FAITH – (See also “Born Again,” “Mystic,” “Pathways of Meditation,” “Starting Stage,” “Superconscious,” and "Centering Prayer.")
A key concept in Christianity is “faith.” The word has many theological meanings in that religion. However, in meditation–as in the earliest Christian texts–faith is a dynamic act, not just an abstract concept. The act of faith is a type of meditation. It means, simply, that you reach out to, or wait for, a higher spiritual awareness, experience, or spiritual being–or some greater or higher knowledge, feeling, or intuitive certitude that comes from it.
This “reaching out to,” or “waiting for,” is an act of your own meditative awareness, and your meditative purpose. Your purpose may be as simple as gaining better knowledge of what to do next, or how to be, or to simply exist as an act of waiting for someone or something higher or purer.
However, this act of meditation can be more than simple. It can, instead, be a more powerful reaching out to something that is Other: you seek a higher state of being or experience, or in many religions you reach out to God, a spiritual being, or a spiritual level or power that comes from God.
In this reaching out, you are looking for this higher state to guide you, give you knowledge, or impart to you a better understanding of a situation. This kind of “faith” meditation act is found in all major religions.
Another way to use the act of faith meditation is to wait, and to open yourself to higher states of knowledge or understanding. This kind of faith meditation also means that you will, if the act of faith is pure and is answered, be guided in what to do. This kind of meditation state or act also is found in all major religions.
As the prophet–and a foundational leader of early Christianity–Paul of Tarsus (St. Paul) used to write and teach, the law (human rules) can be put aside when a person is acting in a meditative condition of faith. This does not mean, in general, that you necessarily disobey laws and rules. Rather, it means that your act of faith helps you follow most laws and rules without your needing to remember them all. In this kind of faith act, you obey higher laws and rules more easily and more naturally.
Paul called this meditative act a life led by faith in God. Over a thousand years later, the mystic St. Francis of Assisi spoke of the same meditative faith act when he said, “Love God and do what you will.”
Many mystics add that while your intellectual knowledge of laws and rules can be helpful, using the meditative act of faith works better in living a good, helpful life as a human. The more faith-as-an-act that you have–without other thoughts, feelings, and life events interrupting your focus–the better the meditative act for helping guide your mind, emotions, and body through your life’s events. Using faith often, whenever you’re not sure what to do, is difficult enough that it tends occur in the middle stage (see) of meditation. Acting in faith regularly is more of an end-stage (see) practice of meditation. It is one of the major paths of meditation (see “Pathways of Meditation”).
For more on practicing faith,
see "Centering Prayer" and "Sin." Also see two of the energy centers in
particular: "Above-the-head Energy Center" and "Heart Energy Center."
FAKIRS – See “Gifts.”
– See “Sleep" and "Problems.”
FALSE RELIGION, FALSE RELIGIOSITY – See “Western Model of Spirituality.”
See “Food and Drink.”
“God.” In meditation, "Father" also is a term of respect or endearment
for, or devotion to, a leader or authority in meditation, spirituality, or
a religious group: it does not refer to an acutal parent. For example, in
Catholicism, the minister of a church often is called "Father."
FEAR – (See also “Emotion,” "Emotional Reactions," "Fear of God," “Pain,” and “Problems.”)
Sometimes you may encounter, in meditation, a memory or feeling that brings you fear. Fear is just another emotion (see), sometimes useful but often not. If your fear is very brief or unusual for you, you may be able to simply ignore it and go about your meditation unaffected. However, if the fear is strong, deep, or persistent, you may need to deal with it.
One of the best ways can be to dive into the heart of the fear. Concentrate on it, even let it overwhelm you with the physical feelings of a rapidly beating heart, shock, panic, or whatever else it brings, even twitches of pain. Then relax into the feelings, continue breathing deeply, and do not respond mindlessly. This in itself may stop the fear.
You also might find, instead, that diving into the fear will bring to mind a flood of thoughts. You might need to examine each of these, in turn, in meditation, to get rid of the fear or find its cause or source.
Or you might find that your physical symptoms of fear are your first full awareness of an emotion: a feeling of fear paired with a thought or memory. If so, the two may be entwined so closely that you will not easily be able to tell which is the cause and which is the result.
If they are that deeply entwined, then meditate on each in turn–the physical sensation and the thought or memory–to see which one helps you conquer the other. Especially, you want to examine the two thoroughly in order to break the automatic connection in you that is between them, making them a pair. (See “Emotion.”)
Another possible discovery in meditating upon your fear is that may seem to have no source and no ending. In this situation, try to bring a higher experience–one of brightness, love, or some other deeply secure or peaceful feeling–into the meditation and let it “take over” or flood the feeling of fear with something higher, lighter, more peaceful, or more loving. This kind of meditation may take practice. However, usually with time, effort, and imagination, one can reach the desired result.
Note, too, that your normal body functions may include extremes in a variety of situations, both good and bad. It is acceptable if the body’s heart keeps beating hard, if the limbs occasionally twitch, if feelings of restlessness or the desire to move occur. Such physical feelings occur in both good and bad experiences, and staying in meditation while the body responds in these ways is neither, in and of itself, good nor bad. In any case, try continuing the meditation. Calmly watch the body’s reactions.
also, if this helps calm you, get up and move, walk, or even run during
your meditation. As you do so, continue to breath well (see) and
FEAR OF GOD – (See also “Emotion," "Fear," God," "Self" and .")
Fear of God is an idea that exists in some translations and discussions of the Jewish Torah and Christian Old Testament, as well as in scriptures and discussions about God in other religions. This kind of fear is not the simple being afraid of another person or experience in regular life; rather, it is meant as a deep fear that we are supposed to instill in ourselves to scare us into doing what is right.
For example, in this interpretation of scriptures, a person should have a feeling of fear or even terror at the idea of coming before God in real life. And he or she should especially fear coming into the presence of God at the Gates of Heaven after death.
However, correctly translated, the meaning of "fear of God" in the Torah and Old Testament scriptures does not mean emotional fear, but rather having "the right relationship with God." Thus fear of God means, simply, "Learn to have a right relationship with God." And in meditation terms, this means, simply, to discover your true Self or to find your best state of joy and love, peace, and strength that you can through meditating on these states of being within you or outside of you.
FEELING – See “Emotion.”
FIRE (ELEMENT) – See below. Also see the "Four Elements” below, and "Maitri Wisdom Meditation."
FIRE IN MEDITATION – (See also “End Stage of Meditation,” "Four (or Five) Elements," “Middle Stage of Meditation,” and “Mystic.”)
Fire is an experience that some meditators, especially those who are middle- or advanced-stage meditators, may see or experience. Hindu historical texts refer to it as golden particles or a golden flow called “savitri” or “divine fire.” Sufi texts refer to it variously as the “flame of love” or all of reality being afire in a “Fire of the Presence.”
It is not a simple image of a fire, nor a feeling in the body of being hot, and it has nothing to do with what Western religions call "hell." For example, It may appear to you as a few small, stray bits of light gold. Or it may appear to you as a sheet, cascade, or blossom of light gold. It may give you a feeling of healing, relaxation, or warmth. A sound associated with it is a deep, low buzzing such as you might hear from a hive of bumblebees.
For several Eastern meditation methods combined with Western psychology
using the element of fire as a focus, see "Maitri Wisdom Meditation."
FIRE, WALKING ON, HANDLING – See “Gifts.”
FIRST SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE – See “Born Again.”
FLAME, FLAME OF LOVE – See "Fire in Meditation."
FLOW – (See also “Awareness of Awareness Meditation" and the "Flow Meditation.”)
“Flow” in meditation applies to the natural movements of awareness from one focus to another. You may discover, when you are focusing on one point, that your focus may move itself from that point to another. If this movement is not merely distraction, it may be your own self’s way of creating a natural meditation connection between your focusing point and the new point.
You can test for the difference. If your self is trying to create a connection between two relatively equal points, then you should be able to move your focus back and forth between the two points. If, on the other hand, the other point is just a distraction–a stray thought or feeling–then the more you pay attention to the distraction, the harder it may be to return to your original focus point.
A second type of flow in meditation happens when you are focusing on a series of flowing memories, thoughts, or feelings. You simply keep your focus on each as it occurs. (See the “Flow Meditation” below.)
type of meditative flow may occur when you experience a descent of energy
from a higher to a lower point, or an ascent of energy from a lower point
to a higher point. (See “Descending and Ascending Energies.”) In
fact, in the middle and end stages of meditation (see), such
descents and even some ascents may become the norm, quite common, for
days, weeks, or even months at a time.
FLOW MEDITATION – (See also “Awareness of Awareness.")
The "Flow Meditation" is a specific type of meditating in which you concentrate on each object of awareness. For a few, this is relatively easy. For many, it is difficult to maintain this concentration for long. It means that instead of just living with the flow of experiences in life, you focus, instead, on the actual objects in the flow, as they flow. You become aware of each touch point on which your consciousness settles, however briefly. You may find this method somewhat easier to do than–and good practice for–the awareness-of-awareness meditation (see).
The flow meditation, or awareness of each object of awareness, does not mean that you sink into the flow with no awareness of it. Rather, you become aware, point by point, of what your awareness is focusing on. For example, your awareness might bounce from an external sound to a physical sensation to a thought and then to a memory, all in a matter of seconds. To turn this natural flow into a meditation, you can simply let the flow happen but focus your awareness on each point of experience or sensation as it happens in the flow. It is something like enjoying a musical performance by focusing intently on each note as it occurs, or watching a flow of water, always at the present point of the stream, not the past or future of the stream.
kind of meditation often is best done in quiet circumstances with little
else happening around you. This is because the tumult of the mind and body
within yourself is enough on its own to keep your awareness shifting every
few seconds. This kind of meditation can make you much more aware of your
regular, daily patterns of thinking and feeling. You can then
gradually–over a period of days, months, or even years–more easily break
down or interrupt these patterns with the long-term purpose of learning
more sustained and more controlled inner thoughts and feelings, or even
the elimination of some of them.
– See “Mindfulness.”
FOCUSING ON OTHER PEOPLE
– See “Groups” and “Meditation with or on Others.”
FOOD AND DRINK – (See also “Body Functions.”)
Food and drink can have great advantages or disadvantages in your meditation practice. They are a background that, when used properly, can make meditation much easier, deeper, and satisfying for you. Good food does not mean junk food filled with processed sugars, processed flours, and bad fats. Nor does good drink include large amounts of alcohol or fruit- or sugar-based drinks. Small amounts may be acceptable for your body, depending on your digestive system and other bodily tolerances. However, healthy foods and drinks are a very important help to good meditation.
The most important element of food and drink is lots of water. Meditators should drink a lot of water each day. The second most important element of food and drink is to get enough of the basics needed for human life. Lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and healthy proteins are important. Avoiding food –and especially avoiding liquids –is not a required path for good meditation, as Buddha pointed out in his Middle Path (see).
There are many types of diets and, perhaps, even more types of people whose bodies have individualized needs. For this reason, it is hard to recommend one particular diet, though scientifically, the Mediterranean diet and the macrobiotic diet are among the few diets proven to work well for many people. In addition, may countries’ health departments have developed recommendations for what to eat, which in general offer good advice for many people, if not all: for example, the United States’ recommended pyramid of foods, with smaller amounts of food types grouped at the top and larger amounts grouped at the bottom.
When should you eat? Some people believe in a large breakfast, medium lunch, and small supper; others, just the opposite. Each method seems to work for certain types of people and/or their typical daily activities.
Is fasting useful? Many people try it. Scientifically, if studies with mice can be applied to humans, you can try waiting twelve to sixteen hours each day before eating solids, to maintain a healthy weight and general health: for most people, that likely would be from supper to lunch (no breakfast), though any 12-16 hours works with mice.
Hundreds of millions of Muslims fast from dawn to sundown daily for one month each year. Roman Catholics and Jews have certain foods they avoid and times when they do not eat. Many other religions have fasting hours and days, as well. For example, many Muslims fast during daylight throughout the month of Ramadan.
If you fast for a day every week or month, most medical experts advise continued use of water, at the least, during fasting. If you are involved in heavy physical activity causing you to sweat, you may also need salt. If you are fasting with no liquid (required in some religions), you should rest or keep a calming pace during such fasts, without extreme physical exertion.
Does fasting help meditation? It can, in moderation. Being free and clear of the heaviness of food in the body, or free and clear of some of the results of eating different foods, can give one more calmness, peace, and clear focus for meditating. However, extreme fasting–for days or weeks at a time with little or no break–generally are not needed for good meditation practice or results.
should you eat before or after meditating? You should meditate at a time
when you do not feel heavy or slow from eating, and you have a good amount
(but not an extreme amount) of liquid in you. You also may need a little
caffeine to help you stay alert. After meditating, your body will tend to
be calmer and more relaxed. As a result, eating or drinking heavily right
after meditating may wreck some of the physical value of the meditation.
FOREHEAD MEDITATION ENERGY CENTER
– (See “’Third-eye’ Energy Center.”)
THE FOUR (OR FIVE) ELEMENTS – (See also "Air in Meditation," "Earth in Meditation," "Fire in Meditation," "Water in Meditation," "Space in Meditation," "Waters of Life," and "Maitri Wisdom Meditation.")
The four elements–earth, water, fire, and air, sometimes with a fifth one, space–were considered basic building blocks of nature or the material world in ancient Western science, in some Eastern systems, and in medieval alchemy. Early and medieval scientists and some alchemists said that each material thing on earth, in the sea, and in the skies above were composed of varying portions of these four elements. Eastern meditation systems as ancient as recorded history or older also have recorded these four elements as the basics not just of material, outer life but also of nonmaterial, inner life, with some systems adding space as a fifth element.
In meditation, these four or five elements are symbolic of, or closely related to, various meditation experiences that appear in similar form. Each element can be, in meditation, representative of a visual, auditory, physical-sensory, or other meditation experience, and of places and events in your life and your memory. This can be true not only in your own meditations, but also in mystical, ancient, and alchemist literature. All of these literatures refer to both material objects and meditation states related to the four or five elements.
As a result, there are a wide variety of meditation experiences possible, as related to these elements. See each element separately for more information on some of the ways in which each represents states of, or experiences in, meditation. And for practical meditation using these elements, see "Maitri Wisdom Meditation."
FREQUENCY – (See also “Settings,” ”Moving,” and “Still.”)
Meditating often each day is better than once per day. Once per day is better than once per week, which is better than once per month or year, which is better than never meditating at all.
You may meditate on a schedule, which is fine. Or you may meditate according to your need, which also is fine.
You may find that meditation best happens when you are involved in specific acts or times of the day: for example, falling asleep, going for a walk or a run alone, or relaxing alone. However, you may also find that meditation works well when you are interacting with others (see “Groups”).
general, the more meditation, the better, though you should not meditate
so much–or in just one or two ways–that important elements of life such as
frequent movement, exercise, food, sleep, and maintaining your life are
forgotten. In other words, you are welcome to become an ascetic (see)
hermit, giving up everything and meditating alone forever. But you do not
have to, in order to be successful in meditation (see “Middle Path”).
HUNGER – See “Body Functions” and “Food and Drink.”
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Most recent content revision 21 July 2019
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