Meditation can be a one time experience, an occasional indulgence or it can be cultivated into an on-going practice. Of course, the benefits of meditation become more clear and present when it is done more often. Imagine if meditation became an integral part of your life. What if you perceived it as essential to your health and well being as brushing your teeth, getting adequate sleep and eating well? Beginning a meditation practice can be a matter of following a few simple steps; attending to it on a daily basis requires dedication and discipline.
To begin a meditation practice:
Create a sacred space: Although you can meditate anywhere, and make that space sacred for the moment, it is nice to have a specific place where you can go to meditate regularly. If you develop your meditation practice in a dedicated space, you will find that the energy of the space will assist you with both its construct and peacefulness. Perhaps you create an altar with a candle, fresh flowers, or a few meaningful items. You can use a comfortable chair, or purchase a meditation pillow to sit on.
Establish a regular practice: Decide on a plan; maybe you begin by reserving just 10 - 20 minutes each day (preferably at the same time of day). If you want to establish a rhythm, it would be better to consistently have five minutes a day and extend the time as you can, rather than meditating one or two days a week for longer periods. Think about including meditation in your daily self-care routine. Yet, if starting a daily practice is too much for you right now and you simply want to bring it into your life more often, perhaps you attend a weekly group meditation. The group energy helps beginners go deeper into the meditative experience, gives you a sacred place to practice, and can fuel the desire to integrate it into your daily life.
Follow the four stages: In previous articles, I outlined the four stages of meditation – approach, technique, meditative awareness, and conscious conclusion. Use them to guide you into, through and gently out of your meditation.
Let go of attachment: Allow the experience of meditation to be as it is; know that each meditation will be unique. It is the practice of staying awake and aware that is the essence of meditation. Even having a “mystical experience” can be an obstacle because you might get caught up in desiring to repeat the incident while you miss the experience of the meditation you are in. A main task of meditation is “letting go” – of expectation, of what will be “accomplished” – since a grasping attitude keeps you from experiencing the flow of meditation.
Meditation allows us to practice the art of “being” – providing us with our own experience – which enables us to realize that we are not limited to our thoughts, feelings, or physical existence. This experience – the unfolding of our self-realization – is our spiritual enlightenment.