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From Intellect to Intuition - Chapter Nine - The Practice of Meditation
The trouble with such postures is that they lead to two rather undesirable reactions; they lead a man to concentrate the mind upon the mechanics of the process and not upon the goal, and, secondly, they frequently lead to a delightful sense of superiority, that has its basis in our attempt to do something that the majority is not doing, and which sets us apart as potential knowers. We become engrossed with the form side of meditation and not with the Originator of the form; we are occupied with the Not-self instead of with the Self. Let us choose that posture that enables us, the most easily, to forget that we have a physical body. This is probably for the Westerner the sitting attitude; the main requirements are that we should sit erect, with the spine in a straight line; that we should sit relaxed (without slumping) so that there is no tenseness [220] anywhere in the body, and that we should drop the chin somewhat, so as to release any tension in the back of the neck. Many people sit, when meditating, gazing at the ceiling with tightly closed eyes, as if the soul was up above somewhere; they look as if they had swallowed the poker, and their teeth are often tightly clenched (perhaps to prevent some inspired utterance escaping them, which must have dropped from the soul). The whole body is poised and tense and tightly locked. They are then surprised when nothing occurs, except fatigue and headaches. The withdrawal of the consciousness from the channels of the senses does not involve the withdrawal of the blood in the body to the head, or the uncontrolled speeding up of the nervous reactions. Meditation is an interior act, and can only be performed successfully when the body is relaxed, rightly poised and then forgotten.

The hands should be folded in the lap, and the feet crossed. If the western scientist is right when he tells us that the human body is really an electric battery, then perhaps his Oriental brother is also right when he says that in meditation there is a bringing together of negative and positive energy, and that by this means we produce the light in the head. Therefore, it is wise to close the circuit.

Having attained to physical comfort, relaxation, and having withdrawn ourselves from the body consciousness, we next note our breathing and ascertain whether it is quiet, even and rhythmic. I would like here to sound a note of warning as to the practice of [221] breathing exercises, except by those who have first given years to right meditation and to purification of the body nature. Where experience and purity are not present, the practice of breathing exercises entails very real dangers. It is impossible to put this too strongly. There are many schools giving breathing instruction at this time, and many exponents of breathing as a means to spiritual development. It has nothing whatever to do with spiritual development. It has much to do with psychical development, and its practice leads to much difficulty and danger. It is possible for instance, to become clairaudient or clairvoyant through the practice of certain breathing exercises, but where there is no true understanding of the process or right control by the mind of the "versatile psychic nature", the practicer has only succeeded in forcing entrance into new fields of phenomena. He has developed faculties he is totally unable to control, and he finds very often that he is unable to shut out sounds and sights which he has learned to register and being helpless to escape from the contacts of both the physical and the psychical, he is torn in two directions, and gets no peace. Physical sounds and sights are his normal heritage, and naturally make their impacts upon his senses, but when the psychic world - with its own sights and sounds - also makes an impact he is helpless; he cannot shut his eyes and remove himself from undesirable psychic surroundings.

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