Author - Michael Manning, DD

The 3 Stages of Life
How to meditate: Simple meditation for beginners
Meditation 102 – Meditation Is Not About Getting Rid of Thoughts
A Deeper Look at Discernment and Judgment
Musings Archive

The 3 Stages of Life

There are 3 stages of life:

1. Survival
2. Personal Development
3. Student of Spiritual Truth

Stage 1: Survival

You begin Stage One and you’re experiencing life anew as a child. Because of the impact of certain things and events, you draw a map of reality. You decide who you are; you decide what the world is; and you decide what you need to do, or be, or stop doing, in order to survive, to be loved, et cetera. Now you have a world concept, a self-concept, and a belief of what it’s going to take to become the version of you that’s necessary to survive or even to thrive, within that world concept.

Most people spend many lifetimes in stage 1.

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One of the big misunderstandings of spiritual growth and personal development is the statement “go with the flow.” It is really a big bad myth. When most people just go with their flow, they are going to get pulled over a cliff and crash into the rocks below, or flow right into an eddy, get caught in a tree or rock, and get flipped upside down and drown. Or they will just drift aimlessly, wherever life takes them.

The idea of “go with the flow” is that you are in alignment with the Universe and things are easy. Sometimes this is true, and often it is not. Most of your life is the journey, not the destination. A lot of the journey is going to be challenging and growth producing.

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How to meditate: Simple meditation for beginners

Each meditation practice typically requires a different mental skill. It is often extremely difficult for a beginner to sit for hours and think of nothing or to have an “empty mind.” In general, the easiest way to begin meditating is by focusing on the breath (see concentration meditation above).

The following meditation exercise is an excellent introduction to meditation techniques.

  • Sit comfortably.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Do not attempt to control your breath in any way. Just breathe naturally.
  • Focus your attention on the breath. Observe how your body moves with each breath. Pay attention to the movement of your body as you breathe, especially your chest, rib cage, shoulders, and belly, as you inhale and exhale. Whenever your mind wanders, gently return your attention back to your breath.
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Meditation 102 – Meditation Is Not About Getting Rid of Thoughts

Probably the number one misunderstanding about meditation is that it means getting rid of all of your thoughts. Many beginning meditators feel that thoughts are bad, and that a good meditation is all about eliminating one’s thoughts. They imagine meditation as a blank state of mind, devoid of thought or emotion. In over twenty years as a meditation instructor, this is the single greatest source of frustration and discouragement. Common examples of things beginners say include: “I am a horrible meditator, I just cannot stop thinking.” “If only I could stop my thoughts, then I would be able to meditate.” “I knew I couldn’t meditate, I cannot control my mind.” We then try to spank our thoughts out of existence and end up spanking ourselves.

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The word “meditation” is typically used to designate broadly similar practices, or sets of practices, that are found across many cultures and traditions. A general consensus is that meditation is a mental technique that the meditator practices repetitively in order to attain a subjective experience that is usually described as silent, very restful and of heightened awareness, and is often accompanied by a state of bliss. What is considered to be meditation can include almost any practice that trains the attention, which seems to be the only invariant of all the usual definitions.

Meditation has been practiced since antiquity in many varied religious and secular traditions and beliefs. Since the nineteenth century, it has spread from its origins to other cultures where it is now commonly practiced in private and business life.

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A Deeper Look at Discernment and Judgment

One of the primary takeaways I hope you got from my article “Levels of Energy” is that Level One energy has 100% catabolic energy, 100% fear, and total judgment, while Level Seven energy has 100% anabolic energy and no fear or judgment. Catabolic energy is energy that tears down, and Anabolic energy is energy that builds up.

In my article “Discernment and Judgment” I wrote the following eight paragraphs (which are so important they are worth repeating):

What Is Judgment?

Judgment is an opinion or criticism misusing the power of comparing. It is a form of projection and feeds the ego’s deception of being better (or worse) than someone or something else. The person judging makes the assumption that s/he has the power and the right to determine what is good or bad in general.

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Musings Archive

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March Musings for Winter 2015

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