Step 10 of the 10 Steps to Bliss – Creating a Meditation Practice
Click the player below for the PODCAST (audio only).
What is Meditation?
Meditation is pretty simple. Just sit quietly and empty your mind. That’s it. There is nothing to do. In fact, your to-do is nothing. Just sit and breathe. Of the millions of meditators on this planet, I’m sure meditation means something different to all of us. To me, meditation is an opportunity to quiet the mind and experience the Soul. It is an exercise in deep relaxation both mentally and physically. There are many types of meditation. In fact, any time you experience the present moment, you are “in meditation”. That could be gardening, knitting, playing a sport, or whatever brings you present moment awareness. The more “traditional” definition of meditation is what I will discuss and what I recommend. Present moment awareness during your favorite activities will happen naturally no matter what. However, being conscious of those activities as a form of meditation will help you understand why they provide so much benefit to your Soul.
I recommend meditation because it has worked for me. Simple as that. If you aren’t aware of the benefits of meditation, you can Google it and find plenty of scientific studies that show numerous benefits to regular meditation: reduced stress and anxiety, lowered blood pressure, improved immune functions, etc. Of course, what really matters is the benefits that YOU will experience and there is only one way to find out…give it a try! In this final step of The 10 Steps to Bliss, we will learn how to meditate and how to create a Meditation Practice. I keep my personal Meditation Practice updated here for easy reference: My Meditation Practice. Feel free to use it for inspiration or as a guide in creating your own practice. OR, if you feel like it, do something completely different! There are no rules, regulations or boundaries in the Spiritual realm, so anything goes.
Tips before you Meditate for the first time:
– Understand the Goal is to experience the present moment with a quiet mind (remove all thoughts).
– Using a Mantra is an easy way to quiet the mind for most of us.
– Being comfortable physically and mentally is KEY.
– Remove all expectations and Trust the meditation.
The Goal is to experience the present moment with a quiet mind. Meditation is often referred to as a state of “restful awareness”. Ideally, when meditating, we are able to quiet our mind completely, removing all thoughts while maintaining present moment awareness (not sleeping). At first, this will seem impossible. During our first few meditations, we discover how cluttered our mind is with thoughts. It seems impossible to quiet all that down, but in time, we absolutely can. When we do, we feel something like never before. True present moment awareness. When we fully experience this moment, the answers to our problems will arise spontaneously. This is how we know we have achieved a quiet mind. We have become quiet enough to allow our Soul to provide the answer. The more quiet we become, the more we will hear our Soul. The more we hear our Soul, the more we become who we really are…
Using a Mantra. Specifically translated, the word mantra means “mind vehicle”. Think of it as the vehicle we ride to quiet the mind during meditation. A mantra is a word or group of words that we say over and over in meditation to keep our mind from swirling in thoughts like it does most of the day. The hardcore sages, gurus, yogis, zen masters and meditation teachers might say you shouldn’t use a mantra. They might tell you using a mantra guarantees the mind won’t be totally quiet because you’re thinking about the words or phrases in the mantra. In my opinion, achieving a 100% empty mind is almost impossible for most of us. If we can just get our mind focused on a mantra alone, then we have removed 99% of our thoughts and that’s good enough to have a major impact without all the pressure of a TOTALLY quiet mind. Anything could be a mantra, though some people believe using sanskrit mantras are better. Sanskrit is an ancient language from India. Since successful meditation is about having a quiet mind, if you think it works, it will. So, use whatever works best for you. A widely used mantra is “so-hum” or “ah-hum”, which both mean the same thing “I am”. Mentally say the word “so” on the in breath and “hum” on the out breath. When using a mantra, try to really focus on just the mantra and your breath in relationship to the mantra. Here is a list of some other mantras you can try: Meditation Mantras.
Being comfortable is KEY. When you get ready to meditate, you want to be in a very comfortable position that is ideally not lying down (unless you are using meditation to fall asleep). This could be in a reclining chair, on a couch, cross-legged on the floor, a bean-bag chair, zero-gravity chair, etc. Wear your most comfortable clothes. If you don’t have any, buy some extremely comfortable clothes to wear just for meditating. It’s worth it. It’s important to be comfortable because we don’t want any physical discomforts to distract us during meditation. As we get deeper in meditation, we become more keenly aware, so even the slightest physical discomfort could be distracting. Ideally we are able to “melt” into whatever position we’re in, achieving a 100% relaxed state of being.
Trust the meditation. If we want to get the most from meditation, we have to Trust it from the very beginning. If we think, “I’m going to meditate so I can feel a certain way”, then we’ve created a rigid expectation and we’re not letting the meditation do it’s work with our Soul. Believe this…we ALWAYS get what we need when we meditate. Sometimes, we will fall asleep. This means we’re tired and the absolute best thing for our body-mind was to get some rest. That’s ok! Sometimes, our minds will be racing with 1,000,000 thoughts all at once and will not get quiet during the entire length of meditation. That’s ok! It’s what we needed. We needed a mental vent and we got it. Sometimes we will revisit an old memory or situation that we’ve dismissed, but has been lingering in our consciousness. This is great. It allows us to close the loop on old baggage and release it from the level of the Soul. There are many other possibilities as well, these are just a few. The key is…Trust the meditation.
How to Meditate for the first time:
– Put on comfortable clothes.
– Find a quiet and peaceful place.
– Get in to a comfortable position.
– Set a timer for 15 minutes.
– Close your eyes.
– Use the “so-hum” mantra where you mentally say the word “so” on your in-breath and mentally say the word “hum” on your out-breath.
– As you breath in, recognize you are breathing in Life Energy from the Universe which keeps us alive. You are essentially breathing in Life itself.
– As you exhale, let go of anything that is holding you back or bothering you. Just allow it to release from your thoughts. Treat this like a purification process using your breath. In with the good and out with the bad.
– If you get distracted along the way, just gently drift back to the mantra “so-hum”. Know that you will drift away and it’s ok. It’s part of the process. The mantra is there to help us recover when we get side-tracked.
– Do this until the time expires. Then, slowly come back to a normal state and open your eyes. That’s it!
You can also use guided meditations, which are great for first-time and long-time meditators alike. I really enjoy a couple of the Apps created by Deepak Chopra. One is called “Ananda – Living in Love” and the other is “Ananda – Infinite Abundance“. There are other guided meditation apps and 21-Day meditation challenges you can download/purchase as well. Just search for “meditation” in the app store.
Ideally, we each have our own Meditation Practice. Because we create it for ourselves, everything will be tailored to our life and our needs. It’s also a fun process with many rewards along the way.
Creating a Meditation Practice:
I have experienced a number of benefits by having a meditation practice vs. meditating randomly or as-needed. There is nothing rigid about a spiritual journey. You should always just focus on doing what works best for you. Try different things, be open to new experiences or different kinds of meditation, music, etc. You never know what might sing a song to your Soul. Having a Meditation Practice for me is helpful because it forces me to focus on the things I believe are really important for me. As of right now, those things are: self-referral, giving and receiving, karma and conscious choice-making, present moment awareness, surrender, acceptance, detachment, non-judgment, love and unity. These themes are built in to my Meditation Practice, so I know that I’ll touch on them at least once a week. However, I meditate more than once a day. So, just once a day I meditate on the theme of the day and leave any other meditations for that day open to whatever feels right. This is what works for me, but it may not work as well for you. This is why I think everyone should create their own practice.
How to create a Meditation Practice:
Before creating your practice, it’s a good idea to try several different types of meditation and read a few books on the subject so you can have an idea of what interests you. I would recommend “Secrets of Meditation” by Davidji and “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” by Deepak Chopra for starters. As you read and study, write down the things which interest you and connect with your Soul, then follow this process:
– Make a list of all the “themes” with which you have great interest.
– Write your themes down in order of importance.
– Select the top 7 themes to be part of your daily practice.
– Look at the days of the week and try to fit each of your top 7 themes in to a day that makes sense for your life and typical daily activities. You may have to re-arrange these a few times, but that’s ok. Give yourself the best starting point you can and know that this process is infinitely flexible.
– Next, determine a centering thought for each day/theme. This should be the thought you want to repeat in your mind throughout the day to remind you of why this theme is important to you.
– Then, determine a meditation mantra for each day/theme. This will be the phrase you are repeating during meditation and should be shorter vs. the centering thought. Ideally, this phrase is calming and connects strongly with your Soul.
Voila! You now have your first Meditation Practice established. As you can see, in just creating the practice, there is a lot of conscious choice-making. That’s the first major benefit of creating the practice! You can always use my practice as a reference point here: my Meditation Practice. Now you have a practice that is all your own, ever evolving to nurture your Soul. What a beautiful thing!
Happy Meditating. I hope it helps! Namaste 🙂