Archetypal Meditation
© 2004 by Ed Hirsch

Preface: Donít get lost in techniques. Follow what feels simple and natural. Anchor in primary Unity, and let that unfold and evolve. Rather than a mechanical practice of a method or theory, this practice becomes a Way of Communion and Teaching that reveals itself.

The vertical (Yang, "Heaven") and the horizontal (Yin, "Earth") are primary differentiations of Unity (Tao). Together they form a cross, generating Above-Below and Inner-Outer, and the three archetypes I call the Above, the Within (the point of intersection), and the Around. We experience the One Presence as Transcendent ("Higher Power"), as Immanent within us ("Indwelling Light"), and as Immanent around us ("Universal Life"). In Christian terms, these correspond to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but the archetypes are universal. They are finite, spatial metaphors for differentiations of the One (infinite, nonspatial) Presence. In practice, the three archetypes are correlated with the threefold breath (inhale, retention, exhale) and body (head, trunk, limbs).

First, experience each archetype as a meditation in itself, combining deep sensing (Earth), feeling (Water), breathing (Air), and visualizing (Fire). Simple affirmations might also be used.

Above: This practice is based on a sense of Aligning (or Alignment) with the One as Verticality ("One," "I" and "Yes"). You can enhance this by placing the palms together at the brow with fingertips pointing upwards, extending the arms upwards, or by standing. Feel your whole body/being as "I," and experience the levels of your being (including head, heart, and hara), all aligned as one with the One Presence. Inhale, receive downwards; exhale, release upwards. Or you might inhale, drawing upward from Below to Above, exhaling and receiving downwards.

Within: This practice is based on a sense of Centering, with the One as Center. You might use the hand gesture of placing the palms over the heart, or the palms together at the heart. Breathe and sense into the heart as a way of going into Center or Depth. Experience this as "I" that goes beyond the personal sense of oneself. Inhale, expand from Center; exhale, deepen into Center (or inhale, deepen; exhale, expand).

Around: This practice is based on the sense of Expanding to the Universal One, as a sense of All-Pervading Being. You might use the hand gesture of palms held up and facing outwards. Feel connected to the Whole, one with the Whole of Being. Inhale, receive from the Whole; exhale, release to the Whole (or inhale, expand to the Whole; exhale, contract to Center).

Three-in-One: Visualize the Above as a Sun or Source of Light above you. On the inhales, draw down its Light through the crown of the head, aligning with the Light. On the retentions, feel the Indwelling Light. On the exhales, release the Light in all directions, to all beings. You might use the three hand gestures with the three aspects of the breath in this meditation, or simply keep the hands still. In addition to visualization and gesture, you can mentally intone "AH" on the receiving of the Light (Yin) and "OH" on the releasing of the Light (Yang). Alternately, inhale and draw from both Above and Below into the heart, letting them blend on the retention. Exhale and radiate in all directions (Around).

The meditation might have several phases: 1)(Earth) Preparation: Draw in the Light, setting your intention; exhaling, clear a space by releasing tension and concerns. 2)(Water) Purification: Channel the Light to clear mind, heart, and body. 3)(Air) Service: Become a clear channel for the Light into the world, for the Eternal into Time. Freely receive, freely give. 4)(Fire) Unity: the Above, Within, and Around merge into One Presence. Abide in/as That. 5)(Ether) Integration: Combine all of these into daily living, as the practice transforms your sense of God, self, world.

The conventional sense of self and other, of space and time, of body and mind, are all transcended and negated, and then renewed as living forms of the One Presence. The personal "I am," the "here-and-now" are transcended or emptied into the transpersonal "I AM," the universal "Here," and the eternal "Now," and these in turn are emptied into the personal and practical. This happens in both formal and informal practice, even in the duration of one breath.

Ed Hirsch: Writings