Find a place where you can generally be undisturbed for 10 or 15 minutes. Arrange it with objects that bring you inner peace (images of serenity, pictures or statues of Buddhas or other inspirational figures, flowers, candles, incense, etc.) Try and meditate in the same space every day so it becomes your happy place.
Meditation should be enjoyable and not just another thing to check off on our busy to-do lists – it is more like the space around our to-do items! Inner peace is the natural state of our mind when it is not agitated by uncontrolled thoughts, and it needs to become a way of being. Before you start your meditation, drop into your heart and think about any of the benefits of meditation that move your mind, such as how it is the cause of deepening inner peace and strength. Then you will long to meditate, and your meditation will be joyful and authentic, not forced.
Some people like to start their day off with meditation, while others feel less rushed when they return home from work and before they settle in for the evening. Choose a time that makes sense for you. Be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking, “I have no time to meditate” – it is in fact meditation that will open up more time and space for us because our minds will be so much less busy and distracted. It can be helpful to set an intention the night before, “I want to meditate in the morning” or “I will attend meditation class tomorrow at KMC Colorado”, to help motivate you to meditate regularly. Consistency is the key to becoming a good meditator. We can all carve out 15 minutes a day if we understand and believe that meditation really improves our lives.
Don’t check texts/emails/TV/newspapers/magazines etc. before meditating. The average American spends 3 hours a day on their screens – we can afford to carve out 15 minutes!
When you sit down, think about what meditation you would like to do – which positive mind do you want to cultivate, which teaching do you want to contemplate, or do you just want to practice a simple breathing meditation and feel peaceful in your heart. You can also work your way through the 21 meditations on the stages of the path to enlightenment as presented in The New Meditation Handbook. And you can always ask the teachers at the Center for advice; that’s what they’re here for.
Make your meditations personal, not abstract. Have a personal project, something you want to improve, such as “I want to let go of anger and improve my patience with the people at work”, or “I want to feel more confident about myself and relate to my boundless potential.”
Even if we are just starting out in our meditation practice, when we do it on behalf of others it increases its meaning and makes it easier. We are holding the space for others when we dedicate our meditations to them, including living beings we may not know personally who are suffering. When we meditate with a good heart of love and compassion on behalf of all living beings, our practice becomes very powerful, even if we are pretty distracted!
Meditation is not just about sitting on a cushion but about transforming our whole life by being more mindful and alert each day. There are many gaps in the day when we can recall our meditation topic – such as all those times we pick up our Smartphones! Ask yourself whether you are remembering your peaceful heart and insights, and if your mindfulness has lapsed, spend a few moments reconnecting. Then you can ask yourself, “How can I practically apply this insight to what is happening now, in my day?”
Briefly recall how you did that day – if you managed to stay peaceful and positive even when everything was going wrong, good job! You can dedicate that to others, thinking, “Through my efforts in meditation may all living beings find real happiness and freedom, and may our world be peaceful.” If your day didn’t go so well, no worries, you can still dedicate your efforts – and tomorrow will be a totally new day!