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
- 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
- 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
- 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,