Active Meditation is sometimes argued as being the most rewarding for the beginner - particularly for those whose outward life style is full of mental stimulation. In the early stages of practice, it is often difficult for such people to make the transition from much mental activity to that of complete passivity.
However, it should be stressed that the whole idea of meditation is to calm the mind and inner being. It is therefore essential that the usual relaxation procedures should be followed before beginning, otherwise the worries of everyday life can easily intrude. (see Relaxation)
Active Meditation normally requires the person to concentrate on something more specific than in Passive Meditation, and mental and visual interaction is often required - although, in this area too, it is not productive to try to analyse any impressions received until after the event.
Visualisation is a very common form of meditation, and is perhaps easier because all of us are used to conjuring up images in our normal lives. When we use our imagination, we "picture" the situation, rather than "think" it.
For example, if we are told about someone slipping up on a banana, we tend to actually see them falling in our mind's eye, and may find ourselves wincing at the idea.
There are numerous tapes and CDs of "guided meditations" on the market, that can help us to imagine ourselves in various forms of activity, and possibly this is the best way to begin. Most of these are designed to heal, relax and refresh, and are extremely useful for the beginner.
Often music alone can conjure up the most wonderful images, and touches something within us that opens up our spiritual selves.
Even when guided, some unexpected images often appear, and you might find these very enlightening, for most times they will hold significant information about yourself.
However, it maybe easy to picture things as if we are watching a film in progress, but it is not so easy to move into the film, and participate in events. In other words to get emotionally involved in the process as if we are actually there.
If you want to practice this, then try touching the image you are seeing, or feeling the spray of the sea on your face etc. If you can achieve this involvement it greatly enhances development, but does take a little practice.
This form of visualisation is used in Temple Work and is sometimes known as Astral Travelling (as opposed to Astral Projection which is discussed in another section).
Some people prefer to take part in "Rituals", where they visualise what they wish to happen, and then actually act it out - like role playing - and this can be particularly valuable in spiritual development.
Contemplation is probably the most commonly used method of all, and many of us do it automatically without even realising it. In fact the word actually indicates a long and thoughtful observation of a subject or situation. However, this certainly does not mean "agonising" over anything, which is all too easy to do if we feel weighed down by circumstance.
When we try to rush into making decisions, we can stir ourselves up instead of finding solutions. But if we give ourselves time, and a quiet space to muse on the subject in a more objective manner, quite often the answers come more easily, for our judgment is less impaired by emotional reactions.
Obviously contemplation can take place anywhere - as long as it is a solitary perusal. It is quite possible to do it whilst cleaning the car or doing the housework, but many people feel that the best results can be found in the countryside or by the sea.
Nature has a particularly strong restorative affect and, when surrounded by the enormity of the elements, our personal worries can be put into better perspective.
The power, and force, and beauty of the elements is a gift we have all been freely given and - even when we live in the bustle of towns and cities - there is always a lake, a park, a tree, or even a fountain, if we bother to notice them.
The key is to find something of beauty to uplift you, and harness your concentration on that, before starting to mull over the subject concerned. Allow thoughts to enter your mind, and think creatively as to how you can actively bring the more positive ideas into play in your life, and how can you most constructively use the information .
Don't look for judgements or decisions, just peruse on the subject.
Above all it is important to prepare properly for any form of meditation, by moving away from outside interference and ensuring you are fully relaxed before you begin.
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