Ten Tips to help with your Meditation Practice!
Meditation is not easy, but for some reason we think that it should be. People regularly come into class thinking that it will be relaxing and profound at their first sitting! I wish I could make this so for you, but the truth is that it is often the opposite of relaxing. It will be difficult, uncomfortable, distracting, and at times painful. At the same time, it is the most important practice you will ever attain…..quite a dichotomy, how to attain this state of being when it is so hard to sit for only a few minutes in complete stillness.
Here are a few pointers to help with your journey.
Make it simple! Don't over think this! It is very difficult and profound to begin a meditation practice, or pick one up again, and again, and again. Try not to over think it, just commit to the practice of silencing your mind for a few minutes a day. Thats right, don't think of it as hours, but minutes every day to sit in stillness. That means no thoughts, no movement while you sit. This mentally will feel doable, that’s the simple part, keep it like that. It's just a few minutes a day to clear the mind of thought and of movement. You will be surprised that even this is difficult to do, but it is a pretty good start. Minutes eventually will lengthen into longer periods of time. But for now think of the simple practice of sitting and removing all thoughts and movement for only a few minutes a day!
Make it a part of your schedule! We schedule things that are important to us so you should also schedule time for this. Every day schedule a time to sit and silence your mind. Set an alarm if you need to, but make this small commitment to sitting in meditation every day at the same time.
Pick the same place to sit in meditation every day! Yes, this is important! Pick the same place, at the same time, and after a short period of time you will slip into that state of bliss more and more easily. You will come to associate the space you are sitting in with the state of stillness and meditation.
Have no expectations! We all have an expectation every time we sit in meditation. We are expecting to see magic, attain information from beyond, see and experience all that we have read about in our metaphysical books. I mean you have been working at this state for at least a few days/weeks so I am sure transcendence is only around the corner? This way of thinking will only get you more and more exhausted and your efforts will be easily thwarted. Place your expectations aside, let there be no beginning, middle or end to your practice. Only experience what there is to experience, no matter what it looks like. Know that it is exactly where you need to be.
Remove all thought! Oh...this will be very very difficult! But it is the very first part of sitting in meditation. Stop Thinking! Every time a thought comes up, place it aside. It doesn't matter what thought it is, it could seem very profound, enlightened, colorful, visual, or impactful. Put aside all thoughts, no matter how sexy and provocative they seem, let them float past you as if they were on a cloud. The thoughts will only take you down the preverbal rabbit hole of nothingness, albeit colorful and sometimes profound, but they will only distract you. No thinking !!
Start early in the day! I know we all have a busy day, but it’s easier and quieter to start early! Usually the world around you will still be asleep, and your mind and your body will be quieter. Your body will be rested and your mind will be ready. So, if possible start early in the morning before your busy day starts up, it may just set the pace for the rest of your day and bring a more sattvic state of being to your day and to all those that you come in contact with.
Don’t get to tied up in how you are sitting! Very often people begin their practice with a full lotus position! Please don't do this unless you have been sitting in full lotus for years and know that it comes very easily to you. This is an advanced position and should not be taken lightly. The first time you sit for meditation should not be your first attempt at lotus. Sit in a comfortable position, even if it is in a chair with your legs and feet on the ground. The most important thing is not to create a sitting position that will make your simple practice into a more difficult one. Go back to #1 and make it simple!!
Keep your back straight! I have been asked this many times, and yes…the straightness of your back is important! You should be sitting so that your back is as perpendicular as possible. That means not leaning on any walls or backs of chairs. Sit in a chair, with your feet flat on the ground, or sitting on the floor with a pillow or wedge elevating you a bit so to make your sitting position as straight and comfortable as possible and try not to slouch or lean. This will activate the natural prana that flows through your energetic spinal column and make it easier and more profound to stay in a strong meditative seated position,
Natural breath. Allow yourself to breath naturally. This is easy, it’s actually the easiest part of this entire practice. I have observed that many people acquire a yogic ujjayi breath (creating a controlled ocean breath). Your breath should not be controlled in any way. Only watch your breath and allow it to flow naturally.
Check in with yourself. Try to observe yourself as being outside of yourself and looking within. Don't look at yourself from inside out, but rather from outside in. See yourself with compassion and love, and watch as you sit, as you breath, as you try to control the mind, motion and emotion. Watch yourself and come into the space between one thought and the next.
Remain there forever and ever.
Simple right? Right! Take one step at a time, find stillness, quietness and place this practice above all else and understand that even in the simplicity of it, there is nothing more profound .
It is the journey that is important, we will all arrive there eventually, enjoy the ride!
Trust the process…..