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One of the best things about meditation, that practice of quietly observing your thoughts and feelings in your mind without judgment, is that you do not need anything to practice. No gadgets or gear are necessary. You can practice meditation on the subway. You can practice meditation in bed. You can practice meditation in the bath! Simply breathe in and notice that you are breathing in. Then breathe out and notice that you are breathing out. That’s it. You’re meditating! There is no need for any preparation or pomp. Just sit.
That being said, if you do have the time, space, energy, and desire, you may as well set yourself up. Getting prepared for meditation physically, mentally, and spiritually can enhance your meditative experience.
When considering meditation preparation, it is imperative to consider what style of meditation you plan to practice. Do you like to be guided through meditation, during which time you listen to someone talking to you calmly? Do you want to practice intentionally focusing on compassion and kindness while you meditate? Do you like to follow your breath and “just be”?
There are many types of meditation. Whatever style you choose for your sitting, there are multitudes of benefits. Whether you choose to prepare for meditation or merely take some time to intentionally breathe, it sure seems worth giving it a try! The pros of meditation include the following:
If meditation is beneficial and you do not need any equipment with which to practice, why it is helpful to prepare for a meditation sitting? In fact, there are several physical, mental, and spiritual reasons why preparing for meditation is a helpful habit. As you settle your body into a comfortable position, find the best seating option, and don unobtrusive clothing, you help create clear energy channels in your body. When your energy channels are unblocked, the prana, or life force, can flow through your system with greater ease, creating an overall sense of well-being. As you prepare for meditation by setting an intention, choosing a physical focal point, or selecting a mantra, you set the stage for your mind to focus on the present moment.
A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology demonstrated that when you focus on the present moment you enhance self-awareness and increase positive emotional states. Finally, as you dedicate your meditative time to the freedom and happiness of all beings everywhere, including yourself, you create space to open to higher wisdom. Incorporating and honoring some understanding of the interconnectedness of all beings (or any form of spirituality) into your life has been shown to increase resilience, lower symptoms of depression, increase satisfaction with life, and increase life expectancy.
Each of these preparations increases the possibility of a satisfying meditation experience. As with anything, however, there are some things for which you simply cannot prepare. When you are meditating, any number of unexpected sounds, thoughts, or sensations could distract you from stillness. In fact, it is almost certain that something will distract you! Regardless of the comfort of your cushion and the beauty of your mantra, thoughts will creep in. You will likely feel strange sensations or unpleasant emotions. You will likely get discouraged or diverted. So, prepare all you want. Prepare as much as you feasibly can, depending on your circumstances. But also, as is the nature of the practice, relax and allow your meditative experience to simply be what it will be.
Here are some practical tips to prepare physically, mentally, and spiritually for meditation. Enjoy the healing benefits of this powerful practice.
If you meditate in the morning, get ready to meditate by preparing physically, mentally, and spiritually. Morning meditation helps to set the tone for your day. You can incorporate intention setting, yoga asana practice, deep breathing techniques, and journaling for a holistic experience—or simply sit.
If you don’t have a lot of time in the morning rise, pee, meditate (RPM)! Get yourself out of bed, use the restroom, find your cushion, and sit. Meditation can be as simple or as complex as you make it. This practice of meeting yourself as you are in the morning can be a sweet and interesting and intense feeling. It is highly beneficial. Do it. If you have more time in the morning, take some time to prepare your body, mind, and spirit for a meditation practice.
If you meditate in the evening, get ready to meditate physically, mentally, and spiritually. Evening meditation helps to set the tone for sleep. Just as with a morning meditation, with an evening meditation, you can incorporate intention setting, yoga asana practice, breathing techniques, and journaling for a holistic experience—or simply sit.
If you don’t have a lot of time for meditation practices in the evening, sit right before bed. You could even sit in bed. If you think you will fall asleep, sit on your bed against the wall instead of reclining. Get yourself ready for sleep and then meditate for a little while before you drift off. This practice of connecting with yourself in the evening can be a nice way to check in and wind down the day. Taking time out for personal reflection and inner harmony before bed is highly beneficial. Do it. If you have more time in the evening, take some time to prepare your body, mind, and spirit for a meditation practice.
If you meditate in a group, prepare physically, mentally, and spiritually. Group meditation helps to keep you free from certain distractions you may encounter when meditating on your own. Group meditation also helps to mitigate the challenge of discipline required to meditate solo. Whether your group is a formal, guided gathering or simply a group of friends sitting together, you can incorporate intention setting, yoga asana practice, breathing techniques, and journaling for a holistic experience—or simply join the group and sit.
The practice of meditating in a group is an important element of the spiritual meditation lifestyle; satsang, or communing with others and sharing knowledge, brings the satisfaction of “being at home in the world.” Connecting with your own inner life while amidst a group of similarly focused meditators has its benefits. Meditating in a group can:
Consider joining the 21-Day Meditation Experience through the Chopra Center for an online group meditation experience. Or look for a local in-person guided meditation course or ongoing class near you. Or host your own group meditation! If you have time before your group meditation practice, take some time out to prepare your body, mind, and spirit for the sitting.
While meditating does not require any significant amount of preparation, setting yourself up to be comfortable and present physically, mentally, and spiritually, can enhance your meditation practice. Whether you plan to sit in the morning, evening, solo, or in a group, cleansing your body, mind, and spirit before you sit can help make for a satisfying and healing meditation. Enjoy the journey!
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.
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