Anyone who has tried to have a regular practice of meditation knows that it’s no easy thing. Creating time in the midst of daily demands, leaving behind worries and preoccupations, summoning up enthusiasm every day: All of these and more are challenges we all face.
What I’d like to do is to walk you through a three-step process that may help you find renewed focus, energy, and enthusiasm for meditation.
Step One: Before sitting down to meditate, become aware of the thoughts and feelings that are running through your mind.
Problem: Are you feeling rushed, and thinking, “I’ll get this over quickly”?
Solution: Decide how much time you have, and be fully present for each moment.
Problem: Is your body feeling tense?
Solution: Try doing some pranayamas or a few yoga asanas.
Problem: Are you feeling discouraged, or that you’ll never be able to meditate deeply?
Solution: This feeling of failure is probably present in everyone who takes up meditation. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says to Arjuna: “But if you cannot think of Me, then give Me your intention.” Begin each meditation with the thought, “Today I give You the best effort of which I am capable.” Don’t look back or forward, but just offer God your intention to try your best today.
Step Two: As you begin to meditate, immediately bring your full, focused energy to the spiritual eye.
Problem: Does your mind quickly revert to daily activities and problems?
Solution: Start with repeating or chanting with concentration the words from Master’s poem, “Samadhi”: “From joy I came, for joy I live, in sacred joy I melt.”
Problem: Do you find that when you make an intense effort your body gets tense?
Solution: Become aware of where you’re holding tension, then inhale, tense, and consciously relax those body parts.
Problem: Do you hold the subconscious thought that you’ll never achieve your goals for meditation?
Solution: Don’t look for results; remember, simply, that this is your time with God. In his book Secrets of Meditation, Swami Kriyananda writes: “The secret of meditation is to pray with deep faith—not as an outsider to heaven, but as one whose true, eternal home is heaven.”
He also writes: “The secret of meditation is affirming that you already are those high truths towards which you aspire: inner peace, divine love, and perfect joy.” Try to feel that everything you are seeking is already within you.
Step Three: After you finish meditation, throughout the day try to hold on to the feelings of peace that you experienced.
Problem: Do you leap into activities as soon as you finish meditation?
Solution: Build a bridge between meditation and activity. Consciously do simple activities, such as making your bed, during which you keep your mind calm and centered.
Problem: As challenges arise during the day, do you fall into negative emotions and reactions?
Solution: Keep the peace of meditation as a constant reference point throughout the day. If you feel yourself getting agitated, immediately try to direct your energy to the spiritual eye until you feel calmness restored. You can also bring to mind again Master’s words: “From joy I came, for joy I live, in sacred joy I melt.”
As we walk the spiritual path, it’s hard to see changes in ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t growing. Once Swamiji was discussing the progress that various Ananda members had made. Almost unaware of what I was saying, I blurted out, “I don’t see that I’ve changed all that much.”
With great intensity, he said, “How can you say that? You’re an entirely different person than when you came.” This is true of anyone who sincerely tries their best to meditate and follow the spiritual path.
Let’s meditate with joy, live in joy, and eagerly anticipate the day when we melt in joy once more. And in our love for God, offer to Him the fruits of our efforts.
Listen to Devi as she reads the blog, then expands on it, often adding special behind-the-inspiration stories and answers to common spiritual questions. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (9:41):