It is important to understand the hindrances that one encounters when first learning to meditate. Many people are advised to meditate in order to overcome stress. While this is true, it is also difficult to meditate when you are feeling stressed. Stress brings a lot of tension to the body which makes it difficult to relax. I usually prefer to meditate in the morning before the stresses of the day have occurred. I also will at times meditate to relieve tension and clear my mind of negativity. In order to achieve this, I first do some stretches to relax my muscles. Yoga offers some wonderful deep stretches that can really help to relax you.
In the case of mental stress, you will need to work out what routine is right for you. Perhaps sitting quietly in a dim room listening to relaxing music (I highly recommend John Michael Talbot. His soft instrumental albums can be used throughout your meditation). Scents such as scented candles or incense or perfume can also help in relaxing the mind. You may find reading scripture or some spiritually uplifting book for a few minutes before hand can relax and motivate you to meditate. I have also found that simply unburdening myself before God or praying for others can help me to enter into meditation as my heart in mind are now turned toward God.
Meditation is a discipline that can be difficult at first to practice. It requires that we are silent within even though our minds are constantly active and noisy. It is not what we are used to. We are used to trying our hardest to accomplish things. Meditation works when we don’t strive. It is about peace, not battling our minds into submission. We need to remember that God’s yoke is easy and we need to be as gentle and forgiving with ourselves as He is.
Sit in a comfortable upright position. You can choose to have pillows to keep you propped up comfortably. Don’t lie down as this will most likely cause you to fall asleep.
- Close your eyes and begin to observe your breath. Note that you are simply observing your breath and not trying to alter it.
- Smile gently–the smallest of smiles on the outside—the deepest of smiles within.You are here to bring love, learn love and receive love.
- While still observing your breath, introduce a centering thought. It can be one of your own or one of the following suggestions:
- I choose Love as my guide in every decision.
- God is my strength in all things.
- My God is my Beloved, in Him I rejoice.
- I forgive as God forgives me.
- I accept all others as God accepts me.
- I see through God’s eyes the beauty of every soul I meet.
- God is Love. Perfect Love casts out all fear.
- My life is abundantly blessed for which I am grateful.
Repeat your chosen centering thought to yourself slowly and thoughtfully several times. Keep observing your breath.
4. You may decide at this point to introduce a mantra. A mantra is a word or phrase you repeat silently to yourself to help you stay focus and keep your mind from wandering. You can either repeat the mantra throughout your meditation or choose to only come back to it when you find your mind has wondered. Though more commonly used in Hindu or Buddhist meditation, author and Benedictine Monk John Main adapted the idea of mantra use by using the biblical (Aramaic) word maranatha which translates as, ‘Lord, come’. It is of course all about personal preference. You can choose to say it in the Aramaic or in English or choose a word or phrase of your own or a traditional Sanskrit mantra. Personally, I rarely ever use a mantra but if I do, it is as a quick reminder, ‘Peace. Be still.’
Tip: I also find it helpful to focus on seeing the inside of my eyelids. I find it reminds me to stay within and block what is outside. God is so close, He is within me. Never farther away than that.
5. Continue to observe your breath, smile, relax and be receptive to God’s voice. When you end your meditation is up to you. When you feel ready, slowly open your eyes, smile and remind yourself again of your centering thought. Recall this thought throughout the day. The thought is your intention for the day.
Discipline is needed to persevere in keeping up your meditation practice. Every person is unique so you may decide to tweak the way you meditate so that it fits you. Stay with it and you will find yourself becoming more attune to God and your spiritual side. Love, peace and gratitude will flourish within you. Your perceptions will also change and become more positive. You will notice beauty more. It is as if the hand of our Beloved Teacher will grasp yours and point out to you what He wishes you to see saying, “Look!”