There are some meditation techniques that teach passage meditation to beginners – but I have found that if a novice starts with focused or passage meditation, chances are they will not be able to meditate without their focus passage – hence my listing this as a level 200 meditation for those who already know how to clear their minds by focusing on their breath (see Meditation 101).
Once you have learned how to clear your mind – to step back from the continual bombardment of thought that it is continually churning out, then it is time to give the mind something positive to focus on.
This is in no way to take the place of breathing meditation, for breathing meditation gives you a quick and effective way to take that step back from your whirlwind of thought. In fact, you may want to start a passage meditation with a few minutes of breathing meditation just to bring your mind to a place where focused meditation can be effective. I do, however, suggest that you do passage meditation in the morning, so as to give mind something on which to focus during the day
What focused/passage meditation does is provide you with a way to focus on an inspirational passage that embodies your highest ideals. By doing this you are giving your mind thoughts of the purest quality to work with during the day.
The really wonderful thing about this particular form of meditation, is that it will adapt itself to any religious or spiritual tradition. A passage from the Bible will work just as well as a passage from the Vedas. The key is to focus on thoughts to which you aspire – something that says something about who you are and the kind of person you wish to be.
(Unless you have your particular passage memorized, you will need your focus passage written out on a 3×5 index card or small piece of paper.)
- Find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably (not a bed). By quiet I mean no kids or friends – a place where you won’t be disturbed. Turn off your telephone, radio, television, or any other electronic devices. For this particular type of meditation, it is best to be in a location where there is nothing too distracting to look at or catch your attention. If you can face a wall (preferably a blank one) so much the better
- Seat yourself comfortably; back straight (you can prop yourself against a wall if you’d like, or a straight-backed chair can work too). Note: If you’re sitting against a wall, be sure that you are sitting on a cushion or low stool as otherwise your legs will get tingly and distract you.
- Close your eyes.
- Take several very slow, deep breaths – concentrating on the indentation just above your lip but just below your nose, following the breath in and out for several minutes until you feel your mind starting to relax and open up.
- Now, open your eyes and focus on the passage written on your index card.
- (Again, let me stress that it is best if you can have your passage memorized and can do this meditation with your eyes closed).
- Give the passage your complete and total attention for however long you have allotted for this meditation (I usually find that about 15 minutes on a specific passage is a good length to shoot for).
This isn’t as easy as you may think. In fact, even if you have been practicing breathing meditation, you may still find your mind rebelling. For a while your mind may spit the words right back at you, or suggest any number of possible threads of thought to meander along. Don’t listen to it!
Give the passage your complete and total attention, word by word if need be. When distractions arise (and the will) bring your attention back to the words in front of you.
With practice, you will be amazed to find your focus passage coming back to you at odd times during the day, more often than not just when you need to remember it.
All the best to you as you continue to learn and grow!
One of my personal favorites for focused passage meditation is the Buddha’s Twin Verses, taken from the Dhammapada:
All that we are is the result of what we have thought: we are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those whose minds are shaped by selfish thoughts cause misery when they speak or act. Sorrows roll over them as the wheels of a cart follow the hooves of the bullock that draws it.
All that we are is the result of what we have thought: we are formed and molded by our thoughts. those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts give joy when they speak or act. Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them.