Meditation as a Personal Practice: Working with Mind and Thought
There is no way to truly teach meditation. The most one can hope is to properly facilitate the process, model a proper environment and note techniques aimed at allowing learning to occur from the act of meditation itself.
Listed below are a few simple suggestions designed to help begin the discipline of a meditation practice. (The ideas in this article are indicative of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta approach to meditation and yoga.)
Practice Meditation on a Regular Basis
By creating and sticking to a regular daily meditation time, the mind begins to expect the practice of meditation and will start calming before the sitting begins. This is important because the mind likes to jump around and any assistance in aiding the distraction is welcomed. Preparing the mind to slow and settle will provide a head start in the initial struggle for peace.
Create an Area for Meditation Purposes Only
It is recommended to set aside an entire room for meditation purposes only. If this is unlikely, create a portioned-off section, one that is used solely for meditation. This will keep the area free from other vibrational disturbances. Pure, calm energy is important, because the mind can attach to any external intrusions. The area should have a nice smell, incense or fresh air, and an image, visible to the practitioner, that invokes a sense of well-being. As taught by Swami Sivananda, as meditation is repeated, the powerful essence created by the meditation will stay in the area – making it a restful refuge for the practitioner to visit during times of duress.
Begin Meditation with a Ritual
Command the mind to be quiet for a specific amount of time before mediation begins. The intent is to lose stressful connections to the past, present and future. Then begin with a prayer, a movement, a chant, or a mantra, aligning the mind to something held sacred.
Use Conscious Breathing throughout the Meditation Practice
By regulating the breath and placing awareness on the inhale and exhale, it becomes easier to detach from initial mind chatter clambering for attention. It is advised to begin with about five minutes of deep abdominal breathing. This doses the brain with oxygen. Then relax the breath to an easy, yet conscious, inhale and exhale lasting the duration of the practice.
Mental Ease and Meditation
Allow thoughts to wander at first – it is natural for the mind to jump around. Forcing stillness will exacerbate the process. Ease the thoughts, focusing on an object, symbol, or mantra. And if the mind persists in scattered motions, simply watch it – attempting not to judge. Simply observe.
What is meditated “on”, if anything, is an individual choice. What works perfectly for one, may not be right for another. This may take trial and error. Be patient with the self.
Begin the meditation practice working within 20-minute increments and then extending to longer periods of time. Once meditation becomes a practice, information meant uniquely for the practitioner is made known during and after the process of meditation.
Although meditation is simple, it is not easy. Avoid getting discouraged when the mind refuses to obey the initial commands. This discipline takes practice. It is said that when one meditates for only one half of an hour, on a daily basis, peace and strength become powerfully present in life. Meditation opens the door of trusting one’s innate wisdom and peaceful focus – something that all can benefit from in this fast-paced and seemingly crazy and chaotic world.