A cool body is the secret to a cool mind. There are many more such simple secrets to a great meditation practice. Here are 10 secrets, especially designed for those who practice yogic or tantric meditation the way the ancient masters intended it.
1. Cool body, cool mind. Loose clothing, open soul. Before meditation, clean your body, mouth and stomach by taking a bath, gargling, etc. If you meditate immediately after taking bath, your body and mind will feel fresh and awake. During the day or evening, you may take a yogic half bath (vyapak shaoca) by cooling arms, face, navel, neck and feet with cool water. Also cleanse the mouth and nose with water. Heavy eating, or eating the wrong foods, may result in constipation or indigestion, which will make you sleepy. Wear clean, loose clothing. Tight pants will prevent you from sitting longer. A lungi (sarong) is an excellent type of clothing for both men and women during meditation.
2. Sacred space, silent mind. Sit on a meditation blanket or pillow made of wool or any other non-conductive material. Keep one blanket that is only used for your personal meditation. Use a wool blanket, because wool is a good insulator from the electrical currents in the earth. Create a sacred “pitha” in your place of spiritual practices by only using it for meditation or study of spiritual scriptures. Do not meditate on your bed, as it will tend to make you sleepy. Keep one room, or at least part of a room, where there is no activity except meditation. It need not be a large space—3-4 square feet in a corner is sufficient. By doing your daily meditation there, you will gradually create a strong, spiritual vibration, so that merely sitting there will elevate your mind.
3. Straight spine, concentrated mind. Although meditation is relaxing, it is not the same as relaxation, so maintain alertness by sitting with a straight spine. When your spine is completely straight, it can easier carry the spiritual energy of the kundalini. By raising your head high and sitting erect, our mind will be alert and awake. Relaxing your back somewhat, allowing your spine to curve even a little, will likely cause your mind to become drowsy and wander.
4. Slow breath, deep soul. Breathe slowly and deeply. Yogic and tantric scriptures state that controlling the breath is the key to controlling the prana (vital energy of the body), and controlling the prana is the key to controlling the mind. Do not hold your breath or strain, but allow your breathing to naturally become slower and deeper. This will gradually induce a deeper and deeper state of calm, concentration and bliss.
5. Sacred books, sacred spirit. Maintain spiritual flow by reading spiritual books daily.
6. Open eyes, focused mind. Repeat your mantra or sing kirtan as much as possible throughout the day. Repeating your mantra with your eyes open is called Ardha Iishvara Pranidhana, or half meditation; it gives the sadhaka the benefits of mantra repetition without the full benefits of closing and stilling all the sensory and motor organs. It is not a substitute for full meditation, but it will maintain the vibration of your mantra in the mind, and thus will give you deeper sadhana when you do sit.
7. Mantra dance, mantra flow. Dance kiirtan daily by singing loudly. When we dance kiirtan before meditation all our sensory and motor organs become stimulated with the spiritual wave of the mantras. Let yourself go!
8. Lonely space, silent mind. Perform meditation in a quiet and lonely place in the forest, mountains or by the ocean on a regular basis.
9. Spiritual friends, spiritual flow. Have satsaunga (spiritual company of friends) as much as possible. To be in the company of other yogis sharing experiences and stories helps in keeping our mind in a spiritual flow.
10. Hatha yoga for mind and spirit. Perform asanas daily. Practicing yoga postures daily is essential in maintaining healthy glands and balanced secretions of hormones. Slow asana postures, breathing slowly and holding the breath at particular intervals, is the most conducive yoga practice to meditation. (Hot and fast flowing yoga is not!) The gradual flexing of the body that takes place during asanas helps greatly in sitting motionlessly in meditation for longer periods.