Preparation for meditation is particularly important, as it is not at all easy to rush from your everyday life straight into a receptive mode. It takes time to ‘switch off’ and the following process is well worth observing.
Allocate a favorite place, where it is quiet, and away from possible interruption. It is preferable to use the same place each time.
Bright light can be distracting, so during the day it may be advisable to draw the curtains. At night, a room is most calming when dimly lit.
Prepare the room carefully. You may choose to light a candle, burn some incense, and put on some quiet and restful background music. However, none of these things are essential.
Sit yourself in a comfortable chair, with your back straight, and your arms and shoulders relaxed. Place your hands where you feel they are most comfortable. If you choose not to sit in the lotus position, then both feet should be firmly on the floor.
If you choose to lie down during meditation, there is a danger of you going to sleep, but many people find this position also very successful.
Tense and Relax
Take a few deep breaths.
It is important that you don’t over breathe. Just a few healthy intakes and release of breath to start the relaxation process
Become aware of your body.
Concentrate on the different areas, and note where there are points of restriction. If necessary shift a little to find a better position. Ensure that your back remains straight, but you are sitting comfortably without feeling uneasy.
Tense and relax.
Beginning with your feet, gradually move up each section of the body step by step – tensing and relaxing as you go. Be particularly aware of your thighs, hands, arms, shoulders, and face muscles. Clenching your fists, hunching your shoulders, and tight facial grins are particularly useful before relaxing.
Ensure relaxation is complete.
Quickly go over the whole body again, to confirm that all parts of you are fully relaxed, and if necessary re-address any areas of difficulty. The whole process of relaxation should not take a great deal of time, but it is an important part of preparation for a beneficial session.
Having relaxed the body, the following points are useful for relaxing the mind, and moving your thoughts inwards before you begin.
Getting into a receptive mode
Close your eyes and imagine yourself wrapped in a bubble of light. All is warm and comforting. Become aware of the ebb and flow of your breathing.
Concentrate on the most distant noise you can hear. It may be a car hooting its horn in a road across the way, or an aeroplane flying overhead. Allow yourself to hear these sounds, recognise them, and let them go.
Now, move in closer and note the sounds just outside your house, or the building where you are meditating. It could be children playing in the garden, or your neighbours talking in the street. Maybe a dog barking. Allow yourself to hear them, recognise, and let go.
Concentrate now on the sounds directly outside your room. It could be a radio programme if someone else is in the area, or perhaps a bath running. Recognise all these things, and let them go.
Now, pull your attention to inside the room you are in. What sounds do you hear now? It could be the central heating, or a clock ticking. The sound of soft music playing.
The final step is to move inside yourself. Can you hear your heart beating, your breathing, or the slight hissing sound in your ears? Acknowledge all these and let them go.
Once you have done all this, you are now ready to move into deep meditation – to hear the voice of your inner self, without distraction from the outer sounds.
Descriptions of different forms of meditation are described on the following pages.
Although these techniques are commonly used for Passive Mediation they can also be used in preparation for Active Meditation, in order to put you in a completely relaxed state before you begin. However, if you intend to meditate as you are walking, you may find it convenient to adapt the process a little, in case you find yourself wobbling along on jelly legs!
Always bring yourself slowly out of a meditation. Just as it is not productive to rush in without preparation, it is equally not productive to rush out without sufficient time to come back into the everyday world.