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Monday, November 29, 2010

Question of the week: How to have better meditations at home

Q- Why can't I meditate at home like I do in a class setting?

A-  That's a great question, and one that I get frequently.  The answer is actually pretty simple.  When you go to a class, or go to a guided meditation, or any other function where you know you are going to do a group meditation, you put your mind in a position to concentrate on what you are there for.  Because you are leaving your house, driving to a location, and then looking forward to the event once you get there, your mind is already looking forward to the meditation to come.  When you are at home, you have a plethora of other things on your mind, if you're like most people on this earth.  When to pick up the kids, what to make for dinner, do you have time to run to the grocery store, and when you think about meditation, you are trying to "squeeze it in" in your mind.  Unfortunately, the mind fits this in with all the other "chores" that you have to do, and your meditation will suffer.

Remember, meditation is actually great concentration.  If your mind is believing that this is something that you have to fit into your day, then the meditation does not have your full, undivided, attention.  When you go out to do a meditation, your mind is only focused on that; going to do a meditation.  The kids have been picked up, you went to the grocery store, and now the only thing you want to do is go and do this meditation.  You are focused.  And, since then you enter the proper environment to meditate (usually group meditations are filled with beautiful energy, and the place where the meditation is going to be held is set up in Zen fashion.), your mind and body are focused and ready.

So, the answer to your question is easy.  You must create your meditation space.  Find a place in your house that you can set up a small area.  It doesn't have to be very large, but put some of your spiritual items in here.  Set the stage for your small spiritual space.  Cleanse it, feel it, and breathe it in.  Create and feel the sense of peace you have in your new meditation space.  This is the first step.  You may also use incense, candles, and even music in your space.  Be careful not to make the music too loud, as you are not supposed to be focused on the music, but it should blend in the background of the ambiance.

Once you have your space, the next step is to find time to meditate.  Try to find a time where you can do your meditation everyday.  Whether it's first thing in the morning, or the last thing you do before bed, having a specific time to do your meditation helps, because you get into a routine.  Once in a routine, if you break the routine, you feel a bit weird about it.  This will keep you on track, and continue your meditation practice.  This does not need to be the ONLY time of the day that you meditate, but it is the minimum required work.  My teacher always said that you must meditate for 40 days without missing a day before you can be in the habit of meditation.  Once in the habit, it is very difficult to break.  If on the 38th day you forget, or skip it, the 40 days starts all over.  Also, do not set a time limit on how long you are going to meditate.  As long as you do it at the same time every day, if it lasts 5 minutes or 65 minutes, it is fine.  Quality of meditation is much better than quantity of meditation.  Sitting in your thoughts for 25 minutes isn't going to help the process, but 5 minutes in a good, healthy meditation will do quite a bit for you.

Lastly, get yourself comfortable.  I HIGHLY recommend the use of a zafu.  A zafu is a pillow of sorts, usually made out of buckwheat, or kapok, that you sit on during meditation.  I find the buckwheat hulls are the best for me, but every one's taste varies.  What a zafu does, is it raises the hips above the level of the knees, which opens up your spine, and with that, your energy pathways.  You can see what I mean by

clicking here.

 Notice that his knees are quite a bit below the level of his hips. When you sit on the bare floor, you actually start to close your energy centers and spine.  You can do this on a chair to feel the difference.  Sit on a chair with your feet on the ground in front of you.  Your knees are bent, and your feet are flush to the floor.  Now, move your feet back behind the chair, letting your knees drop, and feel the difference on your back.  Feel your energy centers open up, and your spine come into alignment.  The zafu does the same thing, plus, it will be much more comfortable on longer meditations.

This should get you on your way to better meditations at home!  It really is only a change in the thought process.  When you realize that you are in charge of your meditations, you will be able to start to meditate anywhere, even in the most distracting of environments!  Good luck!


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