MEDITATIONAL EXERCISES FOR GROUP WORK

Can be adapted for individual guidance.

Prepared by Geoffrey Farthing

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A Resource for Group Leaders

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1 Meditation Guide Contents
2 Meditation Guide Introduction
3 Meditation Guide: Content of Sessions
   
4 Meditation Guide Course Leaders
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  H.P. Blavatsky Diagram of Meditation

In addition to Geoffrey Farthing's material on meditation, attention is drawn to H.P. Blavatsky's Diagram of Meditation and a commentary published in The Theosophist May 2003

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MEDITATION GUIDE
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CONTENT OF SESSIONS


 

Each session contains material from the grouped material as follows:-

1st Stage. INTRODUCTORY EXERCISES.

Group I.    Preliminaries and Closure. see further information

This is important and should be done in full every session until it has been thoroughly learned and become habitual. When in the opinion of the leader this has occurred, the procedure may be shortened as thought fit.

If new students are admitted to the group, they should be given this instruction in full, preferably as a separate group or individually, until they are ready to join the main group.
 
Group II.    Concentration.

This should continue as prescribed throughout the Introductory stages and used, at the discretion of the leader, in the Intermediate ones.

Group III.     Classical

An element of this should be included in all early Introductory periods.

Group IV.    Theosophical Fundamentals.           
Group V.      Devotional and Mystical.
Group VI.    Consciousness Raising.
 
Time will not permit of material from Groups IV, V and VI as well as from Group III being included in any one session, but something from one of these three groups could be included in each Introductory session.

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Between the exercises in each Group used in a session there should be a rest period, in silence, of about one minute. The leader must announce this each time.

As students become practised, some will find these rest periods of increasing significance. They will feel themselves to be 'entering the silence'. This could be mentioned to the groups and provision for such silent meditations made in the 3rd Stage sessions.

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A specimen 20 minute Introductory session would then be:-

 

Group

Description

Time

a)

I

Preliminaries in full

10 mins

   

Rest

1 mins

b)

II

Concentration

4 mins

   

Rest

1 mins

c)

Either III/IV/V

Classical/Theosophical/Devotional

4 mins

     

 

   

TotalTime

20 mins

Introductory sessions are purposely divided into a number of short periods, with rests in between, and a change of subject each time. This is done to prevent boredom and to accustom students gradually to mental discipline and relatively prolonged periods of concentration. For some, even this will be difficult at the beginning; others will find no difficulty at all. These classes are for the public and people of all kinds may attend.

At the start of the first and second sessions of the 1st Stage the leader will give an explanation of Raja Yoga (mentioning the other kinds) saying that it includes various personal disciplines, character development, pure diet, physical exercise and mind training. This course is to do primarily with mind training.

2nd Stage.  INTERMEDIATE.

Group I.    Preliminaries see further information

Students in the Intermediate sessions will probably have done, and in any case will be familiar with, the preliminary 'drill'. In starting a session then leaders can just say, "Silence please, take up your meditation position, become aware of yourself in your surroundings, relax tensions, take two or three deep breaths, quieten breathing to a gentle rhythm, assume an awareness of your surroundings and yourself in them." Allow sufficient time for this, one or two minutes, then proceed to ..
 
Group II.    Concentration

This should be often included, for a longer or shorter period, in Intermediate sessions, especially in the early ones. As the course proceeds, up to 10 minutes can be spent, on occasion, on this exercise.

Group III.   Classical
Group IV.    Theosophical Fundamentals.           
Group V.      Devotional and Mystical.
Group VI.    Consciousness Raising.

Selections should be made from not more than 2 of these 3 Groups of material. In the early stages, say the first 8 to 10 sessions, allow 5 to 7 minutes each according to the session programme being arranged. The time available will depend on how long is spent on concentration.

As the 2nd Stage practice proceeds, say after 7 or 8 sessions, material from only one of these Groups should be selected and towards the end of the series of sessions, up to 15 minutes allocated to it, the time again depending on that given to concentration. By this time the practice in concentration may have engendered an ability to think in 'abstracts'; and the amount of help from the leader by way of 'prompting' thoughts or the length of read passages reduced.

A specimen early 2nd Stage session could be:-

 

Group

Description

Time

a)

I

Preliminaries, short, no rest

1-2 mins

b)

II

Concentration

5 mins

   

Rest

1 mins

c)

Group III

Classical

5 mins

    Rest

1 mins

d) Either IV/V/VI Theosophical/Devotional/Consciousness Raising 7 mins
       
   

TotalTime

20 mins

A specimen later 2nd Stage session could be:-

 

Group

Description

Time

a)

I

Preliminaries, short, no rest

1-2 mins

b)

II

Concentration

5 mins

   

Rest

1 mins

d) Either III/IV/V/VI

(with occasional prompting thoughts or repetition of the exercise material at helpful intervals)

13 mins
       
   

TotalTime

20 mins

SECOND STAGE EXERCISES

Suggested compositions of Sessions for 15 week course.

SESSION NUMBER

Mins

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

1 PRELIMINARIES  Group I

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

 

CONCENTRATION
Group II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

CONCENTRATION
or
CLASSICAL

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7

REST

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

 

 

CLASSICAL
Group III

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 REST

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13

REST

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16

 

 

 

THEOSOPHICAL, DEVOTIONAL or
CONSCIOUSNESS RAISING
Groups IV, V and VI

 

 

 

17

 

 

 

 

 

 

18

 

 

 

 

 

 

19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLOSURE  Group I

 

3rd Stage.  MORE ADVANCED PRACTICE

3rd Stage students are regarded as those who have done up to 20 or so 1st and 2nd Stage sessions in as many or more weeks, or who are otherwise able to give their attention to a given subject for at least some minutes without it wandering.

3rd Stage students will still need some help and stimulation. Leaders for these groups should themselves be at least as practised and competent as the students.

It is not suggested that there should be a 3rd Stage Course, as such. Facilities for students to meditate on their own or together, as free from distractions as possible, are important. In these sessions students are advised, at any rate in the earlier sessions, to use some appropriate literature, e.g. the Bhagavad Gita, for 'seed' thoughts and inspiration. Later just silence may prove most rewarding.

As was said at the beginning, this course is not for the really practised, mature meditator. It is for those who still need guidance and the stimulation of a group.

The presence of a leader who formally starts and ends sessions is very valuable to these 3rd Stage groups. The leader acts even in silence as a focus of activity, a directing centre, facilitating the coherence of the group and individual perseverance; sessions are not the same without this.

Leader: Students should be warned not to over-rate themselves or they could sit through relatively long meditational periods virtually doing nothing and so just wasting their time.

Occasionally remind the group of the rationale and prime purpose of meditation which is to make contact in consciousness with their own Higher Self. (In religious parlance, with God.) The meditations in this course are not ones for the development of siddhis or powers.

If requested provide a theme for the session. This can be given orally or as a displayed written text.

If a seed text is given orally the group might appreciate occasional repetitions, or some prompting thoughts. These must be done with a real sense of what the group is doing and can only be satisfactorily done by a practised meditator. It is important not to cause distraction by too much prompting.

Remember what was said earlier about rest periods. During these rests some students, when they are not making any effort, meaningfully 'enter the silence'. This seems to be a reaction to their previous efforts. Periods of silence, of varying length, should be allowed to engender, or permit the experience of, this 'peace'. Students will indicate their appreciation or otherwise of this after the sessions, if asked.

Each session is 20 to 30 minutes and groups will dispose of this time as each sees fit. Individual students may ask the leader's help in what to do and appreciate guidance as to what to do during these sessions. The leader should be competent and willing to provide this. Generally it will be 'meditating' on the set theme. The important advice is to bring the attention back to the theme every time it wanders from it. Be warned, however, in the selection of material for these sections, that not all 'spiritual' books or collections of aphorisms are soundly (i.e. theosophically) based, but good translations of the books recommended can be used with reasonable confidence for 'seed' material.

Never try to describe the object or results of meditation in specific terms. Each meditator must find his own.

For 3rd Stage groups the themes for the sessions could be chosen from the more abstract parts of the material in Groups III, IV, V and VI, or it could be any suitable material the leader thinks will appeal to the group. Some alternatives could be offered.

Occasionally the group might appreciate a led meditation. Leaders should offer this once in a while. It is recommended that material be of a consciousness raising kind. This means an attempt to attain and respond to the highest levels. It can be achieved by the suggestion to do just that or by the invocation of the Higher Self, of God, of Krishna, etc. This kind of meditation requires the invocation of light or power from the Spiritual realms; then, by having the meditators regard themselves as channels for distributing it to specific individuals, to their city, to their country, even to other countries, and then to the whole world.

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Some 'Right' Ideas for 3rd Stage Students

1) Establish the idea of the Inner Egoic Self; admit and affirm whole-heartedly that idea, then have faith in the nature, power and indestructible association of the Ego with us, individually, intimately.
 
2) Still the mind and allow consciousness to become liberated from the interests and concerns of the personal self; the freeing processes of altruism can then begin to work. Genuine concern, but with no personal attachment, for others' welfare can then arise. This furthers the process of liberation (psychological liberation) allowing consciousness to rise to the higher impersonal planes. This liberation is attained only after the mind and desires are in a placid state, then awareness as single pointed attention can be held, gently without effort, in a state of 'expectancy'.
 
3) The attempt to make conscious contact with our interior Divinity (Ego) is done through the mind and in the heart. Through the mind means first accepting this idea, then in faith pushing consciousness or allowing it to rise, through all ideas (mind concepts) to the Reality beyond. In the heart means that a first  essential to this effort is the desire, the urgent feeling, that it must be done. This inculcates right attitude of respect, devotion and complete faith that that attainment is possible. The will to achieve it is born of a strong desire, which provides the 'motive' force for overcoming initial inertia. The sovereign Will then sustains the effort. Right feeling and aspiration is the sure guide to right method.
 
4) For the 3rd Stage students the length of sessions can profitably be increased to 30 minutes or more.


This document has been reproduced from Geoffrey Farthing's digital copy created in 2002,
and currently in the archive material of The Blavatsky Trust.

 


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