Meditation can be divided into two phases or types, passive and active.
When the subject of meditation is one that is used solely to focus on, and not to study, then the mind will become passive. Two examples of passive subjects are a candle flame and Hashem’s name. These subjects are used merely as tools to affix the mind, in order to ignore all other mental input, and to become passive.
This system will give you many health benefits, such as improving your concentration and lowering your blood pressure. It can also produce mystical results, which can be very beneficial, or dangerous, depending on your practice.
Active subjects are chosen in order to increase one’s understanding of that subject. An excellent example of an active meditation subject is “Place.” Ask yourself, “where is the Place?” Each time you come to an answer, look deeper and deeper, until you truly understand that the Place is everywhere, including within and around you. Then go even deeper until you see that, in fact, “Place” is one of G-d’s names, and G-d is the Place that fills and surrounds you. With this subject, your mind is actively engaged, as you look deeper and deeper.
Perhaps the most productive way to learn to meditate is to start with a passive subject, such as watching your breath move in and out of your nostrils. Focus on your breath over and over again. At this stage, this is a completely passive technique. Then, every minute or so, while you are still focusing on the air passing in and out of your nostrils, remember the line in the Torah when G-d created Adam (the first man), “He [G-d] blew into his [Adam’s] nostrils the soul of life, and man became a living being.”
This method gives you all of the benefits of an entirely passive technique, and then by inserting the quote from the Torah, you also utilize an active technique. Try to understand that line from the Torah is talking about man today. See that indeed even today, G-d is the One who is actually breathing in and out our every breath. This is active meditation. The passive phase of the meditation opens your mind, and then you fill your open mind with the deep concept that G-d is ever-present, filling and surrounding all. This technique gives you the benefit of both systems, and it eliminates the danger of the entirely passive technique.
Magicians use entirely passive systems, to prevent their minds from ever interfering. This allows whatever unclean forces that surround them to take over. This is why a meditating magician is frequently pictured gazing into a crystal ball. He wants to completely empty his mind. This type of meditation is the one that is dangerous and should not be used.
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