To work with a sacred image, choose someone who inspires you, St. Francis or Kwan Yin the goddess of infinite mercy, Jesus or Mary, Buddha or Tara. It helps to have a clear, beautiful picture that you can place in front of you while meditating. Rest your gaze softly on them, drinking in the image and feeling they embody steadily and accurately. Open and close your eyes gently and repeatedly as you try to see the vision inside. Be easy. Start with whatever you can see, and like meditating on the breath, stay focused on this initial image. As you practice you can learn to visualize more carefully with detail. See the sacred image as filled with radiant light, and let all the light, love and illumination pour from them into you. Already you will feel better.
Now take the next step. Imagine that whoever you visualize can come inside your own body and mind. Release your personality and let St. Francis or Kwan Yin enter into your heart and fill you completely with their compassion, courage, purity, luminous radiance. Feel what it is like to inwardly become this being.
Dwell in this state for a period of time. Recognize that you can embody this energy, that you can allow it to fill every cell of your being, every corner of your consciousness. See the world with the eyes of Buddha or St. Francis; sense that you are holy. Practice this repeatedly until it becomes more natural to your heart than your “ordinary” identity.
And then, at the end of each period of visualization, release the image from your body, see it in front of you again and then dissolve it into emptiness. Notice how consciousness itself creates and erases all appearances. Return and rest in pure awareness, allow the natural world of your own body and mind to reappear, still secretly infused with the sacred consciousness of this vision.
This excerpt is taken from the book, “The Wise Heart”