"Meditation is an excellent habit and tool for transformation, however your practice should eventually evolve into your natural primary state of being." — Gary Hopkins
Lessons From an Ancient Civilization
In ancient India, the practice of meditation was a commonly occurring theme. Kings, sages, and even mythological demons would undertake long meditative spells to please their favored gods and earn their favor — or sometimes even twist their arms. In fact, worried by the power endowed by meditation to the meditator, it is told that the gods would sometimes send down beautiful apsaras (celestial nymphs) to distract the meditator and break their penance.
Adolescent children of sages and kings would receive their education in fully forest-based residential schools. Over the course of years, they would learn the teachings from the holy books and practice the art of warfare. Meditation was a part of their regular lives, just the same as eating, drinking, and even breathing.
We Need Meditation Today More Than Ever
Well, we don’t live in ancient India, and somehow Meditation 101 wasn’t offered in our school curriculums. However, if you are reading this article, you probably are feeling a need to experience the value meditation can bring to your life.
Let’s face it, our lives have become stressful and complicated. The stress begins as early as middle school, and it only gets worse with time. One person’s stress rubs off on the other, and gets compounded by a parallel sense of insecurity. Instead of being “we-centric,” we have become a “me-centric” society, which ensures that the cycle of stress does not stop.
The solution is not in the antidepressant bottle — it lies within you. You have the power to take control of your mind, body, and spirit through the ancient art of meditation. But for meditation to truly work, it must become a part of your daily life.
How to get started
Here are some tips to help you in your journey to peace of mind.
Visualize Your Goal
How would you like to loosen the vice-hold of the worries that plague your life? What if the things that bothered you in the past simply slid away from you like water off a duck’s back?
Meditation may not solve your problems, but it will surely change your perception of them, which could make all the difference. Your fresh perspective can empower you to find solutions to your problems that you may not have thought of before.
Remember that commitment and discipline are rudderless without a healthy vision of your goal. So, imagine the place where you want to be and let that motivate you to establish your daily habit.
Start Easy and Take It Easy
It is a lot smarter to do a little bit every day than burn yourself out trying to do too much on a single day. Start with five minutes a day and slowly increase your meditation time based on the amount of time you can afford to invest.
It is important to not have unrealistic expectations. It takes time to develop the ability to quiet the mind and overcome distractions. It only gets better with practice.
Pick Your Meditation Method and Stick to It
There are many meditation methods to choose from, and they all work. What is important is to identify the one that works best for you, and stick to it. For some, focusing on being mindful of their present works, such as focusing on breathing. For others, setting your intention by chanting the universal mantra “Om” might work better.
Pick a Time, Preferably in the Morning
Find an uninterrupted time slot every day for your meditation when you know you are not going to be disturbed. Morning is preferred. However, also know that you can practice meditation anywhere, for example, in a quiet moment on your office chair, a ride in the bus, or waiting in a line. The more you make it a part of your life, the more you will reap the benefits.
You Don’t Need to Know Yoga to Meditate
Very often people think that they need to learn how to sit in an intricate pose to accomplish the goals of meditation. Not true. All you need is a quiet place where you can have a few minutes to yourself. Just get started! As you advance further, you can try more advanced techniques gradually.
If You Get Off Track, Get Back Quick
If you miss a day or two, don’t fret. But most importantly, get back on track quickly so that you don’t lose momentum and undo the work you have already done.
Work From a Place of Joy and Peace
Don’t think of meditation as a chore, instead approach it from a peaceful place, full of joy. The peace and joy with which you approach meditation will get amplified and get you closer to your goals. Understand that the process is a journey, not a destination.
Join a Class
Many gyms and yoga centers offer group meditation classes that can not only help you learn the techniques properly, but also keep you accountable. If you are finding it difficult developing the discipline, a group setting may be exactly what you need.
Finally, get yourself a timer to keep you on track. There are many yoga and meditation timers available, but I believe Namaste will be a valuable addition to your meditation journey.