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Six stages of beginning, intermediate, & advanced meditation

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    Excerpted from the summary page on Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced meditation: http://www.swamij.com/bia.htm The phrases Beginning, Intermediate, and
    Message 1 of 1 , May 28, 2005
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      Excerpted from the summary page on Beginning, Intermediate, and
      Advanced meditation:
      http://www.swamij.com/bia.htm

      The phrases Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced are being used here
      solely because we are all familiar with this language. There is no
      intent here to categorize, classify, or label people by the use of
      these terms. Rather, it should allow you to easily see the universal
      process of meditation more clearly. You might also find it useful in
      observing your progress. The six subcategories below are very broad,
      applying to virtually any system of meditation. This outline attempts
      to capture the entire process of meditation, from beginning to the
      height of enlightenment. By understanding this general process, it is
      much easier to learn and do the practices themselves.

      BEGINNING: In the Beginning stages of practice, you think that you
      are meditating, while you are actually still learning methods. This
      is a pleasant time of learning, as benefits start to come from
      practicing.

      1) FOUNDATION, LIFESTYLE, MEDITATION IN ACTION: Successfully
      practicing meditation requires having a well balanced lifestyle and a
      basic degree of self awareness, as can be cultivated in daily life.
      In this foundation stage, you cultivate practices and attitudes such
      as non-harming, lovingness, compassion, and acceptance. Primitive
      urges for food, sleep, sex, and self-preservation are seen and wisely
      regulated. Balanced lifestyle and meditation in action brings
      stability of mind.

      2) ESTABLISHING THE PRACTICE OF MEDITATION: Building upon that solid
      foundation, you can more easily learn the actual practices of
      meditation, while these first two stages are somewhat done together.
      You establish a regular time and place for meditation each day,
      develop your sitting posture, and learn to work with and train the
      senses, body, breath, and mind. Individual techniques are learned and
      repeated over and over, coordinating them systematically.

      INTERMEDIATE: In the Intermediate stages, you have a pretty good
      grasp of the process of meditation. The practices already learned are
      being improved upon, and new practices are being integrated with them.

      3) STABILIZING AND REFINING YOUR PRACTICES: During this important
      phase, determination is developed to stay with the practices, gently
      learning and growing. It is a time for gaining proficiency in the
      methods already learned. New methods or alterations of existing
      methods are learned and integrated into the practices. You are
      beginning to get a feel for the nature of the whole process of
      meditation, and how to integrate other practices such as
      contemplation, prayer, and mantra.

      4) TRAINING AND CALMING THE CONSCIOUS MIND: Here, you can easily calm
      the conscious mind. The days of the "noisy" mind are behind you. You
      can easily regulate your breath, balance the energies, and find peace
      of mind. The process of meditation is clear, as you spend your time
      practicing rather than learning methods. Many people stop here, as if
      this calmness is the goal of meditation. Actually, it is the
      prerequisite for true meditation leading to subtler direct experience.

      ADVANCED: In the Advanced stages, you have a solid foundation in
      understanding the process of meditation, as well as practicing
      meditation. You now explore and transcend the subtler aspects of your
      inner world.

      5) EXPLORING AND PURIFYING THE UNCONSCIUS MIND: Now you are ready to
      explore the normally unexamined inner world. The deep unconscious
      that might have previously been avoided is now invited to come
      forward for introspection. Principles such as the four functions of
      mind (manas, chitta, ahamkara, and buddhi) are seen quite clearly.
      The inner process speeds up as more and more of the deep impressions
      driving karma are seen, examined, and weakened in the depths of
      meditation.

      6) GOING THROUGH AND BEYOND THE MIND: After accepting the unconscious
      material, you leave behind memories, pictures, and words. You examine
      and explore the inner instruments themselves, such as the subtle
      energies and elements, which are the very building blocks of
      ourselves as individuals. Gradually, you move past even these,
      traveling into and through even the subtlest channel of light and
      sound, to the absolute reality of who you really are as pure being or
      consciousness.

      For a copy of the summary page:
      http://www.swamij.com/bia.htm
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