How to Maintain a Consistent Meditative Practice
Mediation should be routine, but that doesn't mean mundane.
Posted February 8, 2012
We are creatures of habit. For proof, you only need to observe children. They thrive on routines and within familiar environments. Bedtime rituals such as tucking kids in, reading them a story, or singing them a song, calm and relax them. When it's time to take a road trip, our sons and daughters do much better when they have something nearby that reminds them of home, such as their favorite blanket, and toys that they love to play with.
As adults, we may be older and more sophisticated than young children, but it's still important to have routines and rituals, particularly when it comes to meditation. This is because meditation is a simple practice, but it's not always easy to do. When we create an environment that is familiar and comfortable, we encourage our minds to drop into meditative states. In this blog post, I'll help you create a relaxing space.
Location, Location, Location
Pick a spot to meditate, and go to it every time you sit. When you have a place you recognize as a meditation area, it tells your mind, "OK, it's time to relax." The location isn't important, but consistently returning to it is. You can increase the relaxation factor by placing a bubbling fountain, candles, or comfortable pillows nearby, or you can sit on the same, familiar place on the couch.
Turning the Mundane into the Sacred
I have a table of objects that encourages me to relax. On it are candles, a lotus flower, and my birthstone. Some might call it an alter. While the term may sound lofty, your collection of objects may not be very valuable to anyone but you. These can include photos, stones, and anything else that instills peacefulness.
The Sounds and Smells of Meditation
Some people prefer playing music while they meditate. This is fine, as long as the soundtrack doesn't overwhelm and clutter your mind. You may also find it helpful to follow a guided meditation while you sit. Ringing a special bell is another calming reminder that meditation has started. Once you're done, the bell will be a signal to your body and mind that your session is over. You can find small meditation bells and chimes on many websites. In addition, many people enjoy burning incense. I recall meditating in a group setting where the smell of incense always filled the space. Whenever I would enter, I'd immediately recognize the scent, which clamed my body and mind.
Let Others Know You're Meditating
By asking people around you to honor your need for silence while you meditate, your practice will benefit. Having a quiet place to sit is especially important when you're starting a meditative practice. The more pleasant your experience, the more likely you'll be motivated to sit consistently.
Get Away Once in Awhile
The retreat experience is an effective way for those new to meditation to learn different styles and techniques. By exposing yourself to various methods, you'll quickly figure out what works best for you and what doesn't. For instance, you may have thought that music would enhance your meditation, but you discover that it actually clutters your mind rather than emptying it. Or you might realize that burning incense instantly calms you, which you hadn't known before.
Retreats are fantastic for advanced practitioners as well. If you've been meditating for years, you may find that you've reached a plateau; you can't seem to get any more relaxed or enter into deeper meditative states. A retreat can open new doors for you that will bring your skills to a new level. I offer retreats several times a year. For more information, visit my website.
Creating a dependable and calm atmosphere is an important step in your meditative journey. When you associate meditation with relaxation, you'll be motivated to maintain a consistent practice. I recommend twice a day—once in the morning and once at night. Sticking to a regular meditation schedule is one of the most significant steps you can take to developing a clear and peaceful mind throughout your entire day.