There may be as many ways to make spiritual progress as there are people. Each of us has a unique path to inner stillness and may find practices that, for us, work particularly well.

And yet there’s so much that we have in common, no matter what path we follow. Last week, at Inner Renewal Week at Ananda Village, meditators shared inspiration and practical tips about what helps them in their meditations. Some suggestions came from new meditators and others came from people who have meditated for decades. I found all of the advice helpful and hope you do, too!

Here are some highlights:

Building a Foundation

  • Meditate at a consistent time each day
  • Make a commitment to myself, God, and Guru to meditate every day
  • Whenever I make up my mind to do a longer meditation, I always try to follow through for the length of time intended. This helps the mind to stop fighting so much during longer meditations.
  • Have a genuine desire to meditate; I nurture this by reminding myself that Yogananda said “the soul wants to meditate”
  • Being gentle and kind with myself and not dogmatic; I do my practice to keep myself from falling into perfectionist and grim tendencies

Staying Inspired

  • Look into my Guru’s eyes, talk to him; be with him in silence with heart open
  • I read Yogananda’s words before and after meditation
  • To prime the pump, I tell myself, “Just think, in ____ hours I’ll be able to meditate deeply.”
  • During a period when I was feeling restless and having trouble meditating, I started listening to Swami Kriyananda’s guided meditations. It helped a lot. I started reading from Yogananda’s or Swamiji’s books each evening, and also read The Holy Science.
  • Set long-term goals to inspire perseverance
  • Meditate outdoors
  • Read a favorite or random entry from Whispers from Eternity

Going Deep

  • I focus on meditation as an offering, rather than trying to achieve something
  • Chanting before meditating
  • I do whatever I can to awaken devotion, and try to be creative with chanting, visualization, and reading poetry. It makes it so much deeper and transforms my consciousness.
  • Going to group meditations
  • Do the Energization Exercises
  • My favorite thing is having a free afternoon, starting at 2 pm and going deep as long as I can
  • A few minutes of yoga postures before meditation help my body settle down and relax so I can go deeper more quickly
  • Meditating with long-time deep meditators as often as possible
  • Seclusion really helps to take my sadhana to the next level

Simple Things

  • Lighten up
  • Having books for inspiration next to where I meditate
  • Meditate before evening meal rather than afterward — that way I’m not sleepy
  • Keep tissues and a glass of water close by
  • Put down silk over wool to sit on
  • Have pen and paper near meditation chair, to write down persistent thoughts
  • I make my altar beautiful, clean it often, add colored lights and beautiful fabrics; magnetize it whatever ways I can
  • Try different sitting positions

If you like, pick one or two pieces of advice and work with it for the next few weeks. You can also see the complete list of the tips and inspiration about sadhana (meditation practice), service, and attunement here for more. The sadhana section alone has 114 ideas.

Finally — what inspiration and tips would you share with another meditator? Add a comment below and contribute what has worked best for you!

May your practice be blessed,
Nabha

16 Comments

  1. I do find myself in restless situations, during which I feel too pathetic to make any effort at all. What I do is go to youtube and watch one of Swamiji’s videos! His very smile would be enough at times to get back to myself. Ananda’s channel is really an oasis during those moments. Another practice that has always helped me is one that Swamiji emphasised often – to talk to God like a child. One such situation was when I was worried about a very petty issue, and I pestered Him as much as I could about it. Very soon after that through one of those videos I got to know about the chant (Desire my great enemy…Pranayam is the wishing tree…you won’t have to fear anything anymore). My worries just vanished and I felt His soothing love and at home again. Thank you Ananda for all the service you do. Really, it cannot be expressed in words. :)

  2. Attend a week long guided silent meditation retreat.

  3. Thank you for the wonderful, practical, inspiring suggestions! Whispers from Eternity especially calls to me, and I love referring to it whenever I can throughout the day. Blessings and thank you and all at Ananda for everything!

  4. Thank you for being so considerate and sharing your findings.

  5. After meditation when I go to sleep I always had bad dreams like I am in a plane and the plane is going to crash , somebody is chasing me, I am falling down from a mountain. Later stage I find that after meditation next day some thing will happen and I will get into conflict with some body. So I stopped meditation. Recent time I again started meditation but there was a fear in my mind something bad will happen and that happened my father suddenly got sick and had to admit to hospital almost suffering more than 2 weeks he died.so I am thinking should I continue with my unguided meditation.

    1. Hi Debasish, so sorry to hear about your father. It sounds like you are wondering if meditation is causing these difficult things in your life, but I would say don’t worry about that. These things were your karma and you would have had to deal them with one way or another.

      However, it could be that meditation is making you more sensitive to karmic patterns, and subconsciously you may be more aware of something that will happen, like a conflict with somebody.

      For example, it used to be that some morning I would feel prompted to wake up extra early and decide to have a longer meditation. Almost invariably on those days, something very challenging would happen—but the extra meditation time in the morning meant that I was calmer and more able to deal with it in the right spirit.

      Meditation wasn’t causing the problem or karma by any means, but it was helping me deal with it. Rather than meditate less in these situations, the best solution is to meditate more.

      Another aspect of this is that when God sees us wanting to progress towards Him, He will find ways to help us grow. Sometimes those ways are through challenges, even very hard ones, like the ones you describe. “What comes of itself,” Paramhansa Yogananda said, “comes from God.”

      It doesn’t mean that God wants us to suffer, but that He wants us to learn how to grow to become bigger than the suffering.

      I hope this helps. Meditation is the solution—it will help you transcend your difficulties until one day you reach the place where you are untouched by them.

  6. Thank you for your experienced in meditation, for sharing to all. it will useful and advisable to the practioners of meditation.

  7. Dear Nabha, Thank you so much for the ever expanding ways/tips to meditate. I find I am guided if and when to change a regular method or two…. and for how long but they are similar in principle as well as being simple, so interchange. Thank you and all at Ananda for all that is shared with us. Namaste

  8. Prayer is asking God for help & guidance, meditation is listening to God. When I think if it this way, it helps me to focus.

  9. Don’t stand on ceremony: if you suddenly feel a sense of inspiration–of calm, devotion, clarity, inwardness, insight, creativity, love, etc.–seize the moment and meditate, even if you are free to do so only briefly. Such adaptability affirms and reinforces our sincerity and openness to feeling God all the time. Some of the deepest meditative experiences I’ve had have been while sitting at my desk or on the toilet!

  10. Many of my personal doubts were clarified through this debate, which may guide me through my meditation in future without any disturbance. Thanks a lot.
    With joy,
    Sampath Kumar
    Ananda Centre
    Chennai
    India

  11. keeping the mind calm and free of negative emotions and feelings

  12. I feel at calm , when I meditate. I keep going back to the book Autobiography of a YOGI. Reading few pages from the book gives me immense peace and strength to face the difficult situations. Yoga plus meditation is a very good combination. Relax and Feel relaxed.

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