The Readings' Approach To Spiritual Growth,
Meditation and Prayer
One of the major subjects in the readings has to do with spiritual growth, meditation, and prayer. For this reason, over a period of eleven years (1931-1942) Edgar Cayce gave aseries of 130 readings to a group of individuals (Study Group #l) who were working with spiritual laws. Interestingly enough, some members of the group had originally been interested in obtaining information on how to become more psychic. Cayce responded that the goal was rather to become more spiritual, and, as individuals worked more consistently with spiritual principles, they would naturally become more psychic.
This set of readings on spiritual growth has served as a guide for many others from every religious background, enabling them to become more aware of themselves through cooperation, prayer, faith, meditation, and love. Thousands of individuals have studied this material compiled by the first Study Group. These interdenominational discussion groups examine these readings on soul growth in individual homes all over the world. From Cayce's perspective, we are essentially spiritual beings who - at the moment - happen to be in the earth. We are not simply physical bodies with souls but are instead souls who happen to be in physical bodies as a means of gathering experience. (It is interesting to note that in the Bible a spiritual being was created (Genesis 1) before a physical being (Genesis 2).) Since part of our purpose in the earth is to come to know our true relationship with God, perhaps more than anything else meditation is a key to understanding that relationship.
It is interesting to note that Cayce began recommending meditation as early as 1921, long before many even knew what it was - Most of us began to hear about meditation during the 1960s and '70s. At first, we might have thought it was something unusual or even bizarre, or else we might have thought it was something practiced only by Eastern religions. However, a great deal of clinical research has proven that meditation can - at the very least - positively affect our health and well-being. By practicing this method of becoming silent, individuals can reduce their anxiety levels and learn to become more relaxed. Many physicians now recommend meditation as an effective way for their patients to lower their blood pressure.
In simplest terms, meditation is the practice of quieting our physical bodies and our minds, and focusing our attention inward instead of upon the outside world. It promotes coordination at three levels: physically, we begin to relax; mentally, our busied thoughts become quiet, and, spiritually, we become reenergized and are able to deal more lovingly and effectively with the people and events around us. As we take the time each day to put away from our thoughts the countless cares with which we're bombarded, we can begin to reestablish an awareness of our own spiritual nature. In one respect, prayer is talking to God, but meditation is listening to that portion of our being which is in constant communion with the Divine.
By following a few simple steps, anyone can meditate. Even a beginner can experience the calming effects of a few moments of purposeful silence.
If you would like to try to meditate, the firststep is to get into a comfortable position. It's probably best to sit in a chair, keeping your spine straight, your feet flat on the floor, and your eyes closed. Find a comfortable place for your hands, either put them in your lap or at your sides. Slowly take a few deep breaths and begin to relax. Breathe the air deep into your lungs, hold it for a moment, and then slowly breathe it out. With your mind, search your body for any obvious tension areas or light muscles. You can try to relieve the tension by deep breathing, imagining the area as relaxed or gently massaging any tight spots with your fingertips. When you have finished getting comfortable and relaxed, then you are ready to move on to the next step.
The second step is to begin to focus your mind on one, single, peaceful, calming thought Instead of thinking aboutwhat went on at work today or what has to be done with the remainder of your day, try focusing on a thought such as "I am relaxed" or "I will be still and feel at peace." You can also use a Biblical verse or a phrase with a spiritual focus, such as "God is Love." These thoughts are also called affirniations. The first way to work with them is to try to clear your mind of everything else.
The first "stage" of actual meditation involves thinking about the message of your affirmation. In the last example cited above, you would think about the words "God is Love." After a few moments of thinking the words, you should be able to move onto the second stage of meditation, which is feeling the meaning behind those words. For example, you can say the words "God is Love": however, the feeling of those words can be much more meaningful than the actual words themselves.
The third step is to hold the feeling in silent attention, without needing the words of the affirmation. Gently bring your focus back to the words of the affirmation every time your mind begins to wander; that is to say, first begin thinking of the words of the affirmation, then try to concentrate on the feeling behind them. Don't let yourself become discouraged when you find yourself thinking more about distractions than focusing upon the affirmation. It will take time to teach yourself to be able to think about only one thought. Spend from three minutes to fifteen minutes trying to hold the affirmation silently. The longer meditation periods are for when you have built up some experience.
The fourth step is to send out good thoughts or prayers to other people when you feel your meditation time is coming to an end. If you have been focusing on peace, then try to send a sense of that peace to someone about whom you're concerned. As you begin to practice meditation daily, it will become easier. "You might also notice that the sense of peace inside you during meditation will begin to carry over into the different parts of your day.
Cayce's approach to meditation differs from that of some schools of thought which contend that because the mind gets in the way of the meditator, it should be blanked out. The readings suggest that mind is a constructive force, allowing for the closest attunement possible if used in the right way.
Through the regular practice of meditation we can begin to heal ourselves In body, mind, and soul. As we focus on a positive affirmation, we may find that our negative habit pattems begin to change to be more In keeping with a positive direction. It is while practicing the silence of meditation, by relaxing our physical bodies and quieting our conscious minds, that we can set aside our daily concerns for a moment and attempt to attune ourselves to the spiritual side of our nature.
standpoint of the Edgar Cayce readings, the most
important relationship each of us has is that
relationship with God. One of the most beneficial ways we
can come to know that relationship is through the regular
practice of meditation. For this reason, the readings
suggest that meditation is something that every single
soul should learn to do.