EARTH (ELEMENT) – See below. Also see the "Four Elements” and "Maitri Wisdom Meditation."
EARTH IN MEDITATION – (See also "Earth Religions" and the "Four Elements.")
"Earth" historically, in most cultures from the beginning of time, has meant in general the heaviest form of matter, the material life, being strongly grounded, and being dark, even fertile. Everything that is solid and unmoving is part of "earth."
In meditation, earth is dark, material, and related to the lowest energy centers (see). As such–and according to a wide number of meditation systems from many cultures–it is a place that, if you are meditating alone, without a master, you can become stuck. It is better, when meditating alone, to either avoid "earth" darkness or, at the least, if you are in it, to bring higher energies and light to it.
However, if you are working with an experienced meditation expert whose system starts you in "earth" experiences, then you may start with such meditations. "Earth" practices in meditation may also refer to starting with external guidelines of practice such as proper breathing, exercise, and eating and drinking (see the "Middle Path").
For several Eastern meditation methods combined with Western psychology
using the element of earth as a focus, see "Maitri Wisdom Meditation."
EARTH RELIGIONS – See “Pagan.”
ECSTASY – See “Union" and "Mysticism .”
EGO – (See also "Id," "Superego," "Unconscious," “Self," "The Starting Stage of Meditation," "Mind," "Memory," "Awareness of Awareness," and "the Flow Meditation.")
The "ego" in modern Western theory is originally a concept developed by the science of psychology as a label for your conscious, organized, structural self with all of its typical daily thoughts, memories, images, emotions, and other perceptions. It is not the basic awareness of a person, but rather the overall conscious, structured, organized personality working in an aware way in time. It is not a hard and fast personality, but one that is somewhat fluid, making shifts and adjustments in your beliefs and actions as needed. An example of a psychological ego is any person who is living his or her life in normal reality, thinking thoughts, feeling feelings, and moving through the day by making small decisions or even big ones.
The word "ego" also may mean "thinks too well of himself or herself," as in "His ego is bigger than a mountain." This use does not refer to the psychological ego that everyone has, but rather to someone being much too proud of herself, whether deservedly or not. An example would be of rich people who think they have a right to anything they want just because they are rich and therefore deserve it, or perhaps religious people who think because they follow all the rules of their religion that they deserve only good things in life.
"Ego" in Eastern spiritual systems–and some Western meditation-oriented systems–is an organized, habitual set of patterns that your personality falls into. There is not so much an organized structure as there is, simply, habit and preference. In Eastern and meditation-oriented systems, the more awareness you may have in your ego, the more it allows for growth; the less your ego habits allow for awareness, the more rigid and rule-bound it likely is. Ultimately, in Eastern and meditation-oriented spiritual systems, you gradually learn to transcend, go outside of, or leave behind bits and pieces of your human ego while developing what one might call a spiritual ego (see "Self," "Transcendence," and "Superconscious"). Examples of these systems include Buddhism, Hinduism, Zen, and Centering Prayer.
How does any of these versions of ego fit into meditation? The idea of
meditation is to go behind or outside of the normal ego–daily small
thoughts, emotions, feelings, and memories–to discover a deeper Self,
deeper experiences of non-thought, non-emotion awareness, and higher,
deeper experiences of joy, love, peace, and strength. For meditation
exercises that can help with this, see "The Starting Stage of Meditation."
EIGHT-FOLD PATH OF BUDDHA – See “Middle Path.”
FOUR (OR FIVE)
– See the "Four (or Five) Elements."
– A name of God in Judaism and Christianity. (Hebrew for "The
He/She/It Gods.") See "God" and the separate, short "Guide
to God in Meditation"
and the separate, short "Guide
to God in Meditation."
EMOTION IN MEDITATION – (See also the Guide called "Pain (Physical and Emotional)," "Emotional Reactions to Meditation," “Dark Night of the Soul,” “Depression,” “Fear,” “Health Energy Center,” “Pain,” “Pleasure,” “Problems," and the Guide called "Problems.” Also see “Brain,” “Memory and Meditation,” “Memories, Good and Bad in Meditation,” and “Memory Meditations.”)
This section is about meditating upon emotion. For dealing with emotional reactions to meditation, please see "Emotional Reactions to Meditation," below.
Meditating upon emotion is a popular subject because many people are interested in meditating to help ease emotional turmoil or pain. And some find it helpful to meditate on emotions to strengthen positive feelings.
For either type of need—turmoil or positive strengthening–you begin by simply starting a meditation session (see “Starting Stage”). Then you focus on the heart or center of the emotion.
Strengthening Positive Emotion: To strengthen a positive emotion, you should focus on openness to it. Let it flow over you, into you, and through you. Do this as thoroughly as you want, and for as long as you want.
Next, you may identify its parts. What are the thoughts that trigger it? What are the resulting feelings? Or do you have the feelings first, and then the thoughts? You can examine and note these thoughts, feelings, and the chain of events so that you can return to them more easily to recreate the emotion. You should use this meditation only on positive emotions.
Working with Negative Emotion: It is important to note that meditation alone may help you with mild or temporary emotional pain; however, for long-lasting or deep emotional pain, usually you will need outside assistance, as well. In these situations, you should consider using a counselor or physician.
At the least, you should make serious, positive changes in your lifestyle by turning to daily exercise, and better diet and by giving up most or all alcohol and drugs (with the exception of what a doctor may prescribe or what is a limited use of caffeine). You also can help yourself deal with long-lasting or deep emotional pain by keeping a personal journal (that you do not have to show to anyone else) or talking to yourself out loud; learning to avoid fighting verbally with others; listening to positive, soothing music; and using other aids such as massage, acupressure, physical therapy, et al.
If you want to include meditation, the primary way of using it is to concentrate or focus on the emotional pain itself. This is, in fact, a method used by many psychologists and psychiatrists. There are two main ways you may focus on the emotional pain. You may try either method or both.
One of them is to dive into the heart of the emotion and simply live in it for the seconds or minutes needed to allow it to dissipate. If you wait it out, the emotion, in most people, gradually loses some or all of its power. This may take several or more meditation sessions. Writing or talking about it, to yourself or to others, afterward may also help, as may walking or running afterward.
The other meditation method is to first go into the emotion, and then examine and divide it into two parts. Circle it, poke at it, watch how it develops, and then divide it into its two major components: the thought, image, or memory component; and the physical feeling(s) associated with it. Next, once you have divided these components, you may either dive into each, separately (in the same or different meditation periods), or even further divide the already divided parts. Explore each, see what comes to your mind or your feelings, but try to keep the two separated.
There are many subtleties and nuances to using meditation to deal with emotional pain. For more on working in this way, see the Guides called "Problems" and "Pain (Physical and Emotional).”
EMOTIONAL REACTIONS TO MEDITATION – (See also "Emotion and Meditation," "Fear,” and “Problems.”
Before, during, or after meditation, you may have normal or typical human emotional reactions or responses to your meditation experiences. Normal human emotional responses are not the strong, positive experiences of joy, love, peace, strength or other profound or important experiences that you may feel in meditation. Rather, these normal, everyday emotional reactions are the same as other day-to-day emotions you might encounter in regular living.
For example, you might feel overly proud in your accomplishment; fear, doubt, or uneasiness about what you have experienced; or even guilt or a guilty conscience about experiencing something you think might be wrong.
Regarding pride, it certainly is okay to feel good about new accomplishments. However, you should not think that you suddenly have become a meditation expert overnight, a saint, or a spiritual expert. Pride is an emotion that in small, occasional doses help affirm and confirm your accomplishments, but that in moderate to strong doses can get in the way when it is time to return to meditating, or even to think more logically about what your meditation path is and should be. In meditating, you give yourself over to, or concentrate on, something much more than self-pride.
Regarding fear, doubt, or uneasiness, as well as guilt or a guilty conscience, do not feel bad about what you have experienced. Rather, research it.
You can research it by using this dictionary and many other guides online and in physical books, to see who has experienced something similar and whether it is acceptable. You also can research your experience by trying it out a little more to see how it feels in your life: does it seem to make you into a better person, more aware, and more caring for yourself and others? Does it help your better nature, or a healing of you, in some way? Does it at least not hurt yourself or others? Both forms of research–reading and more experience–may be helpful, especially when they are used together.
EMPTINESS – See “Blankness,” “Dark Night of the Soul,” “Depression,” “Nirvana,” “The ’No’ Meditation,” and “Problems.”
END STAGE OF MEDITATION (See also “Meditation,” “Starting Stage,” “Middle Stage,” “Balance,” “God and Meditation,” “Paths of Meditation,” and “Energy Centers.”)
The “End Stage” of meditation simply means you have reached an advanced stage–what happens after you are coming to a close in an often long and fruitful middle or intermediate stage. The end stage means that you have reached a more experienced time in your life in which meditation usually is a daily practice, you have already tried a number of meditation methods, and you have had a number of meditation experiences.
In addition, a variety of meditation paths and experiences now start coming together for you. Either you find the experiences merging with each other, or, at the least, you understand many such experiences.
End-stage or advanced meditation does not mean that you are “finished” with meditating: meditating continues. The end stage also does not mean you have nothing more to experience; the end stage actually continues on, with more, deeper, and more advanced experiences.
Note, too, that an “end” stage does not mean that you are fully advanced just because you have perfected one or a few specific types of meditation. Successfully reaching an end stage means you have accomplished–and /or can practice–a number of meditation methods “End” stage” meditation also is not determined, alone, by how often you meditate or how intense you feel your initial experiences or new knowledge is. Rather, advanced, end-stage meditation is an accumulation of these factors and more.
For example, meditating for five hours a day on the top of your head or above it does not, in itself, create an “advanced” meditator or meditation. Rather, if you are an advanced meditator, you likely find yourself meditating daily, or nearly so; you likely have been meditating for years; you have tried a number of meditation methods; you have long ago discovered one or a few meditation methods that you tend to prefer; you are experiencing, increasingly, a merging of some of these methods with each other or with other major methods; and you are able, often, to understand, experientially (not just intellectually) many other methods even though you may not practice them yourself.
Another sign of an advanced stage of meditation is that you likely have long ago chosen to use, most of the time, just one or two major pathways or plans of meditation. They include such paths as awareness, prayer/words, energy centers, or a master. (See “Pathways of Meditation.”)
For more on the End Stage of
Meditation, see the Guide under "Stages" called
– See “Body Energy,” “Energy Centers,” and “Energy Sphere.”
ENERGY CENTERS (See also “Body Energy” and “Energy Sphere.”)
Seven meditation centers or focus points are roughly aligned with your spine. In this dictionary they are called “energy centers” and are the same as the Hindu “chakras” (see). These energy centers are physical meeting points for your groups of nerves, or the energy from these nerve groups. They also are–according to ancient Hindu, Chinese, and other medical and spiritual traditions–excellent points on which to focus in meditation. Your seven centers are as follows:
The Three “Mind” Centers:
1. Above-the-head Energy Center (see)
2. “Third-eye” Energy Center (see)
3. The Throat Energy Center (see)
The Balancing Middle Center:
4. The Heart Energy Center (see)
The Three Lower Centers:
5. The Solar Plexus Energy Center (see)
6. The Healing Energy Center (see)
7. The Base-of-Trunk Energy Center (see)
The Mystic Highest Center
0. The Superconscious (see)
Your above-the-head energy center (“1”) is centered on top of your head. Your base-of-the-trunk energy center is centered at the bottom of your trunk between your genitals and anus.
The focus point for your other five regular centers (“2”-“7”) is on the front of your body. Technically, each of these five centers actually run, horizontally, from front to back in your body, with the back of each resting in or on the back of the spine. However, experts in energy center meditation say you should not meditate on the back-of-the-spine areas, which are associated with negative experiences. Rather, for these five centers, you should focus on the front of the body for more positive experiences.
These experts also say that as you meditate upon each center, you may find it is spiraling in one direction or another. It is possible, they say, to experiment with changing the direction of spiraling, but you should do so only if you carefully watch the results to make sure they are helpful and not negative.
In addition, if you are meditating on your own or in beginning meditation classes, you generally should meditate on just the top four centers (“1”-“4”), which are considered safe. Meditating upon the three lower energy centers–the solar plexus (“5”), the health center (“6”), and the base-of-the-trunk center (“7”)–is not recommended unless you are working with a meditation master on a regular basis. Then, as you continue practicing yoga, you can let the energies from these higher centers descend (see “Descending and Ascending Energies”) to the lower energy centers as a safer way of exploring them.
The reason why it is better to start with the higher centers is that concentrating on any center, higher or lower, stirs up both positive and negative energies, mental associations, and emotions. It is easier to control and calm the energies in the higher centers. However, unfortunately, stirring up deep negative energies in the lower centers can be a recipe for self-damage, emotionally and physically. For working with these centers, you should be meeting on a weekly basis with a meditation master, psychologist, or psychiatrist.
An eighth center (“0”) also exists. (See “Superconscious”; also see “Mysticism” and “Raja Yoga.”) It is about eight to fourteen inches above your head, depending on the individual. Scientifically, this highest center is at the outer bounds of what technological instruments can presently identify as your energy coming from your head and body. In terms of meditation’s energy centers, it is the highest center available, one that is difficult to find or on which to maintain focus, and a source for mysticism.
For more information on what each center is like, see its listing in this dictionary. For more on meditation methods for these centers, see the Guide to Energy Centers.
ENERGY SPHERE MEDITATION – (See also “Energy Centers” and “Soul.”)
The energy sphere is the sphere, globe, or oval of energy that includes your body and extends several feet beyond it. This energy sphere is composed of body electricity that is measurable by science. It is not the body itself, but rather the energy that cells produce as they work. It is not the nervous system, but rather, in part, is a product of it–the field of electric energy produced by the nervous system and the cells in general.
Scientific instruments have recorded this energy for decades as coming from the body and extending several inches outward from it. And, for example, some scientific experimenters have learned to attach electrodes from machines to points on or just slightly above the scalp of a subject, who then can control machines by brain activity alone.
In more recent decades, scientists have been able to read electric (brain) activity several feet away from subjects. It is likely that someday, subjects may be trained to control machines remotely that are connected to receptors several feet away from the subjects’ brains, simply by “thinking”–concentrating and focusing–in certain ways.
This energy sphere, sometimes also known in the psychic para-sciences as the “astral body” in psychic and occult studies and as the “halo” in religious pictures and narratives, is a three-dimensional oval that roughly follows the shape of your (and everyone's) body. Various forms of ill health or intense thinking or feeling may change the shape of the oval in a specific area or location, either briefly or over a long period of time, making that location smaller or larger, thinner or thicker, or even sometimes spiked or “abcessed” (missing).
In the starting stage of meditations, sometimes you may become aware of your energy sphere. Also, it is not unusual to sometimes see this sphere around others, especially around the heads of those speaking at a short distance. Neither of these occurrences is unnatural or problematic. If either occurs during meditation, you may simply continue meditating.
In the middle and end stages of meditation practice (and sometimes in the starting stage), when you are is feeling, becoming a part of, or being filled by a meditation energy of some kind such as light, peace, love, et al., it is possible to not only let this energy fill your physical body but also your energy sphere. This is not a meditation to force; rather, one simply lets the energy move beyond just the physical body to an imagined sphere that extends several inches outward, all around your body. The exact shape of the sphere may vary according to what works best in your own meditation.
Another meditation practice is to concentrate slightly above the head of a speaker at a speaking event. (Speakers are presenting themselves for your inspection at speaking events, so it is ethical to watch for their energy spheres.)
Doing this not only may help you focus better on the speaker’s speech, but it also may show the speaker’s energy sphere or “halo” above or around his or her head. This halo effect may be transparent in color, but more often it shows a color. If it is a true sight of the person’s halo effect, it may extend much further than just two inches away from the speaker’s head. If it is transparent and only one to two inches away from the speaker’s head, it may be an artificial illusion created in the viewer’s own eyes.
Yet another meditation practice is to visualize your energy sphere, and then look for areas that might be dark or uneven; have an unnatural string, tube, or even a spike or thorn with energy flowing in or out; or show any other kind of disturbance. Upon finding such a spot, you then can work to heal it. You can imagine higher, better, or purer energies flowing into it or pushing out the negative energies. You may create in your mind some kind of block or cutoff of anything negative coming in, or of too much energy leaving your sphere. You can, instead, picture a strong healing color at that spot, such as white, purple, or green. You also can even place your hands on the spot and combining self-massage with your imagining.
ENLIGHTENMENT – (See also “Awakening Experience,” “Middle Path of Buddhism,” “Zen Buddhism,” and “Mysticism.”)
“Enlightenment” also is known by many other names: being “born again” (see), samadhi, mystical union (see), and nirvana (see), are just a few names for it. It is a state of higher awareness in which you become “enlightened” by joining with some spiritual force, state, or being.
It is not, in meditation, a simple intellectual, emotional, or physical awareness (though any of these can be involved in some types of enlightenment). It also is not simply an idea of great importance (though it has this dictionary meaning, too).
Rather, it is an experience, usually very complete at the time it occurs, that feels all encompassing. And it almost always leaves you, afterward, with a stronger, better, and a stronger awareness of yourself, your life or reality, and others around you.
Most great spiritual and religious leaders and founders throughout history have experienced some type of enlightenment, as have many of their followers. Note, though, that an experience of enlightenment is not unusual. Most great spiritual and religious leaders have worked to teach others how to have the same experiences. A large number of people–especially those who are older–report some kind of enlightening spiritual experience.
The science of enlightenment is not completely understood. However, it is such a common experience that it is easy to confirm it is real in some form, not an illusion but rather a legitimate and very different experience of which most or all humans are capable.
Enlightenment is not reserved for just the great mystics. It can come in small or short experiences to anyone.
In fact, “born again” (see) experiences often are, in a sense, an introductory type of enlightenment, a beginning higher-awareness experience.
And contrary to popular opinion or myth, an enlightenment experience does not suddenly make you perfect. This is true even for great spiritual leaders, mystics, and master meditators. You still are human with human experiences, thoughts, and feelings much of the time.
If you experience an introductory form of enlightenment, you still remain a mostly normal human being for much of your day. Enlightenment experiences also do not qualify you as a holy person, teacher, or expert on spiritual matters. Such experiences only qualify you as an expert in that one experience.
There are many forms, levels, and types of enlightenment. In leading a life of meditation, you will find yourself growing from each one, into a new one, just as is true for learning mastery in any part of life: you learn, you experience, you work, you grow, and you experience more.
everything, too, a healthy skepticism is important. Study others who have
experienced such events. Learn what you can about them from science. And
find guides that help you, whether in person or online. Enlightenment is
an ever growing, ever moving process, like life.
EVIL – (See also ‘Illusion,” “Pain,” and “Problems.”)
Sometimes, in meditation (or in regular life), you may feel, see, or hear something that seems evil. At the least, it is unlikely that it is a real spirit, ghost, or demon with a soul or consciousness: many meditation experts believe that such conscious evil beings are rare; others believe they are unconscious, soulless forces or energy forms with no “real” existence.
Even so, if you encounter such a form, it can feel very intense and even controlling and dangerous. And letting it into yourself is not a positive, worthwhile, or useful experience. It is better kept out.
Avoiding it can be as simple as changing your meditation, or choosing a different time or place for that type of meditation. However, if this is inconvenient or difficult, then you can get rid of such a form in several ways.
One way is to simply use your mind or awareness force to eject it or push it away, similar to the “No” meditation (see). Another is to let a feeling of love or peace–or simply the force of your own awareness–make the negative form dissipate. Sometimes just focusing hard on the feeling by going into the center of it is enough to make it dissipate as harmless and unimportant.
Yet another way that spiritual or religious people–those who believe in higher spiritual powers or beings–use is exorcism. Exorcism is simply a casting out of evil, usually done by prayer, by reading the scripture of one’s religion or spiritual practice, or by ritual (for example, a laying on of hands). A ritual prayer that can be used–and in some exorcisms you may want to keep repeating until a feeling of safety returns to you–is this:
“In the name of [name your high spiritual being or power], I do hereby exorcise any and all evil and elemental powers, forces, spirits, and beings that are in or around or affecting me [and/or others by name] , and I do command them to return to hell from which they have come [or to break up into their smallest energy parts or into nothingness]. In the name of [name your high spiritual being or power] I do command this.”
change the wording as suits your own personal interests, feelings, or
EXERCISE – (See also “Breathing,” “Food and Drink,” “Hatha Yoga,” and “Health.”)
Exercise is excellent not just for your body and your brain but also for better meditation. Science says that you should move often each day, and also exercise often. For this reason, not only is exercise good for your meditation, but also your meditation is good for practicing during your exercise and movement.
Note that meditation does not require exercise. The two often are entirely separate activities. It is just that your meditations will work better if you exercise regularly at some time of your choice in each day. Also note that exercise in itself is not meditation–however good it is for you. If you want to meditate during exercise, you may. But to do this, you must consciously add the mediation to the exercise.
For meditating during exercise, simply try concentrating more fully or more deeply on the feeling of each body part, and eventually each muscle, tendon, and bone, as you move. You may need to try this first with slower exercises. Stretches are especially good for meditating.
However, as you become more used to meditating in exercise, you can meditate on faster or more intense activities. Feel the burn, watch and listen to the body respond, and imagine what is happening in various parts of your body. These all are exercise-oriented meditations. They also are what top athletes often do without even calling it meditation. It is a way of life for them, and a way of reaching ever higher levels of performance.
For you, as a meditator, such meditation can be as simple as combining exercise and meditation for enjoyment. Or it can be as deep as becoming ever better acquainted with your body’s rhythms.
Are you exercising to fight pain or for better comfort in life? A meditative approach helps.
To start this meditative approach, learn exercises that are balanced: exercise both sides of your body equally, or exercise first one side and then the other. For significant physical pain or injury, getting physical therapy often is very helpful. Physical therapists strongly encourage the practice of both balance and mindfulness in healing. Therapists work with both sides of the body and recommend movements that are slow and sure enough to mindfully feel the movement while breathing (see) properly.
EXISTENTIAL MEDITATION – (See also “Emotion,” “Jnana Yoga,” and “Nirvana.”)
“Existential” means “basic to existence” or “most important regarding life or meaning.” An “existential meditation” is one in which you seek meanings basic to life. It is a philosophical type of meditation.
It is not a casual, simple, or perhaps easy meditation. Rather, you seek deeply: you are probing little-known or unknown areas of your own basic understandings or feelings that underlie your basic existence.
Existential meditation can involve your most important intellectual questions of belief, faith, or action; or your most important feelings or emotions in life. An existential meditation involving an intellectual question means, usually, that you establish a quiet, slow, thoughtful concentration on the question itself, on the possible answers, and on what each answer might mean. (See “Jnana Yoga” and “Socratic Meditation.”)
existential meditation involving your deepest feelings in life means you
choose a feeling, concentrate on it, and let images, thoughts, and other
feelings associated with it come to mind. You examine each and see how it
fits in the network of your beliefs, actions, or other feelings. (See
EXORCISM OF EVIL – (See also "Evil," “Gifts,” and "Paganism."
Exorcism is a rite in which an evil spirit–whether it is an nonhuman entity or a force or power–is cast out of a person, group, or area. It is not just a protection prayer or ritual, but rather a casting out of something or someone evil, dangerous, or in some other way bad.
For example, the Roman Catholic Church has had, in recent years, several clergy who work full- or part-time traveling to what the Church has verified as legitimate possessions of people by evil, and these clergy cast them out. In a number of countries, people who are known as shamans, witch doctors, witches, healers, or others may be hired (or sometimes found for no fee) who will cast out evil spirits.
For exorcism techniques, see "Evil." If you believe you cannot get rid of
your sense of evil on your own, see an expert.
EXTERIOR, EXTERNAL – See "Inner/Outer," "Immanent and Transcendent," and “Self.”
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