Cycling Senses Meditation

This meditation technique is one which really helped me break out of my old patterns. I’m not sure where the original method comes from, but I like to call it cycling the senses…

zen meditation scene

image thanks to Robert Swier

To begin the meditation find a comfortable place to sit and relax. This method can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes depending on your level of concentration.

We will be cycling through the senses in order to get to a peak state of awareness. The goal is to shift focus so that the mind is completely absorbed in whatever you are focusing on. Doing this allows you to be totally immersed in what you are doing in order to lose the self, and have freedom from the ego.

Let’s begin the meditation:

  1. First, we are going to focus our entire awareness on vision. Take a look around the room becoming aware of the light, color and textures around you. Slowly scan the room and the objects around you. Notice the texture of the floor and how the light falls on it. Notice any objects which have very vivid or saturated colors. Allow yourself to be absorbed in observing the richness of these colors.
    As you take a look around, don’t get caught up in labeling what you see. Don’t think to yourself, that is my bed, or that chair is made of wood. Just observe.
  3. After you have completely observed your surroundings, change focus to your hearing. Notice the sound of your breathing and the rushing noises it creates as it enters and leaves the body. Become aware of the creaks within the house, or the wind beating on the windows outside. Hear the traffic that may be passing by your home. Notice the birds chirping or children playing in the background. Again, do not get caught up in labeling what you hear, just observe the sensations as they change and pass through your awareness.
  5. Now we will bring awareness to the senses of taste and smell. In my room these sensations tends to go unnoticed because there isn’t much to be aware of. However, if you happen to keep flowers, or enjoy incense, then go ahead and take a moment to thoroughly absorb yourself in their scent.
  7. Next you will focus your awareness on the body, and sense of touch. Absorb yourself in the sensations of your clothing on the skin. Is it soft and smooth, or does it make you itch? I like to proceed in this step by relaxing my muscles from head to toe. It’s a good time to really feel your muscles and notice any tension. As you go about noticing the sensations of your body, take note of your posture. Is your posture causing muscle tension in certain areas? If so, then go ahead and get comfortable now and try to place yourself in a still balanced position.
  9. This next step is good for helping regain a stable position. We are going to rock slightly back and forth to notice our sense of balance. Rock slightly side to side, then forward to back, or switch them around. Whichever makes you more comfortable. Find your center of gravity, and try to position yourself so that its stable. Become aware of where you are physically sensing your balance in relation to the room. Is it in your stomach, or do you feel it in your head?
  11. Now that you are stable and have become alert and focused, bring your focus inward. Become aware of how you sense time. How do we know time? I find that my awareness of time comes from relating one moment to the next. How do you know the past? What is your concept of the future? In this stage of the meditation I will go through and notice the feelings I have towards each moment of time. After becoming aware of my feelings towards my past, I will then notice what I think of the future. Once that is done, I will switch awareness to the present and remain there. When your awareness is focused on the present, just immerse yourself in it. Don’t think of the future, or past, just notice each moment as it comes and remain in this state for as long as you feel comfortable.

The final stage of the meditation brings us to our notion of the self. In this stage we are going to take this concept and put our awareness of it into an external frame of awareness. By doing so, we detach from the concept of self and can view it objectively.

  • Using visualization, try to picture the entire self as a ball of light. There are many ways to do this, so picture it in your head in whatever way you see fit. Personally I like to imagine my body as a red ball of light which travels from the base of my spine to my head. Then I imagine all of my thoughts and mind collected to a singular blue light which forms in my head. The two balls then circle each other and move forward out of the front of my head. I try to picture the two balls of light as clearly as possible, and imagine them circling each other until they finally merge into one complete glowing white ball. That white ball embodies my spirit and sense of self.
    However you feel comfortable imagining it, take the ball of light and hold it externally. In this way you should lose the sense of the body, and sense of thinking. Your mind should be clear and you should not be processing the sensations of the body. After remaining in this state for as long as you are comfortable, return the ball of light to the body.

Once you have gone through every stage of the meditation, you should return to the vision, and go through the cycle once more. Repeating the stages will help you become more comfortable achieving the alpha state of focused awareness.

This meditation is a good way to start thinking of yourself as separate and distinct from your thoughts, and body. The process of cycling through the different points of focus brings the mind to a calm and alert state. This method taught me to become more comfortable in this focused state, which carried over to other meditation techniques.

When you become more comfortable with the process, feel free to modify the meditation. While focusing on sound, you may want to add in a few recitations of a mantra. With awareness of vision, you may feel comfortable closing the eyes and mentally picturing something engaging to you.

As you practice this type of meditation you will begin to feel completely immersed. Continue to bring yourself into these desired states, and you will be able to hold them for longer periods. I know that this technique will serve you well if you continue to practice with diligence.

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