Best Approaches in Meditation


I've put quite some thought into this insightful blog that can help you discern the best approaches in your meditation practice. The approaches are those that stimulate creativity and productivity in contrast to those that take us into depth consciousness and mystical relationships.

There's quite a bit of insights in the blog for teachers, coaches, and healers, as well as professionals and everyday spiritual practitioners. You will need to read the blog to understand the concluding recommendations on why it is best not to engage both approaches simultaneously.



The word "meditation" is most often used in a generic sense to mean any type of spiritual practice. Since the Herbert Benson study at Harvard, practices that elicit what is called the "relaxation response" have come to be the benchmark for meditation practices. Any practice that helps you lower your stress can, inversely, increase your productivity and creativity, research shows.


In the ancient world of spirituality and mysticism, practices were about "connection" to something more than ourselves. It might be referred to as God, Spirit, Cosmic Person, or by a personal name such as Vishnu, Shiva, or Yahweh. This sense of a sacred other has been lost in the contemporary use of the word meditation, which is why we may have to use mysticism for such practices.


Many people are unaware of the benefits of mysticism while being equally unaware of the limitations of functional meditation, the type that elicits the relaxation response. Yes, there are great benefits to functional meditation, such as creativity and productivity. In this post, we shall establish the value of functional meditation because mysticism depends upon it. However, mysticism goes further and deeper than meditation.




One of the biggest obstacles in authentic mysticism is the tendency to be creative while meditating. Meditation, in its basic forms, is designed to strip down our typical mental functioning, such as conceptualizing, projecting, imagining, and so on. It is particularly hard for artists and teachers of spirituality (yoga included) to meditate because of the natural arising of creative impulse during meditation.


I am presently coaching a student who began her* process with me several years ago. At first, she wanted to manifest a larger outreach in her work. At that time, she harbored a number of self-limiting beliefs around money. I got her started on our Lakshmi program that teaches manifestation while coaching her on various techniques and working through the mental obstruction, essentially negative messaging around money and feelings of unworthiness around receiving the financial status she desires.


This student applied herself well and hung in there for about a year and a half. One of the main programs that I used to coach her was our Lakshmi program on abundance consciousness. These types of practices involve meditation, but there is quite a bit of creativity and productivity involved in the process. One has to be committed to the process and work through various resistances, which is what coaching is about.


In certain forms of Tantric meditation involving manifestation techniques, creativity is essential to the process. For example, we might visualize the financial or material outcome as we recite a mantra. Lakshmi's mantras often include her sacred bija, the seed syllable śrīṁ. And the process takes time, especially if what we want to manifest is not as simple as a parking space on a busy day.


In the middle of last year, this student manifested her dream and desire: an outreach that included a clientele of many hundreds of committed individuals and owning a solid spiritual business. As you can imagine, this is significant. Credit is due to the student and her application. Credit is also due to the resources we provide and our robust coaching process.

However, now, she has less time to meditate. There is so much to do, so many responsibilities. And so, in our recent session, we shifted our coaching process from manifestation to meditation. Even though she was supported by the Secret Life previously, which is our core meditation program, we now need to make that her main program, since she has achieved the outreach goal of a larger student base and improved financial conditions.

Here's an audio extract from that very session conducted not too long ago. *Her privacy is kept intact, which is central to our coaching principles. And even though the pronoun she is used, the student's gender is also kept private.

Many spiritual practitioners who are teachers, healers, or coaches end up not really practicing their spiritual practice in a way that is truly a practice, meaning one that leads to deep and direct spiritual experience. Often, we end up being creative, devising ways of teaching what we are practicing rather than entering deep into our practice as a practitioner. I say "we" because I know this from my own life. 


Others who are not teachers, healers, or coaches who have no obligation to be disciplined in daily meditation practice have other resistances. They are bored, or they settle for "functional practices," the kinds that help productivity and calm the mind or relieve stress. Mysticism does not begin, nor does deeper spiritual experience unfold in either instance.




What is the solution? In The Secret Life, we learn a method that begins with "functional meditation," especially learning to sit still when we are exceptionally busy, calming ourselves when our responsibilities create anxiety, and being willing to value ourselves enough to care for ourselves with the connection to the divine we crave but don't attend to because there's too much else to think about.


Functional meditation, however, only takes us to the door, the threshold of mystical consciousness. Our distracted mind or our disturbed emotions may easily kick us off that threshold, but there are effective methods to stand our ground. And then, as we persist at that doorway of our inner temple, we can encounter the direct experience of divinity, not as a concept, but in a felt sense and with authenticity.


One of the ways we build up our resilience over the day is through engaging the Secret Life method in very short intervals of 90 seconds each. We do this five times a day, and the accrual of the consciousness we tap in these short periods of chronological time is nothing less than life-altering. The Psalms tell us that "A day in the house of the Lord is like a thousand years come and gone." If we can tap into a quality of Presence, even for 90 seconds, that nurturing power will carry us to the next 90-second interval. And then, when we sit for meditation, we can hold our own at the threshold of that Divine Temple within us all.

An added benefit of functional meditation is that not only does it lay the ground for authentic mystical experience, but it also results in greater productivity and efficiency at work. We have more energy, and the mind is better organized.


On the one hand, functional meditation often fails to take us all the way into the engagement of divine encounter, which is the domain of mysticism. On the other hand, we cannot engage in authentic mysticism without the foundation of functional meditation practice.

The recommendation is to master functional meditation, which is the ability to sit still and silent while focusing inward and effectively managing your inner reality. Deeper practices or relationships with the divine, as well as creative practices of visualization, both depend on this foundation.

Suppose we are engaging in creative visualization or manifestation techniques without strong functional meditation practice as a base. In that case, we endanger all sorts of unwanted influences from negatively affecting our process, including the effects of our negative thoughts, projections, and fears.

Similarly, when we are seeking to connect deeply with the divine through an intimate one-on-one relationship in the depths of our awareness, we still require strong functional meditation practice as a base. Otherwise, a superficial connection, sentimentality, or substitutions for an authentic relationship can surreptitiously condition our experience without us even knowing it.


If you need to practice manifestation, use a separate time for that process. If you want to connect deeply with the divine, use a separate time for that. For example, do manifestation meditation in the morning and relationship meditation in the evening.

If you are anxious about your finances, do not do manifestation practices in the morning. Use the morning for intimacy with the divine, for relationship meditation. In the evening, when you are relaxed at the end of a busy day, do your manifestation meditation practice.

If you are happy with your finances but wish to manifest certain qualities in your consciousness, meaning you are wanting to manifest qualities rather than things, do your manifestation practice in the morning. In the evening, practice a relationship with the divine in your meditation, wanting nothing other than a sacred intimacy.

As we get deeper into Tantric practice, manifestation techniques also function as a type of mysticism. Everything we do and manifest is built on our relationship and intimacy with the divine and various divine functions. However, our capacity for various levels of discernment precedes it.


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