Preparation for Meditation
We are all residents of two worlds: the external world of relationships, work, family and community, and the inner world of our deepest inner reality. The greatest of all human achievements is to live skilfully in both these worlds and learn to balance these two aspects of life.
You must learn and apply the skills necessary to survive and function well in the external world, i.e. to communicate and relate well with others, together with an understanding and application of the techniques for knowing the internal world, without which your life will be unbalanced and lack a sense of direction and purpose.
Recognising the importance of the internal world develops the thoughtful and sensitive individual and leads you to a desire to know yourself on all levels.
To achieve this goal you need to meditate.
An understanding of how to prepare yourself for meditation is actually more important than the amount of time you devote to sitting in meditation itself. This must be inculculated through your daily regimes and in your daily life.
At first, you must prepare your body, by utilising hathat yoga, pranayama, relaxation, and an awareness of the subtleties of diet and nutrition, so that you can sit comfortably in meditation. You will soon notice the impact that stretching exercises (yoga), aerobic exercise, relaxation and pranayama all have on the quietness and stillness of your body. You also become increasingly aware of how your skills in managing and balancing the issues of food, sex and sleep helps you deepen your experience.
You next begin to notice a second level of preparation needed to sit quietly in meditation: the level of managing your mind, emotions, personality and relationships so that these do not disturb or interfere with your ability to be stil and inwardly focused. It is your moods, conflicts, negative emotions, and mental restlessness that really provide the disturbances to your meditation. Conflicts or disturbance on the level of mind and emotion are also often the seed of difficulties in managing some of the 'physical' issues, such as balancing your sleep, food intake and stimulants such as coffee and/or alcohol, and thus exert another indirect effect on your experience of quietness in meditation.
At some point, you will recognise that finding ways of quieting the 'noise' generated by your mind and personality becomes the most important phase of your preparation for meditation. As you manage your work and relationships, and understand your mental processes more fuilly, there seems to be successively fewer distractions in your meditation.
Resolving the issues of external life fosters increasing quiet as you sit to meditate, which then, in turn, contributes to increasing clarity, energy and self-confidence in handling other external involvements n order to explore the Inner Reality.
The meditation goal is to develop on all levels, while simultaneously becoming more loving, dynamic, and creative in your involvement with the external world. The path of meditation and spirituality is not a withdrawal from the world based on frustration or fear, but a skillful process of learning to be in the world and yet not get lost in it. Your success in dealing with the external world is both the beneficiary of, and the test of your meditative development.
Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.
Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography
Travel with Shanti & Peter Gowans this November for a trip of a lifetime.