MEDITATIONAL EXERCISES FOR GROUP WORK
Can be adapted for individual guidance.
Prepared by Geoffrey Farthing
|1||Meditation Guide Contents|
|2||Meditation Guide Introduction|
|3||Meditation Guide: Content of Sessions|
|4||Meditation Guide Course Leaders|
|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
For beginners repeat these preliminaries as many times as are necessary to form the habit of doing them at the start of every meditation session. The leader must allow time for them on every occasion, whether instructions to do them are given every time or not. To ensure that they are being done and to refresh people's memory the instructions should be given in full occasionally in any case. The leader should speak quietly but firmly, clearly, and very audibly. Give ample time for the instructions to be carried out.
(a) Settling down.
'Sit squarely in your chairs.'
'Sit upright, back straight, face to the front, head erect and held high as if being gently drawn upwards from above; do not strain.'
'Hands clasped in front or flat on your thighs.'
'Feet flat on floor or, if this is uncomfortable, cross your feet.'
(b) Collecting attention.
'Become aware of where you are, of the room you are in, and of yourself in it.'
'Look at the ceiling, the floor, the wall ahead, the leader.'
'Be aware of yourself doing the looking.'
'Be aware of your body, poised on the chair.'
'Allow any tensions to go out of your body.'
'Without losing your position, relax your muscles; in your fingers, hands and arms; in your toes, feet, ankles, calves, thighs, buttocks, back and trunk; in your shoulders, neck, mouth, eyes, face, forehead and head.'
Leader: Go through this list with 2 or 3 second pauses between each item.
'Check again all over your body and relax any tensions that may have crept in. To relax tension, deliberately tighten up muscles, then relax them.'
(i) 'Give your attention to your breathing. Notice its depth and rhythm. Do not alter them; just notice them.'
(ii) 'In your own time ... take a few deep breaths.'
Leader: Important - leave plenty of time for the group to inhale and exhale comfortably.
'Breathe in deeply, through your nose, not too fast. Feel the air go in, up your nose, cool.'
'Breathe out slowly, control this (if necessary) by slightly constricting the back of your nose or your throat, empty your lungs right from the bottom.'
'Breathe in --- slowly.'
'Breathe out --- slowly.'
Leader: Leave time for four or five deep breaths. During this exercise there is no need for noise.
(iii) 'Pause slightly - for 3 or 4 seconds - between in-breath and out-breath, and out-breath and in-breath.'
'Keep relaxed but maintain your position on your chair. Head very gently drawn up from above.'
'Maintain your breathing rhythm, with pauses, giving it your attention.'
Leader: Do this for a minute or so.
(iv) 'Let your breathing settle down to a normal gentle rhythm, perhaps a little slower and deeper than usual.'
(v) 'If you have not already done so, close your eyes.'
(e) Quietening down.
Leader: By now the class will normally be settled and quiet; use exercises (ii) and (iii) below only as thought necessary.
(i) 'Relax inside.'
(ii) 'Sense tranquillity and silence; allow yourself to be calm, peaceful.'
(iii) 'Allow your thoughts to slow down and become quite calm.'
(iv) 'If you can, separate out from your thoughts so that you can become aware of them and watch them. Then slow them right down.'
(f) Establishing awareness.
'Become self-aware, inwardly. Realize yourself as the point of consciousness to which all sensation and experience is referred. Be that which KNOWS.'
'From that point of inner BEING, assume control of your body, your feeling, your mind. Feel yourself as in control, gently, strongly, quietly.'
'Maintain this quiet possession of yourself for a minute or two.'
'Now just BE your inner conscious self - and don't think.'
Leader: Allow group a minute or two to do this.
The above 'awareness' exercise in itself constitutes a powerful meditation. It is beneficial at any Stage just as it is. If this exercise is used as a meditation in itself, the group should hold the final 'possessed' state for about 3 minutes. Repeat once or twice with emphasis, 'Just BE yourself.'
After every session the group should be returned to normal, gently, as follows. Say quietly:
'End of session' ... pause
'Prepare to return to normal' ... pause
'Become aware of your weight on the chair, your feet on the floor.'
'Become aware of your arms, your hands, your body.'
Leader: Give three gentle taps on the table or chair arm.
'Take a deep breath.'
'Open your eyes and look around. Become aware of your surroundings.'
When this routine has become established, the three taps will signify the end of the session and be a signal to go through the 'return' stages automatically.
The group should be allowed a little time, say a minute, to 'come to' after every session. During this short time silence should be observed. When talking resumes it should be quiet, particularly in the meditation room.
In all the specimen exercises which follow, it will be assumed that as much practice in the preliminaries as is considered necessary by the leader according to the degree of experience of the group, will be used as a matter of routine.
3. Shortened Preliminaries and Closure.
The preliminary instructions may be shortened as thought fit before each Intermediate session. As a first step to shortening them, after the group has become used to the routine, just say the commands:
(Preliminaries) 'Settle down, assume your meditation position.'
'Relax - all over.'
'Collect attention, notice where you are, establish an awareness of your surroundings, and of yourself in them.'
'Give attention to your breathing.'
'Become aware of yourself as your inner self, the seat or point of your consciousness. BE that self.' (Slowly), 'Just BE yourself.'
The group exercises now take place.
(Closure) 'End of session.' (Three taps.)
Leader: Later even these commands may be omitted for more advanced students but give 3 taps anyway to end proceedings.