Guided meditations can be enlightening, inspiring, boring and provocative.
Led well, they can transport the recipients into relaxation, altered states of consciousness, and provide insights and illuminations.
Led badly, they can be infuriating and sometimes funny.
For me, it all began decades ago in a London group where we took turns leading the group mediations. In one session, all of us lying down, our leader took us into a relaxed state and then guided our meditation journey to Heathrow airport. We all boarded a plane to the Caribbean and a lovely island.
‘And now,’ she said in a monotonous tone, ‘we light a fire on the beautiful beach and enjoy a barbecue, while the vegetarians wander through the jungle looking for food. . .’
Three of us immediately sat up, outraged vegetarian meditators.
In another group, the leader very slowly and carefully said, ‘And now, as we enter the airplanes, our consciousness expands . . .’
Afterwards I found out that the group leader was Dutch and had misheard their teacher’s original “and now, as we enter the higher planes . . .”
There was a similar misunderstanding when groups across Europe were leading people into ‘the greater hole’ having misunderstood ‘the greater whole.’
The most effective guided meditations often follow a format of starting somewhere very peaceful, perhaps a lovely meadow. The meditators are then guided to a place that is very special, such as a temple. Within the temple there is usually an upward path, culminating in a column of light, which the meditator ascends. At the top of the column of light, they then meet a very special Being, who gives them a meaningful gift or insight.
There are also guided shamanic journeys where the leader, often playing a drum or backed by some kind of tribal music, takes the meditators into an altered state and into a new kind of, often psychedelic, environment.
Meet animals, plants, rivers, mountains and rocks that speak to you. Give them gifts. Be humble and make a relationship.
Over the decades I have participated in and led many of these meditations. I have also created them, often to introduce students and friends to metaphysical concepts and beings.
I develop these new meditations when I myself am in meditation. (Where else could I possibly create them?)
Sometimes I do not create them in a deliberate and planned way. They arise as I open to a new expanded state of consciousness, and experience a perception and insight of metaphysical things I have not previously known. I am blessed by access to what Patanjali described as ‘the raincloud of knowable things.’
Recently, in my daily practice, I was blown away by a meditation experience. (Did you know that the Sanskrit word nirvana is often translated as meaning ‘blown out’ or ‘extinguished’?)
In this meditation I was deeply tranquil and spacious. At ease, empty and open. Gradually, I felt myself entering a new zone, I had never previously experienced, a new dimension of consciousness.
I had subtle impressions, intuitions. My brain-mind-psyche interpreted them as being in a kind of wonderful, subdued desert. Beige. Brown. Deep, expansive, calm.
I became aware of some kind of enormous archway. Very big. Several miles high and wide. Made of subtle brown-beige unfinished sandstone.
I was drawn through this archway into a dimension I could hardly understand. It was more serene, spacious and weird than anything I have ever previously experienced.
Again, my brain-mind-psyche sought to interpret the subtle intuitive experience. It spoke to me:
In the subtle realms you are accustomed to new colors and sounds.
In these expanded dimensions, there are also new feelings, vibrations and experiences.
What you experience as Love is just a beginning . . .
(The image is from the Hubble telescope of the Eta Carinae nebula which is 50 light-years across.)