When I was in my thirties I began to meditate. Most of my friends were doing it, so I thought I would try. I became addicted to my practice and progressed to a point that I was meditating daily for periods as long as three hours during one sitting. I was also becoming pretty full of myself and had a kind of spiritual arrogance at the same time. Now as I look back, I think I approached meditation in the same way I did any competitive sport. My efforts were about being the best I could be, the one with the most endurance and greatest success. I came to know spiritual practices are only in part about my human condition. I found out that the rules I use in approaching my physical life are not the same rules that apply to my spiritual progression. Try as I might to force advancement, my soul seems to have a different pace for my unfolding. This became evident as I pushed myself in my practice. What I strive to attain, in times even by my own mental force, are never experienced in the same way as with the gentle unfolding parceled out to me by my soul.
About this time, I met a woman who was well known as a spiritual teacher in New York City. I remember walking up to her and thinking I was going to impress her with my meditation skills. After she listened to my lengthy dialog about how great I am, she paused, looked at me and said, “You go up the hill, you go down the hill.” Then she walked away from me. With my out of control ego, I was not in the least impressed with her response and wondered why people thought of her as such a great spiritual teacher. What hutzpah on my part. Within a few short weeks of this encounter, as the cycles of life continue to change, there was a shift in my energy. Suddenly, there were no three-hour meditation periods to be had any longer. I could not find the focus, attention or energy to meditate for even the shortest period of time. I was done meditating for almost a year.
As the year passed and I tried to figure out what I did to cause such a dramatic change in my meditation practice, I heard the woman’s voice time and again in my mind. “You go up the hill – you go down the hill.” What a wonderful gift she had given me, one which only became clear to me over the following year. What she was trying to prepare me for is that there are periods of activity and inactivity in my journey. What I came to know is that there is a rhythm to my body and soul that I must be conscious of and in harmony. In the Bible, there is a line in the book of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3:1 – “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.” This passage expresses the indwelling energies around my meditation practice and spiritual path – what I see as the true road to the divine.
Each day is an opportunity for me to grow as a spiritual man, based upon the energy available to me and not just because my ego is demanding something I have yet to earn. Overtime, I feel as though I am making progress, advancing and achieving as my ego desires. This is different from the needs of my soul. This type of ego need and gratification is a hindrance to my spiritual advancement and is undesirable. I now recognize this ego trap – one to be avoided or my progress is slowed, and a dramatic impact is made to my path.
I find myself coming face-to-face with the needs of my ego at a fairly regular interval. This is not one of the easiest challenges to deal with for a few reasons. On one level, the need to root out the negative parts of my ego is the purpose of my spiritual activity. While on another level I can say, my ego is necessary. My ego is how I move from inaction to action. This is the manifestation on the material plane of my spiritual volition. And if that is not enough, my ego is how other’s come to know me. It is my identity – that which I need to make my way through the material world. I understand the need to be ego free in my relationship with others, especially at a time of being of service. What I find confusing is the suggestion that I need to eliminate my ego.
I continue to learn from the times when I realize that my ego is in motion. When I choose to take an objective stand and ask myself what is going on in that moment is when I move closer to the divine. When I step out of my ego’s insistence to be in the forefront of my brain – active, demanding and sometimes with harsh appraisals of life – is when I have the greatest influx of information and connection with the divine. I get the idea of being one with all of creation, but on an ego and intellectual level I continue to individualize myself. By this action, I remain frozen in time, bereft of any growth or progress. When I step into a mental space of being in partnership with the divine is when big things happen. There is more knowledge to be gained and further understanding that comes in a period of meditation when I excuse my demanding ego from being present. In that moment, all human emotion abates, and I am free to commune with the divine.
There is also the issue of my physical body. As I continue my efforts to become the spiritual man I aspire to be, there are times my body needs to catch up. When I am deeply involved in all the spiritual practices I observe, there is an energetic shift happening in my body. I know this mostly by the increased sensitivity of my physical senses. Food will taste and smell more intensely. Noises that I would not ordinarily notice become the source of great irritation and distraction. Over the years, I have grown to accept and appreciate the intermissions in my work. This is the period described as the Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross. Rather than feeling alone and abandoned in those periods, I recognize them for the importance and value in my advancement. This is the hill the woman was describing that I mentioned earlier.
What do I do support myself as I make my way during those the “down the hill” cycles? I increase my yoga, and breath practices, and add more time for physical activity in each day. I become hyper conscious of food my food choices, avoiding sugar and caffeine. They are not my friends. I like to treat myself to massages and other healing modalities. Oh, and I also make sure I get enough rest.
As I have written extensively in my other books, there are too many different meditation techniques and beliefs to begin a discussion here. But what I always work to remember are the gifts I have received over the years from being tenacious about having a meditation practice. After the last thirty years of practice, I have experienced psychic contact with some of the great Masters and in this way have a sense of knowing the gifts of my perseverance. In the end, all the work and effort are a prelude to a deeper and more direct communion with the divine. This is the Golden Dawn.
I remember many years ago hearing a man who I respect say it took him almost ten years to advance his meditation practice to a place where he was beginning to feel satisfied. His comment reminded me of what is important for me to always remember. How I measure progress and success on the material plane is not always a perfect reflection of what is happening on a spiritual level. What I experience in my meditation practice helped me to become very aware that my earthly sense of what is or is not important was incorrect. This ranges from simple ideas like the impact of other’s opinions of me and their impact on my life in comparison to the energy I continue to create that distances me from the divine.
Then there is the issue of reincarnation – the idea of more than one lifetime. There are times I remind myself I am in this school for only a short period of time. I have quite a bit of warrior energy in me and there are times I must focus myself to temper my expectations. I am not going to get all of my spiritual work done in this lifetime. It is not possible. There are far too many behind me and so many more lifetimes to come that it would certainly be imprudent on my part to imagine I would be finished with this lifetime. I was taught from a very early age to set high expectations for myself and the life I am here to live. Fortunately for me these were of a religious nature which has now transitioned to a spiritual place within me. Even though this is the case, there are still times I must rein in my energy and remind myself that I am becoming – my soul is unfolding – and that I am exactly where I need to be in this moment.
How does this relate to the Golden Dawn? When I meditate, I know I am working toward bringing my physical energy into harmony with the vibration of the earth. When my body is in harmony with the earth plane, I am releasing discordant energy that has accumulated from my everyday life here on the planet. The accumulation of this conflicting energy may potentially become the source of illness for me. The proof of this is that there have been times when I am in meditation and I can feel the energy that is not supporting my wellness, being released from my body. This is especially true when I am feeling some type of pain and focus my thoughts to release whatever thought or feeling I am holding in my body that is now manifesting as minor pain. There have also been those times in meditation when I have been “given” direction to make changes in my diet or increase my exercise.
Eventually all of us will experience some kind of illness. It is inevitable. Our food, water and air supplies are contaminated to a degree to which I find hard to believe ever happened before in the history of the planet. Contributing to this condition is the fact that we are advancing to a place of being one world and one people. At this stage in progressing in that direction, we have become inhabitants of a planet who travel farther and wider than ever before. Technology has helped us to advance to a very high place in the history of humankind. With this, there is a lot of good and bad energy being moved around the planet impacting the entire population of the world. Even if this was not the case, I am aging and just as everyone else my body is showing signs of decay from the passing years. No matter how well I guard and protect my body, illness and physical death is unavoidable as a positive or negative experience.
Up the hill and down the hill I go.
Stephen Thomson is a well-known psychic, writer and teacher. He specializes in, the Tarot, Kabbala, Meditation, and explorations of eastern mystical teachings and practices. Steve specializes in uncovering the source of mastery within, inner well-being and self-actualization that so many strive for, but few attain. His passion and focus are the subjective experiences of the spiritual path – especially the ones people experience that are seemingly beyond belief. He loves sharing his experiences and loves to hear from others. He currently lives in San Diego. You can reach him through his website, Stephenthomson.net