In a previous post, I categorized meditation into 3 broad types, depending on the purpose: relaxation, healing others (sending energy), or transformation. But, is all meditation safe to practice without a teacher? Is any meditation you do on your own likely to be effective?
First, let’s look at a meditation that is risk-free and effective without the need for much guidance: meditation for relaxation. During this type of meditation, you typically focus on your body to relax and release tension. Gentle breaths and listening to recorded sounds of nature with gentle instructions can help you become more aware of your body – and therefore the tension. Forceful exhalations can push out stagnant energies. It turns out that focused awareness, coupled with deeper breathing, is effective for decompressing from your day, regaining balance, and healing.
A long time ago, I practiced Vipassanna meditation. In my late teen’s, I took a 10-day vow of silence at a retreat and immersed myself in continuous awareness of bodily sensations, which were always changing. I am not sure that this approach would have led me to transformation, but it taught me to focus and to be present without expectations. I also learned that I am a process in constant flux.
Later, I would supplement relaxation with a conscious intention of gratitude, or even a heartfelt and relaxed smile. Smiling, it turns out, is a very healing practice! I learned this from the Tibetan Buddhists…. Smiling – authentic smiling in the face of fear or pain – can be very powerful in diffusing the fear and pain. A heart smile has the ability to shift what you identify with….
Let’s now look at meditation when you have the intention to transform – to break free from illusory perception of life and relate to life as it really is. In this case, it is nearly impossible to make progress without guidance. Why is that?
To answer this question, we need to talk about what may happen during meditation for transformation. If you have a profound yearning to know reality at a core level, then that intention will eventually invite the energy of the infinite into your cocoon of limitations. This energy will work to loosen and release anything that is not the true you, while amplifying any imbalances to be balanced.
As the dust of old and impacted perceptions rises, you are not likely to feel relaxed at all. In fact, you may go through periods of confusion and depression, all the while continuing to release what is not you and evolving your connection to life. You will likely feel stirred up and live in that state for some time, waxing and waning.
As the energy of transformation does its work, you may begin to remember old trauma and become clearly aware of your sense of unworthiness (that almost everyone carries), which can present either as arrogance or as self-deprecation and self-judgement. If you are meditating on your own as all of this dredges up – possibly at a rapid rate – you may fall into even deeper depression and become overwhelmed by what you carry. Some can become too depressed to function and collapse.
If you are getting guidance from a teacher who knows what they are doing, that teacher can help you to safely stabilize and redirect your attention to recognize and let go of anything that is not you. But you must keep reaching out to the teacher. You must engage the support – that is also part of the learning. Then you can learn to safely adjust the pace of release and continue to clear everything that is no longer serving your life.
I do not believe that teachers should be paid for this work – but that is just me. I feel that helping a soul that is burning to birth is just one of those things some people can do without turning it into a business. In this case, you would get much more than you would ever pay for, so the argument that “money is an energy exchange” is full of holes.
Transformation is typically unpleasant – we carry pain, fear, and unresolved emotions – and they will all need to be seen and possibly relived. However, there will also be glimpses of bliss and freedom. Can you stop this process anytime? Maybe…. Once the process begins, you realize that it is not that easy to walk away from it – even if you think you’ve had enough. Now that you know there is more and you can’t unknow that. You can pause, slow down, but probably the seed will remain in you and continue to sprout.
To let go of the illusory self, you must keep building your strength to keep going. In addition to the meditation practice, you may need to see a counselor, where you can talk freely about your feelings and thoughts that come up so that these can be integrated. You may also need to adjust your diet and fluid intake to include less processed food and nourish you.
As you meditate more and more, you may also gain greater sensitivity to other forces at play in our reality. You may directly “pick up” on the emotions of others, thinking that these are your emotions – which they are not. You may begin to sense the thoughts of others. You may also attract entities – energies – that you definitely don’t want near or around you. In fact, because many entities are shapeshifters and lie about who they are – it’s generally better to send them away. “But it is an Ascended Master teaching me directly!”
It is highly unusual for Ascended Masters to contact those at the beginning of their spiritual unfolding, and there is a good chance that a presenting entity is not what it claims – that intruder will just add to your confusion. You know you need to stop meditating for awhile when you begin to experience “voices” telling you what to do.
In extreme cases, some people may feel like they are losing their sanity. Others may begin to feel grandiose – like they are on a divine mission and are receiving direct messages from God. No – the days of prophets are over and souls need no one in the middle! Delusions of grandeur and importance are signs that someone is collapsing and imploding under the weight of their Ego. That is why a teacher is so important to this process. A real teacher.
This cautionary tale of meditation is not new information, and old yogic texts provide plenty of warnings about opening up too much, too soon, and without appropriate guidance. Although some teachers who claim to teach meditation may have the ability to ignite opening in a practitioner, these teachers rarely have the practical knowledge to stabilize the practitioner when stuff stirs up. Such teachers may even denigrate their student in subtle or overt ways to save face in light of their inabilities – “He (or she) wasn’t ready. This is what happens when one isn’t ready.” Then, the practitioner is left on his or her own to either literally sink or swim. Some, unfortunately, end up with a mental illness diagnosis and become lost. My sense is that there are many souls who live with the belief that they are crazy, but are actually those who opened too fast and needed to be taught how to handle the changes better. Those who are not meant to teach will eventually see their “students” leave, one by one. Only those with deep karmic ties will remain.
The reality is that life is more complex than some idealized progression of evolution, where a student enters on the path of opening with a crystal clear heart and unfolds without any complications. The reality is that most of us have baggage, but may also have intense yearning for true freedom. Of course this will trigger awakening, but of a more messy kind. And someone capable can step in to help, if asked.
No true teacher would abandon a soul that needs support and will help that soul reset and restabilize – or guide them to someone else who can do this. In fact, we are entering an era of many messy awakenings, and the need for a compassionate response by those who know is now paramount. The need for more awakened souls is great and urgent! We can only light a candle because someone lit our’s…..
In the earlier stages of my practice, I often wondered why more people were unwilling to want enlightenment – a permanent state of unconditional happiness and a deeper understanding of reality. It’s no secret that most people are not interested in this and want a fulfilled life. Then, I realized that people must have a natural safeguard to protect them from potentially premature and destabilizing experiences. Such natural safeguards must be honored. After all, transformation is definitely not all there is to life, and it is not necessary for everyone at any given time.
The yearning ones still regularly get tangled up with teachers who can’t handle the more intense changes in a practitioner – and this is just their way. It is necessary to understand that, after the ignition with such a teacher, you may need to find another, more humble, compassionate, and capable being to guide you the rest of the way. While igniting someone is relatively easy, taking them across the turbulence safely requires much much more evolution.
So, how do you know if a teacher can help you, or if they will vanish or disavow you when they realize their limitations? You may not know. Just know that your life is not necessarily forfeit if you happen to stumble on transformative energy and put your intention out to attract someone to you who will truly help. You will need to walk through fire, of sorts, and maybe that is just your way. So what? It ended up being my way. There is no one way.
Transformation is not a formula because our beings are not formulaic. Anyone who marginalizes you for not fitting a mold is either a coward or has not sufficiently matured. So what?
Be confident that your life will unfold in whatever is your way. You will stand strong without a middleman. Remember that if you reach out for support when you feel like you are drowning, you will receive it – one way or another. Life requires your initiative and intention, and responds – this is the key to living through challenges that venture into the unknown. This unknown is our birth, bithright, rebirth, and truth.