Since I started practising meditation, I have been trying out different things – little changes here and there – that although may sound small and petty, they have improved my meditation significantly and consistently.
I have written this article especially for people who have started doing meditation, take the practice at heart and are keen on improving it and taking it to the next level.
Does this describe your present situation? Have you started enjoying and feeling the benefits of meditation but would eagerly try out a few simple tips to significantly improve it?
Learning how to meditate takes a lot of time and patience in the beginning. It’s a slow and gradual progress because we have to learn new things that our mind and body are not accustomed to and unlearn old habits that we have been conditioned to for many years.
Yet there are ways to make this learning process more efficient and effective.
Tip #1. Find your spot:
What I mean by finding your spot is to try and test different spots and orientations within the space you decided to meditate in until you are feeling that you are in the right place. It’s sort of doing some ‘Feng Shui’ for your meditation spot. It may sound funny I know but I believe that space has different energy spots that affect us in different ways.
I initially chose my place casually and arbitrarily. I felt something was not right. I was not comfortable with the place. Then I started changing places and even orientations (I used a compass and took notes) until I finally found the spot where my meditation improved significantly.
Tip #2. Set your intention:
When I started doing meditation I would start the session with no plan and intention in mind.
My intentions weren’t clear. I would have different objectives for the same session such as developing awareness, concentration, visualization and if possible a bit of insight too! Of course this used to put my mind in a knot and my attempts to meditate were often unsuccessful for this reason.
That’s when I understood that I need to set my intention beforehand. If I wanted to do mindfulness meditation, for example, I would say this clearly to myself. This kept my mind from interfering with the process by having a one predefined objective.
Tip #3. Keep a journal:
This is important to help you track your progress and use feedback to keep on improving.
I use a journal to keep notes on each of my meditation sessions. I would start by logging the date/time of the session and the type of meditation. Then I add in observations about my mood, state of mind and body before meditating.
After the session I then take notes about the outcome of the session.
Tip #4. Find the right time:
Different people have different times when their mind and body is in better shape and more responsive. For some people it may be early morning, for some others it might be afternoon or late in the evening after unwinding from a hard day of work.
You have to try which time of the day works best for your meditation. Keeping a journal is a sure way of knowing this.
Tip #5. Exercise your body before starting meditation:
One big obstacle to meditation beside your wandering mind is your body. Sometimes you may be tense or tired and this may make your body twitchy and hard to find a comfortable and steady position. Most of my failures in meditation came from having a tense body.
Doing exercise before starting your meditation helps you immensely. Do some stretching, Yoga, Tai chi, waking or whatever gets your body moving. I found these 12 Qi Gong sitting exercises as particularly effective in improving my meditation.
Tip #6. Use Brain wave entrainment technology:
Brain wave entrainment uses sound waves with the same frequency as our brain waves when we are in particular states if mind (for example the alpha frequency when in a relaxed state).
These sound waves that are recorded on CDs, help the listener to automatically synchronize his brain waves with those frequencies and hence alter its states.
I use BWE myself for my meditation and I can attest to its efficacy. After a few minutes the mind starts ‘defragmenting’ and enters a more coherent state of mind. This drastically facilitates entering into meditative states.
Tip #7. Use the power of water:
Water has such a healing or revitalizing effect on the mind and body.
There are times when you find it difficult to meditate because you are too sleepy in the morning or too lax in the evening. In this case take a reinvigorating shower to lift up the spirit.
If on the other hand you are too tense and hyper-vigilant, take a warm bath with some bath salts to unwind your mind and relax your tense body.
Tip # 8. Do some breathing exercises to open up your lungs:
Good breathing in an essential practice in healthy living that we often overlook. It is also very important for good meditation whether you are focusing on your breath or not.
In ancient Yogic tradition, the working on the breath (Pranayama) has been considered to be an essential part of the journey to self-liberation.
Check out these breathing exercise here. I find these to have a very positive effect on my meditation when performed just before I meditate.
Tip #9. Choose a Mantra that sounds good to you:
If you use mantras for meditation, make sure that you choose a mantra that sounds good to you or you feel comfortable with. Traditionally, a mantra was chosen by a guru or master and then handed down to his student.
I have heard that a lot of people are given a mantra by their teacher or as suggested in a book but then find difficulty in using it. It somehow doesn’t click.
Since people have different tastes and dispositions I find it makes more sense to find a mantra that you feel comfortable with. After all a mantra is only an arbitrary tool that helps you anchor your mind.
Tip # 10. Switch off electronic appliances around you:
If there are any electronic appliances within range (not just in your meditation room) such as PCs, TVs, mobile phones, etc, switch them off.
These appliances are not only a distraction because they emit audible noise but also because they emit radiation than can interfere with the coherence of our brain waves and hence with our meditation.