Meditation is something that has achieved a great deal of popularity within Western culture. However, there are a lot of misconceptions associated with its practice. A lot of this has to do with preconceived notions that most of us have seen at one time or another. In the U.S., who can forget the images of men in turbans sitting cross-legged and chanting “mystical” incantations? And after doing that, they were suddenly able to defy the laws of physics! These cartoonish depictions were quite prevalent prior to the mid - late 1960s.
But everything changed with the coming of the Peace and Love Generation. The introduction of Transcendental Meditation by popular artists, such as the Beatles, encouraged many to seek the true meanings and practices of meditation. These days, the correct image of Meditation is prevalent all throughout our society. This is true for variations of Transcendental Meditation to Mindfulness Meditation. But before conducting any form of meditation session, it’s important to set the stage properly. Here’s the best way to proceed.
For those who are going to practice regular meditation sessions, the environment will play an important role. The area around us has a definite effect on our mind, body and spirit. Therefore, you will want to have a meditation space that exudes tranquility and simplistic beauty in both sight and sound.
When we say “simplicity”, we are referring to a basic setting. You don’t have to create a temple-like environment seen in some Indiana Jones movie. There’s no need to consider ordering several hundred dollars worth of flowers or excavating a running brook. This is an important point. I’m sure you’ll agree that we all want to be comfortable in our own environment. Unless you happen to live in a Buddhist monastery, chances are you want to feel tranquility in a standard living room or kitchen. Therefore, your own home is the perfect place to meditate. All you need to do is to make some simple modifications in order to enhance your meditation experience.
Sights, Sounds and Aromas
The primary focus of meditation has to do with engaging with your own mind. That means you’ll want to eliminate interruptions. Eliminating interruptions, as best you can, is essential to effective meditation. When you are attempting to remove the weight of everyday concerns, you don’t want those concerns knocking at your door.
Removing stimuli from the environment can usually be achieved by taking a few simple measures. For one thing, please turn off your phones! In today’s society, many of us are virtually connected to our phones. They have become a part of us. Don’t for a minute think that you can just ignore your phone ringing. You need to shut it off.
As for other types of interruptions, don’t hesitate to let those in your home know and understand that you want some meditation time. Emphasize the importance of this. Specify that unless someone is in mortal danger or the house is on fire, you are not to be disturbed. The thing to remember, though, is that you don’t want this to turn into another source of stress. Endeavor to be forceful, but not overbearing and hostile. You will soon discover that somehow your meditation time will be “guarded” by those around you. Strange, but true. For those with young children, it’s better to have someone look after them for your own peace of mind.
You can establish a tranquil atmosphere by having calming music playing softly in the background. You can use a pre-recorded music presentation that can also be used to indicate the time. Now you don’t have to worry about keeping track of your meditation’s length. This beats using a loud alarm clock for this purpose (I’m kidding, of course).
The atmosphere of the room (or area) that you use should be free of dusty air and it should also be ventilated well. If the outside air is clean, you can open up a window. If you live in a polluted environment, you may want to spring for an air filter. If you happen to enjoy the scent of incense, then you’re truly in luck. There are innumerable varieties of incense that are perfect for a meditation experience. Just remember, if you live with others, definitely consider their reaction to the aroma of your incense usage. In any case, there is a lot to be said regarding the mindfulness of breathing and its effect on one’s meditation session. All-in-all, your space needs to be something that you feel is comfortable. In other words, don’t feel that you have to set up a stereotypical meditation chamber – complete with burning incense and sitar music.
When you’re setting up meditation sessions, the best situation is one in which you can meditate at the same time and location each day. This brings us to the idea of meditating regularly. While some, may try to meditate when they “feel the need”, commitment to regularly meditate is essential. The reason for this has to do with how the mind reacts to the anticipation of a meditation session. Knowing that there will be a peaceful time in your day changes everything. Even if your find yourself stuck in a particularly stressful work scenario, you know that the stress will end at some point later on. This is a powerful subconscious tool in and of itself.
The time of day that you meditate can also be meaningful. If you have the freedom to select your daily meditation time, then you’re fortunate. But there are different schools of thought regarding the best choice of time. Many believe that rising early and meditating in the quiet of the early morning is best. While others may prefer to meditate at the end of a workday. If possible, you should try different times and see what works best for you.
For your meditation attire, you should wear comfortable clothing – something loose-fitting. Here, simplicity is the key. You don’t need a special outfit, since a casual shirt that you enjoy wearing will do just fine. Turbans are optional.
It is also suggested that you don’t meditate on a full stomach. The reason for this has to do with your body’s blood flow. When you are in the process of digesting a big meal, the blood flows to the digestive organs and away from the brain. Since meditation focuses on your mental state, you want oxygenated blood to nourish your brain during meditation.
These are the basics that can assist you in preparing an effective meditation session. Of course, there are additional elements that you may wish to add. But the fundamentals remain the same; simplicity, tranquility and regularity.