Techniques to Help Deepen Meditation
by Val Tobin
Originally published May 9, 2011 on Suite101
Republished on SNGS December 21, 2013
Years ago, I bought a crystal ball to use for scrying. I practiced with it diligently but became frustrated when it didn't work as described in all the information I had about crystal balls. In a fit of pique, I decided to do a meditation to see what I could do about my lack of success. Impulsively, I sat with the crystal ball in my lap. Suddenly I found myself receiving image after image in rapid succession. It was the first time that I received such clear and distinct images. The crystal ball had amplified the images I could receive and boosted my ability to see them during meditation.
I've used that technique since in order to enhance my meditations. I have also, incidentally, improved my work with the crystal ball, though it still doesn't work for me in quite the way the books and articles describe.
Typically, people turn to meditation when they want to relieve stress, but then after practicing it for a while, they begin to reap other rewards as their ability to reach deeper levels of meditation improves. If you are interested in getting deeper into your meditations, then there are techniques that can help you do so.
Breathing Technique for Meditation
The simplest technique to start with involves deep breathing. Slow, deep breathing calms, and quick, shallow breathing indicates stress and agitation. When beginning a meditation, taking three deep breaths prepares you for the meditation by helping you center yourself enough to begin to relax and release stress from the day. Bringing the mind to focus on the breath pushes aside all other thoughts and distractions.
Once you have slowed the breathing by taking those initial three deep breaths, then you can regulate your breathing to a more natural cadence, though continue to maintain deep abdominal breathing. Anytime you find yourself becoming distracted by thoughts or by something in your environment, return to focusing on the breath, which should be deep enough to make the abdomen rise and fall as you breathe in and out.
Posture During Meditation
Most people picture the cross-legged lotus position when thinking about correct posture for meditating, but that is only one option. You can meditate in a more relaxed cross-legged posture rather than the full lotus position, which can be difficult for beginners. Put a cushion under your buttocks to stabilize yourself and make it more comfortable, especially if you are sitting on the floor.
Sitting up on a chair with legs and arms uncrossed and feet flat on the floor tends to be more comfortable for those with back problems. You can also lie down, and you can even stand, walk, or dance, though beginners wouldn't start off with these last three options.
When first starting out with meditation, sitting in a chair or lying down tend to be the most comfortable and practical postures, and it is important that you are comfortable, relaxed, and free of distractions. Don't force yourself to sit with legs crossed on the floor if you have back or knee problems.
If you are lying down, make sure you are comfortable. I can't lie on the floor or my back starts to ache, so if I can't lie on a bed or couch, then I sit up, either cross-legged on the floor, sitting against the wall, or on a chair with a straight back.
Meditations that Provide Deep Trance States
Shamanic Journeying using drums or rattles, playing crystal singing bowls, chanting, or anything that has a rhythmic pattern or uses toning or sound frequencies can induce a deeper trance state. Many of these methods make use of the principles of entrainment, training one object to match the vibration of another object.
You can also buy CDs that use brainwave entrainment to deepen meditation. Examples of such CDs include the Holosync® program and Trypnaural Meditation. Recorded meditations are a great way to deepen your meditative state and there are many inexpensive, high quality recordings on the market.
Guided Meditations and Meditations that Direct Focus
Guided Meditations channel your focus to images provided by a recorded voice or by a group leader who guides you through a set of instructions or scenes that tell a story or guide your focus in a specific direction. Chakra meditations help you to align the energy centers in your body so you can start your day more balanced, or in order to realign yourself at the end of the day. Doreen Virtue, metaphysician, psychologist and angel communicator has an excellent chakra meditation that guides you through each major chakra/energy center in your body to clear and unblock it. She has one meditation for morning and one for evening.
Guided meditations can help you deepen your meditation by helping you focus on the instructions in the meditation. When you listen to the voice of the guide, you are better able to tune out your environment and stay with the meditation for longer periods. Meditating with your eyes open, but focusing on a candle flame or into the heart of a fire, can also help you to shut out distractions and maintain a meditative state that deepens the longer you maintain the focus.
Increased frequency and duration of meditation sessions improve the depth and quality of your meditation. As you practice, you will also find yourself stumbling onto techniques of your own, as I did with the crystal ball. You will find out what works best for you, as you instinctively guide yourself towards the meditations that are most productive for you. In the end, you will experience greater insights into yourself and your concerns, as well as receive clearer guidance from your higher self and your spirit guides and angels.
For an explanation of meditation and brain wave frequencies in meditation, see the article called "What is Meditation?" To learn more about entrainment and how it is used in sound therapy with singing bowls, read "Singing Bowls and Healing Sounds."
Image: ssoosay via flickr, Candle Flame
Goldman, Jonathon, Healing Sounds: The Power of Harmonics, Rochester: Healing Arts Press, 2002.
Davis, Martha, Ph.D., Robbins Eshelman, Elazabeth, MSW & McKay, Matthew, Ph.D., The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook, Fifth Edition, Oakland: New Harbinger Publications Inc., 2000.
Disclaimer: The information on this web site is not intended to substitute advice from your physician or health-care professional. Before beginning any health or diet program, consult your physician