Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.Marcus Aurelius
My journey of studying spirituality has been a doozie. I came from a family of pastors, rebelled, hit rock bottom in 2010, then dedicated my life to wisdom. After studying Christian mysticism, contemplative prayer, neurotheology, Dzogchen Buddhism, and interspirituality, I feel like I can finally explain my own practice in clear terms.
So this practice is kind of a combination of Dzogchen Buddhism and contemplative prayer. Both are nondual practices. But I like to inject my practice with a dose of gratitude throughout the whole session. It’s very similar to the method Eckhart Tolle teaches.
By being grateful for the infinite peace of the moment, I become full of love, joy, peace, and wisdom. This is the presence of God, but just using non-religious terms.
So, after much trial and error, I feel that I am able to teach spiritual meditation. Combining certain elements of contemplative prayer, Dzogchen Buddhism, nondual awareness, and simple gratitude, here is a powerful practice that will help you achieve a deep sense of peace, joy, love, and wisdom.
You can call it gratitude meditation, spiritual meditation, or a kind of contemplative prayer that doesn’t use the word God. It doesn’t matter. If you use the word God, you will experience God. If you don’t use the word God, you will still experience the Divine (or the Source in Buddhism).
1. Remember Gratitude
Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.Eckhart Tolle
I believe the key to an effective spiritual meditation or prayer is gratitude.
It took me a long time to figure that out. In Christian spirituality, we experience God as infinite love, joy, peace, and wisdom. But I found that if I meditate on infinite love, that feels exactly the same as meditating on God. That’s partially why I came to the conclusion that all spirituality is the same.
But I found that the key piece of experiencing infinite spiritual love in meditation, is gratitude. Whenever we are grateful for something, we experience love for that thing.
If we are grateful for everything that arises in the moment, or grateful for the moment itself, we will experience an infinite spiritual love.
The cool part is that this gratitude meditation doesn’t require you to list out all the things you’re grateful for in life. This is a practice of gratitude for everything that’s happening in the moment.
So, as I outline all the steps of this spiritual meditation for beginners, remember that there is always something to be grateful for during your practice. All through the session, notice sensations that give you pleasure and cultivate gratitude for that pleasure. This builds your gratitude muscle, which is crucial for a deep spiritual meditation.
2. Observe Your Outside Awareness
To begin, start noticing everything in your outside awareness (also called peripheral awareness). This includes any sights, sounds, sensations, and smells.
And yes, noticing sights can be meditation too! You don’t have to close your eyes.
Notice the sensations, then let them go. Remember to breathe deeply.
3. Observe Your Body
Next, get in touch with the sensations of your body. This can be done through what’s called a body scan.
Scan from your head, to your toes and back, noticing any sensations along the way.
For example: Notice the weight of your body against the chair or pillow, any discomfort, as well as cool and warm sensations.
4. Focus On the Breath
Then, focus on the sensation of breath in your nostrils, or lungs. Notice the air moving in and out of your nostrils, or the rising and falling of your lungs.
If any thoughts or emotions distract you, that’s ok! Keep coming back to the breath, and don’t beat yourself up!
Instead, congratulate yourself for remembering to come back to the breath. Positive reinforcement actually trains your unconscious mind to value meditation, which helps you get better at letting go.
5. Let Go Completely
All great spirituality teaches about letting go of what you don’t need and who you are not.Richard Rohr
Lastly, let go of all focus and rest in peaceful awareness. This “orb” of awareness doesn’t have any edge to it, any quality or substance to it, it just is. It’s just resting in your pure being, without any thought or emotion to cloud it.
This is the presence of God, if you have a theistic background. This is also called boundless awareness, the Source, or Ultimate Reality. In Dzogchen Buddhism, this is the technique of “no technique”! This is also called nondual awareness, because the boundary between the self and the universe dissolves. It can also be described as a blissful nothingness.
Pretty cool, huh?
Again, be grateful for the peace your experiencing in this noisy, uncertain world. Let yourself feel the joy of that gratitude. A smile just might spontaneously emerge! Let your sense of being expand and open into infinite fullness.
After some practice, your “letting go muscle” will get really strong. You won’t feel the need to focus on any object, whether it be the breath through the nostrils, the lungs, or peripheral awareness. Then, you can skip straight to grateful, peaceful awareness.
This infinite peace is always available to you. I strongly encourage you to practice this meditation regularly, so it can bring healing to yourself, and to others around you. That is the purpose of meditation!
What is Nonduality? – Michael Taft (teaches at Google)