Four Stages of Meditation
Meditation is easy and natural. We can make it difficult by trying too hard, having unrealistic expectations, or approaching it haphazardly, but at its core, meditation is simply being awake and aware—mindful.
~Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian (from The Jewel of Abundance: Finding Prosperity through the Ancient Wisdom of Yoga)
For those who are new to meditation or even if we have been meditating for a while, it is good to remind ourselves that meditation is a natural state of consciousness that we have all experienced. The tools and techniques that we learn help us to create the conditions for meditation to happen, just as we create the conditions for sleep to happen. It is good to remember the four stages of meditation practice:
Foster- Create an inner and outer environment that is conducive for meditation to occur. First, find a quiet private space. Then, with an upright posture so that we can remain awake and aware of what is happening, we become aware of the breath and we internalize our attention.
Focus- Use a technique such as focusing on the breath or a mantra to focus our attention on a single point.
Flow - We allow ourselves to let go as we move into the flow of meditation.
Finish - We end our meditation consciously taking a few moments to feel the peace we have experienced in our bodies and our minds. We take a few moments to have appreciation for this time of renewal and to send this peaceful energy out into our day and to others.
(adapted from The Jewel of Abundance: Finding Prosperity through the Ancient Wisdom of Yoga by Ellen Grace O'Brian)
These four stages are the foundation of our meditation practice and will support us in letting go of expectations of what happens when we sit and opens us up to to the awareness of the benevolent power of the universe.