In a series of recent Keys we’ve explored the terrain of collective intelligence. Creating breakthroughs that enable the emergence of new futures by raising individual and collective performance and building the capacity to respond at the highest levels in the face of challenge and opportunity is the propelling inquiry guiding me in this adventure.
To further develop this capacity-building inquiry and to discover how individuals and teams can respond productively and creatively, in this article, part 1 of a series of three, I invite you to focus on five meditation techniques that I have been practicing for more than three decades.
Each of the five meditations have their nature and discovery power. Meditation is not an end in itself. Its practices represent a set of modalities and techniques tailored to catalyze change and create an impact. For example, each of the five techniques I will describe has its own utility, and discovery power. In this Key I will cover the first two meditations, leaving descriptions of the other three for the next two articles.
Listen here: The Five Meditations — Part 1
The latest brain science shows the extraordinary extent of plasticity in the brain — its capacity for continuous change and its ability to grow new neural pathways and recast the landscape of your world. While there are undesired and destructive brain pathways that bring about pain and suffering and are harmful to our health, there also are pathways that facilitate joy, exhilaration, growth, and healing. Although it is human to feel and experience the full range of human emotions, meditation practices have the power to transform the topography of your brain and thereby your experience by applying awareness and attention to the pathways on which you choose to focus.
For many years, I have operated at the edge of human performance in several specific fields. As result, I have enjoyed profoundly rewarding experiences, encounters with special people, and exceptional success in my work. The practices I share here helped guide me through challenging events, when I simply was not sure how I would find the courage or strength to pull off the demanding test I was facing.
By applying similar meditation practices, you too can become centered, improve your mental and overall health, and guide your professional and personal endeavors to achieve extraordinary results that exceed your goals and enhance what matters most to you.
In the first meditation technique, mindfulness, I observe thoughts and feelings as they arise so I can identify and release them. Central to this practice is a differentiating awareness: I am not my thoughts and I am not my feelings.
Each individual embodies a multi-processing system. We process a broad spectrum of energies, wavelength qualities, and emotions. Having internalized this realization in my mid-twenties, I resolved to refrain from saying “I am sad,” or “I am angry,” or “I am sick” because I am none of these feelings. Rather, I experience sadness, happiness, anger, and excitement, and on occasions I may experience depletion and sickness. The realization was that when I say or think “I am sad,” I am telling myself a lie. The truth is I may be processing the energy of sadness for any number of reasons but the “I” inside is never sad because I am not what I experience or what I feel or what I think.
There is a caveat to the above statement. If I think or feel something for a long time, I risk creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. That is, if I believe and identify with that experience and the story I create about it, I accept the lie as truth.
Witnessing awareness (mindfulness) is a way of paying attention. By being present in the moment in a non-judgmental way, I create a space that allows me to recognize thoughts and experiences rather than identify with or react to thoughts or feelings. This awareness enables me gently to let the thought/feeling fade away or find a different resting place.
Expanding my mindfulness creates a growing space in which I gain a heightened awareness of the presence of life and consciousness that are there before the thought/feeling arises and after it fades. Through this presence I become cognizant of the “I” that finds an anchor in the individuated life that I am — a presence that comes out of something that has continuance, that existed before this transitory appearance and will continue after the individuated expression that I am is gone. That’s one outcome I experienced by practicing the first meditation technique, mindfulness.
2. Interior printing
The second meditation technique is interior printing. I use the term printing because the process involves a 3D-like mental imagery that fashions, molds, catalyzes and prints inside the human system.
The two main applications of this meditation that I have practiced for decades are interior printing at rest and interior printing through exercise and exertion. They include a range of imagery and visualization procedures inside the body and energy field. I initially discovered the power of internal printing through the practice of imagery at age 12, when I was competing in long distance cross-country races. Learning to visualize and print the inner state of how I intended to feel in my body and how I intended my legs to feel during the uphill and then the downhill helped me win the Israeli championship.
To test the state I was trying to create, I practiced this visualization first while sitting restfully and then while exerting myself by running hard. After winning the championship and other competitions, I continued to develop these meditative practices.
In the decades that followed, I practiced a whole range of self-printing techniques while swimming, exercising, sitting, or lying on my back. Practicing somatic awareness and focusing attunement revealed that I could use interior printing to change my inner state and accelerate the healing processes. For example, I can breathe into my foot to release a pain there and visualize a vibrantly healthy respiratory system, or any other system I’ve chosen.
These practices involve a variety of techniques, including the visualization of specific hues in the body and the energy field. For example, light blue, light yellow and vibrant red each bring forward a different energetic quality and nutriment. I’ve practiced and applied virtue- and quality-feeling printing to produce the energetic quality of the desired state — courage, compassion, resilience, strength, forgiveness, ease, vitality, joy — in any part of my system (body and aura) by 3D printing inside that state experience.
I am not talking about merely positive thinking. I am describing a specific behavior shaped by a specific state that is activated internally. Practicing these self-printing techniques while running and swimming have been particularly effective for me for many years. The power of conditioning rituals is that they build cumulative layers of impact and a large reservoir of potency that you can source at will.
These first two meditation techniques, mindfulness and interior printing, have delivered extraordinary benefits to me. By adapting similar approaches, you can discover what works for you to enhance all that you do and care about. In the next two articles, I will share my other three meditation techniques.
Now it’s your turn. Recognize that you are not your thoughts or your feelings. Identify and name thoughts, pictures and feelings to become present and mindfully aware. Discover that you can apply imagery and visualization to create your chosen state, facilitate resilient recovery and overcome challenges. Apply interior printing to catalyze a desired condition and experience and to shape the future to which you aspire.
You can listen to an audio version of this by subscribing to the Create New Futures podcast
© Aviv Shahar