|Pythagoras, the noted Greek geometer, established a mystery school in about 525 BC.
The Pythagorean order believed that:
1. At the deepest level, reality is mathematical in nature.
However, some of the practices leaked out and are known today.
Pythagoreans believed in the following dicta: "all is number", meaning that all things can be ultimately reduced to numerical relationships; the dependence of the dynamics of world structure on the interaction of contraries, or pairs of opposites; the viewing of the soul as a self-moving number experiencing a form of metempsychosis, or successive reincarnation in different species until its eventual purification (particularly through the intellectual life of the ethically rigorous Pythagoreans); and the understanding, as in pre-Socratic tradition, that all existing objects were fundamentally composed of form and not of material substance. Further Pythagorean doctrine applied number relationships to music theory, acoustics, geometry, and astronomy; identified the brain as the locus of the soul; and prescribed certain secret cultic practices.
The following practice was held in high regard by the Pythagorean Order. Micro Meditation is a deep and moving experience that even today isn't totally understood. It creates after-images which appear to have a considerable amount to do with creativity and memory.
Instructions for Micro (or Visual) Meditation:
1. Secure a calm, peaceful setting.
2. While comfortably seated (either in a traditional meditative posture or in a straight backed chair) position yourself so that your eyes are about 24" from a light colored wall. Position any one of the following images so that the top of it is just at or slightly below your horizontal line of vision. Affix the image to the wall making sure it is well lit. Strong light is important in creating after-images.
3. You will maintain alternate periods of having your eyes open and then closed. Leave your eyes open for one full breath, then closed until the after image fades completely, then open again for another breath.
4. During the Eyes Open period focus your vision (VEN) and gaze at the tiny center dot. Don't let your eyes roam or wander--hold them steady as if threading the eye of needle. If you have the need to blink, do so.
5. During the Eyes Closed period watch (VIB) in your mind for the after-image to appear. It will be reversed --the light portions will appear dark and the dark light. Practice passively retaining these after-images for longer and longer periods. You ultimate goal is to retain an after-image indefinitely.
6. During all periods of Micro Meditation remain absolutely still (with the exception of opening and closing your eyes). Keep your feet flat on the floor (if sitting in a chair) and hands folded in your lap. If you feel an unbearable need to reposition yourself or scratch, do so and then quietly resume your stillness. Your body will begin to feel heavy, relaxed, peaceful and calm. You may experience slight tingling sensations: let them pass as they are a prelude to even deeper states of stillness. Allow your forehead to cool as your body becomes warm and relaxed. The body will begin to drift off to sleep while your mind is continuing its external-internal imaging. Slowly you will begin to lose contact with your body and its sensations. Simply let it go. It will sleep while your mind remains awake. If your mind begins to be drowsy, refocus it without disturbing your body in any way, just letting the body go. The goal of Micro Meditation is to lose all bodily sensation while your mind is engaged and fascinated with viewing the alternate outer and inner images. So keep your mind on the images and let the body vanish.
7. At the end of the time period allotted for the Micro Meditation program rouse yourself in the same way that you ordinarily awake. Begin to move slowly, stretch if you want and gradually regain bodily sensation. Rub the pads of your finger tips in your palms and then rub your eyes as you do when waking normally. It is claimed that a substance beneficial to the eyes is produced in the palms during correct meditation.
8. Practice once or twice a day, 10-20 minutes at a time.
9. Cycles the three images below--one per day.
As a bonus, Micro Meditation is extremely useful in gaining powerful visualization and lucid dreaming abilities.
There needs to be a strong contrast between the image and its background--black and white is best. The after-image effect seems to depend on rods in the retina rather than cones. The whole exercise strengthens XXB attention perhaps most significantly in the areas of memory and imagination.
A common misconception about meditation is that it is an attempt to unify mind and body. In fact, the exact opposite is true. The act of meditating is learning to let the body sleep while the mind remains alert, thereby achieving an active separation of mind and body. If one reads ancient meditation texts carefully, one finds that their goal was to "drop the body". By this the ancient masters meant to exclude the body from cognition, for in most cases consciousness only interferes with the body's functioning.
Mind and body each have distinct and separate functions and only when each fulfills its function can a balance and unity of organism be achieved. Meditating is an activity where the natural separation of mind and body functions is actively encouraged and practiced. It is only with this understanding that meditation can proceed successfully.
During beneficial practice, the body is encouraged to attain a state of deep rest and relaxation (as in sound sleep), while the mind is kept awake and alert. Ordinarily when the body sleeps so too does the mind, and when the body is active so is the mind. For most people, the mind follows the body, its activity being directed and mediated by the body. The meditator, when he proceeds with correct understanding, can disentangle the separate mind and body functions and develop each in their separate capacities. This is the first goal of Meditation.
Most of meditation involve the use of the following four items:
1. A Quiet Environment
This type of meditation is perhaps the most basic form possible. Its origins are lost in the mists of the Indian Vedas several thousand years ago. The mental device in this form of meditation is a mantra.
When you wish to meditate:
1. Sit quietly in a comfortable position.
For full effect practice this technique once or twice daily, waiting at least two hours after eating a meal as digestive processes seem to interfere with the state shift.
Remember that the act of meditation is learning and practicing the separation of mind and body--it is a physiological exercise. If you are overly aware of emotions, physical pain or other bodily sensations you will need to adjust your meditation technique in order to progress. Once you can consistently "drop your body" you will be an advanced practitioner. Surprisingly, very few American meditators achieve this level of development, primarily because Americans consider meditation to be an advanced form of introspection. If anyone suggests or encourages introspection you can be pretty sure that they are not an experienced meditator. While both the methods of meditation presented on this page are intended to transport one to the Wind Quadrant, Micro Meditation has the strongest Wind Quadrant identification.
Your body is to sleep while your mind remains awake. You will be exploring that crack between sleep and wakefulness, learning to effectively operate in that region. It has two names--hypnagogic and hypnopompic. Hypnagogic is the state just before falling sleep and hypnopompic just after waking. One way to recognize this in between state whether meditating or not is the experience of vivid and detailed dream-like images. They indicate correct form in meditation and are generally enjoyable when they happen naturally. If you are interested in meditation and the like, practice extending these periods before and after sleep. As applied to meditation in general, interest in the images is often discouraged, though Micro Meditation employs the distinct use for them.
Should you wish to perfect this technique you might read Zen Training by Katsuki Sekida for a straightforward discussion of posture, attention, breathing, etc.