Ancient Meditations for Modern Times
Many ancient Asian meditation practices have come to the west since the early 60's. But are they of benefit in this modern day and age?
We could say that any kind of meditation practice is of benefit, especially in turbulent times like the ones we are living in now!
However, we also need to look at what some of these meditation practices are doing to our mind, body and energy to see if they are of benefit or not.
One very common practice, currently taught in many meditation schools, is about resting our awareness on the tip of the nose and feeling the breath going in and out of the nostrils.
From an energetic point of view this meditation is more focused on the upper part of our body, mainly the head. Therefore, we also can say that it is helping us to feel our interconnectedness to heavenly energy.
But when this meditation originally was developed and traditionally was practiced, people lived much more in harmony with the earth. They were therefore much more grounded and centred to begin with. They had, and they felt, a deep interconnection with the earth energy.
In our modern society, often we have mislaid this interconnection with the earth. We have lost our groundedness and centeredness due to being more in our heads. In our heads (and often through our mouths), we constantly ask why, how, who, what, when? And therefore we are always analyzing and over thinking things. Living in the head is also due to mobile phones, TV's, computers, etc., all of which distract and take us away from grounded and centred interconnectedness with the earth. But it is not only this: many of us also live in concrete cities, work in crammed offices, and rarely walk in nature anymore.
Thus, by first (and only) practicing a meditation technique which takes us even more in our head, we will become even more ungrounded and uncentred.
In olden times when people lived more in harmony with nature and were not over thinking things, that ancient meditation technique was perfect. But we live in a very different world now. Things have changed. And therefore if we practice one of these ancient practices without first realizing that we need to be grounded and centred before we even start, we might unbalance our mind, body, and energy. This imbalance can happen even as we seek to find balance through the practice, because the practice needs a grounded, centred foundation that it will not have if we practice only from (and in) our heads.
Thus it is of utmost importance if we want to practice these ancient spiritual teachings, that we first work on rediscovering our interconnectedness with the earth.
A tree can not start by growing leaves and branches; it first needs to grow roots. And if the roots are not stable and the tree grows more towards heaven, it might even fall over and need to start anew. But if the tree has stable roots, then it can create a beautiful canopy.
This stable, grounded and centred feeling comes from bringing our mind and energy deep into our body, just below the navel; this is the centre of our roots.
As meditation teachers, we therefore need to be aware of the effects of our own practice and the changes in our way of being before we start to teach specific meditation practices to others.
And just like the tree with stable roots can create a beautiful canopy of leaves and branches in time, if we as meditation practitioners and teachers work to rediscover and cultivate our connection to the earth, our practice can blossom and grow, literally from the ground up.