Monday, January 20, 2014

Creating A Place To Meditate

Children love a routine at night when they are preparing for bed. Putting them to bed, reading them a story, singing to them; whatever the routine is that a parent may have, calms them and relaxes them. When children go on a road trip in the car they do so much better when they have something special with them that reminds them of home; a special blanket, a cd of songs that calm them and so on. My daughter has a special "blankie" that makes her feel safe and calm when she's on a trip.

Though we are older now and more sophisticated, it is still important for us to have a routine or a ritual, especially in the case of meditation. This is mostly because, although meditation sounds so very simple you just learn to follow your breath and quiet your mind it really isn't. What can help us is to have things around us that can help to get us into that meditative state.

The first thing I recommend is a meditation place. This meditative place is a place where you can go to in order to meditate each day and night. It is the place that you will go to each time over and over. I think when we have that ritual of going to the same place it tells our mind that "okay, it's time to meditate." It isn't important where our meditation place is, but what's important is that it is consistent. You can create a beautiful area with a bubbling fountain, candles, and comfortable pillows or you can choose to sit on the same old comfortable couch each time. What matters is that you choose the same place with the same objects around you every time. Having this same place to go to will allow your body to recognize that "Ah, this is the place where I relax, calm my body and my mind. This is where I get into my meditative state."

Another thing that can be helpful is having objects around you; it can be a picture, a candle, a flower or anything that reminds you that this is a peaceful time. I have a table that has objects on it that represent peacefulness to me. Some people call it an alter while others call it a table. I love candles, perhaps you do too, so I have a candle on my table. I love lotus flowers so I have a lotus flower on the table. Some people love crystals and will place a crystal on their table. I have a gem that represents my birthstone that I feel is beautiful and peaceful. This is simply a place with the items that represent peacefulness to you and it becomes somewhat "sacred" to you as you meditate. That doesn't necessarily mean it's a religious spot with religious artifacts, unless that's what you want it to be. It doesn't have to have a religious connotation to it. It simply has to represent peace to you. As time goes on, the feeling you achieve when you see this table or alter will become more and more intense and calming each time you see it.

Some people also use meditative music in the background and that's fine if it works for you, as long as it doesn't overwhelm your space and clutter your mind. Many like to use incense, appealing to your sense of smell. I used to meditate with a group in this one place that always had incense burning. When I would enter the room the immediate scent of the incense calmed my body and my mind knew it was time to move into a meditative state. That's what you're looking for when you design your area for meditation. You want the area to appeal to your senses and make your body and mind recognize that this is your place to go into a meditative state. This is your place to be calm.

At first, I think it's also beneficial to tell people around you that you are going to be meditating and ask them to be quiet around you while doing so. Ask them to honor your need to have silence around you, especially as you are just beginning. What's most important though is, just like that child who needs and enjoys routine, you need a consistency that brings your mind and body into that meditative state.

One other item that many people enjoy when they meditate is having a special bell to ring at the beginning and at the end of their meditation. It really enhances your experience and makes it far more beautiful. Many people utilize the bell as a sign to their body and mind that this is the beginning and then the end of their meditative moment. A simple inexpensive, pleasant sounding bell is all you need for this.

One way to experience different styles and techniques of meditating is to join a retreat. My partner and I offer retreats that give you the opportunity to experience many of these different techniques I've explained thus far. Retreats give you the opportunity to try various things before actually going out and creating your own space. You may find that you thought music would enhance your meditation, but instead it clutters your mind as opposed to helping it empty. You might find that incense create a sense of instant calming for you when perhaps before it was never something you would have considered. Going on a meditative retreat is definitely one of the best ways to experience different techniques and styles to get you acquainted with the art of meditation, whether you are a beginner or have been meditating for a long time. Sometimes, as someone who has meditated for many years you find that you've reached a plateau where you can't seem to get any more relaxed or deeper than you currently have been. Going to a retreat can open new doors to your style and technique that will bring your meditation skills to a whole new level.

Either way, creating a calm and consistent atmosphere is a positive and necessary step in creating your path of meditation. Remember, in order to be consistent you should meditate twice a day; once in the morning and once at night. This twice a day mediation is the beginning of your finding a clear and peaceful mindset throughout your day.

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