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
Leader: Explain that these exercises are not only exercises in observation but are exercises in concentration, i.e. keeping attention on what one is doing for, at least the period of the exercise, even if it is just looking at something. Explain also to the group that the mind is very wayward. When attention wanders, this should be noticed immediately. When it is noticed, the mind may or may not revert to the main point of attention. If it does not, keep watching what it is doing and the distracting influence may tend to disappear. But even the watching requires some effort and persistence. If the distraction does not disappear, consciously bring the mind back to its main task.
1. Physical Objects. Observation, General.
'Look around the room, notice everything in it and where it is; look at each thing separately and intently, as if you had never seen it before.'
2. Physical Objects. Observation, Particular.
Look at that:
Vase of flowers
Leader: Only do one of these objects at a session. The objects should not be too plain, e.g. a white disc on a black ground, or the attention soon begins to wander.
'Notice every detail of ... , arrangement, form, colour, material, texture, shape, design, highlights, shadow, general impression.'
'Keep your full attention on the object. Do not let your attention wander.'
'End of exercise.'
3. Physical Objects. Observation and Recall.
Leader: The purpose of this exercise is obvious. Any object will do but a series of simple objects makes the exercise more interesting and challenging. For example, a series of plain cut-out figures, say of a circle, a crescent, a square, an oblong, a triangle, a five pointed star, a Tau, interlaced triangles.
'Look at that (or those) ... objects.'
'Notice every detail - fix it (them) in your mind's eye.'
Leader: Allow plenty of time, say 1 to 2 minutes.
'Close your eyes and see how much of the original you can now remember ... subject, shape, colours, layout, arrangement ... (as appropriate).'
Leader: Allow 30 seconds to 1 minute for this.
'Open your eyes - compare your remembered image with the real object.'
'Have a good look at it again; check what you remembered or forgot, then close your eyes.'
'In your own time, open your eyes, compare what you remembered with the original, close your eyes again.'
'Repeat as you feel necessary - the aim is to get as complete a memory of the object as possible.'
'End of exercise. Dispel any remaining impressions in any way you like; have them evaporate; send them away in to the distance; draw them in to yourself and assimilate them - but get rid of them.'
Leader: allow about 5 minutes.
4. Imagined Objects. Human Qualities.
'Remember someone you like - in whose company you are at ease.'
'Feel his or her presence.'
'Invoke a feeling of affection or of admiration.'
'Imagine a greeting.'
'Say something (silently) expressing your affection or sympathy or appreciation.'
'Hear a reply, giving you news etc.'
'Imagine your response to what is said.'
'Prepare to part with your impressions.'
'Let them go - have them fade away - quite away.'
'End of exercise.'
Leader: allow 5 to 10 minutes.
5. Imagined Objects. The Qualities of Things.
'Get the idea of a living thing ... a plant, a tree, a flower, a little animal.'
Leader: Choose one per session so that everyone is using the same one.
'Get a real impression of it.'
'Get an idea of its total nature, its habits, its climate, its responses to the seasons.'
'Get an idea of the part it plays in the scheme of things, in the kingdom of nature to which it belongs. Is it common or rare? Regard it as a form of the One Life.'
'Imagine it in various stages of growth ... as a very young thing, as mature, as old, as dead.'
'Just contemplate it for a time as one among many of nature's creatures.'
'Now let all your impressions go; dispel them altogether.'
'End of exercise.'
Leader: allow 3 to 10 minutes.
The above are specimen exercises. It will be seen that any number more could be devised on these patterns and all kinds of situations brought to mind with many things, characteristics, qualities and so on, in them. In this way all the 'senses' and many feelings can be evoked in imagination, and dispelled. The exercises are not specifically ones in visualization. Some people find it hard to visualize but the faculty develops naturally by itself, in time, with use.
Leaders can devise exercises for themselves - but should keep them simple for beginners. Play Kim's game - i.e., put out articles randomly on a table, then ask the group, after they have looked at them for a time, to see how many things they can remember and where they were.
Sometimes there is a tendency for leaders to devise material for their own standard of competence. They should remember that they are perhaps not beginners. On the other had the abilities of the group should not be under-rated. When students get the hang of the exercises, they do even seemingly very difficult ones, somehow, in their own way.