Six stages of beginning, intermediate, & advanced meditation
- Excerpted from the summary page on Beginning, Intermediate, and
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
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
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
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
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