The Dos & Don'ts of Meditation
Whether you are a new convert to meditation or a long fan who has been practising it for many years, it is helpful to keep some tips and reminders in mind:
- Do find a quiet, isolated spot free from distractions such as TV, telephone and computer. This may be your spare bedroom or a corner of your living room or bedroom but try to avoid using your study or other place of work.
- Do make time to meditate as regularly as possible – ideally every day.
- Do try to meditate at the same time and place every time to develop a routine and try to stick to it. Remember, finding time for something valuable is not difficult – it just requires you to reshuffle your priorities.
- Do take time to get into a comfortable posture for your body. You will not be able to relax if you are sitting or lying in an uncomfortable or awkward position, no matter how much you try.
- Do take time to empty your mind before starting. If you find that your mind is just too busy and full, then this may not be the best time. Rather than getting frustrated with yourself, take a break – do something else and come back to try again afterwards.
- Do make sure that nobody disturbs you during your meditation time – inform others living in the household and take the phone off the hook or switch the mobile onto silent if necessary.
- Do breathe deeply and slowly during meditation – don’t try to force or rush things.
- Do try to meditate first thing in the morning or last thing at night – these are considered the best time of the day for meditation.
- Do wait a certain period after eating before attempting to meditate, otherwise it will be difficult to focus your energies on concentrating when you will need them to digest your meal.
- Do be patient with yourself and only gradually lengthen your sessions as you get better at concentrating for longer periods.
- Don’t meditate when you are feeling down or depressed, as the deep concentration may make you focus on these negative thoughts and actually make you feel worse.
- Don’t try to meditate when you are over-stimulated by caffeine or alcohol.
- Don’t attempt to meditate in a noisy, busy environment.
- Don’t meditate when you are feeling very lethargic or ill – your body will not be in the optimal state to achieve meditation success.
- Don’t meditate in a cluttered or dirty place.
- Don’t try to meditate when you are under time pressure – even if you don’t mean to, you will be subconsciously rushing things and find it very difficult to achieve the deep, rhythmic breathing necessary for meditation to be successful.
- Don’t keep changing the place you meditate – certainly, you may need to try a few different locations before you find one which suits you best but once you have found a good place, try to always go back there. The positive associations with the same place will help you get into the meditative state faster.
- Don’t be impatient with yourself or with your expectations – remember, meditation takes time to produce its effects. In some people, it may occur quickly but in others, it may take a while. Don’t meditate with a specific time frame for results in mind – this will defeat the purpose. The idea is to free your mind of all future goals or anxieties and to just focus on the moment and enjoy meditation for the act itself.
- Don’t try to recreate someone else’s meditation experience. Meditation is very personal and will be experienced differently by different people. So never mind what your friends or family members may have felt or experienced during meditation – just focus on your own unique experience.
- Don’t try TOO hard. While meditation does require effort in order to concentrate and achieve the right breathing patterns, it should be a form of ‘relaxed effort’ – if you try too hard, you will actually have the opposite effect.
Lastly, many people find it helpful to have music playing in the background when meditating. Certainly, music can play a major role in the relaxation of human mind and body. Again, forget comparisons with others – choose the type of music which YOU find relaxing. It does not have to be whale calls or ethnic instrumental music! However, having said that, try to avoid music that you might like a lot but which makes you excited – for example, your favourite dance songs or heavy metal track. While you may argue that they can help you relax too, that would be in a different way to the calm, peaceful state that you are trying to achieve through meditation.