Warning! This is another post to encourage you into the practice of meditation. So, those of you who have no desire to explore this possibility for helping you to find contentment and peace are welcome to click on to the next headline waiting for your attention.
How quiet is your mind? If your mind is like mine, most of the time it’s not. I’ve usually got at least three or four streams of thinking going on at the same time (and probably more if I would sit still long enough to have it measured). Most of us already have mind chatter keeping us company from the minute we get up until we go to sleep. Then you add in one, two or several forms of electronic media that many of us have access to and it’s a wonder that any of us get anything done! Which voice do you pay attention to? Where do you put your focus?
As many of my spiritual elders, sisters and brothers have shared with me through the years, dedicating 20-40 minutes of meditation practice at least once a day can help us to listen beyond the noise. There are as many forms of meditations as there are unique kinds of people in the world…find the one that your heart (and soul) has an ahhh response to when you practice it. With that said, here are some basic tips that I’ve picked up over the years to remember about meditation that seem to align with many of the practices that I’ve been exposed which are:
1.) Try to find the same time to meditate everyday. This may vary because after all there is LIFE, but if you’re intention is to meditate every morning having the same time will help you to carry out your meditation.
2.) Find a place where you are comfortable sitting. I have heard that someone who is deeply disciplined in the practice of meditation can connect with that inner peace anywhere and anytime, but for those of you who may be starting out…..be kind to yourself and give yourself all the help possible so that you can sit still.
3.) Light a candle, incense or if you’re outside, breathe in deep the smell of your surroundings. I like ritual so for me, lighting an incense tells my mind that we’re going to get quiet. My dogs even know that and will run to jump in my chair and curl up by my side (I’m sure if we could see their canine thought bubbles they would read, “finally!”)
4.) Follow your breath. My yoga teacher of many years used to say this after every class as we lay in savasana (yoga meditation pose) and what he meant was to let any thoughts or worries of the day drop off as we paid attention to the act of breathing in and breathing out. Just paying attention to your breath will help you to let go of much of the chatter in your head. Mostly.
5.) Do not judge your practice. Explore how you can find that deep inner peace more fully, absolutely! But, if you find that it is all you can do to sit for 10 minutes, let that be okay. You can work up to longer if you choose. I try to make my time thirty minutes, but please know for many of us just the practice of sitting still and learning to let go is enough. Even sitting outside with the breeze on my face did not stop my ego-mind from wanting to interfere with my meditation when I first began. Most anything that you think that you need to be doing during your meditation time can be done afterwards.
6.) Meditation is not a competition. For many of us in the Western World our thoughts have been trained to think of many things that we do as a competition. Your meditation time is between you and your higher power whatever or whoever that may be. I remember several years ago talking about my meditation with a friend who had practiced the Kriya meditation techniques passed down through the lineage of gurus in the Self-Realization Fellowship founded by Paramahansa Yogananda. As we were walking and talking I told her about a profound psychic experience I had during meditation and in her gently way she shared that in her experience, those psychic experiences could be a distraction from the real intent of being able to drop our ego and connect with the God of our understanding.
This sharing is just to remind you that you can drop all the cacophony of voices within and without at anytime if you so choose and giving yourself the gift of a daily meditation practice is a lovely way to do this.
Listen beyond the noise, peace is waiting for you.