How to prepare for meditation
Preparing for meditation can help you to unwind, clear out your mind and open up your body for a deeper meditation experience.
There are different things you can do to prepare for your meditations. This can start you off more focused and deeper, which will result in more powerful meditations. This is especially recommended if you do not have much time to commit towards going within. Preparing yourself with one of the following steps helps you to increase the efficiency of your meditation work.
Focus on your upcoming meditation throughout the day
What you focus on is what you pull to you and thus create.
So before you start meditation, spend some time bringing your focus to thinking about:
- What do you want from meditating today?
- Is there something that is bothering you that needs addressing?
- Is there an issue in your life that needs attention, clarity, resolve?
- Is there a prayer in your heart for your meditation?
Focusing in like this prepares your mind and heart to start meditation in a powerful way. You are not pondering aimlessly, you have an intention, a purpose and you move through your day with awareness on your inner compass.
Create a space for meditation
Your meditation practice can be greatly supported by creating a place that provides you with inspiration, calm and peace from the moment you enter it. You can dedicate a room to this purpose or a nice corner somewhere in your home. If you do not have a lot of space then even a chair and a little table can be situated in a way that feels like a nice place to sit and meditate. Here are some points for you to consider:
- Simple decorations and a neat space invites a feeling of calm and peace.
- Bring something to this space that gives you inspiration to go within. It can be a beautiful picture, perhaps of nature, a picture of a saint or spiritual master, inspirational words, a deity or statue, anything that reminds you of the love and truth you cherish and are seeking through your practice of meditation.
- Tend to the practical things you need while you meditate. For example, I always meditate having available a box of tissues, a bottle of water, a hand towel, my journal and a timer that I can set to let me know when I want to complete my meditation.
- You can optionally play meditative music if you like and create soft, dimmed lighting or perhaps light a candle which really works nicely to also create a devotional feeling.
People who have created a space specifically for meditation hold to their commitment to meditate
80% more than people who do not have a dedicated space.
Prepare your body
It is nice to be clean and free of any odours before you start meditation. Strong odours actually can be a distraction for yourself or others if you meditate in a group.
Before Meditation you could:
- Brush your teeth, shave yourself, take a shower.
- Put on fresh and loose fitting clothes. Some people have specific meditation outfits.
- Pull your hair back.
- Refrain from applying deodorant or perfume as these can come across harshly to others in the meditation space, or use odourless body products.
It is nice to have a clean feeling about you. Cleaning yourself in preparation for meditation can be like a cleansing; you cleanse yourself of all the 'muck' of the day, thus setting the tone for starting your meditation and inner purification. It also has a devotional aspect to it, and devotion is an important aspect of spirituality.
Body posture in meditation - Sitting upright versus laying down
Meditation is about becoming more awake, more clear, more aware and more focused within.
Laying down can encourage sleepiness, so I recommend for you to begin your meditations sitting upright. Sit in a way that is comfortable enough for your body to not distract you. For some people in the beginning times of learning meditation, they may need to practice for some time before their body gets used to sitting upright. For others it will seem easy and natural. If you have back or body problems, take care of your body the way that you know is best for you.
Another frequently asked question is:
“Do I need to sit in the lotus position when in meditation?” My answer is this:
When we sit upright with our legs crossed and our fingers in the “Mudrah position” it can encourage “kundalini energy” to flow more freely through the body, which in turn can help us in reaching deeper states of consciousness over time. However, in my experience many people attain this flow of energy while meditating in many different positions too. It is better to sit upright and comfortable to be able to go deep, rather than to try to sit in a lotus position and be distracted by trying to be a certain believed “correct” way.
Simply sit normally, and trust what feels right for you at different times during your meditations. As your meditation progresses and especially during longer periods of meditation, you may need to move or change your body position or posture. This could include and array of movement ranging from subtle to extravagant. At times it might feel accurate to lay down for periods. When you sense or feel a need to do so, then change your body posture.
Have no rigid concepts about how meditation should be practiced, or what the body should be doing. Be open minded and find your own way with your body and posture during meditation.
Empty your mind
Before starting meditation, it is helpful to have your mind reasonably emptied out, enough so that you are able to reach deeper places within.
I would not imply that Meditation is a way of making your mind completely quiet. It is more a way of entering into the quiet that is already there — buried under the 50,000 or more thoughts the average person has every day.
Trying to stop your mind from thinking is like trying to stop a river from flowing with your bare hands...it's exhausting and practically impossible. When you learn how to meditate, you learn to step out of the river, and let your thoughts flow effortlessly past. When you learn to do this, you will find that your river of thoughts slows down by itself. Not so much effort is required.
Another way to prepare yourself for meditation is to have your mind be relatively ‘empty', so that you can more easily focus within. You can do this by writing down all the present thoughts you have, things you are trying to remember or unresolved things from the day. Write down key points, not the whole thought. This way you can let the thoughts go before entering meditation, and at a later time you can get back to whatever matters you want to think about further.
Meditation is an act of letting go, not an act of shutting down.
Letting go of expectations
Wherever you are at right now, you can open your mind and your heart. Become more receptive to whatever comes in your meditations. This will vary so much, it may come gently as a sweet gentle love or there may be an intense fear. You might experience a great struggle through darkness before a breakthrough into more light, or there may just be a continual growing of awareness and understanding.
I am discussing this to highlight not getting caught in thinking that your meditations should be a certain way. By being more open and receptive., you can surrender to what it is you need to experience, and then it will come. Do not go into your meditations with expectations. Expectations will prevent what needs to come in your meditation. Start every meditation by letting go of any expectations - just be open.
Focus on your reason to meditate
At the beginning of your meditation take some moments to reflect on your intent. What is the very reason why you are sitting down and going within? Focus on it and let yourself connect to the feeling of it. You can let this feeling of desire carry you all the way into your meditation. As desire is such an important key in all meditations I will talk more about it in the next chapter.
Desire is everything.
- Throughout your day, focus on your upcoming meditation. What is your intent for your next meditation?
- Create a nice space that is conducive to going within.
- Prepare your body.
- Start your meditation sitting upright.
- Empty your mind by writing things down.
- Let go of any expectations.
- Focus on your reason to meditate.
Spend time this week creating a dedicated room or space in your home for meditation. This is your meditation space, so make it nice.
- Let your meditation place offer you inspiration, calm and peace.
- Have it be simple yet beautiful, with devotional elements.
- Think of the practical things you would like around.
- Change it over time as you change.