- Timing and Regularity: Set aside the same time each day for your meditation. It’s easier to meditate on an empty stomach, so pick times before you eat, or 2 hours after a meal. Meditate every day at your chosen time, even if it’s only five or ten minutes. If, for at least 30 days, you make a consistent effort never to skip a meditation, a supportive habit will start to form. Keeping your daily practice will become easier as you experience the benefits of meditation.
- Exercise first: If you have time, exercise a little before you meditate. Yoga postures can prepare you for meditation, relaxing the body and mind. Paramhansa Yogananda’s Energization Exercises are also highly recommended.
- Find a place: Set aside a room, or small part of a room, just for meditation. Try to find as quiet a spot as possible; if this is difficult, try using foam earplugs or headphones to block out the noise. Be sure the room is a little on the cool side and not stuffy; a blanket or shawl to wrap up in is nice.
- Sitting: Sit comfortably for meditation. Whether you sit on a meditation bench, pillow or on a chair, keep your back straight, chest raised, head erect and your eyes closed. Rest your hands palms upturned in your lap, preferably at the juncture of your thighs and abdomen. Protect yourself from the downward pull of earth currents by sitting on some natural fiber, like a wool or silk blanket or piece of cloth placed on your meditation chair, bench, or cushion.
- How long: Set realistic goals for yourself. It is better to meditate 5 – 15 minutes every day, than once in a while for an hour. Increase your time as you can. One longer meditation (2 -3 times longer) each week can help to deepen your meditations and also develop your desire for longer daily meditations. You’ll find that meditating with other people, in group meditations with people who have an established meditation practice, will help you to meditate longer than you normally would on your own.
- Begin your meditation: As you sit to meditate, it is essential to make a strong mental resolution to put aside all preoccupations and worries. Say a prayer inwardly or out loud to your higher self in whatever way feels right to you, asking for help and guidance. You may also listen to or play some uplifting music. Then practice the breathing exercises to relax: Inhale, tense the whole body, then throw the breath out and relax (do this 2 or 3 times). Then do some measured breathing: inhale, hold, and exhale, then begin again. Do this 6 – 12 times. Choose a count that is comfortable for you; anywhere from 6-6-6 to 12-12-12 or higher. Afterwards, relax, breathe normally, and become aware of your breath.
- Techniques: Spend the majority of the meditation doing techniques that concentrate and interiorize the mind. Only when you are deeply concentrated and in a state of expanded awareness is it good to drop techniques and simply immerse yourself in the experience.
- Remember to hold the body still: You can mentally check it from time to time to see that no part becomes tense again. Physical tension is a great deterrent to calm and deep meditations. Be very silent and relaxed, yet aware.
- Meditate with joy: Meditation will help you to remember, on ever deepening levels, who you truly are.
Start a New Meditation Practice or Inspire Your Current One
The 10-week Ananda Course in Meditation online course is designed to provide in-depth instruction in scientific meditation techniques that bring more peace, deeper relaxation, and focused concentration to every area of your life, regardless of outer conditions.
These techniques are based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi.