Suggestions on How to Meditate

By Yoga Kat aka Katheryn Hoban

When we first beginning to meditate, there are many habits that we fall into that prevent us from achieving a peaceful, state to make any real progress. There are habits of worry, restlessness, judging ourselves or our practice of meditation, excessive movement which can become distracting, overeating, overindulging in smoking or drinking, complaining, and finding fault. There also are certain habits that we can do to assist our mind to get into a place of meditation, and to begin to make some progress in your practice. Here are some hints:

Consistency of Time: It is better to meditate at the same time every day. It is also usually easier to meditate early in the morning because the Earth is more still, your mind is quieter and the day-to-day activities have not started yet. But if you can’t do it early in the morning, be consistence with the time that you meditate during your day, and do this every day if you are able.

Consistency of Place: It is also beneficial to have the same place, so that your mind can make recognition of familiar things that are around and begin to feel secure there. The mind is like a small child that needs routine. Chose a certain corner of a room or room of your house that you will consider your meditation space. If you cannot leave out your props each day, collect them and then with each time you can display and use them in that space once again. Consistency of time and place assists the mind with that feeling of safety and security.

Familiar Props: Having the same things that you use consistently helps greatly in your meditation process. Again it is a sense of trust, safety and familiar that aids the mind to become quiet. A suggestion of some props includes your choice of prayer cloth, which can be draped over your person. Drape cloth for an alter that you set up. An alter, or table that will have all of your meditation items on it, a bell or chime, or Tibetan bowls to announce the beginning and end of your meditation, prayer beads or mala beads, inspirational books, or prayer books, candle or small light, incense, a mediation pillow, mat, or roll, special pictures of landscapes or saints or spiritual leaders, or special items like a feather, or blessed materials, shells, small stones etc, small tickless alarm clock.

Creating a Routine of Actions: In creating habits for meditation, a routine says to your mind that it is time to meditate and get quiet. The routine might include, first a preparation of purification. This could include a bath, or simply washing your face and your hands with cool water, and then patting your face dry prior to starting your meditation. Next an acknowledgement to your higher self, or god, is appropriate. You could do this by putting your hands together in prayer position over your heart, which indicates you are centering your heart, and opening your heart, then lift your hands to your forehead, to acknowledge your third eye or center of perception, and then bring your hands back down to touch your heart. It is an indication that you are coming back to your center and that is where you will begin your meditation. It is also an intention of purification of heart and mind. After purifying yourself physically and mentally, you might chose to light an incense, set out your props, and light a candle. You could ring a chime or a bell and let the sound resonate in your ears and through your body. If you enjoy meditation with music it is appropriate to turn on your music softly prior to your beginning. Next you may begin your breathing to center your mind, and cover yourself with your prayer shawl or blanket.

Meditation is the stillness of the mind and a reconnection with your inner spirit. It could be a time of reflection, and a period of question and answers, or simple a time of less thoughts to offer you peace. Here are some tools to help you get to that quiet place.

First for the novice, an appropriate duration of time is 5-10 minutes. Do not overtax yourself when you first begin. As you progress the duration of time can increase to 10-30 or 40 minutes, or for an hour or more. When meditating, we try to shut out the outside stimulus and force the mind inward. This is one reason that you try to sit as still as possible in the session. You are discarding all physical distraction and sensations. It is important to sit in the most comfortable position that you are able so that you will be able to sit still for a period of time. Prior to beginning your meditation, you could stretch your neck and move your head up and down and to either side, stretch your back a little and your shoulders. When you prepare in this way it is more likely that you will not be distracted by physical tension.

As you begin to meditate watch and observe your thoughts without any judgments or condemnation. When you have observed your thoughts for a while, begin to call the mind back like a little child. “We are breathing, we are letting go of these thoughts now.” Refocus on the breath coming in through your nose again, if you become disturbed or distracted. If you are fearful be assured that nothing here can hurt you, this is a discovery of your inner self and a return to your TRUE nature. Once you have become accustomed to meditating you will be more comfortable with your true nature and realize that you are created to be naturally peaceful, and joyful, and that is the natural state of your being.

There are different techniques to get you to that silent and still place. Breathing is very important for trans- porting you to that place, a sound mantra like OM i s helpful, a guided meditation, an open eye meditation that lets you have a focus on one particular object, point, or picture or candle can immediately take you to the still place, focusing on music, or particular elements of the music can accomplish that stillness. You can chose one or more of these techniques to get you there.

You could also have a meditation of questions and answers. It is important to write down the questions that you wish to ask before you begin, so that there is a flow and a direction of the meditation process. Have a note pad so that you can write down the answers that come to you. Usually it is the first answer that comes to you. Write that down, even it you do not understand the reference. Write down everything until it feels complete and then move on to the next question. The question and answer period may go on for a few meditation sessions so do not become discouraged if you don’t get all of the answers immediately. Also do not judge yourself or call yourself inadequate if you are not getting the responses that you want. Mediation takes practice and intention to do it well. Also one needs to become accustomed to how s/he receives that information personally.

Ring the bell, to signal the conclusion of your meditation session, or turn off your alarm when it rings. After the time is up and your meditation has ended, begin to stretch and loosen your neck and shoulders, and your back and perhaps your arms and legs. Breathe big breaths in to bring you from that deep place. Do not force yourself beyond your time that you told yourself would be the amount of time for that day. There are other days to extend the time.

Meditation takes a lot of practice and time. There are many mental and physical obstacles to over- come. The mind is always active and always condemning. It judges you harshly without cause, it holds you guilty, it keeps you in a fearful place, it believes that it is under attack, it says empathically that you can never change, it is full of resistance and self loathing. The mind never speaks of your true nature, which is joy, love, compassion for all creatures, kindness, deep wisdom, abundance, and the unlimited free flowing capacity.

It is also helpful to keep a journal of your spiritual progress and your meditations. Which techniques work best for you, how often do you get to a still place, is there anything that came up that you did not expect, are you causing yourself stress in a process that is designed to bring more peace and stillness for you, are you judging yourself? Can you make a change to comfort yourself, are you receiving your answers during a Q ... A period.

A Note On Meditation And Breathing.

Breathing can start out big and full and then gradually become diminished and more silent. It is part of your focus that leads you to that still place. When you are meditating you are letting the mind rest on a new focal point other than a million thoughts of worry, anxiety, fear and what you will do in the next moment or the evening. Remember a funnel, it has a great capacity coming into the top but it is coming down through a progressively narrower opening, until it passes through only a tiny opening. The same actions are occurring when you are limiting your thoughts to one or more focal points. Letting go of distracting thoughts, worry, and fear, and focusing on less and less until you are at a still place.

Focus: Earlier I told you that there are steps to get you to that still place, the focal points that draw your mind into a still and quiet place. One focus is the present moment, only this moment is what you are focusing on at this time. Another focus is the steady breathing coming into your physical form, or the OM sounds resonating through your mind and body, still other focuses include the elements of the music like running water that you are training your ears to pick out, or the music itself, in a guided meditation you are letting images form in your mind and that becomes a focal point, and in an open eye meditation you are letting your eyes become trained on a physical point that you can see, and gradually you let your mind come to an internal focal point. All of the focal points are designed to assist you to get into the resting place of the mind where the mind becomes secondary. When the mind is resting and not complaining, condemning or judging then you become aware of your unlimited nature, of your gentleness, and divine essence. It is a place of realization of your TRUE SELF and in knowing and remember that you become so comfortable with your expanding and unlimited nature that you only wish to rest in that place.

My suggestions to you are practice, get relaxed, get settled, don’t judge, do not compare yourself to others, allow yourself to learn and progress at your own pace, encourage yourself, and reassure yourself when you need to, and keep on practicing and challenging yourself out of your comfort zone. Do not listen to the mind’s condemnation of you. It is only false ramblings. Reward yourself for your effort. Be good to yourself.

For Further Reading

Yoga Kat--aka Katheryn Hoban is a yoga teacher and Reiki Master Teacher with twelve years experience. She teaches children's yoga ages 3-6, and 7-12 and Adults privately in NJ. She is the author the book MASTERS OF CONSCIOUSNESS-A GUIDE BOOK FOR THE COSMIC TRAVELER which is available online at booklocker. and amazon. She has created a children's affirmation CD (ages 3-6) and an affirmation CD for adults. Yoga Kat is available for speaking or writing and can be reached at katscoolcorner@yahoo.com or  thecircleofpeace.com
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