“The essence of many meditation techniques is learning to fold your attention inward instead of outward.” — Guru Tua
“The inward journey is the experience of higher states of consciousness. These states exist beyond, waking, dreaming, and sleeping. It is a journey into the transcendent. Hence, an experience of awareness and existence outside of time. When you are ready, it may also include a journey into other realms and landscapes. This is the Shamanic Journey.” — Guru Tua
Learning How to Fold Your Attention Inward
Bringing your attention inward is the step that makes most internal meditation techniques possible. It’s a fundamental skill on which many forms of meditation are based, and these are some basic tricks that help you focus attention. When we close our eyes, our natural tendency is to fall asleep. So, we must use one of two basic techniques to keep this from happening.
First, we can sit up. When the spine is erect, we have more of a tendency to remain awake and alert. Another method we can use when laying down is to engage the mind with sound and imagination. This second strategy is the essence of the Shaman Journey, or what some call Guided Meditation. This a rebranding of the Shamanic Journey to make it more marketable in the West. Here, the sound of a drum keeps the traveler from falling asleep.
These are two techniques that allow you to fold your attention inward while minimizing the active mind’s interference. Another complementary process is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation has a seated and moving form. The moving component is the internal aspect of Forest Bathing.
The Essence of Seated and Moving Meditation Techniques
This concept also applies to many forms of moving meditation. For instance, Tai Chi is a system where one learns to transfer energy from the internal to the external. It is a way of expanding observational awareness. When done correctly, we fold our attention inward to bring internal energy through the body. When we learn moving meditation, the natural tendency is to focus all attention outward, but this is only half of the process. So, we are not grounded or connected. As the movements become automatic, we can bring our attention inward while in motion.
First, bring your attention to your breath. When we focus on our breath, it moves our attention inward. You don’t want to alter the breath; learn to observe it. Now, watch the body. Once you can monitor what’s going on with your physical body and your normally automatic actions of the breath, you can take it down another level.
The final step involves the visualization of energy. Picture your spine as a highway filled with energy. And then radiate this energy to all parts of your body. While you are doing this, keep observing the body and breath. It’s an easy way to fold your attention inward while moving.
Almost all meditation techniques require some level of inward focus. Learning how to do this is easy. All we need to do is remember to do it.
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(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia