When I started meditating, there was a little bit of guess work, a few books to be read, and also some guidance that I sought from people that were already meditating.
I’m not a big fan of trying to blindly guess how to do something, so I used to go to a number of resources just to see if I was on track.
There are some basic things that would have made a difference when I started, so here’s a list of concepts that are worth understand before you start meditating.
If you’re already meditating, then you may want to use this as a list of things to include or exclude for your meditation practice.
1. How Mantra’s REALLY Aid Meditation
A mantra is a syllable, word or group of words that are often repeated during meditation – like the famous chanting of “OM”. Many people focus on the mantra, however that’s not where the real power of mantra’s lie.
It’s that silence between the repetitions where the magic happens – by focusing on the silence, you can take yourself into a deeper meditative state, and get some amazing results, like the disappearance of that mind noise – that mental chatter – that is continuously there.
A mantra is different from an affirmation. An affirmation which is repeated while in a meditative state works in the same way as hypnotic suggestion: by embedding a command directly into the unconscious mind, and working to change your beliefs.
2. Be Aware of Your Energy Levels
When starting a meditation routine, it’s easy to fall asleep a few times, as it might have been some time since you’ve relaxed. It’s also common to have a degree of mind noise taking place, and one of your outcomes should be to have this mind noise working in your favour.
However If you’re continuously falling asleep, then your levels of inertia are fairly high and you may need make some changes by eliminating some heavy foods, and working in an exercise routine to help lift your physical energy.
Likewise, if that mind noise just doesn’t disappear and you can’t quiet your mind after a few days and you’re fidgeting a lot, your levels of stimulation are quite high, and you may need to reduce your intake of caffeine, eat fresh foods, and try doing more subtle exercises like yoga or tai chi, or swimming.
3. Music is a Distraction
Some people will use music to meditate, and the majority of the time, it is a distraction from achieving what you set out to do. This is because in meditation you need to turn your focus internally, and if you focus on the music the focus shifts from internal to external.
Music can be used to help you relax physically and mentally, but then should be switched off when you are actually meditating. Having said that, there are some sounds, like binaural beats and alpha sound waves that can help you achieve deep meditation, but I wouldn’t describe them as very musical.
4. You Will Become More Aware… and More Sensitive…
Now when I say sensitive, I don’t mean that you’ll become overly emotional, but there is a possibility that you may. See, meditation will give you a greater awareness of yourself, other people and the universe in general. With this opening up to awareness, you will become more sensitive to events, emotions, conversations and energies in general.
The reason why, is because in meditation you’re opening up your mind, and your mind isn’t just limited to your mental faculties, but also your emotional, physical and spiritual faculties.
Many of these faculties you may never have used in your life, and as you become more aware of your mental self, you’ll become more sensitive – which is actually just your other faculties becoming more aware.
5. Keep it Simple
For an effective meditation, you don’t bells, incense, whale noises, special mats made from mystical grass, long robes or anything special.
Be pragmatic and keep things simple. Wear loose comfortable clothing, and either sit in a chair, on a cushion or on a yoga mat or even lie down.
It may be easier to meditate in a darkened room, so you may wish to burn a candle to provide some soft light, and if you’re meditating for psychic or spiritual reasons, lighting a candle is strongly suggested, as fire is both a tool for cleansing and protecting.
Keep the room clean, neat and tidy, and that’s really all you’ll need. You don’t need to keep anything too mystical or elaborate, not unless you really want to.
6. There are no Benchmarks, and No Pressure
Some people when they start meditating like to meditate in groups or with friends. This is fine but you need to be aware that people develop at different rates, and so you shouldn’t compare yourself to anyone else. Also, be aware that you shouldn’t be concerned with other people telling how you should be progressing.
Even more importantly, don’t set yourself benchmarks – meditation works best when you don’t pressure yourself. Know where you want to go, know what you want to achieve, and move along the journey at a pace that is comfortable to you. Sometimes you may wish to go quicker, and other times slower – and that’s perfectly fine. Be guided by yourself.
7. Do What Works for YOU!
Meditation is an art and a science. There are some simple steps for you to take, but the rest of it is up to you and your creativity. Try things out, give them a go, and find out what works for you. What may work for me, may not necessarily work for you, so keep your mind open and be creative.
You may prefer to sit, or lie down. You may prefer to use guided meditation techniques or you may prefer to guide yourself. You may decide to reject everything in this article and do it your way… and that’s fine as well.
The most important thing is that you do it in a way that suits you, and that you enjoy it.
Looking back, some of this seems almost obvious, but I know that having this knowledge to start with would have made my first few weeks a lot easier.