Meditation: Inner and Outer Practices

Meditation is just the immediate awareness of our life, our mind, our phenomenological existence. As such, it’s not something we can do – it’s just the awakening of pure perception. Nonetheless there are many practices – things that we can do – that are called meditation and that are useful. These useful practices are outer meditation practices as opposed to the inner practice of pure perception. Outer practices include the inner smile, the inner breath, guru yoga, the light body practices of Kabbalah, vipassana, zazen, mantra… in fact everything that is not pure perception.

The outer practices have existed for millennia because they are very useful preparatory exercises for inner practice. The purpose of outer practices is to calm and still the mind to make it easier to notice our immediate existence. In effect, they prepare the way for inner practice.

 In the ancient Orphic mystery tradition of Greece, the first stage of initiation was the passage through the Serpent of Chronos (from where we get the word chronometer meaning watch) or to get rid of the sense of time. In effect to develop real patience as opposed to the concept of suffering silently, patientia which is the latin root of the English word. This real patience is the main function of outer practices. In The Gift, a compilation of poems of the Sufi mystic Hafiz’s thoughts interpreted by Daniel Ladinsky, there is a poem that goes; For the divine alchemy to workThe pitcher needs a still cupWhy ask me anything more aboutyour most important requirement. Although many people feel that they are spiritual enough or ready enough for inner meditation or mindfulness practice, mostly this is a misconception born of vanity. It’s a bit like the old joke about politicians that goes; anyone who puts up their hand to run for public office should be automatically excluded. When we think we are too spiritual for the simple outer practices – beware. It is wise to remember that the Buddha practiced breath practices until he died because he wasn’t stuck in such a false ideal of spirituality.

Our minds are very tricky and we can benefit greatly from doing these outer practices. They help to calm the conscious mind when we are disturbed by our thoughts and we feel like our mind is driving us crazy and they can also help us to deal with subconscious attitudes and holding patterns of our mind.When we practice simple outer practices for a while and have developed the real patience of sitting still – then mindfulness is an automatic phenomenon that happens to us. This is just because when we are really effortlessly still, we become aware enough to begin to notice how we are. This is the inner practice. This is not because we move on to what we consider is a deeper practice when we think we have reached a goal, but rather because we cannot avoid beginning to notice how we are in this immediate moment. The simplicity of outer practices is elegance itself. Sit, breathe, feel…and the rest will take care of itself. 

By Kevin Niv Farrow

Kevin is the Founder and Director of AcuEnergetics® as well as a Master AcuEnergetics® Practitioner and Teacher of AcuEnergetics®. Kevin has practised and studied meditation and the energetic system since 1974. He has taught since 2000 and his published writings, meditation CD’s and teachings have brought him worldwide recognition as a unique and practical meditation teacher and an expert in the field of energy medicine. He currently teaches in Australia, USA, India, Asia and Europe. For more information about Kevin, visit Kevin’s full biography.