Find that place inside your home, or now that the weather's getting warmer - outside the home, that you can always go to & feel 100% safe, comfortable, warm, untroubled, & clear.
This area should be free of distractions if possible, especially those from family, TV/radio, or anything that could take you out of the feelings/inner space listed above.
That said, at some point, learning how to focus amid distractions can provide a wonderful boost towards increasing your meditation capabilities - just for now, in these early stages of creating a steady home practice, make sure that the space invites you into it & then sets the tone for inner connection vs outer attention.
I am often asked how when meditating, I distinguish between things real and imaginary.
My first response might not be so helpful, because for me, it's the feeling that comes with the imagined or actual experience. My husband, Spock, doesn't get such namby-pamby "feelings" when he meditates...unless it's pure unadulterated energy - lots and lots of flowing pranic energy, lucky guy 🤩
So I've been pondering this question, and have noticed a few things that I can pass on to you, dear meditators, that might enable you to come to know the difference between the two - not that you need to know the difference! My standing belief is that it doesn't matter. Live. Memorex. It's all the same, or more precisely, imagination is usually the precursor to Live.
Here's my simple formula. Happy Meditating!!!
~ REAL : an ABSORPTION or an easy single-minded focus (true "eka grata", Sanskrit); a sense of fullness or completeness; ease/effortlessness; palpable (hard to deny the power of); PROXIMAL, meaning that it's right on top of you or in you; VIBRANT; powerful; motivating; or even, happenstance - ya never had to think about it, it just came... altho this can also run on the 'conjured' side of things for various reasons.
~ Imaginary : DISTANT - eg: it seems like it's "over there" a ways; HOLLOW or empty; requires a bit of work to conjure; inviting but dull, lackluster, or unmotivating; harder to sustain - altho I hesitate to use this one bc often "real" experiences can be quite fleeting, while the "unreal" can seem to last forever!
Obviously, these are basic descriptions of something that's very personal. If you really FEEL like something is real, you don't have to wonder whether it is or not... it just IS. The other thing to consider, is Morpheus's point - Allow the Universe to guide you in both ways: whether real, dreamed, or imaginary. All are equally valuable, and can as easily take you to Enlightenment!
“Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to awaken from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?”
Simply watching the breath as a form of meditation can tell you soooo much - whether you're stressed or calm on deeper levels; whether you're actively taking life in or letting it pass you by; or how effective your current meditation practice really is.
One of the best benefits of simply watching the breath, is to use it as a form of meditation. In such a meditation you can do nothing else but simply breathe and be in the present moment.
Sound easy? Too remedial? Try it! But remember, when a thought arises you should not try to engage it, for once you do you'll slip out of the "present moment space" you were once in. Likewise for finding the breath to be erratic or too deep... it can pull you out of the space you were once in.
Far better in such situations to simply let the thought pass you by! Search instead for the empty spaces between the thoughts. That'll bring you closer to your goal and will shift things in the right direction much more quickly than other options.
And the breath that you were watching requires a similar technique to be sustainable in meditation... one simply watches it without trying to change it in any way.
The beautiful thing about both techniques is what it teaches you for your life's experience : how to stay in the moment and accept things as they are. Granted we shouldn't accept everything that comes our way in life - but the other thing meditation subtly teaches is discernment - the ability to discern what is and isn't good for us.
A well-known yoga precept, "sthira sukham asana", speaks of entering a pose by first being comfortable (eg: not trying so hard, relaxing vs forcing a pose) & then holding that position with easy steadiness. As with most things yoga, we can apply this concept to many things in many ways.
Try "sthira sukham dharanam" (focused attention) & see! Entering the meditative state without efforting to do so, & then sustaining that space in comfortable peace ~
for more on this subject, please read The Breath in our Meditation Tips section.
Ya know, sometimes life simply gets in the way...time escapes, or maybe you just don't feel the urge to meditate in the moment. It happens. What happens next is the telling part: whether you decide to pick it up again, or leave it where it fell.
I'll always advise to pick it back up - regardless of how short or long a time has passed - because you may never REALLY know why it fell in the first place (beyond the obvious 'life-happens' thing). Maybe it (or you!) needed to update, re-vamp, or briefly move in a new direction? Maybe you simply needed time to integrate?
The bottom line is that today is not yesterday, so don't hold yourself to the actions, mindset, or energy of the past. Simply choose again from the standpoint of this moment! Besides, all relationships require time & energy - & meditation is the cultivation of the ultimate relationship - that to your own deepest Self
~ Hugs, Sati
My former yoga teacher, friend, & guru-ini - Shiva Rea - has always believed in providing "micro-meditations" within every yoga class. She felt that most folks would not take the time to meditate on their own, but desperately needed to enter that flow, so she provided it at the end of class when they might be more open to it. She also felt that even a small meditation, say 5 minutes was better than none, & would most likely be far more accessible to everyone.
The thing I always loved about her "micro-meditations" was that they were poignant, pointed, & usually geared towards the theme of the class itself. I have always felt that Shiva was a wise woman for keeping things accessible yet effective - not an easy balance to reach!
If you find that carving out time for meditation is too much of a challenge, make it a micro-meditation! Keep it small, simple & positive (something I always love to say & do!) & you'll find out very quickly that yes, you DO have time for a 5 minute meditation, & yes, it IS still gonna help quiet that mind enough to truly, effectively think with clarity & insight.
But don't take my word for it - test this theory & see!
1. Find the same quiet space in which to meditate everyday
2. Meditate around the same time every day – be consistent! (Don't allow yourself to miss the opportunity to tune into Self!)
3. Find a comfortable seat: this can be a literal “seat” or refer to the position of your body. Is it comfortably sustainable for a long period of time?
4. Maybe light some candles or a small stick of incense, altho be mindful that scents can also be distracting, so keep it light & maybe set it up to only burn for a short time (I like to break my sticks so they will automatically stop burning about 3-5 minutes in)
5. Either set up music or don’t – if you choose to use music, keep the volume soft & the melody rather monotone so as to help stimulate the theta waves. Keep external noise at bey, & perhaps provide "white noise" (sleep sounds are grea!) - or use none at all (my fav!)!
6. Do YOUR pre-meditation ritual (eg: say a prayer, bless self & others, chant a mantra, set an intention) - pick from any of these & more, but keep this part simple and short, meaning don't do too much
7. Next (another optional step) start your pranayama (breathing practice) while allowing your mind to clear completely w/each breath
8. Begin to meditate & allow it to FEED you on every level!
Remember, always keep everything positive. Meditation is not the time or place for anger, negativity, or frustration, so let any nagging thoughts go & simply practice a focus. That is what "Dharana" meditation is all about! Enjoy my Lovelies!! Xoxo
“The fire of the mind must burn steadily for it to be able to penetrate the nature of reality. This mental fire burns steadily when it can consistently hold on to a certain object of attention. This is the practice of “Dharana” by which the fire of attention grows in luster & strength." - D. Frawley.
Our current society seems so afflicted with lacking steady, focused attention due to so many things that force us to split our attention like: regular multi-tasking; reading blurbs instead of whole articles, chapters or books (eg: not just the “cliff notes”); drugs & medicines; chemicals on the land and in our food; having a multitude of physical activities, instead of picking just a few… These are just some examples, but there exist any number of other constant distractions!
In effect, we practice being distracted all the time. Can you simply read a book, or do you need to cook, tend the kids or pets, listen to music, & text all at the same time? We are what we practice daily. Enter yoga and meditation. Both disciplines are exactly that, practices that teach us how to gently focus without feeling anxiety that twenty other things are being neglected! Savasana, the last thing one does in a yoga class, is considered the “hardest pose” because it requires the individual to lay still for 3-5 minutes without losing their mind to the repetitious list of things that must get done. So if you want a steady and focused mind that can become quiet on command, Dharana Meditation (which I teach) and yoga will help – or anything that requires uninterrupted, focused attention for a given length of time.
Dharana Meditation is needed more than ever!
I am always advising folks to place the tip of the tongue up against the palate (the roof of the mouth) just behind the front teeth. If you've ever been to one of my meditation classes you know this is something I suggest each & every time we meditate.
Wanna know why?
"When the tip of the tongue touches the palate behind your front teeth, your body will relax the choroid plexas", says Vacant Lad, Ayurvedic extraordinaire (the main guy here in the west). “Such an action creates a uniform flow of cerebrospinal fluid, & releases certain molecules into the body that are connected with bliss.”
He goes on to say that when the tongue is not against the palate in this manner (in meditation), the lower chakras relax, but when it's touching, then the higher chakras relax & begin to open.
Thought you all might want to know!
Since I have been asked this question before, I thought I would post an observation I had again today regarding a comment a student had made a few months back. In class, I had spoken of where the tongue & jaw should rest, but she was unclear. Hopefully, the following, will create even greater clarification on tongue and jaw placement!
We want to find a comfortable meditative seat so we can sustain the inner consciousness we hope to find during meditation, right? Finding comfortable placement for the jaw can be as important, especially if you suffer from TMJ (jaw gripping).
Allow the lower jaw to hang softly about an inch or less from the upper teeth (large enough for a straw to pass through). This keeps the jaw muscles from gripping & creating a distraction. The lips are closed, but merely touch vs pressing together.
The confusion tends to appear w/the next piece: the tongue. Where to put that floppy thing? Well, it should rest easily in the mouth, on the 'bed' slung between the 2 sets of molars on either side of the jaw. As the main portion of the tongue rests there, the tip should very gently brush up against the backs of the front teeth on the upper jaw (the teeth you see first when someone smiles). Think of this as allowing a slight upward curl at the very tip.
For most of us, this comes naturally...but for some, the back of the tongue then feels too thick, & almost seems to cut off the air flowing between the nose & esophagus. If this is you, think of purposefully flattening the center of the tongue in the middle, just behind the curled tip. It will make you feel like the tongue is being pushed back into the throat, which sounds counterproductive, right? Well, as soon as you feel that, let that middle section bounce back up again by simply releasing it (from the flattened position). You will find that it instantly shifts forward into the mouth thus solving the problem! Give it a try!
In this picture, the lips are open only to show the position of the tip of the tongue. In actual me