Preparation for Meditation
(Things to Try When the Mind Won’t Shut Up)
by Jenna Sundell
The key to success with meditation is to experiment and finds what works right here, right now. There are many different techniques passed down from countless masters available for your use. Listen to the teachers you meet, and try on their ideas to see if they fit. Remember to check in with yourself often to make sure the ideas and concepts you buy into are working to your benefit.
Sometimes all we need to do is approach the practice of meditation with enthusiasm and our experience pays off. Other times we need to do some preparation work. Following is a short list of tips to help you prepare for your meditative journey:
If possible, create a space exclusively for your meditation practice. This area should be kept immaculate and used only for meditation. Some people like to use a special cushion or pillow, while others like to sit on a chair.
If you have a teacher that inspires you, keep a picture of him or her in your meditation area where you can see it before closing your eyes to meditate.
Take care of the body by exercising and stretching. Pay special attention to your shoulders and neck, where many people hold their tension. Stretches that open the hips make it easier to sit for longer periods of time. Work with your doctor or body therapist to help you develop an exercise and nutrition plan if necessary.
Clean the body by taking a bath or shower. If you’re short on time, at least wash your hands and face.
With your back straight, take a few deep breaths to release any tension when you sit down to meditate. Ideally, your ears, shoulders, and hips should all be in a straight line and your chin should be horizontal to the floor. Allow your face and eyes to soften. When you sit, you should be comfortable without compressing your legs or feet. If your feet fall asleep during meditation, you need to find a better position. Adjust and experiment until you can find a position where you can sit up with your back straight and be relaxed.
All day you are preparing for your next meditation. Treating yourself like a precious object will make you strong and will help you develop respect for all life. Meditation is a solitary practice. There’s no one checking – only you know when thought stops and you enter the stillness and silence of light.