Copyright (c) 1987 John Caris
One important meditative technique centers on visual images, for the way we visualize the world deeply affects our knowledge of it and influences our behavior and attitudes. Because of its importance techniques for visualizing are practiced throughout human society. One can visualize with either the eyes open or closed. Closing the eyes is probably easier because external stimuli are absent; however, keeping the eyes open can be extremely useful, especially when in an everyday situation.
Visualizing one's hands is a helpful exercise. First look at your hands and then close your eyes and "see" them. When the visual image dims, open your eyes and repeat the process. Gradually, you will form a sharp image. Next visualize the hands aging; watch them grow old. Once they have, reverse the procedure and see them growing younger until they are the hands of a baby. While visualizing your hands, become acquainted with them. Touch, feel, and gently massage them. Identify muscle knots and congested areas. Soon you will discover the lines of binding. As your hands become more relaxed, these lines of binding will dissolve. Say to yourself, as you relax your hands, "Let go. Let go." Familiarity with your hands will strengthen your ability to visualize them.
Other parts of the body can be concentrated on for relaxing purposes. How much time and love have you given to your feet? Touch, feel, and gently massage them. Compare your little toes to your little fingers. How much dexterity do they have! Exercise them. In fact, exercise all your fingers and toes. The wearing of shoes has bound our feet and made many distortions in the original pattern. Although society requires some sort of footwear, we can at least keep our feet healthy, remembering that our body is a whole system and that each part is innerconnected with all the other parts.
Modern shoes throw the center of balance onto the ball of the foot. So we moderns, constantly off-balance, go lunging through life never stopping lest we fall on our noses. A properly designed shoe tends to bring the center of balance back onto the vertical axis of the body. The vertical axis must be in its natural position if the body's energy system is to function correctly. There is a line of thought that proposes that bare feet make a better contact with the earth's energy and that those who wear shoes, because of their insulation, often have energy crises. No wonder the Christian mystic St. Teresa of Avila tried to reform the Carmelite order by refusing to wear shoes. Many followed her by going barefoot, but eventually the resistance of the inert shoe wearers was too much.
Loosening the binding of the hands, feet, and remainder of the body will help one's breathing exercises. In yoga one learns the different levels of breathing and their occasions. The levels range from the short, quick breath to the long, deep breath. Deep breathing stretches the diaphragm and increases the energy flow in the groin region. Visualize the image of Buddha sitting in a lotus position. Notice the openness of the groin-pelvic area. With the help of gravity the diaphragm is pulled down along the backbone. The abdominal and groin regions fill with breath and energy. The diaphragm snaps back expelling the air, and the process is repeated. The Hindus believe that human breath should be in tune with the breathing of the universe.
Once the body is in a relaxed state and breathing is regulated, you are at the gateway. Step through and discover the still point. This is a mental state in which you are able to weather the storms of both external and internal energy. This is one of the mansions in St. Teresa's interior castle. Here you can program your body consciousness. You cannot force yourself through the gateway; you glide through when you are prepared.
Another technique for developing body consciousness is the crossed eye focus or sometimes called the third foot focus. Consider the painter sighting along the thumb extended at arm's length. Focusing on the thumb, one perceives the background in double image and often as fuzzy. Turning the focus to the background, one sees a double image of the thumb. The crossed eye focus sharpens and extends the visual field. It can be used to superimpose one image onto another, which creates a stereo-image. Try the crossed eye focus with the following sets of visual images. Focus your left eye on the left image and your right eye on the other. Now bring them together until a sharp 3D image is formed. After finishing the visualizing exercises, try this focus with your feet or thumbs. Place them a few inches apart and bring the two images together. With practice you can use the focus any time you want. Now for the visualizing exercises.
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