BALANCE (See also “Chiropractic,” “Exercise,” “Healing,” “Health,” “Meditation,” and “Pain.”)
Balance in your life and your body is one of the most important backgrounds for good, consistent meditation. Meditation also, in and of itself, helps you learn or achieve greater balance, both in your life and in your body.
Balance means that you pursue, in and outside of meditation, a central ground or middle direction of mental, emotional, and physical balance: a Middle Path (see) of self-moderation, and a Golden Rule (see) of treating others as yourself.
Throwing yourself into–or at–different life experiences or meditation methods heedlessly or recklessly can create extreme imbalances that slow or stop your growth and happiness. It is for this reason–not any false or prudish moral considerations–that a number of spiritual systems recommend balance. Balance is needed not just on a larger scale in a general way, but also in daily physical and mental activity: strengthening and stretching both sides of the body equally (see “Chiropractic,” “Exercise,” and “Hatha Yoga”), and doing so in like manner with one’s mental and emotional life.
Examples of balance include a good diet, regularly exercise, and daily use of both your mind and body. Balance also includes being considerate of both others and yourself, sleeping well, pursuing both work and leisure, enjoying a variety of positive feelings, and using both positive and mental critical faculties.
For more information, see the longer Guide on "Balance."
BAPTISM – See “Waters of Life," Holy Spirit," and "Above-the-head Energy Center."
BARRIERS – See the Guides Problems and Pain.
BASE-OF-THE-TRUNK ENERGY CENTER – (See also "Energy Centers,” “Chakras,” “Dangers,” “Problems,”and “Starting Stage of Meditation.”)
The base-of-the-trunk energy center is located between the back of the genital area and the front of the anal area. It has to do with matter, solidity, and rocklike stolidity. It is not a sexual center, not an anal center, nor a place of dirtiness. It is, however, connected to both the sexual and anal areas by muscles and nerves and so has some influence on them. It also is associated with the location of the Hindu “Kundalini” energy snake (see). It is an especially dangerous center on which to meditate if you are meditating independently.
Meditating upon all three of the lower energy centers–the solar plexus, the health center, and the base-of-the-trunk center–is not recommended unless you are working with a meditation master on a regular basis. It is better, say most experts, to meditate on the top four centers–the above-the-head, third-eye, throat, and heart centers –and let energies that are more positive, safer, and clearer then descend from those energy centers to lower ones.
The reason for this is that concentrating on any center stirs up both positive and negative energies, mental associations, and emotions. And stirring up the deep negative energies in the lower centers without a master meditator or a psychologist or psychiatrist to help you can be a recipe for self-damage emotionally and physically.
The base-of-the-trunk center in particular can, if you concentrate on it, open you to especially disabling experiences, ones that can drive some sensitive people temporarily insane, and develop energies, powers, and forces over which you may not have control.
you like a list of safe meditation activities for this energy center? If
so, go here to “Energy
which is one of the Guides listed on the home page.
NAILS – See “Gifts” and
"Ignatius of Loyola."
See “Awareness of Each Object of Awareness.”
BEAUTY AND MEDITATION – (See also “Arts,” "Immanent and Transcendent," and “Music.”)
Beauty, it is said, is in the eye of the beholder. Yet some experiences you might have during meditation cannot be qualified by any other word than “beautiful.” Other valuable meditation experiences may appear to you to mix “beauty” with other perceptions, combining it with love, peace, glory, or even power.
Such experiences in meditation are much more than just a pleasant, passing perception of a nice picture, flower, or face. You also should not worry about them being some kind of illusion or distraction from your goal. They are your goals, at least in part.
Do not deny or avoid them. Some of the higher and/or more intense experiences of beauty, peace, love, power, and others like them that you may find during mediation are precisely the kind of life often referred to as “spiritual” (see). Intense emptiness or lack can, on the one hand, be one step or type of successful meditation. However, in many other meditation states, more positive experiences fill the emptiness with experiences that are equally important to allow and sustain.
In addition, the experience of beauty, whether in nature, art, or a person, can in itself be a form of meditation. Does the art object stay rooted in our mind such that you find yourself concentrating on it, thinking about it afterward, and unable to forget it for awhile? If so, you have had an art meditation experience. You may continue to meditate with it, on it, return to it, remember it, and, especially, recall or remake the core of the experience of beauty, joy, or whatever other feeling so captivated you. These are highways to excellent meditation experiences.
BEING – See “God," "One," "Reality," and "Self."
BEGINNING/BEGINNER STAGE OF MEDITATION – See “Starting Stage” and the Guidebooks "Introduction to Your Meditating" and "Starting Stage." Also see “Group Meditation,” and “Love.”
BELL, GONG, CHIMES, SINGING BOWL – See also "Chanting," “Music," and "Singing."
The use of a bell, gong, chimes, or singing bowl often is not for meditation itself, but rather for starting and ending a meditation. However, some forms of meditation use a continuing sound of this type to aid meditation.
Singing bowls are a good example: various pitches and tones exist, according to the size, shape, and materials from which a bowl is made; each bowl has a different vibration to its sound, and these vibrations match or complement musical frequencies within parts of the human body and beyond it. Thus to focus constantly on a certain vibration, or even to have it in the background, can, for some people, deeply affect their meditation, either making it easier or more difficult, or perhaps opening up new areas of the meditation experience.
BHAKTI YOGA – (See also “Heart Energy Center” and “Energy Centers.”)
Bhakti yoga is one of the four classic yogas of ancient India. It is heart-centered, devotional, and full of love. For more information, see the “Heart Energy Center.”
Bhakti yoga is not just being or feeling full of love or devotion. Rather, it is a meditation system involving not just concentrating on the heart center but also allowing “descents and ascents” (see) of energy to or from other centers. These descents and ascents basically spread the love energy in the heart center to other centers. You also can interweave bhakti yoga practice with practice of other types of yoga.
The other three classic yoga systems are raja yoga (see), which has to do with concentrating above the head; jnana yoga (see), which has to do with knowledge, ideas, imagination, words, and singing (see “’Third-eye’ Energy Center” and “Throat Energy Center); and karma yoga (see), which has to do with work as a form of meditation and devotion.
systems also mention two or three other traditional yogas. They are hatha
yoga (see), which has to do with breathing, health, exercise, and
posture, technically a part of karma yoga; tantra yoga (see), which
has to do with concentration on the energy centers (see) or chakras
(see); and mantra yoga (see), which uses repetitions of
words, songs, or visual devices, technically a part of jnana yoga.
BIPOLAR DISEASE –
BIRTH – (See also “Awakening,” “Baptism,” “Early Stage of Meditation, "Energy Centers," "Nirvana,” and "Self.")
“Birth" sometimes is used to describe your first entrance into deeper or more intense meditation experiences. Such a birth is not the physical kind, but rather a noticeably significant meditation experience. For example, you may feel a new power, force, or energy; see a vision or some interest, power, or force, even perhaps in a dream; or you may open much more deeply or intense to one of the body's seven energy centers (see).
"Birth" in meditation terms
also can refer to actual birth and how it duplicates in some ways the raw
power and experience of discovering one's own true Awareness or Self
(see) in meditation. This is because at birth we are a raw Awareness
with little or no sense of order, few or no thoughts, and only an
overwhelming awareness of body feelings and the sensory experience of
everything around us. We are, so to speak, a Raw Awareness taking in
everything. This is an important, central state of being to achieve in
meditation, whether for brief seconds or minutes at a time, or longer.
BLACK MAGIC – (See also “Occultism,” “Magic” “Mysteries,” “White Magic,” “Witchcraft,” and “Shaman.”)
“Black magic,” “dark magic,” dark witchcraft, or the “dark arts” in relation to meditation or spiritual subjects usually mean magic or occult methods or powers that make use of evil, dangerous, or lower forces. While they use meditation, such use is considered by the great majority of meditators and spiritual followers to be, at the least, unethical, and often dangerous to the meditator and/or others.
practitioners of Wicca, magic, paganism, and the earth religions do not
claim to follow black magic. Some of them even warn against dark magic,
saying that “white magic” and “white witchcraft”–or the use of positive
and good spirits or forces–are what they recommend and follow.
– (See “Body Functions.”)
BLANKNESS – (See also “Nirvana” “The ’No’ Meditation,” and “Problems.”)
Sometimes when you attempt meditation, you may find blankness. Blankness means that you can neither think nor feel much of anything, and therefore you are not able to focus on meditation. This type of blankness is not depression or unconsciousness, but more a state of being distracted or abstracted. For example, you might complete some action such as washing dishes or even speaking briefly with someone and, a few minutes later, have no memory of the specifics of the washing or the speaking, just that something happened.
Often, in such states, something indeed is happening: your mind is processing something at an almost unconscious level. Brains work all the time in ways of which people are unconscious, especially for automatic tasks such as controlling digestion, heat and cold, etc. Your brain also regularly stores thoughts, feelings, and sensory impressions without your consciously seeking or hearing the act of storing. In the same way, your brains often processes thoughts–arranging, storing, comparing, and connecting them–without your full conscious awareness.
How does meditation work for you in such situations? There are at least three ways.
First, you simply can work to become more mindful of whatever the brain is doing at the time: become more aware, in a quiet, spectator way, of what thoughts, feelings, and sensory images you may have that are flitting through your mind. You do not interrupt or divert them: you just simply lett them happen while you watch.
Second, you can, instead, let your mind and brain work on their own. Meanwhile, you can simply work on an easy, quiet meditation, one that does not require hard mental work. For example, you can concentrate on just your breathing, or on being aware of each focus that your awareness has as it moves from your body to a thought and back again. Or you can open your senses and be aware of a particular sight, sound, taste, touch, or smell. Or you can simply go to one of your energy centers (see).
you can give up. Forget meditating, do something else, and come back to
meditating at another time.
BLISS – (See also "God," the "Heart Energy Center," "Satori," and the "Superconscious.")
Bliss is a term used for a very high or very
pure state of meditation. It is not, in meditation practice, a normal
experience such as feeling "blissful pleasure" from something one eats. It
is a different, much more intense state, such as when people describe a
transcendent spiritual experience or profound and intense feeling of love
beyond what is normal. When people experience states of "bliss" during
very deep and intense aesthetic experiences of art, music, or other
aesthetic events, such bliss is close to, or what one might describe as on
the edge of, what others would describe as spiritual bliss.
– See the Guides
– See "Spirits."
BODY ENERGY – (See also “Energy Centers” and “Mind.”)
Body energy is of several kinds: raw food energy used by digestion and muscles, and a variety of energies that are converted chemically into electrical energy speeding along or between your nerves. Some systems of meditation are especially interested in the energy in your nerves, or your nervous system.
Ancient and modern systems locate specific places on people’s bodies where many nerves meet. The energy centers are sometimes called “pressure points,” the points at which acupressure and acupuncture work best, self-defense systems identify as a place to disable an opponent, and where, in some systems, people may focus in meditation. For example, the solar plexus is a specific point for both great pain when it is hit, and great opportunity when used in many meditation systems. Another example is the “third eye” center. Yet another is a spot just above the head, a source of spiritual awakening for many. In India, it is called the “thousand-petalled lotus.”
Do such meditation energy centers exist? Certainly science has confirmed there is an aura of energy that can be read by machines that extends outward from the human body by several inches or more. And we know nerves collect in denser and greater numbers in some parts of the body. However, this energy is primarily generated by the human body and its mechanisms.
powers, forces, or energies can come from outside the human body makes for
an interesting discussion, but the discussion is not necessary for your
meditation. You may simply rely on your own body’s energy, and you may
experiment in meditation with how that energy focuses in specific “energy
BODY FUNCTIONS – (See also “Balance,” “Energy,” “Energy Centers,” and “Pain.”)
Your meditations should work with or even enhance normal body functions. And positive body functions work with and enhance your meditations.
This means that it is normal and even good when meditation leads to bowel movements, urination, or release of gas. Meditation often means your body relaxes more, thus leading to more movement in bowels and bladder. Meditation is not a hard and fast, hold-everything-in or do-it-in-spite-of-discomfort discipline. Rather, it is a natural part of body experience. Thus it is both acceptable and good for you to take breaks during meditation to use the bathroom as needed.
body functions that meditation might lead to are hunger, muscular
twitches, physical desire, new pain, and new discomfort. If these are
excessive, one can stop and satisfy them or deal with them (see “Pain”).
If they are minor or mild, you may meditate through them, or even upon
– See “Energy Centers.”
BODY POSITIONS – See “Posture.” ---
BORN AGAIN – (See also “Awakening Experience,” “Faith,” "Repentance," “Spiritual,” and “Starting Stage of Meditation.”)
Often a Christian term, “born again” usually refers to an experience that awakens you to God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, Mary Mother of God, or other spiritual awakenings as described by Christianity.
However, such an experience–whether it is your first or is one in a series of such awakenings–is common in almost all religions, under slightly different names and sometimes with slightly different details. A born again or spiritual awakening is not some mild, vague, or abstract decision to try out a belief or idea, nor is it the same as a purely physical sensation such as being burned or hit. Rather, it is significant and even dramatic if it happens to you, it is an inner experience (even if accompanied by outer physical events), and it is a shift of your awareness to an experience unlike anything you have ever perceived.
A typical born again or awakening experience, no matter the spiritual tradition or lack of any tradition, may involve a powerful light, being, or piercing clarity coming down to you from above. Or you may experience it in, around, or through your heart or chest.
Or you may experience it by being touched by or otherwise focused on by a spiritual leader or even another seeker. Often this form of awakening with the help of another person may also come from “above.” Some people “receive” it when a spiritual leader touches their head or speaks to you above your head. Or sometimes the leader may touch your heart, or may, immediately in front of you, symbolically “touch” your heart by directing great love at you or upon you.
You also might experience just as deep and powerful an awakening event–with many of the same characteristics–through an especially or unusually powerful aesthetic transaction with nature or art. You might, instead, have a first awakening experience through drugs, passionate love or sex, intense pain, or other intense physical events.
you might be “born again,” you do not need the same surroundings, people,
or even the same belief system for it to happen again. You are more likely
to recreate it through meditation techniques. One of those with which you
can start, when you do meditate, is to recall the experience as intently
and thoroughly as you can. (See the “Starting Stage of Meditation.”)
– (See “Body Functions,” “Pain,” and “Posture.”)
– See “Atman.”
BRAIN – (See also "Brain Training," “Mind,” and "Mind Power.")
The brain is a physical organ scientifically defined and examined. It organizes and supports much thinking and many bodily functions. Its impulses, conscious and unconscious–thoughts, feelings, control of the body, and other activities–are believed to all be coded or imprinted somewhere in the cells or their cellular subcomponents.
The brain is not the same as the mind (see): “mind” has to do more with our conscious personalities. The brain also does not perform all nervous-system functions, as many of these are performed elsewhere.
Science is still trying to understand exactly what the brain does. For example, memories often are hard to trace to one particular site in the brain and may, indeed, be to some degree “holistic”–happening in multiple units of the brain at once. Still, though, it is possible to trace specific functions in the brain to specific parts of the brain, such as higher thinking, emotional thinking, bodily functioning, etc.
For meditation purposes, there are best practices regarding the brain. You should feed it well with healthy food, plenty of liquids, and frequent exercise (which, science says, keeps the brain working much better and for many more years). In addition, says science, thought-provoking enquiry and a balanced emotional life also improve brain function.
also may treat various parts of the head as points of meditation (see
“Energy Centers”). These various points of concentration in or near
the head stimulate and depend upon differing sections, lobes, and
functions in your brain.
BRAIN POWER – See “Mind Power.”
BRAIN TRAINING – (See also “Brain” and “Mind.”)
Brain training is a group of various mental exercises involving training your brain to think, feel, or act in new ways. For example, it may involve having electrodes connected to your brain externally or internally, and learning how to affect physical objects connected to those electrodes; using a part of your brain to feel different or new physical feelings, such as relaxation; or training your brain to think different types of thoughts or images.
All of these are types of
meditation, using your awareness to affect other parts of your internal or
external reality. However, once you have learned the skill and it has
become entirely automatic, then it is no longer meditation. If, however,
the skill requires regular concentration–in other words, more internal
awareness and focus–then it still is a form of meditation. The same can be
said about any form of yoga (see) or other mindfulness (see)
activity in which you must use your internal awareness to consciously
– See "Symbols."
BREATH, BREATHING – (See also "Air in Meditation," “Balance,” “Exercise,” “Health,” and “Posture.”)
Breath and breathing well are very important in meditation and in living a good life. Breathing well generally means that you breath deeper, slower breaths, not just shallow ones; you breath through your nose when possible, except perhaps in exercise; and you perform recommended breathing patterns given to you for specific physical activities or exercise regimens. It also means, when sitting or lying in meditation, to wear loose clothing or adjust your clothing so you experience no discomfort from them. Learning to breathe better during daily activities may especially mean learning to relax your chest and stomach muscles so you can inhale and exhale more deeply.
For more information, see the longer Guide on "Breath."
BUDDHA’S EIGHTFOLD OR MIDDLE PATH – See “Middle Path.”
BUDDHIST MEDITATION – See "Middle Path," "Nirvana," God," and "Religions."
Home A - Z Guides Yoga Sutras
Most recent content revision 10 Feb. 2020
Text © 2017-2020 by Richard Jewell
Images © 1994-2018 by Gabriel R. Jewell
First edition: 1 Sept. 2018. Second edition: 1 Sept. 2019. Free Use Policy
Questions? Suggestions? Go to www.richard.jewell.net/contact.htm.
Natural URL: www.richard.jewell.net/meditationary/default.htm