Practical Meditation Tips

The LivingWise Project has stressed how meditation is not an act or something ‘to do’, so this article is not about tips on how to meditate in the spiritual sense. Meditation is something that can happen when we’re going about our usual day – driving, waiting in a queue, cooking, etc. However, since most of us generally take some time out of our day to dedicate to some kind of practice of meditation, I wanted to share some practical tips to make your practice easier/more effective.

When to meditate

According to yogic sciences, the very best time to practice meditation and yoga is around 3.40 a.m., known as the Brahma Muhurata. But don’t worry, if you by chance miss this time slot sometime (!), you have other options. Generally the period of the day when nature is in transition, is considered to facilitate transformation of energies in the human body. These times are 20 minutes before to twenty minutes after noon and sunset. You can read more about the science regarding these timings here: http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/yoga-meditation/demystifying-yoga/best-time-to-practice-yoga/

While targeting these time slots might be difficult given our busy lives, what’s perhaps more important to ensure is that whatever time you choose to practice meditation, you have a light to empty stomach. If you try and meditate after a big meal for instance, your meditation may just be too profound for you to even be conscious about! In my kriya yoga practice, I leave a 4 hour gap after a full meal and a 1.5 to 2 hour gap after a snack/beverage.

Sitting comfortably

If you’re like me and you have fairly inflexible legs, then you know how hard it is to meditate when all you can think about are your aching legs. While it does get better with time, what helps me sit more comfortably is practicing two asanas before settling into my meditation posture:

Patangasana (butterfly asana) for 2 mins

Shishupalasana (‘rocking your baby’ asana) for 2 mins for each leg

Yogasanas generally also help in gaining flexibility. In fact, the only reference made in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras to yogasanas is: your seat [in meditation] should be firm. So the entire global yoga industry and all the various twistings and turnings in yoga class are in this context, just to get you to sit comfortably for meditation!

It also helps to sit up on a pillow initially so that your hips are higher than your knees but be careful not to get too attached to your pillow as it may be difficult weaning off it!

What to wear

It’s quite commonsensical to wear loose clothing and preferably no synthetic materials for meditation practice. Organic cotton or silk that reminds your body of its connection to the earth is best. Also, it is recommended to not wear metal on the body (except on the earlobes which are not very sensitive) so as not to interfere with the body’s energies.

The meditation corner

It is generally recommended to face east or north when meditating. Needless to say, your meditation corner should be clean, quiet and secluded and preferably a place that receives sunshine. Your meditation seat / mat should, like your clothes, be made of organic cotton or silk. If you can sit directly on earth in the outdoors, that’s obviously best. Otherwise keeping plants nearby or lighting a lamp when you meditate, greatly helps to upgrade the subtle ambience of the space.

 

Hope these tips make your meditations more pleasant and effective! Feel free to share any tips of your own in the comments section below.

 

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Shruti Bakshi
Shruti Bakshi is the Founder of the LivingWise Project. She has worked for several years in banking and financial services in London, Paris and Mumbai and holds an MBA (INSEAD) and MPhil in Finance (Cambridge). Shruti writes about life at the intersection of spirituality and modern society. Her debut novel 'From Dior to Dharma' was released in May 2017.


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