Meditation is a personal experience and what works for you may not work for someone else. Each person will discover what works for themselves – all roads lead to the same goal.
Make a meditation spot – a shelf, corner of your room, a tabletop. And put on it some objects for concentration – a candle, a flower, a photo. Make it attractive, appealing to you.
This spot will pick up a vibration, a special atmosphere. It is your meditation spot. Have you been in a sacred spot like a church or temple, or watched a beautiful sunset or sunrise and felt something peaceful and uplifting? Your spot will pick up this sacred vibration and you will feel calmer just sitting there.
Whether you sit on cushions or a meditation stool or a chair, being comfortable is important so that your focus is not on any discomfort. Change positions if necessary during your meditation to remain comfortable. Lying down is not recommended as sleep is often close behind. We want and need to be conscious. Keep your back erect and relaxed. Likewise, if you are hungry, then appease your appetite with some juice or water. Wait two hours after a full meal before meditating. We need the energy to be free.
Pick a time of day that works for you and stick to it, then there is an inner readiness at that time. Your inner being will know it is your time to meditate and will be ready to open the door.
Have you ever found yourself waking up and discovered your alarm did not go off for some reason but something woke you up on time?
There are many, many concentration exercises that have been taught and used over the centuries. Depending on the day, certain ones will work for you. And perhaps some will never work for you at this time. Your inner being is the guide to your meditation and you will find yourself doing some at this moment and perhaps different ones on another day. “Correct” is only what works for you at this very moment.
Perhaps you have chosen to concentrate on your breath, focusing your attention on the breath as it goes out and as it comes in. And perhaps you have chosen to close your eyes but after a few minutes you start to get drowsy and daydreamy. Then you know it is time to partially open your eyes to keep you alert and aware.
As Sri Chinmoy wrote: “There is a vast difference between what you can get from the mind and what you can get from the heart. The mind by nature is limited; the heart is unlimited. Deep within you are infinite peace, light and bliss. To get a limited quantity is an easy task. Meditation in the mind can give it to you. But you can get infinitely more if you meditate on the heart.
When you meditate, feel that you are a child standing in a flower garden. This flower garden is your heart. A child can play in a flower garden for hours. He will go from this flower to that flower, but he will not leave the garden because he will get joy from the beauty and fragrance of each flower. Feel that inside you is a garden and you can stay in it for as long as you want. In this way you can meditate on the heart.”
Meditation is a listening, a quietness, a calmness. Initially this may last only a second or two before the mind kicks in, the “monkey mind”. Gradually, over time, the length of the silence, the stillness, will increase. This is when you have moved from concentration to meditation. You will know when you are meditating correctly when you feel a peace, a quietness, a calmness, a happiness, a satisfaction, an inspiration, a calm energy, a love for the world, for others, for yourself.
Like developing a muscle, every day, you will develop a meditation muscle. Your regularity, punctuality and sincere effort and longing for the results will bear fruit. Patience is required, as is determination. We do not get a master’s degree in one year. We start in primary school, then high school, then university. Slowly and steadily you will make progress. There will be many joys and encouragements. To master a musical instrument or to become an athlete takes regular practice and through gradual progress your capacity increases.
Meditation is our birthright. It is simple and natural. We all have meditated spontaneously in our life. From being a newborn – all soul and light – to later those moments when you just feel elevated watching a starry night sky or joyful watching a beautiful sunrise or peaceful at sunset. A moment of oneness with Mother Nature – the calmness of a lake, the power of the ocean, the ebb and flow as water laps on the shore, the beauty and fragrance of your favorite flower.
These moments are your meditation moments. We practice meditation to experience these again but now the experience is self-created. They come spontaneously, directly from within. They were your experiences before, felt within, but evoked from without. In meditation, through meditation, we connect directly to these inner experiences. For peace, joy, beauty, satisfaction and inspiration are within us as a solid foundation.