Home Articles Channels Daily Retreat Inspiration Classroom Boutique Community Singles Resources Contact

SoulfulLiving.com :: Personal Growth, Spiritual Growth, Self Help and Self Improvement

Your #1 Online Resource for Personal and Spiritual Growth Since 2000.
Mandala and Chakra Pendants
New Age Gifts and Products, Buddhist and Tibetan Jewelry, Meditation and Yoga Supplies
Mandala Art Prints



Our Sponsors:

The Mandala Collection :: Buddhist and Conscious Living Gifts
Inspirational Gifts

Energy Muse Jewelry
Energy Muse Jewelry

Body of Grace
Eco-Friendly Gifts

Yoga Download
Yoga Download

The Mandala Collection
Give a Gift with Soul


Meditation is a Spontaneous Experience
By Lorin Roche, Ph.D.


Have You Ever...

— Drifted slowly awake, and lain there in a delicious restfulness for a few moments before opening your eyes?

— Looked at the night sky and felt utter wonder at the vastness?

—Merged so deeply with the melody and rhythm of music you love that your sense of self disappeared in the ocean of sound?

— Felt electricity coursing through your body when you made love? At the moment of orgasm, been filled with brilliance or fireworks? Or in the afterglow, felt your body shimmering and pulsing with a vibrant peace?

— Inhaled a smell so delicious, perhaps your favorite dish when you were really hungry, that you almost swooned?

— Sat by a river, conscious of its steady flow, and entered into a sense of stillness?

— Been so in love that your heart seemed to turn to light?

. . .Then you have already experienced meditative awareness. These are all spontaneous experiences, typically lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes. Attention expands beyond its confines and touches something greater, something of the essence of life. Human beings have been experiencing these sorts of things since before there was the language to speak of them.

Meditative experience is not different than these naturally-occurring moments. It is just intentional. What I am calling a "meditation technique" is paying attention to the rhythm of such an experience, tracking it through all its phases, and returning again and again to be educated by it. Most of what is meant by "practicing meditation" is just spending half an hour a day or so being in the presence of such a quality of attention, then enjoying the effect this has on your daily life. Meditation is the practice of developing your capacity for rich experience.

Everyone is a yogi for half a second when they stop to smell the roses. It’s all there in that moment of conscious, grateful breathing. When you cultivate your gratitude for breath, something good happens at a deep level. You make friends with life.

Questions and Answers

Where Did Meditation Come From?

Meditation was probably discovered independently by hunters, singers, dancers, drummers, lovers, and hermits, each in their own way. People tend to encounter meditative states whenever they throw themselves with total intensity into life’s callings. The knowledge of how to intentionally cultivate meditative states is a kind of craft knowledge—those handy tips people pass on to each other. Meditation does not come from India or Tibet—those are just places where the knowledge rested for a while, and the hermits in those places wrote it all down. Bless them.

Human beings have been using tools for hundreds of thousands of years, according to the archaeologists. I consider it very likely that they have been using sophisticated mental tools for tens of thousands of years.

Hunters, for example, sometimes have to make themselves still for hours. They have to merge with the forest and not even think, lest they scare the prey away. Then they leap into action with total precision at a moment’s notice—that’s Zen in a nutshell. Hunters teach each other these skills, through verbal instruction and example.

Singers and dancers often enter meditative states through their passionate expression. Singers work with breath awareness in ways far more sophisticated than yoga. Lovers are often in a state of heightened appreciation that borders on meditation. Hermits are the ones we have heard the most from, because they kept the best notes. That is why we always think of yogis and bearded guys in the Himalayas when we think of meditation. But their way is only one small subset of the many different gateways into meditation.

Meditation comes from the human heart and is a way of warming your hands and your life at the fire always pulsing there in your core. It comes from the depths of your instinctive wisdom. Human beings are always wondering and inquiring, and meditation is a natural emergence of that adventure.

On the other hand, cats obviously meditate. That’s what it looks like to me, anyway. So it may be a genetically encoded, instinctive talent in mammals. Cats don’t need to be taught to meditate, but human beings need a little coaching.

Do I Have to Sit Still?

What’s stillness got to do with it? Move all you want in meditation. You only sit still in meditation to better follow the movement of life. It is a natural repose, not something forced.

When you are deeply absorbed in something—conversing, reading a book, listening to a piece of music—you will sometimes be very still. You become poised in order to better follow the flow of the conversation, the arc of the plot in the story, or the movement of the music. That is the way to be in meditation as well. So stillness of posture happens spontaneously; it is not something you focus on or make a rule out of.

Life is movement, an infinite dance on every level—atoms move and vibrate, cells undulate, blood pulses, breath flows, electrochemical impulses charge through your nerve pathways. If you are sitting while reading this book, your postural muscles are making lots of tiny little corrections to keep you upright, and the muscles in the diaphragm and ribs are moving with the gentle rhythm of respiration. Each of these little movements is part of the meditation experience.

The dance of life changes its pace according to whether we are walking, sitting very still, or lying down, but there is always a dance, always the hum and undulation of life.

It is often better to dance for awhile, then sit down to meditate. And then if you feel like it, lie down for a few minutes at the end of the meditation.

When Should I Meditate?

You can meditate when you want to, or when you decide you should, or whenever you can sneak it in. It is up to you. The basic principle is to meditate before periods of activity, so that your ability to work and play and socialize can be enhanced by the relaxed alertness in which you are learning to function. The standard approach is to meditate soon after arising in the morning and then again before the evening meal. This works well for a lot of people, and it creates a beautiful feeling of rhythm to a day.

Other options are to meditate once a day in the afternoon or to have several mini-meditations throughout the day. If you meditate before sleep, keep it short and select meditations that are soothing.

How Long Should My Meditation Sessions Last?

Start with five minutes in the morning or in the evening. If that does not seem like enough time, then meditate for five minutes in the morning and again for five minutes in the evening. Later, when that does not seem like enough, increase your time little by little.

For the first month, the most important thing is to develop a sense of being at ease with yourself and having a good time. You could read this book for ten minutes or so, meditate for five minutes, and call it a day. Then come back tomorrow and continue. In the beginning, meditate less than you want to, so that you are always looking forward to the next session.

After a month, if ten minutes seems too short, then you can let yourself go a little longer. But do not meditate more than twenty minutes in the morning and in the evening until you have been at it for several years. It takes a long time to get used to being relaxed while in action, which is one of the main effects of meditation. There is a lot to learn about handling relaxation.

If you are really busy, even a few minutes of meditation is beneficial. There are lots of meditations in this book that require less than a minute, and they can be adjusted to last for anywhere from a few seconds to five minutes.

What Will Happen When I Meditate

The main thing you will experience is rhythm, the continuous ebb and flow of many intersecting rhythms, because that is what life is. Your body and mind are composed of complex symphonies of rhythms.

The sensuous texture of meditation is infinitely varied: there are all kinds of subtle sensations, internal imagery, and sound effects. Experience changes moment-to-moment and is always sort of a surprise, like a good movie. One moment you will be in the bliss of an inner vacation, then suddenly you will be thinking of your laundry list. You will never have exactly the same experience twice.

In general, your experience will probably move among the following:

Relaxation and relief.

Sorting through thoughts about your daily life.

Reviewing the emotions you felt during the day and giving them a chance to resolve.

Brief moments of deep quiet and inner peace.

Near-sleep and dreamlike images.

Healing: reexperiencing and then letting go of old hurts.

Tuning up: your nervous system fine-tuning itself to the optimal level of alertness.

Every thirty seconds or so, you will probably find your body shifting from one to another of these moods or modes.

You may feel relaxed during all these phases, but the aim of meditation is not relaxation. Meditation is an evolutionary instinct that works to make you more alert and capable of adapting after meditation.

Do I Have to Make My Mind Blank?

No, nor do you have to "empty your mind." This is a myth. There are moments of inner quiet, but thinking is a major part of meditation. You ride thoughts like surfers ride waves. The more you accept all thoughts, the more inner repose you will get.

Because the brain does a lot of sorting and housecleaning during meditation, it is often tremendously busy. The more your mind wanders during meditation, the more able it is to pay attention after meditation, because it has done its tuning-up.

Also, since you are relaxed during meditation, you learn to stay relaxed while thinking of things in your life that used to make you tense. You should expect your mind to be noisy part of the time in meditation. You won’t care very much, though, because you will still be very relaxed. After meditation is when your mind will be quieter. And because your mind is quieter, those little thoughts you need to know can catch up with you. Your intuition, your gut feelings, your strategic overview, your hunches will emerge with greater clarity.

Take your time to get used to meditation gradually. Doing even the simplest of techniques, the body goes into a deep state of rest. According to 30 years of research at Harvard Medical School, during meditation the body tends to enter a state of restfulness much deeper than deep sleep. During meditation this often happens in about 5 minutes, whereas during sleep the body gradually gets more and more restful over the course of hours.

Do I Have to Concentrate?

People concentrate a great deal at work, so it would be redundant to concentrate during meditation. It would be a busman’s holiday. In meditation you learn how to do the opposite of concentration; you learn to expand the scope of your attention. You learn a kind of attention that excludes nothing, and therefore the needy and unknown parts of yourself can come into range. This is what leads to integration of the personality and coordination of mind, heart, and body. Unlearning concentration is a big part of learning to meditate.

Do I Have to Be Religious?

No. If you are religious, then make meditation part of your life of prayer. All the world’s religions are a wealth of great prayers, music, and images for meditation.

If you are not religious, then don’t feel you have to put on a fake attitude of holiness in order to meditate. Just be your own bad self and meditate.

A Heart-Centered Meditation

Time: One minute to ten minutes.

When: Anytime you have heartache or joy that needs attending to.

Some time when you are relatively quiet inside, let attention rest in the area around the physical heart and lungs. The lungs are spacious and the heart is muscular. Corresponding to those physical organs is an area of pure feeling. This feeling center is what people informally mean when they say they have heartache or their heart is glad.

To Get In there, recall some great experience that made your heart glad, that made you glad to be alive. Just thinking of it, a sensation will arise in your heart — it could be a sense of light, or swelling, or an upward-moving current of electricity, or a vibration. Use that as a homing signal and let attention be called into that place called "the heart." Be alert, because the sensations may only last for a flash, a few seconds.

As attention rests there, become aware also of the gentle pulsing of breath.

If you have a sense of sorrow or grief, you may have sensations in the heart already there. If so, simply be with them. The sensations are calling you.

You may also have a sense of joy and gratitude about events in your life, and may have wonderful sensations in your heart center. We can neglect to pay attention to our joy, just as we can neglect to adequately be with our pain.

If you do not have sensations or feelings of ache or joy in the heart, don’t worry. Some day you will. Come back then to this exercise and check it out.

If at some point while meditating, you find strong emotions going through you, explore this simple practice of resting attention in the heart.

As you breathe in and out, be alert to the qualities of emotion you are feeling. If you are feeling an emotion, be aware that it may change every couple of minutes into something else. Sometimes the emotions change every few seconds.


Go back from the sternum, inward. Feel all the way back to the spine. That is the heart area.

Simply being with these sensations will help tremendously, for the heart knows how to heal itself and become available to love again. You have only to be willing to tolerate the aching.

When you "speak from the heart" it means you are speaking from inside those sensations. Courage is "to have heart." To stay in the heart when you are afraid or the sensations are too much to bear – but you bear them anyway, that is the definition of courage. As you breathe in, the world is touching you, renewing you, encouraging

(en-courage-ing) you to live again, adventure forth and experience.


Greet and Say Goodbye

Here is a simple approach to a heart meditation:

Be there in the heart to greet the incoming breath. Embrace it. Be awake to the gift life is giving you with this breath.

Say goodbye to the outgoing breath. Let go of it. Be awake to the freedom that comes from letting go of the old air, old thoughts, old feelings.

Expansion and Contraction

Notice that as you breathe in, you expand to encompass the incoming breath.

On the physical level, your rib cage and torso expand.

Tolerate the experience of that expansion continuing.

Savor the sense of expansion evoked by the flow of breath.

As you breathe in, your rib cage expands outward from your center to embrace the

new air. With your attention, embrace the new life.

As you breathe in, your being expands to encompass the world.

Be there in the heart as the breath flows in.

Be awake to the gift life is giving you.

Jazz it Up

After you get used to paying attention to breath and the heart, go ahead and intensify your experience. Explore these if you feel inclined to:

- get a photograph of your favorite person in the world and look at it, or simply look at their image in your memory. Someone you love without reservation. Then close the eyes and breathe with the feeling of that love.

- put on your favorite music and dance to it or alternatively, sit or lie down and breathe with it. Then when the music stops, continue to pay attention to the parts of your body that were vibrated or moved by the feeling of the music.

- think of something you want to do, but which scares you - some ambition or creative impulse you have that requires courage. Put your attention in your breath as it flows through the heart, and let the breath give you courage.

This is what I call a "minute meditation" – you can do it anytime you are drinking anything, and adapt it to eating also if you like.

Wake Up and Smell The Coffee

Time: Give it fifteen minutes. I dare you. But you can do this in five.

When: Morning, or soon after arising.

If you are doing this in the morning, shower first, then drink some water so you aren’t thirsty.

Get your favorite warm drink -- coffee, tea, herb tea -- and put it in a cup, then sit somewhere comfortable where you can hold the cup and rest. Hold it under your nose and breathe in and out. This is normal savoring activity, only you stay with it longer. Keep on paying attention right through your usual limit, whether it is one second or ten.

Hold the cup in both hands, and at just the right distance from your nose. You can close the eyes and give over to smell. You are breathing in and out as you smell, so enjoy the flow. Notice the sensations you have in your belly as you inhale the smell of your coffee. Be alert for sensations anywhere in your body.

Breathe the smell in for awhile, then take a taste. Notice what happens in the mouth and tongue as you sip, and what happens in the entire body.

Put the cup down on the table, or lower your hands and hold the cup in your lap, and enjoy yourself.

Then raise the hands again. It is a ritual movement, slow and gracious.

Continue in this way for a few minutes.

Many senses are involved in enjoying a cup of coffee besides smell and taste. Sight brings you information about colors, and shapes; touch informs you of the warmth of the cup and the smoothness of its surface; your motion sensors feed you sensations as you lift the cup to your lips.

Note: You may feel that somehow you are violating taboos by paying attention to your coffee. No one is allowed to have this much fun with something so simple. There is some sort of a rule against actually smelling and tasting for more than a couple of seconds. Only the very rich, or gourmets, or royalty, have permission to indulge themselves. You may find yourself getting anxious, even if you have plenty of time to get ready for work. When you break a taboo, there is always some sort of a warning buzzer that goes off. Pay attention to this and don’t push it too much in any one day. Simply notice the rule about not really paying attention, and come back tomorrow.

You can use sipping your morning drink as a meditation in itself, and also as a way in to a longer meditation. Many successful meditators I know use commonplace rituals such as this as a gateway into meditation.

Tip: When we do things habitually, without paying much attention, we ignore feedback from our bodies. Many people, when they start paying attention while eating and drinking, find they don’t actually like what they are putting in their mouths. Sometimes they find they don’t really like coffee, now that they are really tasting it; they like certain teas, or prefer water and juice. Or they find they are satisfied with just a sip and do not want to gulp.

Be prepared to study your preferences as you start paying more attention to taste. And take the time to explore what you really love to sip in the morning, at lunch, in the afternoon, and evening. If it’s good coffee, freshly roasted, have that. If it is herb tea or juice, have it available.

© Copyright by Lorin Roche.  All Rights Reserved.   All selections are from Meditation Made Easy, by Lorin Roche. Published by HarperSanFrancisco.

Lorin Roche has been teaching meditation since 1969. For the past 30 years he has been developing meditations that feel natural and spontaneous, rather than like a technique you are trying to force yourself to do. His approach to meditation emphasizes activating your instincts and internal guidance systems in meditation so that you can safely practice the techniques without becoming dependend on gurus, systems, and external authorities. He is the author of Meditation Made Easy, and is co-author, with his wife Camille Maurine, of Meditation Secrets for Women, to be published in February 2001 by HarperSanFrancisco.


Learn How to "Make Meditation Easy" at:



Daily Soul Retreat at SoulfulLiving.com
Soul Retreat Goodies!

Support SoulfulLiving.com
Show Us Your Love ♥


Energy Muse Jewelry
Energy Muse Jewelry

Wild Divine Meditation Software featuring Deepak Chopra
Meditation Software

Energy Muse - Sacred Yoga Jewelry

Copyright © 1999-2014 Soulful Living®.

Soulful Website Design by The Creative Soul®.