Subtle energy meditations take as their focal point subtle phenomena such as the breath, sound, or interior visualizations.
Subtle energy meditations are usually performed in static or sitting positions without movement of the body. Sitting quietly and watching the breath is one type of subtle energy meditation. Visualizing light at the energy centers of the body is another kind of meditation, as are chanting and feeling subtle energy in the body.
In the meditative tradition of Kriya yoga they teach to focus on what they call the 'triple divine qualities,' which are subtle light, subtle sound, and subtle vibrations. Perceiving subtle vibration is essentially the same as feeling the sensations of the body that we are not usually tuned into. For instance, if you place your attention on your spine you will begin to feel a subtle sensation like tingling, coolness, or warmth along the whole length of the spine.
Body scanning like done in yoga nidra is another form of subtle energy meditation.
The sensations of the body we feel in various body scanning practices are directly connected to our nervous system, and are equivalent to the movement of bio-electrical energy. When we focus our minds on an area of our body, and feel the sensations that are present there, we are practicing a form of meditation
The subtle light that is spoken of in Kriya yoga is similar to the light we see when we dream or do a visualization exercise. You can experience this subtle light now by closing your eyes and visualizing radiant yellow light in the center of your forehead.
You can experience subtle light now by closing your eyes and visualizing radiant yellow light in the center of your forehead. Try it!
It is taught in Kriya yoga that this subtle inner light is always ever - present, and active visualization is not necessary to perceive it. As an exercise to experience this, close your eyes and press your index fingers lightly against your eyelids. Do this in a way to block out any and all external light, and notice while doing this, that there is a subtle and hazy light present. You can also do this at night in a completely dark environment, and again close your eyes and cover your eyelids lightly with your index finger. It is rare that someone will do this and feel as if they are in total darkness, rather a majority of the people will notice that a subtle hazy light can be perceived.
Jyoti Mudra - Here's another exercise to experience your subtle inner light.
Close your eyes and press your index fingers lightly against your eyelids. Do this in a way to block out any and all external light. Notice while doing this that there is a subtle and hazy light present.
In this exercise we can perceive subtle inner light in a passive way, by simply observing what is already there.
We can also perceive subtle inner light in the active way of doing visualizations and imagery.
As one of the goals of meditation is to move beyond the over-thinking mind, I prefer to teach the method of perceiving the subtle light that is naturally there. However, visualizing light is a useful tool to give the mind a subtle phenomena to focus on, and is best used by beginners that cannot otherwise perceive subtle light.
Perceiving subtle sound is similar to perceiving subtle light and can be practiced in a similar way. However, perceiving subtle sound is often more difficult for many people. One way subtle sound can be heard is to interiorly hear a mantra or single sound and focus on it. As an example, recall a favorite song and notice how you can hear in your mind, without actually perceiving it with your ears. You may also hear the subtle sound by placing your fingers over your ears and noticing a subtle humming.
If you have ever had the opportunity to go to a completely quiet place, such as a desert or cave, you may have also noticed a subtle humming quality when there were no sound waves actually entering your ears.
This is the subtle sound, and one kind of subtle body meditation is to focus on this interior humming that is not associated with actual sound.
Other practices that are related to subtle energy meditations include lucid dreaming, visualizations, and moving energy in the body. Subtle energy meditations are useful for attuning our minds to more rarefied interior experiences, which escape our ordinary everyday consciousness. By focusing on subtle interior phenomena such as the breath, subtle light, sound, vibrations and sensations we can acutely learn to concentrate our minds. This practice leads to experiencing more subtle states of consciousness that often escape our ordinary attention and are covered up by our everyday mental and emotional activities.
By focusing on subtle interior phenomena such as the breath, subtle light, sound, vibrations and sensations we can acutely learn to concentrate our minds.