The Four Subtle Experiences in Meditation

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article looks at the path of meditation in three stages, focusing in particular on the second stage, developing and engaging subtle experiences. It is useful to know about these ‘intermediate’ levels of the meditation experience because it enables us to appreciate and explore them without the danger of thinking that they are the end of the journey.

Yours in the spirit of the meditation journey,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia :

Sunday 11th January 9.30am-3.30pm – Regenerating Your Inner Self – Integral Meditation Day Retreat

Sunday 18th January,9.30am-12.30pm – Meditations for Connecting to the Green World – An Introduction to the Path of Nature Mysticism


The Four Subtle Experiences in Meditation 

In meditation generally there are three stages:

  • Balancing, stilling & harmonizing the body-mind
  • Developing and engaging subtle state experiences
  • Moving into or exploring  the formless/timeless dimension of consciousness

In order to get to the second stage of engaging subtle state experiences, you need to first need to still and unify your body-mind through relaxation, calming and stillness. You can read more about this first stage of meditation here: The first task (and achievement of meditation).

If you can achieve this, then you then naturally start to move into the subtle level of meditation which comprises of four main types of experience:

The intuitive /ideational – This is where your mind starts to come up with ideas, insights and intuitions, quite spontaneously and effortlessly. These ideas may be quite abstract, or they may be entirely pertinent to very specific life situations that you are going through. They are often characterized by their capacity to see patterns, meanings and relationships in apparently random and disparate experiences.

The subtle energetic – This is an awareness of subtle energy flowing through our body and mind in ways that we would not be ordinarily conscious of. This dimension of meditation experience is explained in various ways, in terms of the movement of energy through the energy meridians, the chakras and kundalini, the microcosmic orbit and so on.

The expanded emotional – This is the experience of emotions that go beyond our ordinary every day personal range of emotions, and includes experiences such as

  • Causeless and spontaneous joy
  • Unconditional affection and love
  • Openhearted compassion for all living beings
  • Deep equanimity

The visionary – This means an awakening to spontaneously received visual images of people, places things and sometimes even entire inner worlds. It is a little bit like dreaming, except the images are experienced whilst in full consciousness, and they are distinct from our imagination, that is to say they have an objective quality that is separate from the random images arising from our everyday thinking and imagining mind.

These four subtle types of experience will then give way to the third stage of meditation experience:

The formless – This is the experience of the formless timeless domain of the mind and consciousness that lies beyond both our sensory awareness and our thinking mind. Initially our experience of the formless simply an open spacious experience of awareness with no thoughts in it. However, after a time this deepens, giving rise to various forms of experience of deep unitive and non-dual experience where we experience ourself as ‘one’ with our world and universe, and where our experience of the subject-object, doing-being  divide disappears into a pure experience of is-ness.

So, once you have settled down into your meditation, and your body-mind are feeling a calm and relaxed, these are the four major subtly meditation experiences that you can start to identify, work with and build your experience of: the intuitive/ideational, the subtle energetic, the expanded emotional and the visionary. These in turn will gradually give way to experiences of the formless dimension of meditation experience.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com 
 
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