Podcast Transcript - Is There a Correct Way to Meditate Beyond the Lotus?
Welcome to the Logos of Experience and Truth Podcast where I continue to unlock the mysteries of the Beatific Vision of God.
In today’s episode, I am going to continue the discussion found in the episode on meditation in the west and talk about if there is a correct way to meditate or not. Also, for ease of speaking, I am going to refer to the overall practice and method and path as meditation. When I refer to Saint John of the Cross or Catholic monasticism, I will try to remember to say contemplative prayer, but it is just easier to call this all meditation.
Now at first glance, this is more difficult to answer than one would expect for both veterans and newbies to the practice. What I will try to address in this is time or scheduling, posture and breathing—or kind of the physical stuff—and then also the mental aspect to meditation. Now, what do I mean by that? Specifically, I mean how impressionistic you are and whether you have overcome this or if you feel you should adhere to this at any point in learning to meditate. Now specifically what I’m referring to this is my own personal experience that I had when it came to learning to meditate because pretty much all eastern religions and then any of the New Age stuff that adheres to eastern traditions say, speak, tout, and speak about meditating in what is called the Lotus position . . . if you’re not familiar with it. And depending on your own personal flexibility, this might be incredibly painful for you to achieve and maintain as it was for me. But if you consider that you are new to something, the mind typically wants to adhere to what is or what already is, the steps that have already been laid. And you can see how this affects much of human history, the generational changes. The next generation wants to either adhere to or alter and change what came before it. Positives and negatives taking both roads, so I will not go any deeper into that. What I will say though is personal experience is important when it comes to this.
You may want to just jump right into, for instance, meditating and trying to meditate in the lotus position because there are many benefits to it. It helps you sit in the position. It straightens out your spine. It allows you to sit in the position, in a good posture for an extended period if your legs are not killing you the way they were me. I am just not flexible. I was not flexible; I still am not flexible in that way.
And eventually, what happened in my mind was sitting in this position, I am only trying to do it because I am being told that this is the best position. But it is not working out for me. So, do I continue to try to sit in this position and adhere to what I have been told or do I move forward continuing to meditate in a more comfortable position on my legs and knees? And as you can imagine, that was the stance that I took. So that type of assessment is only possible if you at least try it. You may sit in that position and find that it is perfect for you, so definitely I am not saying do not try to sit in it. There are lots of voices throughout history that have said that that is the best position to meditate in, but that does not necessarily mean it is going to be the best for you.
I had to dig deep into my mind to understand why and the reason for me is at the time when I began to learn to meditate, my father had either just had knee surgery or was about to go into knee surgery. So, I was very influenced by my not wanting that to be my path later in life. And sitting in a position where it felt like I was tearing my knees apart meant that I was very cognizant of what was happening physically to me because when you study science and genetics and things of that nature, it’s like, well, this is my father, he’s given me his genetic material, does this mean that I will have knee things the way that he does? In my mind, I was trying to eliminate each of those things that I saw that could bring me towards having knee issues later in life. And sitting in a position that brought extraordinary amounts of strain on my thighs and knees seemed to be one of those things that I should get rid of. Not saying that he did that position and that that caused it. That is not what I am saying. But that for me in trying to do that at that time, I was more influenced by my own experience versus the experience of the countless other gurus and masters throughout the eastern religions that have taught to sit in that position. But I would not have come to that decision if I had not attempted the position and attempted it for, I think, I did it for a good year or two, trying to sit in that position and then eventually I just tossed it out the window. But taking the initiative to give it a shot is important because that is how you will find out if you do or do not want to do it. The same as meditation in general. So, let us get into more of the physical stuff. When to meditate.
A routine I would say is best and I think anybody would say is best with it. Those that remember the old school Batman Show, right, same bat time same bat channel, there is something extraordinary and powerful about building a routine and sticking to it at the same time. And once you do this, it is very bizarre and insanely accurate how the biblical timelines come into effect with this. So, I will give you an example of how I have seen it.
Three days and forty days. Three days to know that you can do it. And this works in both ways, whether you are building your routine or trying to erase one. The first day for instance, of trying to do anything, it is easy, right? You have all that enthusiasm. You have all that energy. I am going to do it today. The second day is typically easy as well, may not be. It is more, do I want to continue doing this? Day three though is when the mind just literally goes bonkers. I do not want to do this, or I do want to do this. Back and forth. Back and forth. Usually, a challenge to go three days straight, either trying to do something new or trying to erase something etched in your mind and in your habitual daily activities. But if you do make it past the three days, well how far should you go to truly build that routine into yourself? Well, twenty days did not really seem to be enough. Ten days was not.
There is something spiritually magical about forty days for some reason. I do not know how else to word it than that. Maybe because I have read the bible and you see the forty-day thing all over the place and it is like, “Huh, I should adhere to that number.” But there is something extraordinarily strong about the forty days. And I think I had mentioned that there is something with cellular regeneration that occurs at forty days. I cannot remember the exact thing that happens at forty days, somewhere between thirty-six and forty days of cellular regeneration. But that your body and your mind at the same time are regenerating. And when you can combine them in that way, that is how you enact greater change in yourself.
What I also say is unanimous across anything I have read about meditation is your breathing. Deep breaths to calm you down, slow your roll, bring your awareness into your mind of the present moment by concentrating on your breath. That is what the key is. It is not so much the breath and the breathing even though it is helping, the key is to concentrate on the breath since the difficulty in meditation, of course, especially when you are starting out, is focus. The whole point of what you are trying to achieve is to focus, is to calm down what the yogis have worded as the monkey mind. You are trying to focus on X and for some reason the mind wants to think about every other letter in the alphabet. It just bounces over and over and over again.
Imagining this, thinking about that, or depending on the type of voice that you personally have in your mind, what it is attacking within you for doing the new XYZ thing, in this case meditation. Or for trying to eliminate a routine. Why are you trying to get rid of this? Do not do this new thing. Come back and do this thing. And since I grew up watching Mickey and Donald cartoons, every time I think about this, I remember the Donald Duck cartoons with the angel and the demon on his shoulders. And that inner dialogue of yes and no of good and evil of left or right of up or down. Right? That dualistic nature of the mind of doing something or not doing something and that there is this internal battle occurring from that.
So, is there a correct way to meditate? Well, of course there is a yes and a no to that. I would say if you are new to the practice, adhere to a common routine, give the lotus position a shot since there are benefits to it, but if you do feel your legs tearing apart the way mine were then probably that does not work for you and sitting in a chair upright is fine. I meditate all the time laying down. That is an effective way of producing or influencing yourself to have more powerful dreams. So, if you are looking for more powerful dreams and being able to remember dreams then laying down, meditating, and falling asleep doing that may help influence that as well.
So, it really depends on, I think, where you are at in the spiritual journey. If you are just starting out, that is why it is good to adhere to something that exists already. But if the goal is to break through the maya or the illusion of the world, then adhering to that specific teaching of you must meditate in the lotus position for it is the best position is you still taking part in the maya, especially if the only reason you are doing it is because you are being told that you must do it. So breaking free from that could be an aspect of breaking free from the maya for you. If that is your path. But that obviously depends on how you view your mind while you are meditating.
And I will leave you at that. Until next time.