How to meditate – How you prepare is fundamental
Preparing for meditation is Stage Zero of the meditation process. With any kind of meditation, it is essential to do some preparation for things to go well.
Stage Zero is often seen as an optional extra and either skipped or not done thoroughly. It is sad because it hinders the effectiveness of one’s meditation even before it begins. If you want to get a particular result, you need to set up the right conditions to get that result. According to Buddhists, there is a principle called “conditionality,” which states that if your goal is to achieve “x,” you need to set up the conditions that will enable you to make “x.” Buddhists put a heavy emphasis on the importance of preparation. They believe that it’s impossible to skip this step and expect to get the results that you desire.
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Preparing for meditation involves both the external and internal. Externally you want to make a place that will be conducive to a deep, meditative experience. Internally, you want to address your posture, deepen your awareness of your body, and relax as deeply as you can. This preparation is essential for a calmer, less stressed, and more peaceful mind. Following are some suggestions on how you can prepare your external and internal environment in a way that will help you get the most out of your meditation.
Mirror your internal intention by an external act
Mentally you are emptying your mind of all irrelevant, powerless human thoughts to reload it with ideas that are in line with your spiritual higher self.
Physically, you can show your intent to purify your thoughts by taking a shower (to wash away your worries), brushing your teeth, or washing your hands and face. The act of removing yourself is a very symbolic cleansing ritual that will make you feel renewed, refreshed, and clean. It can also have an extremely positive effect on your mood and overall mindset as you prepare to meditate.
Create a relaxing atmosphere
If you want your body and mind to relax, then create an atmosphere that is conducive to relaxation.
Light a candle, burn some incense, dim the lights, place some fresh flowers on the table, or play some meditation music. Creating a sanctuary in which to meditate will go a long way in helping you clear your mind and experience a deep, enjoyable, and enriching meditation.
Provoke a meditative state
Take 5-20 minutes to read spiritual writings. These can vary between biblical God-centered books, religious healing material, or even some positive, encouraging words that feed your soul and get you in touch with Spirit. As you read, absorb and reflect on the meaning of every sentence. Take notes in a particular journal that you exclusively reserve for spiritual reflection.
When you feel that your spiritual reading has led you to a state of awareness and peace, take between 5-10 slow deep breaths. As you breathe inward, open yourself to the peace-loving nature of God (or Universe). Let your outward breath release the tension and frustrations that are held within your unconscious. Let them go. Now begin the meditation practice of your choice. Breathe from your diaphragm and feel your body relaxing with every full, deep breath.
Choose the best time for you
There are no set rules in terms of the ideal time to meditate. It will depend on what works best for you and your schedule.
Morning meditation is preferred by some people because it helps set a good mood for the rest of the day. Others prefer meditating after work or school because it helps them let go of the tensions of the day. There are still others who opt to meditate right before bed to allow their unconscious minds to work on their intentions while they sleep. Some people will find this time difficult because they are tired and have to fight their desire to fall asleep. Choose the time of day that suits you best. It might involve some trial and error, but once you find your ideal time, it will nurture your meditative practice for months or even years to come.
Get comfortable and sit correctly
First, choose comfortable clothes that will not restrict or confine you. Make sure that the area you have designated as your meditation sanctuary is warm.
The way you sit during meditation is fundamental because the emotions and mental state that you experience during meditation are ultimately attributed to the way you hold your body. Even something as intricate as the angle at which you conduct your chin can affect how much thinking you do. It is why one of the first things you need to learn is how to sit correctly.
There are two vitally essential principles you need to remember in setting up a suitable posture for meditation:
Your attitude has to allow you to be comfortable and relaxed
Your position has to enable you to be alert and aware
If you are uncomfortable, you won’t be able to meditate. If you can’t relax, you won’t be able to enjoy your meditation. You might consider sitting cross-legged on a meditation pillow. However, if you are not very flexible, you will probably suffer from doing this. Your best bet is to sit in a chair that you find comfortable, and that allows you to sit upright. Here are some elements of good posture that you should consider when sitting.
Your spine should be relaxed and upright
Avoid slouching because a slumped-over posture closes off your heart. You want your heart and mind to be open during your meditation
Your shoulders should feel loose yet rolled back and down a little bit
Your hands should sit on your lap, on the arms of a chair, or rest on a cushion
Your head should be straight with your chin tucked in slightly, and the back of your neck should feel long and loose
Your face should be free of tension, and your jaw loses
Have your feet flat on the floor
Avoid meditating right after a big meal
Research studies show that mental activity is intensified when the body is metabolizing food. To avoid unnecessary noise in your head, choose not to do your meditation right after a big meal.
Don’t rush off after meditation
After completing your meditation, sit quietly for a little while longer. Use this time to assimilate your experience as well as reflect and contemplate on it. Be conscious of the intuition or revelation that you might be feeling.
Doing this enables you to embrace your meditative experience fully. It also acts as a gateway for allowing the knowledge to become part of your ‘real world’ rather than keeping it as something separate from your day-to-day life. As you learn to listen to your inner voice, your ‘real self’ will begin to guide you daily.
Make meditation a daily habit
The benefits you will gain from meditation are cumulative. It means that as you continue to meditate regularly, you will acquire more and more profits.
If you are truly serious about improving yourself through meditation, make it a part of your daily routine by meditating at least once or twice per day. The rewards you gain will improve with commitment and regularity.