”Meditation develops strong and pure thoughts. You will yourself feel the way to place your footsteps on the next rung of spiritual ladder. A mysterious inner voice will guide you. Hear this attentively.” Om TAT SAT Swami Sivananda
Welcome to the world of meditation. Meditation for us western people has been a taboo until the arrival of mindfulness in the late 20th century. Why should we do it? What is meditation? How should we do it? When and where should it be done and how much is required? We spent one week in Sivananda Ashram in Kerala, India deepening our knowledge of meditation and want to share our thoughts with you.
Why should we meditate?
We are very keen on saying who we are and what things make us who we are.
The main reason why everybody should meditate is to gain a better knowledge to the question ”Who am i?”. One could say that I know who I am already, but in there lies the problem. We are very keen on saying who we are and what things make us who we are. We use that as a cover to explain our actions no matter if it’s friends, family or strangers. It can be self acknowledged or not. What we want to achieve trough meditation is to understand who we are from the inside. Without our desires, lusts and pressures coming from the outside. It is also a way see that the things standing between me and my happiness is within me and created by my mind, which is not the same thing as myself.
Trough meditation it is possible to find a state of mind where you don’t want more, but find a state of mind where you are more happy and calm and can acknowledge self and environment as it is.
Today we live in a world where everything is within our reach with a swipe of a finger. That creates an environment where we can easily fulfill our desires and get support for our ego. Meditation is about creating a different state of mind trough concentration. Our mind is a powerful computer that creates new ideas, explanations, actions and desires. Imagine yourself in a shopping mall. Your mind is constantly thinking new and different things. We buy new clothes, phone and other things. It feels good so the mind is already thinking what I’m going to get or do next and next and so one.
Through meditation it is possible to find a state of mind where you don’t want more but find a state of mind where you are more happy and calm and can acknowledge self and environment as it is.
How to meditate?
Do not have any expectations towards meditation, we all can do it. Better to do it poorly than not to do it at all.
Meditation should be done on a daily basis. You could start by 30 minutes every day. You should develop it a habit, like brushing your teeth or having a walk. Do not have any expectations towards meditation, we all can do it. Better to do it poorly than not to do it at all. There are different meditation techniques, such as sivananda (what we learned) and vipassana. Pick one technique and stick to it.
Sit comfortably cross-legged or on a chair. Concentrate, breathe deeply and bring your focus to the point between your eyebrows or center of your chest. You can also concentrate on your breathing. Feeling how inhaling air passes through nose, trough, chest and stomach. Exhaling the other way round.
Mantras have their own power and vibration and they also help you to concentrate. If you don’t have your own mantra, you can repeat an universal mantra ”Ommm…” as you inhale and exhale. Conscious mind will always create new things and fill you with new thoughts. Then you just have to return your concentration back to your point of concentration.
How to begin meditation practice at home?
First, you should pick a certain time for meditation, as it is easier to do at the same time every day, regularly. The best times for meditation are dawns and dusks, as these moments have a lot of spirit in them.
Second, you should always meditate at same place, as places have certain vibration and you can calm down easier. You should face north or east. You can set up a table or box with a nice cloth, burn incense or a candle on it and put some flowers and sacred images of important people or gurus on it. But don’t make it emotional.
Third, you should have certain clothes for meditation or a meditation shawl. They help you to concentrate.
However, don’t take too much pressure on these rules, better to meditate poorly than not to meditate at all.