Imaginative Meditation

One of the challenges for those who left a Tibetan Buddhist group disillusioned after revelations of abuse by our teachers was how to meditate with all the power of the Vajrayana practice but without the cultural, cultish, and religious baggage.

Several years after leaving Tibetan Buddhism, I went back to a simple meditation practice – I discovered that my neurodivergent brain really needed it – and out of that came what I call imaginative meditation – because the object of the meditation is in one’s imagination. Though it’s free of the cultural and religious issues documented on this website, it includes all the elements of the original Vajrayana practices. It’s Vajrayana reenvisaged for the modern world, made accessible to anyone and yet suitable for the most experienced Vajrayana practitioners. If you have the background, you’ll recognise the elements.

Studies show clear evidence that meditation can directly influence the brain to reduce ADHD symptoms.

Jeff Tarrant, Ph.D., BCN, Can Meditation help with ADHD, Psychology Today,

Imaginative meditation is good for ADHD & those who are easily bored.

In the quoted article above Tarrant suggests methods that are particularly suitable for people with ADHD. He suggests virtual or augmented reality because they ‘provide an immersive, visually appealing environment for the meditation experience.’ But then he suggests using an app that costs you money every month. Using your imagination is free, and it does the same thing – create an appealing environment in your mind.

In imaginative meditation, you use your imagination to create stunning visuals that are designed to bring to you the depth of your being. At the second stage of the practice, you also use chanting a mantra, which helps keep you focused, regulates your emotions and boosts your energy.

Neurodivergent or not, if you find watching your breath boring, then imaginative meditation is for you – and it will never cost a cent.

It’s structured but flexible.

Imaginative meditation is structured in that it has stages of the visualisation, but it is also a very flexible practice, one you can be creative with depending on your needs on any one day. It could be used as a refuge, healing and/or loving kindness and compassion practice. And its ultimate purpose is the same as for any Vajrayana practice – to recognise the true nature of your mind and reality, a state of peace and clarity.

It also has many different levels of engagement. It can be done very simply or, for experienced meditators or those used to Vajrayana practice, it can be done in great detail.

It uses beautiful imagery.

The focus of the practice is an imagined/visualised being. I find imagining beautiful gods and goddesses very inspiring, especially as they come beaming radiant light that fills you up with health, energy and positivity – what’s not to like. That’s what drew me to the visualisation practices in Tibetan Buddhism.

I call this focus of the practice a noble being rather than a goddess or a deity, so there’s no religious overtones or limit on how you visualise your meditational support.

The noble being visualised in the practice is a focus and support for your meditation. It can be as simple as imagining a glowing source of radiant light, or you can visualise a radiant noble being. You can dream up your own one or you can use an image as the basis of your visualisation.

Guided Imaginative Meditation with Visuals

Note that if this player is squashed (it should be 9:16 ratio), you can see the video on the Meditations page on Psychemagination

More advanced versions will come later in a book on the practice.

The simple version is in this book (revised in 2023), along with meditations on simply being, simply hearing, simply seeing and so on.

Using imaginative imagery as a focus without the structured practice.

Sometimes it’s hard to actually sit down and take time to meditate formally – though much of imaginative meditation practice stage 2 can be done walking – but the idea of using inspiring imagery as the focus of meditation can be used very simply.

Just choose an image that inspires you – a positive peaceful image – and rest your mind on that, as in the simply seeing meditation. There’s plenty of images to choose from in the Galleries section of Psychemagination.net

And I’ve found that animated AI generated images set to music helpful for inspiring a meditative state. I can watch this kind of artwork on my phone (they’re designed for mobile devices), rest my mind lightly on the image as I would on any object of meditation, and chill out (and more). I find it an entertaining and inspiring way to meditate without any of the overtones that can come with sitting formally.

My webook Psychemagination is full of them, and I have the ones most conducive to meditation listed on the meditations page there. I created the videos, and my husband Kris created the beautiful music. Pop over there and try them out.

Click here to see my Meditation Beyond the Temple videos on You Tube

Noble beings explaining their purpose.

I used AI generated images and made them talk to create this informative and visually engaging video on what a noble being is and their purpose. It’s less than a minute long.

Who am I? What do I know that I am sharing such a practice and mediation instructions?

I am no one and I know nothing. At the same time, I am Tahlia Newland, and I have practiced meditation for over three decades, two of them doing daily Tibetan Buddhist Vajrayana practice and study of the Buddhist teachings. Twelve of those years I spent in partial home retreat doing around two hours of study and practice a day. During this time, I completed the mantra accumulations for the Vajrayana preliminary practices and two of the three three-root practices. I taught meditation and Vajrayana preliminaries for Rigpa Australia, including at their yearly retreats. I also set up Rigpa Australia’s distance education centre and was the Teaching Services director and main instructor for that centre.

Yes, it turned out that Rigpa was a cult led by an abusive guru, but that does not negate my meditation teaching experience or diminish my accumulated years of study and practice. What is important is that I have seen what caused the problems with the teacher, the teachings and the group – as documented here and in my book Fallout: Recovering from Abuse in Tibetan Buddhism – so I know what has no place in a reenvisaged Vajrayana practice. I know what not to teach, what not to carry into the modern world.

There are serious problems with the Tibetan Buddhist religion, but the meditation practices are not only sound but also genuinely transformative when practiced with the correct understanding. My aim in sharing the practice that has come to me through my practice is merely so that others may experience this transformative power without needing to join a Tibetan Buddhist group or follow a guru.