One of the most effective and successful ways to find happiness is to meditate regularly. And although meditation is an inner process that mainly takes place in the silence of our mind and heart, there are a number of practical steps we can take to make our meditation fruitful. We call them the ABC of meditation. Here are seven useful tips.
Your meditation will benefit you the most if you do it in the morning. During your morning meditation you charge your inner batteries and receive peace and energy, which have a positive influence on your day. Also in the morning you are generally more receptive. A good night’s sleep will have washed away the experiences and turmoil of the previous day, so that you can start your meditation with a clean sheet. The best time to meditate is around six a.m. since most people are still asleep at that hour and the stillness and tranquility of the earth will help you. But if that is too early, then just meditate whenever you normally get up.
It’s advisable to take a shower before you start your meditation. Water signifies purity. It washes away unwanted energy and vibrations from your body so that you’ll be receptive for the subtle spiritual energy of meditation. In the morning a shower also washes away your sleepiness and lethargy, so you can start your morning meditation fresh and alert. If you meditate in the evening showering first will cleanse you from the restless energy that you’ve picked up during the day. When you are unable to take a proper shower, then at least try to wash your face and lower arms with cold water.
When you go running or exercising you’ll probably wear sports clothes. If you have a fancy dinner party, you’ll probably exchange your daily outfit for a dress or a dinner jacket. In meditation it also helps to wear a special set of clothes. When you wear special clothes, your mind receives a clear signal that you’re about to do something very special. As a result your inspiration and concentration increase. For meditation the best thing is to wear clean, lightly coloured clothes. Colours have a vibration of their own, and light colours are more in tune with the subtle meditation energy.
Having a meditation shrine of your own works wonders. If you always meditate on the same spot, some of the energy of the meditation will linger there and creates a subtle energy field which helps you in your next meditations. Ideally, reserve a special corner in your house or room that you keep neat and tidy and only use for meditation. Then create your own meditation shrine, like a small table and cover it with a piece of (silk) cloth. On your shrine you can place some flowers and a picture of a spiritual figure or nature scene that inspires you. Also you can burn incense for purification. Pour some love into the place where you meditate. The more attractive your shrine is, the more inspiration you’ll receive to really start using it.
If you go to bed at eleven every day, then at that hour your body will automatically grow tired. If you always have dinner at six, then your stomach will start rumbling at ten to six without fail. We can get our biological clock to work for meditation as well. When you always meditate at the same hour, your body and mind will adjust themselves to that specific time. You will automatically become more tranquil and calm, which helps you have a much better meditation than if you would meditate at a different time every day. As Sri Chinmoy states, “Punctuality in our daily practices can offer us enormous spiritual strength.” The best thing is to choose a time that you will feel you can maintain for a long period. As mentioned before, morning is the best time for meditation, but evening is also suitable for some inner silence.
Try to avoid eating a meal right before your meditation. After eating your digestive system starts to work, and the physical energy used for digestion blocks the flow of the more subtle spiritual energy derived from meditation. After having eaten a big meal, it is best to wait two hours before meditating. If you’re really starving, you can drink a glass of milk or juice. It is also wise not to eat immediately after your meditation. You have to give enough time for the spiritual energy to be ‘digested’ and assimilated into your system. After about fifteen to twenty minutes it’s okay to start eating.
7. Cultivate a daily practice
Your medition will yield the best results when you practice regularly – ideally a few minutes every day. The length of your meditation is less important than how frequently you do it. It’s better to spend ten minutes each day than to meditate twice a week for an hour. Why? Meditation is food for the soul. Just as you feed your body every day – three times no less! – the soul is also hungry for its daily spiritual meal. When we feed the soul faithfully, then inwardly we’ll stay healthy and fit meaning we’ll experience an ever growing amount of peace, love and joy.
‘When I meditate, I can speak to my soul.’ – Sri Chinmoy