“Without the help of meditation, you cannot attain knowledge of the self. Without its aid, you cannot grow into the divine state. Without it, you cannot liberate yourself from the trammels of the mind and attain immortality. Meditation is the only royal road to the attainment of freedom. It is a mysterious ladder, which reaches from earth to heaven, from error to truth, from darkness to light, from pain to bliss, from restlessness to abiding peace, from ignorance to knowledge. From mortality to immortality.” Sri Swami Sivananda.
Essentially we are looking for peace, maybe some of us don’t realize that we are looking but we are searching and searching for moments of uninterrupted calmness, contentment and ultimately divine peace. We may think that if we sit and close our eyes we will just find it however it may take a lifetime or longer to understand the nature of meditation, it is a rocky road and there are many obstacles that we face along the way. The proper preparations and practices are essential to help us with the practice of meditation, to think that it is easy is a mistake, however, it is something that we all have the power to do, it is within all of us, the peace is inherent to all of us, but we have to prepare correctly. This is why so many people feel that they need this in their life but give up on it quickly as they lack the proper preparations to help them, they gain no results and have no patience to continue on, doubt creeps into the mind and they give up. This is a disaster; as said by Swami Sivananda – meditation is the royal road to freedom, so what is preventing us? Here are a few pointers that are going to help.
The body is an obstacle – Remedy; Practice Yogic asana regularly – many people find sitting for meditation is extremely difficult. Either because of stiffness or lack of strength in the body or they feel pain after some time all these cause a disruption to our mind during trying to sit for meditation. By practicing yoga asana or yogic exercise you will gain more strength and flexibility to be able to sit. Start with smaller amounts of time for your meditation and as the body becomes more suitable for sitting then gradually build up your time.
Restlessness – you can’t be in one place for long – Remedy; again practice Yogic asana or yogic exercise this will increase your levels of endurance and concentration. Chanting is also a great way to increase levels of focus and concentration – attend regular Satsang for the chanting of kirtan – divine songs, this also is going to help with negative thoughts and emotions that trouble you by uplifting the mood and generating positive vibrations and thoughts.
Sluggishness and sleep – Rememdy; stop the meditation and go for a brisk walk, or a few rounds of sun salutations or some sort of sattvic exercise to re-awaken the body and mind. Physical activity brings the balance to meditation. Or splash some cool water on your face, hands and feet and then continue, also chanting for a few minutes can help to re-awaken your prana – vital life force.
A troubled mind – Remedy; look at your diet, keep to a sattvic (pure) yogic diet of simple, nutritious and light meals. What you eat also forms your thoughts as well as making your body, so eating a lot of processed, spicy, un pure foods will really be detrimental for your meditations. If you need something sweet and comforting – go for natural sweet things such as honey, milk and dates. Avoid things in packets, jars and tins etc! Pranayama or breathing techniques are a beautiful way to soothe and cool down the mind, giving some space for concentration and to clear the clouds away. Look at the company you keep – are the people that surround you beneficial to you or detrimental to you, are they supportive of you? Have the courage to make the changes that you need even no matter how much you may want somebody in your life if they are no longer growing and preventing you from growing then have the strength to let them go and move on with calmness, things will be alright.
Too much external stimulation – Remedy; stop talking so much! Have moments in the day dedicated to silence, talking takes a huge amount of energy, that energy would be better spent on your practice. Useless conversation makes a person restless and gossiping creates negativities. Try to reduce the amount of time you may spend in places full of stimulations such as shopping centers, cinemas, tv screens, certain books and restaurants or bars and social media. Stimulations drain your energy, draw the mind outward and create negativities.
Emotions such as anger, depression, doubt and fear – Remedy; keep company with spiritually uplifting people that will help to give you courage, like minded people can feed off of each other and keep us going providing us with inspiration. Watch your emotions and make contemplations on them, where have they stemmed from, consider the harm they create not only for your mind but also on your nervous system. Try to contemplate on cultivating positive emotions such as courage and cheerfulness and think about the benefits they would have on you and those that surround you. Know that all things are impermanent so any feeling will come and go, you will move forward. Sun salutations are also a really fabulous means of detoxing the mind as well as the body when practiced with awareness. Also relaxation techniques are invaluable to calm down the body and in turn calm down the mind, practice savasana mentally go through each body part and consciously relax each part and practice Yoga Nidra – the art of complete relaxation, making promises to your self or affirmations to not let these emotions get the better or us for example mentally repeating I will not let anger rise today several times when you wake up and throughout the day can be a powerful thing.
So we need to look at proper exercise, breathing techniques, relaxations and proper diet as well as looking at our whole lifestyle to prepare ourselves for meditation. It may sound like a huge mountain is in front of you, but you can make it to the top – be brave, be patient and dedicated the seat of peace is there within you, make changes gently and slowly and you will indeed reap the benefits. How long to get to the top of that mountain – that depends on how many times you switch paths, your speed and determination to get there and whom you will meet along the way. The challenges are there but all the great things come to those who battle onwards on the battle field.
Be patient and enjoy every moment of the journey; an ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory, so say Swami Sivananda.
Have beautiful peaceful days - I took the path less travelled and that made all the difference!
OM shanti shanti shanti
Mangala / Nicky