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Designing a meditation practice that works for you
Photography by jasper johal

Designing a meditation practice that works for you

by shelley glickstein
Be Spiritual | Meditation

sacred time, sacred space

Thirty minutes of meditation can offer more profound rest to the body, mind, and spirit than eight hours of sleep. A simple but powerful meditation practice endows the rest of your waking hours with greater energy, efficiency, clarity and peace to do everything that you need to, with less time and effort than it would take otherwise. Still, you may feel that you lack the time to meditate even if you have experienced these benefits first-hand. The answer, surprisingly, is not a matter of self-discipline. Meditation is the action you take when you choose to experience love and self-respect daily.

Understand Why You Are Meditating

Your meditation practice defines a sacred time and space for you to reconnect with your essential nature. Without this, something elusive (who you really are) always seems to be missing from your life and anxiety becomes a nagging and pervasive feeling. As you re-connect with your Self, tension in the heart and nervous system immediately decreases. The same intelligence that keeps the sun rising and setting informs your autonomic nervous system. You do not have to put ‘regulate heartbeat and blood pressure, and have blood clot when cut’ on your to-do list. As a part of Creation, you are served by an intelligence that facilitates this. In meditation, you become awake and receptive to this infinite intelligence. It becomes accessible to you and useful in your daily life. What else might this intelligence facilitate for you if you were to attune yourself to it daily through silence? Who would you know yourself to be? 

You Can Only Meditate Now

The great sage Patanjali answered the question of who we are and how to attain Self-realization in detail. Patanjali’s first sutra or instruction reads, “Now, after previous preparation, the teaching of yoga begins.” Yoga, of course, refers to the union of body, mind and spirit facilitated by meditation. Preparation may begin with the physical, which refers to your body and your environment. Meditation can be practiced anywhere that you can sit quietly with your eyes closed. However, it is very helpful to meditate at the same time and place each day if possible. An openly visible space in your home or office that reminds you to meditate is highly recommended.  It may be as minimalist as a special incense or candle that you use only for meditation. A statue or tranquility waterfall may represent the qualities that you seek to cultivate through your practice. As an association builds between your sacred space and the deep experience of well being that meditation brings, the sight of it will arouse your desire to meditate. Anytime that you are tempted to skip your practice you need only remember Patanjali’s first word of instruction. Now.

A Simple Technique

You can begin a simple practice today even if you are new to meditation. Sit quietly on a comfortable chair, sofa, or pillow with your spine straight and your eyes closed. Rest your hands on your lap. Silently and effortlessly repeat the mantra So Hum. So Hum is considered the universal mantra because it imitates the sound of the breath, and everyone breathes. If a thought arises, let it go and continue to repeat So Hum. A thirty-minute practice twice a day is optimal, but even five or ten minutes can make a difference in your life. Meditation courses are extremely helpful because you can learn what to expect from your practice, resolve any frustration you might encounter about “doing it right,” and benefit from meditating as part of a group.

Approach your practice with an attitude of compassion rather than self-discipline. Discipline is usually associated with self-denial and achievement. Meditation is designed to bring fulfillment and effortlessness into your life. Like your heartbeat, it does not need to be generated from your “to-do list.” Every time you sit, you are choosing to make love and self-respect a non-negotiable part of your day. You are allowing the infinite intelligence that flows through you to make your life a sacred experience.