Getting confused during guided meditations

From a student:

“I LOVE the sanctuary meditation!!!Love it!Love it! Love it! I can’t say how MUCH I have learned through listening to your guided meditation. I never ever thought about ‘travelling’ in the inner sanctuary. It is absolutely my thing. I always got bored sitting/being at one spot. I like to move. I also love your idea about merging with elements from the landscape or animals. I heard about it, but never did it before.

But having said all that, at the same time, I am also quite challenged with the visualization. I have done it now 3 times. The first time I followed you, starting in my own landscape. Second time, I was in a different landscape again, and than followed you again… this time was much more intense. Really really nice! But…then the 3. time: I was again in the same landscape like last time, but then, my own elements/guides showed up.

Which is a good thing you would say, but I really stressed out. Couldn’t work out whether to focus on your imagery or mine and it all got very confusing. If I go on my ‘own’ (without someone guiding me, in that case you), I miss boundaries/structure- I get lost in the process. Also, I doubt myself…that I am doing it right (without guidance). I miss the structure which I get when someone guides me through.”

Om’s Answer:

“This is a completely natural phase we all go through when learning how to go on inner journeys. I remember going through it myself, and I agree, it can be disorientating, but it’s really important to be courageous and persevere through the initial disorientation. Think of this phase as being like a bridge. On the first part of the bridge, I’m holding your hand to help you across. But at some point, you have to start guiding yourself and stop being dependant on me. For a while in the middle of the bridge, you will take a few steps on your own and then reach out again to hold my hand again for a few moments if you get wobbly. But eventually, by the time you reach the other side of the bridge, you won’t need me anymore.”

When your mind begins to create it’s own imagery and go off in directions different from that being suggested by the speaker (e.g. me):

This is a natural, and very welcome phase! Having your own imagery come up is an excellent sign. Your psyche is beginning to understand what inner journeys are all about. Your subconscious/psychic mind is starting to flex it’s muscles and test itself out.

The imagery and experiences that pop up at the beginning of this phase, can seem incoherent, muddled, blurry, random etc, simply because you are like a fledging eagle who is still learning how to use her wings. You will simply need to persevere through all of this.

It’s important to accept that not all of what arises from within you will make sense. Some of it is just muck from the subconscious that you are clearing out. Imagine that you have opened the door to your subconscious and you are now sorting through all the associations (e.g. red = fire = passion) that you have buried inside you- what is useful, what isn’t? Your subconscious is trying to work out how to communicate with your conscious mind and your conscious mind is trying to make sense of what is being communicated. It takes time to build a language of symbols, and this phase is a little like your conscious mind and subconscious mind getting together and testing ideas out.

Keep an inner-journey journal/diary, because with time, some of the symbols will be repeated in different settings and you will start to make sense of them. This repetition is easier to recognise if you are keeping records. It may even help to write the journey down as it occurs.

As soon as your mind begins to create its own experience/imagery and takes you in a different direction, block the speaker out. Ignore him/her/me. Follow your own mind/body/intuition. There will be a part of you that keeps an eye on what the speaker is saying and will draw you back to him/her/me when and if that is appropriate (i.e. you get lost or start getting distracted). It takes practice, but it’s very very valuable to learn how to switch between the speaker’s guided journey and your own deviations, as needed.

At first, this will be disorientating. Again, just persevere through this. Don’t fight it. Relax and let it all unfold. It’s all perfect. This is always a bit of chaos and muddle at the beginning of this process, until we find the perfect balance between disciplining our mind and letting it go.