All types of meditative guided imagery can fit under the heading of being a “less-blemished witness,” and this meditative witnessing is a form of general guided imagery and can be used in almost any context or setting.

Being a less-blemished witness is focusing (not thinking) on one thing, exactly what one is doing at any given time, nothing more, nothing less. This meditative witnessing is the “sword” (h’ou t’ou) that cuts out and erases thinking so that one can eventually learn to genuinely (without fooling oneself) empty one’s mind completely.

That said, even if one truly learns to empty one’s mind, it doesn’t lessen the importance of various types of guided imagery. These descriptions can be a bit confusing to contemplate at first, but using the so-called sword of guided imagery as a step toward totally emptying one’s mind does not in any fashion alleviate the importance of guided imagery as a splendid and healthful practice in and of itself.

Both the emptying of one’s mind and meditative guided imagery are traditionally viewed as very important, and there’s never a competition between the two. Both fall within the traditional context of “true meditation,” the pinnacle of the Eightfold Healthful Path. It is accepted in this tradition that the sword of guided imagery was strategically created as a helpful step toward learning to empty one’s mind completely, or what can be coined as the “perfect witness,” even though it is accepted in these arts that nothing is genuinely perfect on this Earth.

These practices, yin to yang and yang to yin, traditionally are associated with diaphragmatic breathing, resonant healing sounds, the theory of lightness, true health, true relaxation, opening the door (aka parting the veil) and utilization of the so-called spiritual eye/third eye (the Yin Tang/Stamp Hall acupoint between eyebrows or, in Sanskrit, the forehead chakra heaven, pertaining to the pineal gland and the hypothalamus gland).

Even though being a less-blemished witness can be practiced anytime and anyplace (focusing solely on what one is doing or seeing at a particular time), it is helpful to share this most basic, coinciding meditative guided imagery, working on witnessing one’s breathing, relaxation, and subtle movement — known as “How much gratitude does one need to be healthy?”

The practice
This guided imagery is for a standing position, but it can also be done sitting on a chair or stool, or in a lotus sitting posture.

Stand with your feet almost together (called a “humble stance”), and bend your knees comfortably. Put your tongue against the roof of your mouth (connecting the Governing and Central Vessels, congruent with acupuncture theory). Relax your face, shoulders, hands and feet. It’s said, “If they’re relaxed, you’re relaxed.”

Relaxation is a true skill, for there is always room for improvement. We always have some stress, no matter how relaxed we are. In this practice, be so relaxed that you are barely standing, in what we coin as a Swaying Willow demeanor. Gently roll the spine above the waist, forward and backward. This demeanor is much like a willow tree swaying in a gentle wind. Breathe in, all the way forward and backward, and breathe out in between.

Constantly adjust your vision so that you are looking just slightly above straight ahead, without focusing or staring. You are endeavoring to play the part of a less-blemished witness to one’s external environment — ideally without expectations. After a bit of time (try not to hurry), continue with your eyes closed. At the same time, keep your eyes as if they are still open, and looking just slightly above straight ahead.

Get the “engine” of the diaphragmatic/abdominal breathing going: Breathe in, push one’s abdomen out, breathe out, pull one’s abdomen in. Pretend that your lungs are in your abdomen. One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing — there is nothing more healthful. In practicing this breathing for five minutes twice daily, within 30 to 60 days most people will realize all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing. It greatly enhances circulation, and promotes the secretion of relaxing, pain-killing hormones.

Be in a spirit of gratitude and true appreciation. Be all in the moment. Have a true appreciation of the miracle of the moment. Ask yourself, “How much gratitude does one need to be healthy?”

Try not to think. Just witness your breathing, relaxation, and subtle movement. Again, try to play the part of a less-blemished witness. If a thought comes to your mind, embrace it, see it for what it is, but try not to hang onto it; just let it go. Put all of your attention in the moment. Be the moment. Be the breathing. Be the relaxation. Be the movement. Be the gratitude, not thinking, just being.

Mindfulness meditation involves putting all of your attention into just one, two or three aspects of what you are doing at any given time. It is next to impossible to be upset, anxious, worried, depressed, sad or frustrated if you are not thinking such thoughts. This is a primary purpose of mindfulness meditation. It is the sword that cuts out internal dialogue and/or cyclical thinking. Thoughts are often “heavy.” Be “light.”

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