The Power of the Mind
Success in meditation is determined by how dynamically we channel our mind and consciousness. In her book Grace, Nancy Mair tells how we can use our minds to attune to the subtle truth of anything we do. Her story below has great implications for everyone who meditates.
I first understood the power of the mind and how greatly it can effect change when it was demonstrated in my own life. I was an avid downhill ski racer during my high school years.One year, I returned from summer racing camp with high enthusiasm and began my preseason training in July. I trained hard and diligently, three to four hours every day.
In early winter, the snows finally came. Going down my first practice course of the season, I caught a tip on a gate, fell, and tore a tendon and ligaments in my ankle.
I was in a cast until nearly the end of the ski season. I missed skiing tremendously, and under the circumstances, the only way I could enjoy it was by visualizing myself going down the slopes. I added to my mental pictures the many new pointers I had received from the coaches at ski camp. I mentally skied any time of day or night that I felt like it. It was the only way for me to appease my deep longing for the exhilaration of skiing.
My cast was eventually taken off, and I was ready to get back on the slopes the final few weeks of the season. My first day out, I discovered my skiing had improved to such an extent that my coach didn’t even recognize me as I made my first enthusiastic runs down the mountain. I couldn’t believe the change myself. My coach approached me at the end of the day and asked me how I had managed to improve so dramatically without being able to practice. I told him that I had been skiing in my mind, executing turns over and over again. He was astonished by my answer.
That summer when I returned to racing camp, the coaches there could hardly believe their eyes. They, too, asked how I managed to makes such phenomenal progress in my skiing, because they had never seen anyone change so much in just one year. I told them that I did as they had suggested the previous summer and pictured in my mind the way I should be skiing. I was unhindered by the actual physical practice, and I never failed to make the turns correctly in my mind. Once my mind “understood,” my body simply followed along.
Every day I mentally skied exactly the way I wanted to — and my body learned how in reality by my focusing clearly, and with deep concentration. I had no idea that my thoughts were actually making any changes. It wasn’t until I was back on the slopes that I realized the importance of what I had been doing.
Just as Nancy became more proficient in her sport by “skiing in her mind,” practicing visualization techniques can greatly enhance your experience of meditation. Visualizations, Swami Kriyananda said, “help awaken the memory of your deeper reality.” Visualizations are effective because they powerfully direct and attune your will, mind, and consciousness to God.
I once had a dream that taught me about the power of thought in an exhilarating way. In the dream, I was standing on a hill overlooking a small lake. While I was gazing at the lake, a friend walking by said to me, “Go ahead, Bharat. You can fly.”
So I began to fly.
My flight path rose and fell with the rolling topography of the surrounding foothills. After going a short distance, I thought, “Why not fly in a straight line and become free of the land below.”
Immediately, I found myself flying strong and true — free from earthly limitation.
Then, feeling that there was more to experience, I said to myself, “Why not just ‘go’ there? Flying seems so slow.”
Instantly, I arrived at my destination. Time and space were seemingly conquered — at least during my flight-dream!
This dream taught me that by focusing and directing the mind I could experience increasingly deeper levels of being. Similarly, Swami Kriyananda’s visualization, The Spiritual Eye Meditation, guides you beyond physical limitation to subtler and subtler levels of soul awareness.
The spiritual eye is the reflection of the inner spine, which is composed of three concentric channels of energy. Its outer golden ring represents the astral world; its circular blue field, the causal world; and its silvery star, Cosmic Consciousness. When the life force is interiorized after meditation techniques like Hong Sau, this visualization directs your energy and consciousness more deeply into the channels of the inner spine where soul bliss resides.
In this visualization, you imagine the golden tunnel of light of the astral world and “feel… a glorious sense of happiness and freedom,” and visualize the blue field of the causal world, and “expand your consciousness into that light” and experience “infinite freedom and bliss.”
During meditation, we often use visualizations. For example, we may imagine the guru sitting within our body magnetizing our effort, or we might imagine we are sitting on a bluff overlooking the ocean, feeling the waves flowing in and out as our breath.
“Imagination is the beginning of creation,” said George Bernhard Shaw, and imagining spiritual realities is a dynamic step toward perceiving these realities. Jesus Christ said to pray believing; it is essential that we imbue every moment of meditation with positive, soul-affirmation. God is a God of joy; to experience His bliss we should meditate with the strong mental attitude of inner joy and freedom.
Two excellent resources for visualizations are Swami Kriyananda’s book, Awaken to Superconsciousness and the Metaphysical Meditations CD, which contains thirteen guided meditations based on the mystical poetry of Paramhansa Yogananda.
Paramhansa Yogananda wrote:
As your body is the little body,
so God’s body is space,
and if you want to feel Him,
feel space in the body,
and all space beyond it.
Do you have a favorite visualization you’ve found extremely beneficial? If you have one, would you please share it with us?
May you always delight in the joy of your soul,
Nayaswami Bharat for the Daily Meditator