HJ: There is a delicate balance between rigidity and flexibility in meditation. If we try to adhere to too many rules and techniques, we risk losing the ability to shut off the mind and drop into deeper levels of awareness. If there is too little structure, we can find ourselves again drifting into areas where the mind is active and potentially distracting. Neither is bad or wrong, per se, but as always, we strive to maintain a balance between the two extremes. These 7 simple, timeless guidelines will help you lay a foundation for a highly focused, yet relaxed meditation practice. Most of them deal with the act of preparing oneself for meditation and so avoid the first trap above of overthinking the situation.
When to Meditate
Anytime that works for you, particularly if it is the same time every day. Keep in mind that first thing in the morning, the amrit vela, is best because it sets you for the whole day and is naturally a quiet, reflective time (especially before sunrise). In the evening (at sunset or just before going to bed) is also a good time.
Choose a place you won’t be disturbed, feel vulnerable, or get distracted. Try to use the same place daily. Make it your spot; you can fill it with candles, flowers, spiritual images and/or pictures of beautiful places, and anything else that is uplifting, calming, inspiring. Sit on a sheepskin, natural fiber blanket or, if needed, a firm cushion or on a chair dedicated for this purpose.
Commit to a Meditation
Whatever meditation you choose to do, to get the maximum benefit, fully commit to doing it for a certain amount and length of time. Keep in mind that 3 minutes a day is more effective than 31 minutes once a week. If you do miss a day, don’t beat yourself up, just start again and keep up!
Tune-in with the Adi Mantra
Chant Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo three times before beginning the meditation. You can also choose to do a yoga kriya or some warm-ups after tuning in. Listen to the Adi Mantra here.
Set Your Intention
Have a clear picture of what the result of this meditation will be for you. Why have you chosen to do it? The clearer your focus and intention, the more power behind the meditation. You get what you project, so project the result.
Yogic science says that there are specific lengths of time needed for certain desired effects in meditation. Thus, meditations (and exercises in a kriya) are held for a specified period of time.
3 minutes: Affects circulation (blood) and electromagnetic field.
11 minutes: Changes glandular system and nerves.
22 minutes: Balances and coordinates the three minds.
31 minutes: Affects all the cells and rhythms of the body and all layers of the mind’s projection.
62 minutes: Changes the gray matter of the brain. Integrates the subconscious “shadow mind" and the outer projection.
2 ½ hours: Holds the new pattern in the subconscious mind by the surrounding universal mind.
Meditation Cycles of Transformation
Committing to a personal practice makes the meditation process of transformation and self-discovery your own. To master the effects of a meditation, practice it as a sadhana, as a daily discipline. This will develop a life-promoting habit. Habit controls us so much that it is said that we can actually change our destiny by changing our habits. We can use various cycles of the human mind to help replace unwanted patterns of behavior with new, more positive ones. Choose a meditation that suits your goals and/or inspires you, and commit to practicing it over 40, 90, 120, or 1,000 days.
40 days: Change a habit.
90 days: Confirm the habit.
120 days: You are the new habit.
1,000 days: Mastery of the new habit.