When I began meditating years ago, I tried sitting on the floor with my legs crossed as I had seen so many others do in pictures and on television. Within a couple minutes, my back began to ache and my knees begged to be straightened. My thoughts were all over the place and I had no idea how to contain them. I quickly became frustrated. It took a series of attempts over time to find out what worked best for me. Now, I practice meditation with enthusiasm and comfort.
My beginning experiences taught me that the when, where, and how you meditate have a powerful impact on the quality of your meditation. The following list includes some guidelines that I have learned which will enhance your experience and inspire your efforts.
When to Meditate
One of the worst things you can do is to tell yourself you will just “fit it into” your day. As your day unfolds and you find countless things to distract you, it probably won’t happen. It is better to decide in advance on a time to meditate and stick to that time.
Here are some suggested times for meditation:
In the morning. One of the best times to meditate is at the beginning of the day. Your mind and body are refreshed, and if you’re a morning person, you will feel more eager and focused. It’s a great way to set the tone for the rest of the day’s activities.
Before bed. Some people prefer to meditate in the evening before bedtime. It allows your mind to settle down and prepare for slumber. You may find that you sleep better and need less of it. If you’re able to stay awake while you meditate, evening time is a great option.
After work. If you’re not busy with errands, dinner, or family obligations, meditating after work gives you a needed moment to take a few deep breaths, unwind and let the stress of the day go. It will help you to release any resistance that may have built up through the day, so that you are able to enjoy your evening more fully.
Lunch hours and coffee breaks. If you have your own office and a time to set aside for lunch or a break, consider meditating for a few minutes after eating your food or drinking your coffee. You’ll enter the remainder of your day feeling refreshed and the day will go more smoothly.
Waiting for your kids. If you’re a parent who spends time shuffling kids around to and from various events or activities, meditate in the car while you’re waiting for them instead of reading a magazine or listening to the radio. It may not be the ideal environment, but you can still benefit from having time to relax and focus inward.
Taking a walk. Walking meditation can be just as profound as sitting meditation and is an easy way to bring focus into your activity. It allows you to be more present in your body and in the moment. Simply walk in a relaxed, normal pace and pay attention to the sensations in your body as you move. Let your awareness be on the physical experience of walking. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to what’s going on internally. A variation is to keep your attention on the rhythm of your steps – the alternation of your left and right feet.
When you’re feeling out of whack. This is the most beneficial time to meditate because it helps you to release resistance and soothe you back into alignment with your Source.
How Long to Meditate
The length of your meditation time is a matter of personal preference. Alignment with your Source is a progressive process, so meditating daily is recommended in the beginning. Sitting for five or ten minutes a day is better than sitting for an hour once a week. You may want to experiment until you find what works best for you. Smartphones or digital alarm clocks provide good ways to time your meditations without having to watch a clock.
Five minutes. If you’re a beginner, a few minutes can seem like an eternity, so start off slowly. As your practice develops you can increase your time as your interest and enjoyment dictates. Also, if you’re having a particularly busy day, five minutes is better than no time at all.
Fifteen minutes. This is ideal and recommended by Abraham-Hicks. It gives you a few minutes at the start to get settled, a few more minutes to focus on the process, and a couple minutes at the end to reorient yourself. After a few weeks you’ll notice your power of concentration building.
Thirty minutes. If you are enjoying the process and it feels good to you, thirty minutes of meditation is definitely acceptable! The extra time allows you to settle into a focused and relaxed state of mind. Let yourself bask in this non-resistant state and enjoy the positive side effects all day long.
More than thirty minutes. Many meditation teachers encourage longer sessions with the premise that more is better. Abraham-Hicks on the other hand, discourages meditating for more than thirty minutes because you were not born into your physical body to meditate for hours at a time. You were born to create and since your thoughts are your creating power, don’t restrict the flow more than is necessary. If you’re feeling good and in alignment, minimum meditation time is all that is needed.
Where to Meditate
Even though you can meditate just about anywhere, it is best to have a particular place to meditate regularly. The space you choose can be as simple or elaborate as you wish – just be sure that it’s comfortable and relaxing. The advantages of having a consistent space are:
Fewer distractions. You are familiar with your environment so you can free up your attention for meditation.
Good vibrations. The more you sit in your space, the more the environment is infused with your positive energy. Whenever you return, your meditation is supported by the energy you’ve invested, making it more comfortable and relaxed.
Joyful reminder. If you have set up your space with special things, like pictures, candles or incense, you associate them with meditation which can trigger a pleasant reminder to be consistent with your practice.
Here are a few guidelines for picking your meditation spot:
Relatively quiet. You may not be able to eliminate all background noises, such as – outside traffic, the hum of the refrigerator, or the ticking clock, but try to choose a spot with as few distractions as possible.
Medium lighting. Sitting in the dark might put you to sleep, just as sitting in a bright, sunny spot might be too energizing. Choose a location with medium lighting that’s “just right” for setting the tone.
Fresh air. Since you are breathing deeply during meditation, you’ll want a place that has plenty of fresh air. Meditating in a musty basement or windowless closet is not a good choice.
Close to nature. Plants and other natural elements help support your practice by radiating a grounding, calming energy while you’re meditating. If you can’t see a tree or garden from the window where you are sitting, place a plant or a vase of flowers nearby.
Outdoors. Meditating outside in nature is an excellent option. Being in a natural setting has the capacity to relax your body and calm your mind. Make it a point to meditate in nature as often as you can.
As you follow these guidelines, you too can practice your meditation with enthusiasm and comfort.