5 Forms Of Meditation For African Spirituality And How To Do Them
Meditation is as old as African spirituality itself. Almost every religion on the planet uses meditation as a tool for spiritual fortification and communion with the infinite.
Some forms of meditation focus on the body, while others help the initiate draw closer to the Most High. The one thing that all forms of meditation have in common is that they address the worst part of the human condition: the mind.
One of the most difficult concepts for new initiates to overstand is that you are not your thoughts. You are the consciousness that observes those thoughts. You are the thinker, not the thought.
The mind in its natural state is a wild animal. The thoughts that your mind produce can blind you to nature and reality. If you want to truly gain Consciousness, lose your mind.
Clouded by past experiences and preconceived notions, the mind can cause depression, confusion, and can lead to physical illness.
Meditation can help you tame the wild animal that is your mind. Once tamed, it can then be used to manifest results, or transcended to help you reconnect with your infinite self.
While it can be difficult to describe meditation, here is how we define the practice in the Conscious Community:
The definition of meditation is a spiritual discipline that uses the power of attention to transcend the physical realm.
Meditation Forms And Practice
- Why Meditation Is Crucial To African Spirituality
- The 5 Forms of Afrocentric Meditation
- How To Create A Meditation Space
Why Meditation Is Crucial To African Spirituality
Meditation can be an important tool for addressing the problems we face in Black communities around the world. The psychological benefits of meditation have been proven by modern science. From Psychology Today:
Neuroscientists have found that meditators shift their brain activity to different areas of the cortex—brain waves in the stress-prone right frontal cortex move to the calmer left frontal cortex. In other words, they were calmer and happier than before.
In addition to these positive mental benefits, meditation has also been proven to provide the following benefits:
- Meditation lowers the levels of stress hormones in the blood stream, leading to decreased anxiety.
- Daily meditation practice has a positive impact on intelligence. Specifically, meditators are more creative, have better memory, focus, and concentration, and are better at solving complex problems.
- Meditators have better blood flow and slower heart rates, leading to lower blood pressure
- Therapists regularly prescribe meditation for emotional stability, self-acceptance, and self-actualization.
Many people in our community suffer from high blood pressure, attention deficit disorder, migraines, and other illnesses that meditation has been shown to treat.
The 5 Forms of Afrocentric Meditation
The physical and mental benefits are secondary to the spiritual power that meditation brings to the initiate.
In the Black Conscious Community, there are 5 forms of meditation that we use to develop African spirituality. The 5 forms are
- and transcending.
You can practice all 5 forms of meditation on a daily basis, or choose one form to meet your current needs.
For example, if you suffer from depression, then practice meditation for spiritual healing. If you are struggling with the nature of reality, meditation for contemplation can help you gain clarity. And if you are new to meditation, then practice meditation for spiritual awakening.
Here is a closer look at all 5 forms of meditation.
Meditation For Spiritual Healing
Living in a system of white supremacy can be hell for Black folks. From Madagascar to Mississippi, we are assaulted by white values that disconnect us from who we are. This causes spiritual trauma that can start in childhood and last well into old age.
If a child is neglected or isn’t surrounded by consistent love and acceptance during childhood, her brain fails to produce normal levels of neurochemicals that are important for full emotional and physical well-being.
In other words, the child will feel anxious, depressed, unloved, and in danger for the rest of her life. Similar problems can occur in people of all ages when they suffer trauma.
Meditation can help with the negative effects of neglect and trauma by rewiring the structure of the brain. If you are interested in the science behind this assertion, the process is known as limbic revisioning.
How To Meditate For Spiritual Healing
When you meditate for spiritual healing, you external example for the limbic brain to mimic.
Gratitude is one of the most powerful ways of overcoming trauma. To apply this to meditation, you must go beyond simply saying ‘thank you’. You must experience that gratitude deeply.
When you wake in the morning, or traumatic thoughts start to replay themselves in your mind, spend time meditating with gratitude.
Think of someone who went out of their way to help you when they didn’t have to. Experience their loving kindness. Meditate on their love and acceptance. Realize that they went out of their way to do something for you unconditionally.
Think of all the comfort you have and the other people who made it possible.
If you are religious, think about the love and abundance of the Most High, and the provisions that have been given to you.
Expressing gratitude should be both meditative and expressive. I start every journal entry with gratitude for another person and spend time feeling that gratitude spiritually. If you dont write, speak your gratitude out loud.
Why Gratitude Works
When you experience trauma, the screen in your head puts those traumatic events on replay. Your own thoughts start to torture you by turning the trauma into a pattern of self talk.
Your thoughts whisper to you that you are worthless, a fraud, you deserved whatever happened to you, you are incompetent, and that you dont deserve happiness.
But when you practice deep, respectful, contemplative, heart-based gratitude, your abused limbic system sees this outer, compassionate reflection and fire internally in the same way. Over time, these neurons wire together semi-permanently in a way that supports healing.
Meditation For Spiritual Awakening
Spiritual awakening is coming into the knowledge of your light body. Unlike your physical body, your light body is comprised of every part of you that cant be touched. Those parts of your light body anatomy include your thoughts, emotions, and your infinite self – the ‘I in I’.
The new perspective that is gained from experiencing the light body for the first can be a revelation new initiates.
Rastafari Meditations For Spiritual Awakening
Meditation has always been an important part of the Rastafari way of life. In her book Rasta Meditation Handbook: 23 Tips, Tools & Principles To Meditate as a Rastafari, Empress Yuajah writes
“One does not enter Zion because they are Rasta, one enters Zion upon his transition because he/she has a clean and clear conscience and a matching positive elevated vibration that matches that of Zion. Rasta meditate to stay connected to and to cultivate a Zion Consciousness and vibration.”
How To Meditate For Spiritual Awakening
The first and most basic meditation for spiritual awakening is to practice observation of your thoughts.
Step 1: Change into loose fitting clothing, turn off any electronics that might disturb you. Find a quiet place where you wont be disturbed by family or pets. If there is snot in your nose, now is the time to get up and blow it out. If you need to make any adjustments your clothing or surroundings, do so.
Step 2: Sit in a chair or on the ground with your legs folded and your hands either resting in your lap or on each knee
Step 3: Close your eyes, inhale deeply using your belly, and exhale slowly until your lungs are empty. This is a “preparatory breath”.
Step 4: Breathe in while mentally counting “one-two-three-four-five”. Fill your lungs from the bottom of your belly to the top of your chest. Hold the full breath for one second before breathing out, counting “one-two-three-four-five” in your head.
During practice, thoughts, pain, itches, fatigue, and sensitivity to temperature will arise. You will hear sounds and may even see flashes of light while your eyes are closed.
Dont try to ignore these sensations, but dont let them pull you away from practice. Simply observe your body’s reaction to the itch. Feel the cool breeze. Hear the children playing outside. Let the clouds of thought drift by the mind’s eye and disappear. Be aware of the world inside of you and around you, but stay in the moment – in the now.
Follow this routine for just five minutes a day until you can maintain full awareness for the entire time. Then you may chose to increase your sitting time, but there is no pressure to do so. Quality is more important than quantity here.
If you find your mind wandering or you fall asleep, thats ok! Open your eyes, refocus yourself, and go back in to meditation.
As you remain centered in your truth, wont need anyone to tell you that your soul exists, or that it is infinite and timeless. You will know because you will have experienced it for yourself.
This might seem like a simple approach to something so profound as spiritual awakening, but dont underestimate the power of your intention. As Dr. Phil Valentine said, ‘attention is the focus of life itself.”
Meditation For Manifestation
Meditation has the power to create results in your body, your life and in the world around you. This isnt ‘spookism’, but a practice that has been embraced by top performers in every industry.
Kobe Bryant was one of the best to ever play the game of Basketball. He achieved the second highest single-game score in NBA history of 81 points. Before he achieved this incredible feat, he meditated. He visualized himself scoring over 80 points – he saw his teammates and the opposing players, heard what they were saying, smelled the aromas of the arena, and felt the ball in his hands.
Olympic athletes and high performers all share a similar process of meditating on their performance before they take the field. In fact, almost every professional team has a staff of sports psychologists that teach members meditation, affirmation, and visualization techniques.
In the world of martial arts, Chi Kung is a meditation and breathing exercise used to manipulate energy within the body for healing and for combat.
Practitioners manifest this healing and combat power by directing their life force – called ase in Ifa, Ka in Kemetic, the spirit in the West, and Chi in Eastern systems.
And speaking of Ifa, righteousness – called Iwapẹlẹ – can be made manifest through meditative recitation and sincere veneration. Initiates use a meditative prayer called adura to connect their Oris (souls) to the Most High Olu-Orun.
How To Meditate For Manifestation
Affirmations For Manifestation
Affirmations are called ‘light body work’ in the Black Conscious community, and they work. An affirmation is a positive message that – when repeated often enough – influences your subconscious.
Earlier I mentioned that one of the purposes of meditation is to take control of the wild animal that is your mind. Affirmations help you do that since the mind is occupied with repeating one phrase.
Not only will your active mind remain occupied, but your subconscious will start to ‘listen’ and operate according to your affirmation.
While you dont need to be in a seated position, you do need to repeat your affirmations out loud. While you chant your affirmation, pay attention by listening to yourself as the infinite observer or the ‘I in I’.
Prayers And Chants
Prayers and chants are forms of meditation that are similar to affirmations. Chants like ‘om’ affect your conscious state using self-produced vibrations. Thanks to technology, we can manipulate our consciousness using binaural beats or frequencies that repeat or modulate.
We offer these to our Patrons as a reward for their support. Join now for our library of binaural, conscious raising beats and guided meditations.
Manifesting Superior Performance
If you are meditating for performance it is important that you map out every element of what a perfect performance looks like before you sit down. Your performance can be an athletic event, a debate, a date, or a speech.
Once you have defined what you want to manifest, get into a meditative position. Use your thoughts to walk through every detail of a perfect performance – from the first step you take towards the performance field to the victory celebration after you finish.
The more you are able to image the entire performance – including the area where you will be performing – the more effective you will be. You have to smell it. You have to hear it. You have to feel it. Let every detail unfold in your minds eye.
Finally, imagine what success looks, feels, and smells like. Feel the rush of high self esteem and the sense of relief. Then start the process over again.
Meditation For Contemplation
When you contemplate, you focus on a topic with your eternal eye rather than your thoughts. You observe an idea with intent devotion and focus.
In the secular world, this can be achieved through journaling, deep learning, and through deep observation.
The Bible, Koran, and other spiritual texts encourage practitioners to meditate on the words of the Most High to understand their meaning on a deeper level.
For instance, the Christian Bible admonishes its followers to meditate constantly on the word of God:
Joshua 1:8 – 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
Psalm 104:34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD.
Psalm 119:15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
Like Christianity, there are dozens of Quranic verses encouraging meditation:
[3:17] They are steadfast, truthful, submitting, charitable, and meditators at dawn.
[17:79-80] During the night, you shall meditate for extra credit, that your Lord may raise you to an honorable rank. And say, “My Lord, admit me an honorable admittance, and let me depart an honorable departure, and grant me from You a powerful support.”
[25:63-66] The worshipers of the Most Gracious are those who tread the earth gently, and when the ignorant speak to them, they only utter peace. In the privacy of the night, they meditate on their Lord, and fall prostrate. And they say, “Our Lord, spare us the agony of Hell; its retribution is horrendous. It is the worst abode; the worst destiny.”
[26:217-220] And put your trust in the Almighty, Most Merciful. Who sees you when you meditate during the night. And your frequent prostrations. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient.
[39:9] Is it not better to be one of those who meditate in the night, prostrating and staying up, being aware of the Hereafter, and seeking the mercy of their Lord? Say, “Are those who know equal to those who do not know?” Only those who possess intelligence will take heed.
[50:39-40] … praise and glorify your Lord before sunrise, and before sunset. During the night you shall meditate on His name, and after prostrating.
The Aboriginal Approach To Contemplation
Since the time before time, Aborigines have practiced a deep form of meditation called dadirri. Dadirri means inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness. It is a ‘tuning in’ experience with the specific aim to come to a deeper understanding of the beauty of nature.
Dadirri recognises the inner spirit that calls us to reflection and contemplation of the wonders of all God’s creation. Within a deep silence we attempt to find the inner self, the perfect peace and the experience of God embracing us.
The Ayurvedic Approach To Meditation
Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that translates as ‘life science’ . The practice was developed thousands of years ago by the original inhabitants of India. The two main guiding principles of Ayurveda are 1) the mind and the body are inextricably connected, and 2) nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind.
The ancients developed a form of contemplative meditation called “vipassana” that consists of four areas of concentration:
Kayanupassana (contemplating the body, including breathing and internal sounds)
Vedananupassana (contemplating the emotions)
Cittanupassana (contemplating consciousness itself, the observer becomes the observed)
Dhammanupassana (contemplating a specific object – in some cases, a dead body. Concentrating on a dead body helps one to realize the true impermanence of the physical, and therefore helps one to let go).
How To Meditate For Contemplation
If your object of contemplation is a Holy book like the Bible, the Pert Em Heru, or The Book of Diagnosis in Ifa Divination, choose a passage that speaks to you.
Once you are focused and relaxed, read the spiritual text out loud and focus on the words. You can focus on the imagery of the words, the underlying meaning of the words, the sound of the words, or on the way the words make you feel.
When you do this, you may begin to think of the text in new ways. Let this happen. Let the text reveal its true meaning to you, as you are guided by the Holy spirit of the Most High or Egun.
When you meditate for spiritual awakening, you observe your thoughts without attachment. However, when you meditate for contemplation, you actively observe your thoughts, feelings, and pains in your body.
The difference is when you meditate for spiritual awakening you seek to become one with your essence, and here you seek to understand the nature of the extensions of your essence.
Meditation For Transcendence
Transcendence is the highest form of meditation. When you meditate for spiritual awakening, you do so to come to know yourself. When you meditate for contemplation, you do so to understand your spiritual anatomy. But when you meditate for transcendence, you do so to overcome the limitations of your mind and body.
How The Zulu Used Transcendent Meditation
The Zulus fought with an intensity the British had never seen; rushing forward as if bullets could not harm them, they seemed to be in a trance – The 33 Strategies Of War
The Zulu were legendary warriors who attributed their success in battle to both brutal training methods and to their ability to transcend their fear in battle. The Zulu used meditation to transcend their mind, overcome their fear, and perform at superhuman levels.
The British had superior weapons and defensive positions when they faced the Zulu at the battle of Isandlwana, yet they were defeated. While it is true that the Zulu had superior knowledge of the terrain, the British attributed the superiority of the Zulu to their minds.
In one account form the battle, a Brittish scout on the plains of Nqutu saw a few Zulus herding cattle some four miles away. He gave chase on his horse, but the Zulus disappeared into thin air.
Riding to the point where they had vanished, he stopped his horse just in time: below him lay a wide, deep ravine, completely hidden from the surface of the plains, and crowded into the ravine, as far as he could see in both directions, were Zulu warriors in full war regalia, an eerie intensity in their eyes.
They were completely silent, in a trance, and seemed to have been meditating on the imminent battle.
In other accounts, the British reported mentions that the “Zulu warriors defeated them because the Zulus ate dagga (marijuana), which rendered them fearless and trance like in the face of the imperial forces’ technologically superior breech-loading rifles, rockets, and small cannons” (Booth, 2003).
The Zulu were able to harness the power of their mind to overcome their fear and physical limitations.
Over the last 50 years there are said to have been 40 cases in India involving meditating Tibetan monks who have achieved complete transcendence. Known as ‘tukdam state’, these monks enter trances that last for decades or centuries.
In this state, the monk transcends his physical death and becomes one with his light (or rainbow) body.
You may not be preparing for war or trying to transcend death, but meditation can help you transcend pain and ego.
“The subtle causes of suffering are destroyed when the mind merges back into the unmanifest. The gross effects of suffering are discarded through meditation.” – Sutras 10-11
Meditation is the key that unlocks the prison of suffering by returning you to the state of knowledge of who you are. You plug back into the field of pure consciousness and, in doing so, you lift the veil of egoism, eliminate the need for attachment and aversion, and let go of your attachment to pain.
Seeing pain for the illusion that it is, you can be liberated from its control.
How To Create A Meditation Space
Meditation can be done any time and in any place. However, it helps to have a space that you can create to get you in the right state. This can be a room that you set aside as your personal temple, or some items that you can pull out when you are ready to practice.
Wherever you choose, you will see more progress by setting the right seats, scents, and sounds.
These are crystals that reduce or eliminate electromagnetic frequencies caused by electronics.
Your mental environment is just as important as your physical environment. If you approach meditation as just another chore or “thing to do”, your mind will interfere with your practice. Likewise, if you approach your practice with unrealistic expectations, you will retard your potential.
Instead, see meditation for what it is: an opportunity to see the truth in yourself and in the world around you. With practice, you will be able to meditate in every action, every day.
That is truly what it means to be woke.