When people learn how to meditate, there is usually a reason why. There is often a search for something meaningful that leads us within.
Meditation can make this search possible, but even people who have been meditating for years understand and respect its limits. Knowing what meditation can and cannot do, and approaching meditation with a realistic perspective, can make the experience less frustrating and more fulfilling.
When we want to learn about a journey into our unconscious, there is no better teacher than Carl Jung, a 20th century giant of psychiatry and psychotherapy. Jung gives us the ability to understand that this journey within is indeed possible, and even essential. He teaches us that visualization exercises and meditation are practical means of transportation for this important introspective voyage.
Jung also manages our expectations about this voyage. He cautions us not to pile unreasonable expectations onto meditation, visualization, or whatever else we do to try and better understand ourselves.
Here are 9 guidelines for meditation and visualization drawn from the writings of Carl Jung.
1. Put Happiness in Perspective
Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.
2. Not Every Problem Can Be Solved
The greatest and most important problems of life are all fundamentally insoluble. They can never be solved but only outgrown.
3. Never Underestimate Imagination
The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable.
4. By Observing Others We Learn About Ourselves
Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.
5. Talent Comes with a Price
Great talents are the most lovely and often the most dangerous fruits on the tree of humanity. They hang upon the most slender twigs that are easily snapped off.
6. Place Limits on Passion
Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.
7. Pay Close Attention to the Unconscious
Man's task is to become conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious.
8. The Vision You Create Must Come from Within
Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
9. Physical Activity Can Solve Problems
Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.
If you are learning how to meditate, look for ways to strengthen your experience by using one of these lessons from Carl Jung.
The awakening that Jung refers to, and the importance he places on paying attention to the unconscious mind are wonderful reminders of the role meditation plays in creating a richer life.