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Reflective meditation is a powerful meditation technique because it creates important insights and superconscious inspiration
By Kenneth Sørensen, from his book: Integral Meditation
Reflective meditation and the superconscious
Reflective Meditation works directly with the intelligent river of life. In essence it is a way of meditating on a subject until you have exhausted the intellect and are available for inspiration, which comes from the superconscious. Reflective thinking can open a door to the superconscious just as emotional aspiration and devotion can. The mind is an inner eye able to recognise the different phenomena inhabiting our inner worlds.
Reflective Meditation also helps in communication by leading us to choose our words wisely. Words are powerful and affect those who read or hear them. If we understand their power, we can influence how people react to our message. People with strong minds are often good communicators.
Reflective Meditation is helpful in many ways. The mind can illuminate our inner world, bringing unconscious and superconscious material to light. Reflective Meditation can also bring forth new knowledge and new thought forms which add to the data banks of our internal hard drive. And it is through the mind’s ability to integrate its contents that our perspectives and outlook can develop.
Through years of practising and teaching Reflective Meditation, two key topics have always intrigued me: astrological symbols and psychological qualities. Through studying symbolism the mind enters a world of form, light and inspiration. Symbols are doors to the superconscious; here the intellect must abandon literal explanations in order to grasp the deeper meaning. The world of symbols is immensely rich, encompassing practically everything. For example, borrowing from nature we can see the mountain, the elephant and the oak as symbols of the strength that is necessary to realise the One Universal Force.
Reflective meditation and the three perspectives
Through studying symbols, their relationships and combinations, the value of the meditation increases. Let’s take a closer look at astrological symbols – the circle, dot, cross, the wavy line, the arrow, the half arch – as well as mythological figures and imagery of all kinds. Symbols can be interpreted in three ways, corresponding to the first, second and third person perspectives mentioned earlier. A good rule is to start from the outside in, a process we can refer to as 3-2-1.
From the third person perspective we examine the symbol’s outer form as a way to create more knowledge. This will reveal the outer layer of understanding and knowledge, such as the traditional understanding that the circle and the cross represent the planet Venus. Why is this so? The circle symbolises wholeness, connectedness and love – its soft inclusive curve encloses everything it contains. The cross is associated with manifestation. The vertical line represents the force connecting heaven and earth. The horizontal line connects man with his environment. The intersection of vertical and horizontal lines represents humanity, crucified in the material world yet connected to the divine source. Therefore, we can see that the symbol for Venus of a combined circle and cross reveals that love (the circle) seeks to manifest in matter (the cross). This is what Venus (seen as a universal force) both in mythology and in our inner world seeks – she is the goddess of love and beauty who leads us to a higher world of harmony and balance.
Symbolism provides knowledge out of which we can develop a language to articulate our vague intuitions. This is necessary when we reach the symbol’s second qualitative level, which refers to the symbol’s emotional impact.
To gain knowledge from emotion we must have a language subtle enough to capture its fleeting impressions. At the first stage of Reflective Meditation (the third person perspective) we look at what we know about the symbol, ie the role Venus plays in mythology and esoteric philosophy. Preparing questions in advance may help. So, in the case of Venus we may ask: What is beauty? Of what beauty am I aware? What role does beauty play in the world? How does beauty affect me spiritually and personally?
You can ask similar questions about love. This kind of meditation can show us the superficiality of our ordinary everyday thinking, showing us that our intellect is undeveloped. Unless we are awake and vigilant, our thinking becomes dull. We prefer the warm sensations of feeling or the playfulness of imagination to the hard work of thought. This regression into the fantasy world of the unconscious lets us play around in a self-centred atmosphere. There is nothing wrong in exploring the unconscious – I give this full attention further on. But if we want to enlarge our perspectives and become aware of wider, more abstract connections, we must go in another direction.
When we successfully focus on the object of meditation (Venus) we create a magnetic sphere tuned into a particular frequency of consciousness. We only allow what is relevant to the object to access the field of consciousness. By bringing everything together the knowledge we already know about the object and new knowledge then it creates a cross fertilisation that can nurture new understanding and connections. At some point the mind will have exhausted all its possibilities at that level of consciousness, while still in the third person perspective phase.
The technique we use is to force the mind to become quiet and vigilant, so a kind of vacuum will be formed which will attract new ideas from the superconscious. When this happens, our Reflective Meditation becomes receptive, with the still mind awaiting the birth of a new idea. From here we can go on to the second person perspective.
To return to our example of the symbol for Venus, if we choose to meditate on this from a second person perspective we can surrender to Venus and beauty as living realities with which we can communicate. Our focus will be on the qualities arising in the meeting between ourselves and the goddess. It doesn’t matter if you conceive Venus as an impersonal energy, a state of consciousness or a divine being. The important thing is to empathically engage with the energy that arises while maintaining an impersonal distance. This allows the intellect to adopt the perspectives that arise in the meeting. We primarily look at the energy as if we were face to face with it. Regarding the second person perspective, asking questions and listening for the answer inwardly, as if in telepathic communication, can be of help. This kind of dialogue can spark many insights. When we have exhausted these possibilities, we can move to the receptive stage or turn to the first person perspective.
In the first person perspective we become the energy, fully and wholly identified with it. We become Venus. We see through her eyes, we think like her. How does the world appear when we are identified with perfect beauty and love? We reflect on the new energies we meet while meditating from this perspective. We ask our questions once again, or perhaps we have new questions.
Meditating on the intelligent river of life will always bring clarity and new perspectives, providing insights into and overviews of our subject. For an illustration, I used an astrological symbol, but we can meditate on anything we like. Politics, business, religion, economics, ethics, philosophy, aesthetics, science: all suit this kind of meditation. Similarly, meditating on virtues such as wisdom, confidence or courage will give us insight into their nature. This form of meditation can also help when we want insight into our personal lives.
Once we understand how something works – whether physical, psychological or spiritual – we have gained a knowledge that can help us to take action in the world. Knowledge is power because he who enjoys an overview can see how the details fit together to form a pattern. Strategic solutions to human problems are one important outcome of this form of meditation. We must remember that the purpose of the intelligent river of life is to manifest whatever the dynamic and sensitive rivers of life have prepared. We do this through creativity, through new thoughts and ideas.
Practical intelligence – or knowhow – is neutral and can be used for anything. Reflective Meditation enables us to change the world. We take what we learn from the world of ideas and transform it into intelligent solutions.
Reflective and Receptive Meditation
Reflective and Receptive Meditation (see Appendix) form two stages of the same process – one active, the other passive – representing two different ways of using the mind. I have described the active reflective function above. During Receptive Meditation the still mind receives abstract ideas and intuitions. Receptive Meditation requires a quiet and alert waiting. The senses await impressions from the higher sources of inspiration, such as the Soul or some extrasensory reality. During Receptive Meditation we become like a radio telescope looking for signs of life in outer space, or like a pilgrim who has climbed a holy mountain and now sits in silence and prayer. There is nothing to do, our awareness has transcended everyday trivialities. During this silent meditation we listen and observe the subtle currents of inspiration.
This meditation is difficult. The mind craves activity and constantly seeks new experiences, images, thoughts, emotions and sensations. Quieting the mind is difficult, but if we do not we will only receive impressions from our usual frequencies (Figure 15). Receptive Meditation changes the frequency of our awareness, moving us to a higher level that enlargens our perspectives. This transition is silent as we keep a dynamic but relaxed focus guiding us into the higher reality.
An element of contradiction seems at work here. On the one hand, the will is active, informing the intention behind the meditation, which is to become receptive (passive) to a deeper presence of light, love and power. Our focus is strong and specific, zeroing in on a spiritual quality, a symbol, a divine being, or one of the seven rivers of life. On the other hand Receptive Meditation is effortless. The mind remains quiet, relaxed and open to impressions coming from above. Sometimes the mind expands into the infinite, uniting with the collective mind. In this way we reach a group meditation, collectively surrendering to a greater life, to Spirit-in-Action.
We can illustrate what happens during Receptive Meditation in three ways. The first diagram shows the thoughts and sensations that are related to our everyday consciousness – these are the typical needs that drive us and their energies. Here we do not control our minds, we simply receive impressions from our usual level of consciousness. We occupy familiar rooms in our inner house: the furniture can be moved around, but there will be no significant changes in the quality of consciousness(for our perspectives to change we need to reach a higher level of consciousness). However, in this frame of mind we can become more efficient by understanding things in a new way. Receptive Meditation here shows us how to better express our current needs. We can make slight improvements, but no major changes. Problems created on one level of consciousness need a higher one for their solution.
Reflective meditation and inspiration
Figure 16 shows how dynamic silence can enable us to draw inspiration from the superconscious. This spiritually-motivated silence creates a kind of vacuum as the thoughts and emotions that normally consume our energy are relegated to the subconscious, leaving a space for the energies we are meditating on to flow in.
Acting through the superconscious, the Soul sends ideas and energies related to the subject of meditation. We may experience this as an inspiration which changes our understanding of ourselves and our lives. This can be artistic, ethical, political or religious. In any case, it infuses a certain pursuit with fresh creativity.
More than once during meditation I have received archetypal symbols that have provided fresh insight relating to my potential development. In one I saw myself as a yogi with a special name. Because of its power, this image quickly gave me insight into who I truly am. When hit with a negative mood – often because I demand too much of myself – recalling this image is of great help. Through it I receive a wisdom I know to be true, but which I can forget when caught up in negative thoughts.
Inspiration uses the seven psychological functions as channels, but inspiration also makes use of the consciousness bridge between the self and the Soul. Although our psychological functions are simultaneously active, one function usually dominates and influences the inspiration. For example, the will function dominates with our heroic impulses; the feeling function can skew any new inspiration towards experiences of love and union with something greater; a dominant thinking function tends to create new ideas and perspectives; imagination reveals mystical visions, and so on.
The different impressions of the superconscious often demand interpretation. We must interpret our thoughts, feelings and ideas, just as we do our dreams. Some distortion can occur when higher energies express themselves through the psychological functions. Discrimination is needed in assessing the value of these impressions. We might wonder whether these impressions are authentic or just wishful thinking. Such discrimination is difficult but, as a rule of thumb, impressions from the Soul generally inspire something positive.
When the impulse comes directly through the consciousness bridge the situation is different: then the inspiration comes to us something like a revelation, as if a flash of lightning suddenly illuminates the darkness. An indisputable sense of certainty accompanies such a revelation: it is direct knowledge about the meaning and purpose of the Soul.
The silence and receptive meditation
Figure 17 shows how the silence of Receptive Meditation allows the personal centre of consciousness to ascend and expand from individual to universal consciousness; we can ascend to the level of the superconscious. Our sense of “I” change. We usually live within the boundaries of our personality, and feel a sharp difference between ourselves and others, but when we ascend to the superconscious the boundaries between self and other are dissolved and we become part of a universal being. We step into a new dimension, one that is truer than our usually fragmented reality. Here we awaken to a new level of being, infused with Soul, connected to a dimension where all energies are available. The silence expands into an eternal Now containing everything. This is also what happens during Awareness Meditation when we meditate on pure consciousness without content, but in this case, we are connected to the consciousness bridge that exists between self and the Soul. Both experiences are induced by silence, and during the entire process we retain our cognitive functions and can reflect on the process if we wish to. Usually it is more interesting to pay attention to what is going on beyond our ordinary level of reality. During the interpretative stage, when we try to articulate our experiences, our intellect must be awake and well-functioning. Co-operation between the abstract and concrete mind helps us to translate inspirations into theories and understandings that can be expressed creatively in life. Without the intellect, we only have an unexplainable mystical experience. Without the ability to communicate our experiences our opportunity to make a difference in life is limited. It can also be useful to see Reflective and Receptive Meditation as representing the masculine (Reflective) and feminine (Receptive) applications of the mind, working together to enlighten the self through our intelligence.
Summing up, we can say that the intelligent river of life develops our perspective so we can understand life’s complexity and find our place in it. We can become a creative force bringing new ideas to life, creating new realities. Reflective and Receptive Meditation naturally attract mental personality types, but it is important that all personality types learn to sharpen their minds. Sensitive, creative and dedicated types often want to stay in their feelings. By doing so they will have little impact on the world because they are not able to communicate their feelings clearly. Reflective Meditation can help us to disidentify from our emotional life and provide the clarity, insight and overview needed to help communicate our life purpose. Conversely, types that easily get stuck in their heads must be careful not to overdo this form meditation as it may increase an already existing imbalance. The mind is a good servant but, if allowed to run riot, it can be a cruel master. The best advice is to study the positive and negative aspects of this river of life, and assess the opportunities and dangers for yourself.
For integral meditation, learning from this river of life is invaluable because it develops our ability to think and provides a multidimensional perspective on our experience.
Here you will find more inspiration
Here you can buy The Soul of Psychosynthesis, By Kenneth Sørensen
Here you can buy Integral Meditation – The Seven Ways to Self-Realization, By Kenneth Sørensen
Read the intro article about Integral Meditation
Read the intro article about Psychosynthesis
Read the intro article about The Seven Types
Here you will find a biography about Roberto Assagioli