This is a series of posts originally called Helpful Hints for Meditation, updated from my earlier website, PowerofPersonalPeace.com.
My desire to share in this format goes back a long way! As a girl, I loved helpful hints in my mother’s Ladies Home Journal. I still read them avidly — from hacks on Pinterest to tips in magazines on my many interests. Take whatever might work for you and experiment!
Boost Your Meditation Practice
These tips are offered with the notion that you have already chosen some form of meditation practice. They are not meant to be all-inclusive. They are simply strategies that have worked for me for a long time and I hope you will find a nugget or two that will fine tune your practice!
The inner peace of spiritual exercises or meditation. Serene skies inside!
Throughout this series of articles, please do not get hung up on my words! If my words don’t quite fit for you, please simply substitute ones that you prefer. Go for the essence of your own uplifting and relaxing experience here!
New to Meditation
If you are totally new to meditation, you may wish to sit with eyes closed, breathe gently and naturally, and silently, inwardly, repeat one of the following words:
One (from Herbert Benson’s The Relaxation Response)
Om (a Sanskrit word meaning the whole world and the self of all things and traditionally used in many Eastern forms of meditation
Ananda (Sanskrit for bliss)
Ani-Hu (empathy with God)
Alternatively, experiment with:
Simply observing your breath.
Exploring a meditation practice from your faith.
Listening to a guided meditation.
My Background with Meditation
I started meditating daily in 1975 while living in England. I had tried it a time or two based on information in a yoga book, stretching flat on the floor and breathing through my body for relaxation. But in London, a blind date introduced me to meditation and I was instantly captivated. He shared a meditation
What my first meditation looked like!
practice involving gazing at a candle flame. I could hardly wait the few days until I could go for proper instruction in a form of mantra meditation with a specific group.
When I went for my instruction, the facilitators were a lovely married couple. The woman literally glowed. I saw radiant light all around her. I’d never seen anything like that before, and I instantly knew, “I want whatever it is that she has!”
I followed the suggested pattern of meditating about twenty minutes morning and evening. We were told that regular meditation would not only help with relaxation and spiritual growth, but we’d have more energy and need less sleep. Since I was 29, single and out almost every night attending movies, concerts and late dinners with friends in an exciting cosmopolitan city, I figured it would be great to have more energy!
What actually happened? I received instruction on a Saturday afternoon. I meditated at home that evening, twice on Sunday, and again early on Monday morning.
No more night owl times for me! The deep rest of meditation made my body demand a more balanced way of life!
I went to work as usual but I was incredibly tired and sleepy. In fact, after lunch, I could barely hold my eyes open. My colleagues eventually decided I was useless and sent me home to rest!
I slept for 36 hours.
When I resumed my routine, I could no longer “burn the midnight oil” the way I had. It’s as if when I started meditating, I got the deeply refreshing rest and renewal and my body said, “MORE! I WANT MORE OF THIS.” My new consciousness of meditation and my body cooperated to insist that I create a more balanced and healthy lifestyle.
I loved the experiences of peace that I found through meditation. I became a teacher at the introductory level. One evening I was scheduled to teach and had a moderately severe upset stomach. I was tempted to call in sick. But I decided I’d better go, as I didn’t think anyone else was prepared to replace me for that evening.
I drove over to the meditation center feeling woozy and nauseated. However, as soon as I started teaching my small group of newcomers, the illness vanished. This started a trail of many small miracles or happy coincidences that I associate with meditation!
I was in a rather stormy relationship with the man who had introduced me to
My heart opened through tears.
meditation. At one weekend retreat, I began crying each time I would meditate. I cried quietly, and not even about anything in particular. It might have been triggered initially by some comment by the boyfriend, but it just went on and on! The experienced facilitators said, “Your heart is opening.”
Indeed it was! I quickly outgrew that boyfriend, and my meditation practices supported my emotional growth as I explored a much healthier relationship and eventually met and married my wonderful husband.
Spiritual Exercises, an Active Meditation
I continued with my initial meditation practices for several years, until hearing a man in Las Vegas speak about “the Light and Sound of God.”
He shared a slightly different practice, also involving chanting a sacred sound. This resonated so deeply with me that I dropped my long time mantra and began chanting this sound for two hours daily, which turned out to be the beginning of my current Spiritual Exercises, (considered an “active” form of meditation) which are the richest part of my life to this day.
Over the years, I’ve participated in many different kinds of meditation. I’ve taught several meditation classes, including university adult education. For me, meditation and/or spiritual exercises are absolutely essential to inner peace and well-being.
Begin Your Meditation Now
What I’ve learned since 1975 is that it doesn’t matter where you start, just begin. You will gain immensely from some form of meditation. A remarkable teacher named John-Roger has said, “The only wrong way to do spiritual exercises is not to do them.”
Five minutes is enough to begin! Gradually increase as you get used to your practice.
So, start with five minutes if that’s all you can spare, or the longest you can sit still. Or do a walking meditation, or yoga with a breathing meditation. Relax and enjoy this interlude of just being. As you get comfortable with it, gradually expand your time and explore a bit more. Find what works for you and use it help you relax, tame tension, release stress, enjoy more mental clarity and emotional balance and awaken spiritually,
While you will likely feel some shift in energy and relaxation immediately, consistent practice will lead to more profound experiences.
Meditation and spiritual exercises are peacefully dynamic. You will find changes in your practice and in your life as you open to deeper levels of your own inner awareness. You may find answers to perplexing dilemmas, guidance for your future, help with letting go of the past, help with physical health issues, all coming forward because of your consistent practice of meditation.
Explore and Keep Going
You may quickly find a practice that appeals to you and that you are motivated to use daily. Or, you may need to experiment and check out a variety of meditation practices. If you are sincere and continue questing, you will surely find a practice that suits you. It may support a healthier lifestyle, or enrich your faith. It may help you to be more open to the flow of life and more resilient in dealing with stress.
I encourage you to explore freely and pay attention to your inner experience. Let your loving heart provide the wisdom for your next steps. As you get involved with various groups, let loving lead your way. When you meditate, you can begin to combine the intelligence of your loving heart and the wisdom of your soul for marvelous inner awareness and fulfillment and outer success with less stress.
I hope these posts are helpful as you journey inward with meditation!