Creating a Meditation Practice
April 1, 2008 · Print This Article
Creating a meditation practice is more than just learning a few techniques. It’s about establishing a sacred space in which you feel safe and supported in your practice of meditation. Simple and practical tips can make all the difference between meditating for a few short weeks and meditating for a lifetime.
Ultimately, the great meditation masters tell us that there is nothing to be attained–we are already perfect, we just have to realize that Truth. However, until we become firmly established in that Truth, meditation is necessary. By creating a meditation practice, you’re setting a powerful intention that sustains and supports your practice. There is power in ritual, and this should not be ignored. Use this guide to create your personal practice which will strengthen your spiritual practices and deepen your meditation.
Simple Tips for Creating Your Meditation Practice
1. Choose a time that you consistently practice your meditation. Many people espouse that the early morning is the best time to do this. But the best time for you is simply whatever time works the best. Try to set it up so you’re not likely to be interrupted during this time. Shut off your phones and close yourself away from the world, even if it’s just for 5 minutes.
2. Choose a quiet space. It’s difficult enough to concentrate; removing all the other distractions, like noises, is an essential element when you’re first building your practice. Eventually, you’ll be able include disturbance like lawn mowers and barking dogs into your practice. But for starters, keep it simple, keep it quiet.
3. Be consistent in your practice. I like this one, because I was never good at it. For instance, I was great at cramming for tests. I’d be up the night before, studying for hours–and I’d ace the test. Unfortunately, meditation isn’t like that. You’ll receive little or no benefit from meditating once a week for a long stretch of time. You’re better off practicing just 5 minutes every day, rather than trying to do a cram session. It just doesn’t work.
4. Whatever happens when you sit to meditate is meditation. This one gets a lot of people, because they have a preconceived notion of what meditation is and isn’t. However, my teacher has always taught that whatever happens when you sit with the intention to meditate, is meditation. So whether or not you perceive something beneficial happening or not, trust that you are making progress. Some of my greatest revelations have come immediately following a period of time when I ‘thought’ nothing was happening. Then suddenly, the skies part and you’re hit with a profound realization or ecstatic experience.
5. Be aware of resistance. The times you don’t want to meditate are the most important times to meditate. With this in mind, notice when you are resistant to meditation, and make a real effort to go and just sit. You don’t have to worry about how well you do. You might just sit feeling resistant, or angry or irritated. That’s really okay. Just the fact that you sat for meditation strengthens your commitment and helps you create a consistent meditation practice.
6. Invoke the Saints and Sages of Your Tradition. Many great and powerful Knowers of the Truth have come before us. Their love and compassion for us can still be felt today. Great beings have shared their teachings and those teachings are alive in the many great religions of the world. Invoke the support of your spiritual teachers, and the saints and men and women of God in your tradition. Their support can be a beacon of light in both good times and bad.
7. Establish a meditation room or area. Having a sacred space where meditation is the only thing you do can really help in creating a meditation practice. The energy of your meditation remains in your meditation room or area, undisturbed, and makes it easier to go into meditation each time you enter that sacred space. My meditation teacher has a room where he meditated and the room is left very dark and no one is allowed to speak. Even though he is no longer in his body, when people enter the room, they find it very easy to fall into a deep state of meditation.
8. Create a meditation altar. Don’t confuse this with idol worship. I’m sure if you have kids, or know someone with kids, and you’ve been in their room, you’ve seen pictures hanging on the wall of Michael Jordan or Britney Spears. Those pictures aren’t idols, they just represent an ideal. In the same way, you can create a meditation altar that contains symbols of your devotion to God and your practice of meditation. You might place a picture of a holy person, a candle, the Bible, the Qur’an, a rosary, the Shiva lingam, or any other object that has spiritual value to you on your altar, to remind you of what it is you value, and what it is you are aspiring toward.
9. Wear special meditation clothing or accessories. Practitioners of Chi Kung believe that wearing the same clothing for each session, without washing the clothing, is very important. Other meditators swear that sitting on a sheep’s wool asana is beneficial. I have a special meditation shawl that I wrap myself in when I meditate and a rudraksha mala I wear on certain occasions. All of these things can provide a powerful focus for you to easily go into meditation. My personal belief is that these symbols have as much power as we lend to them. So if you find it easier to meditate if you’re wearing the same clothes every time, why not do it? Regardless of whether it’s really building up the meditation energy in those clothes or not, it really doesn’t matter. If it helps, do it.
10. Get comfortable. If you can’t sit in full lotus for more than 10 seconds without your legs cramping, then don’t do it. I known a meditation teacher who confessed that sitting cross-legged on the floor really messes with her knees, so she invested in a Lazy Boy recliner and meditates in it…complete with several fluffy cushions and a nice padded headrest. Hey, whatever works to help you in creating a meditation practice, right? The point is, if you’re going to be meditating for more than a few minutes, you might as well be comfy…so invest in a meditation cushion or chair. Or just get yourself a Lazy Boy recliner.
I hope this gives you some very clear and specific tips for creating a meditation practice.I’d love to hear from you and about what’s helped you in creating your meditation practice. Contact me.