If you are reading this, you practice meditation, or you have an interest in it. I am happy to share with you eight tips to enhance your practice. Meditation opens us to a new world filled with wonders. When we go inside, our experiences may fluctuate between dullness to richness, emptiness to fullness. The key to a successful daily practice is perseverance, no matter what we encounter and regardless of our experience. How can we enhance our practice?
1) Always schedule your meditation at the same time.
If we like to meditate in the morning at 6:00 AM, then we keep this time for meditation. If we prefer evening, let’s say at 7:00 or 9:30 PM, then we make a point to regularly meditate at 7:00 or 9:30 PM. Whatever time we choose, we honor it and our consistent and sustained practice will reward us. Why?
The body works with cycles, and associates a memory attached to each cycle. For instance, our body has an internal clock for sleep. Do we usually retire at 10.00 pm? Midnight or later? Before we retire, our body starts relaxing, we begin yawning, and our eyes become sleepy. So, at the same time, every night, our body automatically slows down. Our internal clock is ticking as we approach our regular bedtime. Our body remembers and prepares us for sleep.
In the morning, we experience another internal clock. Don’t we wake up just a few minutes before our alarm goes off? Once our body is used to wake up at a specific time, it does it on its own.
We add a meditation practice to our daily schedule and our body creates an internal clock and a memory for meditation. When we sit down to meditate at a chosen and scheduled time, our body expects it and helps us slide into meditation with easefullness.
2) Meditate always in the same place
Always meditate on the same cushion, or on the same chair or sofa. Why? When we meditate, particles of subtle meditation energy or Shakti, slowly permeate and eventually saturate the area. What we want is to build up the amount of Shakti. The accumulated meditation energy, from previous meditation sessions, facilitates falling into our present meditation.
If possible, dedicate a corner of a quiet room in your house or apartment to meditation. Better yet, if space allows it, have a meditation room. The room may be the size of a regular closet. It doesn’t have to be huge. If you lack space and must settle for a corner, then create a partition that divides and protects your meditation. Keep the Shakti undisturbed. Keep your space clean. Keep it private.
3) Always meditate on wool
Cover your cushion, your chair or armchair with a piece of wool. You may choose a sewn square of simple wool fabric, or a hand-knitted piece in your favorite stitches. You may prefer an old favorite wool shawl or a wool scarf big enough so that you can sit on it. Or, it may be an old wool sweater. Whatever form your wool takes, reserve it just for your meditation and just for you. Why?
Wool fibers transmit electricity. A square of wool or woolen shawl will keep the meditation energy or Shakti in it. We call it an asana. When we sit on our asana, the built-up Shakti surrounds us and brings us into meditation with easefulness.
4) Take a few deep breaths and focus on your breathing
Why? The mind may be inclined to make a list of our up-coming tasks or to review some situations. When we begin meditation, we take a few deep breaths to slow down our body and particularly our busy mind.
A few deep breaths calm our mind, and in this manner, release the day. Then we focus on our breathing. We focus on the breath coming in, and on the breath coming out.
As we keep our focus on our breathing, our mind relaxes even more and slows down. If thoughts come up, we let them go. We don’t try to catch or stop the wind. Same for our thoughts. The wind comes and keeps moving, so are our thoughts.
5) Meditate on your third eye, located between your eyebrows, instead of your forehead
When we meditate and focus on our forehead, overtime we can control our mind. But this we can also be accomplished by focusing on your breath. If we focus between the eyebrows, we slowly acquire mastery over the senses. A good thing. I suggest focusing between the eyebrows. Why?
This is what we want. The senses keep us attached to this world of illusions. Our senses create our attachments, desires and expectations and ultimately bring us a deep sense of loss, pain and suffering. The pull of our senses is strong and powerful. The third eye, between the eyebrows, is known as the 6th chakra and is the origin of six nadis (or pranic energy pathways) that supply the senses. Meditation on the 6th chakra promotes insights, increases our power of concentration and lessens the pull from the senses. This brings us more freedom and more enjoyment. Over time our nature switches to a sattvic, or pure state, and we experience less expectations, addictions and desires, less frustration or anger.
6) Journal after each meditation session
Keep a journal just for meditation. Write in it what you noticed, how you felt, and the insights that came through. In other words, write your experience. I suggest writing about it as your meditation ends because the memory of it will fade. Just like a dream, fresh and almost alive when we wake up, and forgotten within a few minutes.
As a long-time meditator, I have experienced periods of rich meditation filled with fulfilling experiences, and some periods of dry and empty sessions. The dry times would come, just out of the blue. During those times, my mind was urging me to get up and move on to another activity. I needed something to keep me anchored in my daily practice. I needed something to encourage me.
So, I used my meditation journal. Before meditation, I began reading my past entries of fulfilling sessions. As I did, I began to feel the Shakti contained in my writing. Past experiences were brought back into my awareness. I could feel again the richness of the previous months when my meditation made me soar. By doing so, I energized my sessions. My limiting thoughts didn’t have the upper hand anymore. That was an ahh moment.
7) Keep your pets away
Have you noticed that when you meditate your cat loves to sit on your lap? Or once you get up after meditation, your dog lies down, just where you sat? Why?
Our pets are very sensitive beings. They feel and recognize the Shakti. The Shakti accumulated in your asana will help you fall into meditation. But if your pets leisure where you meditate, they will suck the meditative energy out of your asana.
8) When to exercise? When to meditate?
I suggest avoiding exercising before meditation, unless you practice yoga which prepares the body for meditation. Why exercising is not conducive to meditating?
We need a certain amount of quietness to slow down and reach our inner-world. Meditation slows down our metabolism. Exercise speeds it up.
Exercising at night keeps us awake. In the same way, exercising before meditation keeps us wired. This is basic knowledge about our nervous system and metabolic functions. Therefore, let’s meditate first, and exercise second. Or, we can create separate times for exercising and meditating. We need both to stay well.
Meditation is a portal into our own inner-world. It is comforting to know that we can always go inside. We carry our inner-world with us, wherever we are. Whether you have an established meditation practice, or you are beginning one, I send you my blessings just the same and wish you the very best on your path to Self-discovery.