-universe and universe-man.
No one knows what the Hara is, but we can use it to our full
advantage. Consciously developing a powerful Hara center is the
most important secret of meditation.
When your consciousness is centered in the Hara instead of the head,
your thinking process slows down, and you can relax in the expanded
world of being. Trying to stop distracting thoughts through
willpower alone leads to more thoughts and a self-defeating inner
struggle. By transferring your center of awareness to the Hara,
thoughts gradually disappear on their own without inner conflict.
That is why you see Buddha statues with big bellies. It is a
message in sculpture that the Hara is the key to meditation. Over
time, the Hara point will become more noticeable as your meditation
grows stronger. Be warned that overeating and consuming cold
drinks tends to make Hara awareness more difficult.
The Sweeping House Method
Begin by placing both hands behind your head. Rest your hands at
the point where the neck and head meet. Then quickly sweep your
hands over the top of your head. Imagine that your hands are
gathering up all of your thoughts as they move across the top of your
skull. When your hands reach just below your forehead, use a
flicking motion to throw your hands away from your face. Feel as
if all of your thoughts are being swept out of your head and thrown out
into empty space. Repeat this between ten and twenty times as
needed. I do it very quickly, but you must find your own optimum
While accomplishing the
sweeping motion, feel that your center of consciousness is dropping
down from your head to your Hara center in your belly.
Immediately after the sweeping part of this exercise is complete, place
both of your hands, one on top of the other, on your upper
forehead. Feel the warm energy of your palms on your
forehead. Rest in your Hara center as you continue to
Yoga exercises (See Yoga vs. Gymnastics on YouTube)
Yoga exercises can make your central nervous system more energetic,
which naturally expands consciousness. The easy yoga exercises
work best. Extreme exercises that involve fast breathing in
bizarre positions may be dangerous. Keeping the temperature of
your yoga room at tropical heat levels, which is a current fad, is a
silly waste of energy. Men should never sit with their heels
pressed behind their testicles as this practice can cause
sterility. My recommendation is that you ignore professional yoga
instructors and do just a few easy twisting and stretching exercises
every day for the rest of your life. If you do strange and
elaborate exercises in your youth, the chances are you will get bored
and stop doing them by middle age. To get the real benefit of
yoga exercises you need to keep doing them into old age to keep your
brain feeling young. Recommended yoga poses and asanas are as
follows: Paschimottanasana (The Forward Bend Pose), Vakrasana
(The Twisted Pose), Pawanmuktasana (The Gas Release Pose),
Sukhasana (The Easy Sitting Pose), and the Half Lotus Position, which
is called the Ardha Padmasana. These basic exercises can all be
done on your bed, so you can easily practice them every day even if you
are a world traveler living in hotels. A few minutes in the
morning and at night is all that is required. There is no
medically proven benefit to practicing the headstand or shoulder stand,
and they may increase the risk of injury.
I do not recommend traditional pranayama breathing exercises because I
feel they are mainly tools for mental suppression rather than mental
expansion. I also do not recommend the use of mantras unless you
are physically ill or in psychological distress, in which cases mantras
can be of value. Mantras are painkillers like opiates. They
calm you down but do not do much to expand your consciousness. I
would define a mantra as the repetition of words for one minute or
longer. Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ is a traditional mantra that can be
used by almost anyone. The idea that you should pay a guru to
give you an individualized mantra is not yoga.
The Cathartic Dancing Meditation Method
Cathartic Dancing Meditation is a cosmic powerhouse that is recommended
for students under the age of thirty, in good health, with a normal
cardiovascular system. As it is a physically strenuous exercise,
one should get a physical examination by a competent physician before
experimenting with this technique. As with jogging or mountain
climbing, you must practice this method at your own risk.
Most young and physically healthy students of meditation will benefit
from doing Cathartic Dancing Meditation daily for one year. After
one year it has usually done its job, and the student can then
concentrate on more subtle meditation methods. Cathartic Dancing
Meditation changes you from head to toe and benefits all the other
meditation methods you practice. This physically vigorous method
is the most powerful kundalini awakening technique I know of.
Cathartic Dancing Meditation has three stages and lasts for forty minutes.
(ten minutes) Start by standing with your eyes closed and breathe deep
and fast through your nose. If you are only physically capable of
doing deep breathing for five minutes, then reduce the length of the
first stage. Remember that you are doing this method to help your
meditation, not to physically injure yourself. Allow your body to
move freely as you breathe. You can jump up and down, sway back
and forth, or use any physical motion that helps you pump more oxygen
into your lungs. It is advised that you do not hold your breath
while performing this exercise, as that might cause physical harm by
temporarily increasing your blood pressure. Scientific studies
are needed to determine if holding your breath is beneficial or
(twenty minutes) The second stage is a celebration of catharsis
and wild spontaneous dancing. Let go and act as an ancient human
dancing in tribal celebration. Energetic, nonverbal background
music is recommended. African tribal drum music works especially
well. You may roll on the ground and do strange body
movements. Allow your body to move within the limits of not
hurting yourself or others. Screaming is encouraged. You
must act out any anger you may have in a safe way, such as beating the
earth with your hands. All of the suppressed emotions from your
subconscious mind are to be released. If at any time during the
second stage, you feel that your energy level is starting to decline,
you can resume deep and fast breathing to give yourself a boost.
(ten minutes) This stage is completely quiet and relaxed.
Flop down on your back, get comfortable, and just let go. Be as
if a dead man surrendered to the cosmos. Enjoy the tremendous
energy you have unleashed in the first two stages, and be a silent
witness to it. Observe the feeling of the ocean flowing into the
drop. Become the ocean. If practiced correctly, this method
is health-giving and fun.
Westerners are head oriented and emotionally repressed, so an
emotionally cleansing technique like Cathartic Dancing Meditation can
be helpful for serious progress to be made quickly. I strongly
recommend that the Cathartic Dancing Meditation technique only be used
in combination with traditional quiet sitting meditation methods.
While active meditation methods can be very helpful, they are not
complete systems in themselves, and you need sitting methods that
incorporate Hara awareness to keep you in balance.
Obviously, one must practice Cathartic Dancing Meditation in a safe
location and not near the edge of a cliff or on a hard surface where
one might fall and break one's skull. A large room or hall with
thick carpeting is good. Outdoors in the early morning on a soft
and well-tended lawn with group participation is best. Do it on
an empty stomach and avoid falling into dangerous objects such as
windows. It is allowable to briefly open one's eyes occasionally
to maintain your location. Create a safety zone around your
dancing and spontaneous body movements. Be courteous to neighbors
and delete the screaming if it will annoy others. Like the Human
Antenna Method, it is recommended that you not practice Cathartic
Dancing Meditation on an everyday basis for a period of longer than one
Which methods should I use, and how long should I practice them?
The time a person needs to spend in formal meditation sessions to gain
maximum benefit depends on ever-changing individual
circumstances. If you are meditating with a group, you will gain
from the group energy and go further with less effort. If you are
fortunate enough to be living close to an enlightened teacher, you may
be able to absorb some of his high energy without any effort at
all. If you are meditating alone, without support from others,
then you will have to do all the heavy lifting yourself.
You have to find the meditation methods that are right for you through
trial and error. We are not all created from the same blueprint,
and thus we each have individual needs. Methods are like
schools. You may find one method helpful for a while, but as you
grow it becomes irrelevant, so you go on to a different method that
strengthens you where you need it. You have to make your own
executive decisions as to what methods to do and how long to do
them. Do methods that make you feel better and stop doing methods
that make you feel worse. Be careful and conservative, and become
the captain of your own ship.
Things to do, things to avoid, and things to consider.
- Don't limit yourself to just one teacher. The single guru approach can lead to cult thinking and small-mindedness.
- For those whose lifestyle allows it, going to sleep early and waking up before dawn is very helpful for meditation.
fads and complicated philosophies that give your mind more to think
about. Meditation is a step beyond the thought process. No
philosophy can adequately describe man's place in the universe.
Concentrate on meditation in this moment and not on ancient
scriptures. Many old scriptures were written by madmen and fools,
and have gained respect from society simply because they are so old and
- Food should not
be made the fundamental basis of your practice. It is essential
to maintain a nutritionally balanced diet without becoming a food
fanatic. Most Tibetan lamas and Asian Zen monks eat meat, so
obviously, meat consumption is not a serious obstacle to cosmic
consciousness. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that a
vegetarian diet extends lifespan or improves health. Nations with
the highest longevity rates, such as Japan, Sweden, Italy, and
Australia, are all populated by avid meat eaters. Eating fish is
beneficial for brain health and does not weigh down the stomach.
is a waste of time and will weaken you physically. Like taking
LSD, fasting creates strangely entertaining short-term experiences but
produces no long-term benefits, and in extreme cases may cause
neurological damage. People fast because their heads feel
cluttered with thoughts, and they hope planned starvation will purify
their minds. The human body is made of mud (water and dirt), so
the idea of a perfect, spiritually purified physical body is
misguided. The way to end the cluttered feeling is to change the
way your brain and energy body function, and this can be accomplished
through the use of meditation techniques. Skipping a meal here
and there to rest your stomach may have benefits for some people, but
that is not fasting. Fasting may be defined as not eating any
food for at least 24 hours.
- To maintain good health, one must eat a balanced diet and get physical exercise every day.
drugs and alcohol. Psychedelic drugs are not an effective path to
enlightenment, but they are a quick path to misery and insanity.
Scientists tell us that when humans take LSD or marijuana, the
electrical activity of the brain is less predictable and less
integrated than during the normal conscious wakeful state. Thus,
you become functionally impaired.
- Remember that meditation is not an escape from reality. Avoid any teacher that asks you to deny truth.
sex when you wish and do not force celibacy upon yourself in the hopes
that it will lead to enlightenment. To meditate one must be in a
very natural and relaxed state of mind without repression or
tension. Celibacy can only be of value if it occurs
spontaneously, without effort. The majority of famous gurus who
have claimed celibacy publicly have practiced intercourse
privately. Why make sex a big secret, and why have two
faces? Most fully enlightened humans have had sexual relations
even after enlightenment.
- Don't make meditation a
competition, and drop any hidden agenda you may have to use to control
others. Legitimate motives for meditation are the desire for
tranquility and ecstasy, freedom from suffering, and the adventure of
self-exploration.Don't turn your meditation into a business.
People who make a profit from intercourse have turned something
beautiful into something ugly.
- Those who
make money from meditation have transformed a noble path into a sordid
back alley. Whether you are a sexual prostitute or a "spiritual"
prostitute, the fundamental quality of your mind is the same.
- Be completely honest and have just one face, not two.
of the most dangerous thoughts you can have is to think that you have
lost your ego. The ego is always there as long as you have a
heartbeat. Just because you do not feel your ego does not mean that it
is gone. If you take a computer program off your desktop and hide
it deep in your computer’s operating system, it is still perfectly
functional. Gurus who brag that they are egoless are deceiving
you. The ego is part of our survival mechanism that keeps us
alive and cannot be gotten rid of. You can only train your ego to
be more polite and respectful of others.
is your civic duty to judge and often criticizes politicians and public
leaders who are in positions of power. There is no need to waste
your precious internal energy judging and criticizing ordinary people
you interact with every day. You do not have to like or dislike
people, just accept them as they are. No one elected us as judge
and jury of the universe. If you refrain from wasting energy on
unnecessary judgments, you will feel bigger and cleaner inside, like a
blue sky on a sunny day.
- For every action, there is
a reaction, not just in theoretical physics, but in ordinary human life
as well. When you create positive actions you will eventually
reap positive reactions for yourself and others. In this way what
we call ethics and morality are woven into the very fabric of the
universe right down to the subatomic level.
consciousness is an asset, not a virtue. It makes you feel rich
with mental energy, but it does not make you an intelligent and great
person unless you also do intelligent and great things.
the history of gurus has taught us anything, it is that no matter how
"enlightened" you become, the subconscious mind is always more powerful
than the conscious mind. That is one significant reason why most
gurus are no more trustworthy than your next-door
- My general
recommendation is that meditation should be used as a positive addition
to a full normal life, not as a replacement for a normal life.
I believe that full enlightenment is largely a biological, DNA-driven
quality of the brain that cannot be achieved by any amount of
effort. You could call it a genetically acquired physiological
syndrome that has both positive and negative effects. It can make
people very happy and filled with psychic energy, but it has little to
do with intelligence, wisdom, virtue, or past lives. J.
Krishnamurti once stated that he was born empty, while others were born
full. His state of cosmic emptiness was not the result of
methodology, but a gift of nature. Anyone can increase the power
of their consciousness in the same way we increase the size of our
muscles through exercise. Effort-created states of enhanced
consciousness fall short of full enlightenment. The difference is
a matter of psychic power. The downside of full enlightenment is
the potential for delusion, the God complex, poor reasoning skills, and
intellectual disorganization and confusion. To put it bluntly,
most fully enlightened teachers are just too spaced out to be much good
for anything but talk.
When it comes
to gurus, take the best and leave the rest. No human being has
ever been without major flaws and limitations. Only myths can
give us the illusion of perfection. That is why most of society
continues to worship mythology rather than accept reality as it is,
warts and all. Enlightened humans are vastly expanded human
beings, not perfect human beings. Practicing meditation methods
will not make us perfect, but can increase the intensity of our lives
and feelings of well-being.
scientific evidence tells us that humans only have one life to
live. It is my opinion that the entire universe is “soul” and
“God.” None of us are born and none of us die in the greater
impersonal sense because we are all part of the same infinite structure
that has no beginning and no end. I do not claim to be an
authority. I am just trying to be a good neighbor, not a
guru. We all have to decide on our own what is truth.
Please remember that if any meditation method becomes uncomfortable,
drop it and try another method. Be conservative and safe.
For some people, no method is the best method.
Christopher Calder firstname.lastname@example.org
expressed on this page must be viewed as the ideas of an ordinary
student of meditation. While I truly believe everything I say,
you should not believe anything unless you see it, feel it, and know it
for yourself. I make no claims of infallibility. I claim
Meditation Handbook © 1998 and © 2022 updated by Christopher
Calder. You are free to publish this web page for nonprofit, and
educational use, but you must clearly state that the essay was written
by Christopher Calder. No one has been granted permission to use
my writings to sell any products or services. This is a 100% free
website published only for the benefit of other students of
meditation. I have never made money from meditation and never