10 Tips to Master Your Meditation Practice!
1. Find a quiet space – Your space matters. Choose a space where you won’t be interrupted, you’re comfortable, and if possible, a space that is aesthetically pleasing to you as well as sensually inspiring.
2. Develop a routine for your practice – Practice meditation at the same time, place, and way each day. This sort of daily routine helps your practice become a reality because it has a given place on your schedule. Many people consider early morning the best time for practicing meditation – the mind as well as the house are often still quiet. And when practicing early morning meditation, it sets the tone for the day to be one of calm and relaxed … It gives the mind a spacious place to return to when things get a little stressful throughout the day.
3. Ritual – Ritual is the aspect of routine that invites your Spiritual Connection in and elevates your practice into a more expansive realm … Ritual can be as simple as lighting a candle or incense each time you sit to practice. It can be the placement of special items on your altar, that ground and hold the energy for your meditation space. Ritual can also be the words you utter as you begin your practice, either silently or aloud, inviting your Higher Self, Spirit Guides from the higher realms, and The Divine to join you and guide you in your practice.
4. Set an intention – Intentions carry energy! Set a personal intention for this meditation practice (to clear your mind, calm your heart, connect with source, whatever you choose!). You might also choose to set a more universal intention, a broader awareness, such as “May all beings have peace, joy, etc.”
5. Posture – Adopt a posture in which the spine is aligned, sitting with dignity, erect yet relaxed, allowing your hands to rest comfortably in your lap, or using a mudra of your choice.
6. Breath – Begin by following the breath all the way in, and all the way out for a few breaths. In this way releasing the focus on conscious thoughts, allowing the mind to settle into the body with breath as your anchor.
7. Use your inner senses to their fullest – Bring attention to what you are seeing, sensing, and feeling internally. This helps your meditation experience become more meaningful and develops readiness and capacity for further spiritual growth.
8. Allow your experience to unfold – Consciously switch from “trying” to make something happen to “allowing” your experience to unfold. This shift in focus is like down-shifting your brain from the driven-doing mode into the being mode of mindfulness … this is the gear in which we switch from thinking to experiencing.
9.Attend to thoughts and energy – Every day offers a new experience between you and your practice. Even a seasoned practitioner will notice days when their thoughts are intrusive or their energy is edgy and sitting in the midst of these sensations can be challenging. Rather than giving up or getting frustrated, try letting your thoughts or your energy become the focus of your practice. Observe your thoughts: When you notice your thoughts becoming a distraction to your practice, in that your mind is repeatedly wandering away, instead of fighting it, try shifting your focus, allowing your thoughts to become the focus of the session. Notice thoughts arising from wherever they arise and float across the imaginary screen of your mind, observing them move across the screen and pass away as they reach the other side. Sometimes it’s helpful to imagine yourself sitting in a theater and the screen is out in front of you a ways … in this way you gain some helpful distance from your thoughts, it becomes easier to simply observe the thoughts arising and drifting by.
Similarly, there are days when your mood may be funky and your energy edgy. Observe your energy: On these days, rather than skipping your practice because you just don’t feel like it, try letting your mood / energy become the focus of your practice. Begin by letting your breath anchor you into the awareness of your body. Follow your breath all the way in and all the way out, exploring the sensations in your body. When you notice the places in your body holding the most intensity (tightness, heaviness, pressure) begin breathing gently into and out of those places. Saying to the tightness or heaviness, “I am here for you. I see you, and feel you. I am with you now”, in this way bringing a sense of warmth and kindness to whatever is not at ease in your being. Cultivate gentleness in this practice, and invite a sense of softening and opening with the exhale. Simply continue breathing into and out of this area for awhile, or until you feel the sensation shifting.
10. Release shoulds, and surrender to spirit – We’ve said it already, but it’s worth restating and expanding on. The driven doing mind will not usher you into a meditative state no matter how hard you try. Therefore “shoulds” are not your friend here. There is no right way to meditate, and there are many different styles of meditation. When new to the practice, most people find it helpful to start out with some form of guided meditation, eventually finding what works best for them. Be open, explore your options!
Your meditation practice is a relationship with you and all parts of yourself, as well as a doorway of connection with All That Is! Rather than trying to succeed, let it be a practice of cultivating kindness and gentleness within yourself, becoming ever more the patient observer.
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