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– In Chinese medicine, Qi is the universal, basic energetic intelligence, infinite and eternal. It interacts with the four and five elements (see). See also "Maitri Wisdom Meditation."

RAIN, FEELING OF (IN BODY OR FROM ABOVE) See "Waters of Life," “Calming Meditation,” and "Relaxing Meditation."

RAJA YOGA(See also “Above-the-Head Energy Center” and “Superconscious.”)

Raja yoga means “king yoga” or yoga of kings because it is considered both more difficult and faster in attaining deep inner awareness. Some consider it the earliest form of yoga organized into writing, by Patanjali (also known as Patanjah). Raja yoga involves focusing on energy centers (see) above the head (see “Above-the-head Energy Center” and “Superconscious”).

Raja yoga involves not just concentration above the head, alone. Rather, it is a system of consistently using such concentration and then allowing descents (see) of energy from that high point to lower energy centers. The descents allow the high energy found above or at the top of the head to descend to other centers. An ascent sometimes also may occur after much meditation practice on this center: to an even higher and less discussed “superconscious” center (see). Such descents are, if you are working alone, one of the safest ways to eventually explore the full range of energy centers.

Raja yoga is one of the four classic Hindu forms of yoga. The other three classic yoga systems are jnana yoga (see), which has to do with knowledge, ideas, imagination, words, and singing (see “’Third-eye’ Energy Center” and “Throat Energy Center); bhakti yoga (see), which has to do with the heart energy center (see); and karma yoga (see), which has to do with work as a form of meditation and devotion.

Some 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.

RAJAS, TAMAS, AND SATTVA  – (See also “Problems” and “Psychology.”)

Rajas, tamas, and sattva are three states of attitude, personality, or personality types as identified by ancient Indian meditators. Each helps describe a type of personality or person, or, alternatively, how you feel at any given hour. Identifying these attitude tendencies can help you decide when to meditate and how.

While the three attitudes are part of early Hindu work toward an ancient form of psychology, they are not a replacement for modern psychology. They are not rigidly inherent in any one person, but rather can be changed. Hindu texts say you should seek to balance each of the three in you, as each has a place in your life.

These traits in ancient Hindu psychology were said to be mixed in some people and dominant in others. The mixtures also can be both internal and external.

For example, a person who prefers tamasic habits in outer life might have a very rajasic internal fantasy life. Or someone who is sattvic outwardly may, with close friends, be more hesitant and doubtful as in tamas, and have more of rajas in his or her professional life. In meditation, whatever the personality types, the ideal is to gradually discover a balance of them to best take advantage of various meditation practices and states.

Rajas is a willful, forceful, and/or forward-moving personality or personal style. Contemporary people would recognize it as dynamic and assertive, even sometimes aggressive.

Tamas is a quieter, sometimes subdued, go-with-the-flow personality or style, Contemporary culture would consider it passive, comfortable with habit, and having no desire to disturb anyone or anything.

Sattva is a peaceful, centered, comfortable-with-self personality or style. Contemporary culture might consider it a personality that is laid back, easy going, happy or at least at peace, and not worried about anything.

REALITY AND MEDITATION (See also “Delusion” and “Illusion”):

What is “reality”? It is what we can actually experience with our senses and test with our various branches of science. The common reality you and everyone else experiences is not some kind of mass delusion or common illusion, as a few may say. Nor is each person’s reality completely different, though to some extent each of us does perceive with ever so slight differences. In addition, meditation experiences are not of a “different” reality–just a different aspect of it.

Reality means that you can touch a table, feel a breeze, here a songbird, and smell food. All of these are part of a tangible, true reality.

Experiences that science has not yet been able to fully test but are experienced by billions of people also are part of our physical reality. For example, the most common so-called “psychic” awareness, which a majority of people report experiencing, is the sense that someone is looking at them.

While this type of perception may not be one for which you or most others have been trained–societies do not educate people in how to perceive in this way–there is a strong likelihood that science ultimately will discover an extended energy field between people that will make such perceptions researched fact. What you find in meditation that science does not know, it will know, explain, and categorize it someday.

For more on understanding meditation and reality, see the Guide called Reality.

RELAXATION MEDITATION (See also “Calming Meditation,” “Waters of Life,” and "Centering Prayer.")

The “relaxation meditation” simply helps you relax more. You can use it for a variety of purposes. It is different from the “calming meditation” (see) and from breathing meditations (see “Breath”). An example of using the relaxation meditation is that you simply sit in a comfortable posture and relax one or more parts of your body.

You can best try the relaxation meditation when you are lying down or sitting in a relaxed position. You start by focusing on some part (or paired parts) of your body. Many people start with their toes and feet, others with their fingers and hands, or others with the tops of their heads. You focus on the chosen area, relax it. If you feel a rushing or butterfly sensation–or your heartbeat–in the area you’ve chosen, you may allow it. Such sensations relax that part of the body and allow greater blood flow to the area.

You then move to the next part, working your way closer to the center of your body. Develop the same relaxation there. then move closer still to the center of your body, or past it to the other side or end. If you complete this cycle, you may want to go back to the beginning again to see if the parts you relaxed are tensed, again. If so, relax them and repeat.

If you have discomfort or pain in a specific place–or you’ve experienced such pain during the previous twenty-four hours–then you may focus attention on this spot. In doing so, you may find it especially helpful to establish the rushing-butterfly feeling, or the feeling of your heartbeat, in that spot. If you cannot do this, then simply relaxing it–and all parts of the body around it–is very helpful.

If you experience small muscle twitches or brief physical jerking sensations, either of which subside relatively quickly, you may be ignore them. They are just the body’s way of releasing tension and allowing body parts to stretch into more relaxed positions.

If prolonged twitches occur, then you may need to use some kind of exercise, stretch, or other physical therapy to relieve stress in that part of the body. If jerking is prolonged, but you can stop it easily at will, then you usually do not need to be concerned: your body likely is just discharging excess stress or energy. However, if it is difficult or impossible for you stop the jerking, then you should see a physician–the worse the jerking, the more quickly you should seek medical help.

Some people experience a surge of sexual feeling during this meditation. If the relaxation itself is the point of your meditation, then you can ignore these feelings or simply observe them, and continue to relax that or other parts of your body.

Many people fall asleep using this meditation. If you do, this is fine. In fact, many people use this type of meditation for this exact reason. Doing so is not only a sleep aid, but it also is healing to the body in any situation, even if you fall asleep.

In addition, the more you fall asleep in this –or any –type of meditation, the more strongly the ability to do this type of mediation is imprinted on your brain. And the more it is imprinted, the easier it will be the next time.

RELIGION AND MEDITATION (See also “Faith,” “God,” “Prayer,” and “Soul.”)

The word “religion” means “re-legging” or “re-running.” Thus a religion is a “rerun”–a restatement–of an original system of experience, practice, and thought.

A religion is not a simple meditation practice. It also is not just a belief system, alone. Rather, it is a system of meditation practices that will bring you close to God or some other singular spiritual or meditative power or force. And usually others, over generations, develop a set of beliefs that surround this core of systematic meditative practices.

Many religions have created rich meditation systems, both simple and complex. These are in many ways not only part of the religions’ regular practices but also make the religions successful, at least in part. For example, prayer, rituals, spiritual music, chanting, quiet moments, and concentration upon angels or other godly beings are just some of the meditation techniques used in and by religions.

You do not have to believe in a religion to practice meditation. If you dislike religion, you may simply use scientific studies and the experiences of millions of meditators over the centuries to help guide you in how to meditate.

However, you also may be deeply involved in a religion and also intimately and often engaged in the meditation methods of that religion. To find a religion’s meditation practices, look to the creator of the religion’s practices and advice. You also usually can find information about other famous or key meditators in the religion’s history. And often, these meditation practices are identifiable as universal experiences that all humans can experience in meditation.

RENUNCIATION (See also  "Repentance," "Retreat," “Faith," "God,” "Prayer," and "Sin.")

Renunciation in the life of meditation means you have chosen to renounce, or get rid of, most of the trappings of your normal life. Those who follow such plans of renunciation often are called “ascetics.” Their lifestyle is called “asceticism.” All the major religions of the world have groups of ascetics.

Such complete renunciation for meditative or spiritual purposes is not a simple giving up of food for part of a day or some other relatively small part of one’s life such as temporary or brief abstentions or sacrifices. Brief abstentions or sacrifices may help meditative life, especially if they create greater health. However, meditative, spiritual, or ascetic renunciation is significantly long lasting and life changing.

Renunciation occurs when men and women take vows to enter a religious or spiritual order: they might, for example, renounce marriage or wealth. Ascetics choose to give up all but the simplest food, clothing, and dwelling.

Such renunciation also often has been an important beginning for the founders of world religions. Jesus and Mohammed had their lengthy stays in the desert. Buddha gave up his princely lifestyle to wander as a penniless beggar and yogi for years. Paul of Tarsus renounced his moderate wealth, his position of power, and his persecution of Christians. Augustine shed a rich lifestyle of physical pleasures. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the powerful Christian Order of Jesuits, which became the Pope’s army, regularly sought pain. He often blooded his back by whipping himself, slept on painful surfaces, wore very rough wool garments, and more in order to “cleanse” his body of sin and find spiritual grace (see).

Some ascetics renounce nearly everything to do with normal humanity for much of their lifetime. The early Christian stylites ("pillar dwellers") lived for years on top of natural formations of rock pillars or columns in the desert. Many of the first Christian monks in Ireland were hermits who withdrew from most human contact and found caves or constructed their own simple, cavern-like rooms made of rock to live in. In India, from ancient times through the present, many individual yogis have wandered homeless and penniless, begged for daily food, pierced parts of their bodies, slept on beds of nails, fasted for long periods of time, or engaged in other acts of extreme renunciation of the pleasures of the body..

Fasting (see “Food and Drink”) coupled with an extremely simple, minimal diet is a universal method of renunciation in order to gain spiritual experiences. Other physical avenues to spiritual awakening have long included–throughout the world and history–self-torture as above, the use of natural and synthetic drugs (see "Drugs"), and strenuous physical (as above) and sexual practices (for the latter, see “Sex and Meditation” and “Tantra”). 

None of these intensely physical, long-term approaches to spiritual experience are recommended unless you have a teacher, master, or experienced guide for them. Often, only a master in these practices can safely guide you through meditations using them. If you wish, you might try fasting from food (but continue drinking water) for a day or two if it aids your meditation practice. However, often, long, extreme versions of fasting or any other experiences of limiting or hurting your body can not only feel unpleasant but also be inappropriate, distracting, or even dangerous to you, and unnecessary for growth and discovery in meditation.

          In general, religious founders such as Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, and others, after experimenting with severe and lengthy forms of renunciation, chose to teach a more gentle path for people to follow in learning from meditation. Buddha, for example, gave it a now-famous name: the "Middle Path" (see). This Middle Path is a classic example of the recommendations of someone who left the path of renunciation to find a more moderate, less extreme way.

          Others such as Jesus and Mohammed likewise have taught milder forms of giving things up and easier ways to find deep meditation experiences. For example, Jesus counseled the "Golden Rule," his Sermon on the Mount, his recommendation to follow faith (see) rather than the religious rules, and his habit of calling God "Abba," which means "Pop" or "Dad." Mohammed developed his famous five holy precepts for becoming, and being, a good follower of Allah.

REPENT/REPENTANCE (See also  “Faith," "Born Again," "God,” "Prayer," "Sin," "Renunciation," and "Centering Prayer.")

          To "repent" usually is a Christian term, but it also has similar meanings in some versions of other religions. To "repent" means to change your direction, to seek better states of being and look for joy, love, peace, and strength in inner states of being.

          It does not mean to give up all of your old self or ways immediately in order to follow a rigid religious set of rules that will govern everything you do (though it sometimes is interpreted in that way). Repenting can, however, for all practical purposes, mean giving up a particularly self-centered or self-destructive way of life in favor of seeking more meditation practice and a more positive way of treating yourself and others.

          One well known example of a repentance process is that of Alcoholics Anonymous and similar groups, especially  because that process requires an inner change in order to create the outer change of breaking addiction. Other examples include deciding to change jobs from being a seeker of money or power to becoming a seeker of jobs that help your community or individuals in need. The best kind of repentance directly involves inner change along with the outer change. Real repentance usually does not work, does not last, unless there is a deeper inner change, as well.

REST IN GOD See "Centering Prayer."

A RETREAT, TO RETREAT (See also “Renunciation.”)

A retreat is, in meditation practice, a physical place to go to, to get away from the normal beck and call of life. The word also means the period of time, whether it is an hour or a lifetime, that you spend at the place of retreat. "To retreat" means, simply, to go to that place.

A retreat, or to retreat, does not mean that you are running away from something or someone (though it may feel this way at the time). Rather, it means to go forward–toward or into–meditation practice in a more helpful place and time. Examples of retreats exist from Jesus of Nazareth's retreat into the desert after the death of his cousin, John the Baptist, and Mohammed's retreat into his cave, to a spiritual retreat at an official retreat center for a few days to a week, and to a simple retreat to a garden or wooded area for a lunchtime or evening meditation.)

You can create your own retreat by finding a place and time to meditate where and when you will not be interrupted. You also can design your own day- or week-long meditation retreat, or do this with a friend on the understanding that you will be separately meditating during this time, whether just for a specified part of each day or for the whole day. Many formal retreats given by different meditation groups, whether nonreligious or religious, also are available.

Some people view a retreat as a time of renunciation (see). However, this does not necessarily have to be so. While part of a retreat does involve spending some time on less materialistic and outer concerns in favor of seeking more meditation-oriented inner experiences, this can also be combined with good vacationing, relaxing, and enjoying such pursuits as art, appreciation of nature and other activities in other parts of the day. You do not have to take an ascetic, give-everything-up, hard-will, absolutely-not approach. The key in a good retreat is that you learn to find your way more deeply and intently into meditation. What this might be for you is something for you to imagine, to experiment with, and to determine.

You may, as those attracted to meditation sometimes wonder, also ask whether you should spend several months, a year, or even a lifetime pursuing a retreat in a long-term retreat center such as a monastery or other meditation or spiritual center. This is a reasonable question. Would long-term pursuit of meditation for hours each day, and renunciation of all excesses in life, help you? Would it make you happier? Would it allow you to better complete whatever purpose you may have in life or use whatever skills you may have for changing the world.

Only you can answer these questions. However, most people find that small meditation steps taken daily or even just weekly are what best suit them. And the life of meditation does not at all require you to leave your normal life behind. Meditation is meant not just to help you away from the world, but also to help you in the world–and, often, to help you make better, truer contributions to the world.

ROADS OF MEDITATION See “Pathways of Meditation.”

ROSARY See "Symbols."

ROSHI – In Zen meditation, a teacher or master (see).



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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

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