The meditations in Seven Days of Spiritual Evolution: The Genesis of Personal Transformation are designed to supplement the book’s explorations of spiritual growth. The downloadable ZIP file contains nine audio tracks, a PDF with information about their creators, and a PDF of tips and tricks to be used for overcoming barriers to meditation.
Track 1 – Our Two Bodies (getting in touch with your physical and your spiritual body)
Track 2 – Day 0: Where We Begin (observing your own state of mind)
Track 3 – Day 1: Let There Be Light (experiencing sight after being blind)
Track 4 – Day 2: Rising above It (a meditation on breath)
Track 5 – Day 3: On Solid Ground (a tree as an image of our spiritual growth)
Track 6 – Day 4: Encountering God (opening the door to the Divine)
Track 7 – Day 5: Learning to Swim and Learning to Fly (understanding and releasing your fears)
Track 8 – Day 6: Animated by Love (experiencing goodwill toward all)
Track 9 – Day 7: The Sabbath, the Oneness of Being (becoming one with all things)
Overcoming Barriers to Meditation
By E. Kent Rogers
In leading clients in guided meditation, and also in using it myself, I’ve become aware of a few barriers to effective practice. Most of these barriers are related to anxiety.
Fear of Passivity
The first barrier is the mind’s natural fear of entering a passive state. The sense of self feels that it must be alert and on guard to protect itself at all times. Meditation requires that this guard be let down. Indeed, a central purpose of meditation is to diffuse the sense of self, including its insistence on control. Entering into a state of meditation reveals that great peace and insight await when sense of self loosens its grip over consciousness.
Solution: The solution to the first barrier is willingness and determination. During the meditation session, the meditator must notice the lower mind throwing up resistance, acknowledge what that mind is doing, accept it as one would the sound of a barking dog, and then return to the goal of rising above that sound by focusing on the activity of the meditation, which in this case is to rest the mind on the words being spoken by the guide. The more one chooses to trust the process of meditation, the easier it becomes to make that choice. The mind then begins to enter a meditative state more quickly and more deeply, and the positive results will be felt. The fears of meditation will fade.
Fear of Danger
The second barrier is fear that the meditative state is dangerous. I’ve met a number of people of the Christian faith who believe meditation is spiritually dangerous. I’m not sure where this comes from, since the Lord says that we will know he is God when we are still (Psalm 46:10). There are multiple references to the value of meditation in the Bible, including more than a dozen references in Psalms. Isaac meditated in the field (Genesis 24:63), and Elijah encountered the Lord in the still soft voice (I Kings 19:12). There are also verses that imply the importance of meditating, such as when the Lord says that he stands at the door and knocks and that he will come in to have communion with anyone who hears his voice and opens the door (Revelation 3:20).
Solution: The second barrier can be overcome by trusting that God-focused meditation is not a dangerous activity. Instead, it’s a way of connecting with the Lord in a very deep and moving way. God-focused meditation is a way of rising above mere knowledge about God and discovering a feeling of God’s immediate presence, his peace, and his love. Meditation stills the chattering mind so that God can be heard.
Fear of Foolishness
Another manifestation of fear takes the shape of feeling foolish while meditating, or even scorn toward the idea of meditation. Scorn obviously comes from a bad place—the ego-based mind—and embarrassment arises from the ego’s worry about what others will think of it.
Solution: Notice the feelings of scorn or embarrassment, and understand them as ego-based feelings that are blocking connection with the Divine; then, return the mind to the meditation and engage with it. Just as with the first two fears discussed above, scorn and embarrassment can be dismissed immediately with trust, willingness, and determination.
Fear of Surrendering
A final anxiety-based barrier is unique to guided meditation, and it can be quite strong. The advantage of guided meditation is that the mind can rest on the words of another to lead it into meditative states, rather than having to direct itself while also meditating. On the other hand, the ego is likely to have strong resistance to allowing another human being to lead it in such a way—so deeply, and ideally, so completely. This can be especially true if we feel aversion to the speaker’s tone of voice or speaking mannerisms.
Solution: Know that these meditations have been created with the sole goal of helping the mind feel God’s powerful, loving presence. There are sub-goals that support this end, though, including relaxing both body and mind, becoming aware of any internal states that either block or promote connection with the Lord, gaining insight into his Word, and feeling inwardly connected to others in selfless love. When the ego kicks up anxiety about allowing the voice of another to so completely lead the mind, remind yourself that the purpose of the guide’s voice is to achieve these good goals and, ultimately, to help you feel God’s love for you.
Being Taken by Distractions
In addition to these different fears, becoming distracted is a common barrier to meditation. The mind is easily distracted, especially when it’s already resisting meditation. Distractions might come from the environment, such as from a passing car, or from our physical state, such as the feeling of an itch that is begging to be scratched. Most distractions, however, arise from the mind. In addition to having typical distracting thoughts, it’s not uncommon for the mind to be consistently attacked by truly awful images and thoughts that arise against your will. Consider it an opportunity to strengthen your ability to face such things without emotional engagement and thus eliminate their power.
Solution: In the face of any kind of distraction, simply return the mind to focusing on the meditation. No one rate of breath can accommodate all people, so you may find that some of the recorded instructions to breathe in and out suggest a rate that is not comfortable for you. Don’t worry about this. Simply hear the breathing instructions, and then breathe at your own rate.
Inducing the Body and Mind
Each meditation begins with one of two inductions, both of which are designed to quiet the body and the mind. These inductions also serve as a visual prayer for inviting the Lord’s presence into us. The repetition of the inductions creates familiarity, eliciting a conditioned response that ushers in a state of meditation—the mind jumps quickly to a meditative state through association and habit.
Use any or all of these methods to let down your reservations. I hope you enjoy the meditations.