Meditation students often come to me and ask what they can do to improve their meditation. Success in meditation is not the result of any one single factor but depends on sustained and systematic effort over a period of time. However, there are a few tips for meditation, that will help you to improve your performance, regardless of the meditation method that you follow.
1. Prepare your body for meditation
Your physical condition has a tremendous influence on your mind. This is true for your day to day activity, but even more so when it comes to meditation. You can prepare your body for meditation by eating the right food, and by coming to meditation with an empty stomach. Eating the right food, means food which strengthens the body but doesn't have any adverse affect on the mind. If you consume products that make the mind dull or over-stimulated then it will be much harder to meditate. And whatever your diet is, when you sit down to meditate, it should be on an empty stomach. That is why one of the best times to meditate is in the morning, before you have had your breakfast. Another good time is in the evening, before the evening meal.
2. Prepare Your Mind for Meditation
Just as your body must be prepared, so must your mind. Before you start meditation you must convince yourself, that this period of meditation is your time for personal growth, and that it is important, as important as anything else in your life. When you close your eyes to meditate, you should not jump up to answer the phone, or get ready to leave your meditation due to some slight disturbance. If you convince yourself of the importance of meditation, then your example will also convince others around you and they won't disturb you during meditation. So, remember your periods of meditation are one of the most important parts of your daily routine, and treat them as such.
3. Sing Before Meditation
The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore once said, "God respects me when I work, but He loves me when I sing." That explains the place of song and music in all the great spiritual traditions. Before you begin meditation you can sing spiritual songs, whose meaning elevates your mind. It doesn't matter if you have "good" voice or a "bad" voice, sing from the heart, and your mind will go to a point that will be the ideal starting point for your meditation.
4. Sit in a Proper Position
Remember when you were in school and the teacher looked around and saw someone slumping in his or her seat, and she said "sit up straight!" She had a good point; when the back is straight the mind is alert. Sit in a position that will keep the back straight. Sit with cross legs in a simple position, or a half-lotus or a full lotus. In addition to making the mind more alert, these positions help you to rest the various motor organs, and provide a peaceful physical base for your meditation.
In the beginning these positions may seem difficult or uncomfortable, but if you can get used to them, they will help you to deepen your meditation.
5. Follow the Meditation Instructions Exactly
Remember carefully what your meditation instructor taught you and do your best to carry it out, exactly according to the instructions. Don't experiment and make up your own method. The various systems of meditation are based on thousands of years of experience, so you don't have to try to figure out what to do. Take advantage of the age-old knowledge of the past, and you will make rapid strides towards a bright future. If you have forgotten any part of your meditation method, go and see your instructor and get a review of your lesson.
6. Be Regular in Your Meditation Practice
This is one of the key factors to success. Meditation works, if you work. If you only do meditation once a month or on whim, when you feel like it, then it will be impossible to be successful and realize the benefits of meditation: mental clarity, inner peace, love for others and spiritual awareness. Make meditation a part of your daily routine. Just as surely as the sun comes up each day, do your meditation without fail. Fix a time for it in the morning and evening and do it on a regular basis If you get into the habit of doing your practice regularly, then you have taken one of the single most important steps towards success in meditation, and indeed, in your life.
7. Be Patient
"Rome wasn't built in a day," and similarly you cannot make miraculous changes in your personality or in your spiritual life in just one sitting of meditation. Don't be discouraged if you feel that nothing is happening. Meditation is a subtle art, the changes come slowly but surely. Keep on practicing and your meditation is sure to deepen and you will indeed be successful.
About The Author
Dada Vedaprajinananda has been practicing and teaching meditation for the past 33 years. He is a senior teacher with the Ananda Marga spiritual movement and also the webmaster of the Ananda Marga website (www.anandamarga.org). Dada is also a writer, singer and songwriter and his work can be found on his website, www.dadaveda.com.