The main thing in starting to meditate is to just do it. Meditation is absolutely natural and normal, and once we begin it is simple to make it an integral part of our lives. Because meditation concerns our own heart and soul, it turns out to be very intimate and familiar to us. Like a close and faithful friend, our meditation will be something that we know very well and is always there for us.
Meditation becomes natural and spontaneous when we do it regularly. We can make a comparison to the food which we need to eat each day. Meditation is spiritual nourishment, and just as we eat daily we should meditate at least once a day. We don’t try to eat all of our food for the whole week in one meal. In the same way we meditate regularly so we can receive the spiritual food we need.
Other comparisons we can make are to training for physical fitness or learning to play a musical instrument. Our ability to meditate grows with practice, like developing a muscle or learning a skill. Doing some each day is really effective, while skipping several days and then practicing a lot doesn’t work well. When beginning to meditate and also as we continue, we should meditate for the same amount of time each day, according to our capacity, and increase the length of our meditations only gradually.
Having a definite time to meditate is important. Then we don’t think about when or whether to meditate, we just do it. Our outer self as well as our inner being starts to feel that meditation is a totally normal and necessary part of our life. Meditation early each morning is a foundation for our practice. At that time all of the stresses and distractions of the day have not entered into us and we are fresh. We can receive strength and light from our meditation and then draw on it during the day. If we can meditate again in the evening, this is ideal. If we have a chance, we might fit in short meditations at other times.
Having a special place for meditation is a great help. People who can have a meditation room are lucky, but just a corner or small space is all we need. This spot is set aside just for meditation and perhaps spiritual reading and music as well. We can keep sacred pictures in that place and any other things that inspire us, put flowers there and burn incense. This place will build up a spiritual atmosphere and associations with our inner life, so that when we sit down there we will automatically feel like meditating.
Meditating right after a full meal is difficult. So is meditating when we are very hungry, so a light snack before starting to meditate can be useful at certain times. Taking a shower and wearing clean clothes are good preparations. But even if none of the supporting conditions mentioned here are available, we should still meditate – any way we can, at any time we can.
Meditation will be easier some days than others, extremely fulfilling at one time and more ‘ordinary’ at some other time. These variations are all part of the process. We must keep going forward with joy and confidence. Wonderful discoveries lie ahead!
-Kusumita P. Pedersen
Kusumita is a meditation student of Sri Chinmoy and lives in New York where she is a member of the New York Sri Chinmoy Centre. For more information about Meditation in New York visit – Meditation New York