10 Secrets to a Great Meditation.

Via on Jan 15, 2011

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.

About Ramesh Bjonnes

Ramesh Bjonnes was born in Norway and lived for nearly three years in India and Nepal learning directly from the masters of tantric yoga. He has written extensively on tantra, yoga, culture and sustainability, and his articles have appeared in books and numerous magazines and newspapers in Europe and the US. His forthcoming book on Tantra will be published by Hay House India soon. He is currently contributing editor of New Renaissance and a columnist for Fredrikstad Blad, a Norwegian newspaper. He lives in an eco-village in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Visit his blog here: Eight Fold Path. His book Sacred Body, Sacred Spirit: A Personal Guide to the Wisdom of Yoga and Tantra can be purchased here.

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24 Responses to “10 Secrets to a Great Meditation.”

  1. madziula says:

    even though all of the above are true and should be practiced, it's silly to think they'll make one's meditation "great."

  2. TamingAuthor says:

    Ramesh, I usually like your posts and find them very helpful. This one, however, appears to suffer a bit from "all the things we can think about that keep us from actual meditation." They seem to be the types of things we putter with when we hope to avoid the actual heart of the matter. While body distractions can suck up our attention, one can be too concerned by the body in a positive way as well, correct?

    • Ramesh says:

      Madziula, yes, only you can make your meditation great, and in theory, you can have a great meditation any time any where. But, we are human, so doing the right preparations and creating the right environment will generally be of benefit..

    • Ramesh says:

      You are of course right, we still have to do the meditation, but I prefer a scared environment to doing it in, let's say a slaughterhouse, and industrial zone, etc…. I think you get my drift. We are the body, the mind and not just spirit. And often the mind and the body distracts us from entering the spirit realm. Thus some pointers that will help us do that easier.

      • TamingAuthor says:

        Yes, I agree. Would love to have a retreat where I am miles from civilization. One summer I spent on an island off the coast of Honduras. Two thousand miles from the U.S. It was very quiet. But, once there, I realized I was too much out of the game.

        The "work" for me was walking meditation, engaging those things that truly upset body and mind so that I could develop strength in spirit. Personal choice. It depends where, in the stages of meditation, one is.

        Just don't want to get to where I consider the type of blanket I use affects the real work of meditation.

        • Ramesh says:

          TamingAuthor,
          creating a sacred environment is part of the spiritual path and an important element of spiritual practice. But that sacred environment can also be an attachment, an obstacle. I have had some of my "best" meditations in not very sacred environments, such as planes, airports, etc. But I do prefer doing my practices in my mountain home and in the ashram in our yoga center, far away from the noises of civilization. But spirituality is about integration, not escape, not attachment to the kind of blanket one uses, etc. I agree. But chanting before meditation, etc creates a great sacred environment and is very helpful whenever one can do so. And will give one the extra inner boost needed when one meditates in a less sacred space. But then again, everything is scared! Every place is the right place!

  3. Monique says:

    Helpful reminders, thank you!

  4. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    Some great tips. Cheers Ramesh.

    Ben

  5. dan says:

    All great suggestions, I’d add keeping a (spiritual) journal. Recording experiences helps to objectify them, giving a less biased look at what/where you’ve been and what is working and what needs work. Looking back periodically can be inspiring, refreshing, and a reminder why we even bother in the first place.

  6. jiivadhara says:

    Recently I read Ajahn Brahm's book "Mindfulness Bliss and Beyond." The author spoke about the slow breathing using the term "beautiful breathing." The way Ajahn Brahm speaks about breathing is extraordinarily tender and sweet. It's not forced breathing or controlled breathing but the kind of breathing which is so soothing and slow flowing (rasa). His book is one of the better meditation books I ever came across.

    Here is a quote from Ajahn Brahm, "At this stage I use the term "the beautiful breath". Here the mind recognizes that this peaceful breath is extraordinarily beautiful. You are aware of this beautiful breath continuously, moment after moment, with no break in the chain of experience. You are only aware of the beautiful breath, without effort, and for a very long time.

    Now you let the breath disappear and all that is left is "the beautiful". Disembodied beauty becomes the sole object of the mind. The mind is now taking its own object. You are now not aware at all of breath, body, thought sound or the world outside. All that you are aware of is beauty, peace, bliss, light or whatever your perception will later call it. You are experiencing only beauty, with nothing being beautiful, continuously, effortlessly. You have long ago let go of chatter, let go of descriptions and assessments. Here, the mind is that still that you can not say anything. " By Ajahn Brahm…

    Then again, our meditation may always be perfect even if the conditions are not that conducive. Nothing really needs to happen if let let things unfold their own way… we surrender and let consciousness unfold "us." Things will unfold so naturally of we ALLOW the wonder of meditation to be part of our life. Thanks for this beautiful entry, Ramesh.

    • Kala says:

      Thanks for the recommendation of Ajahn Brahm's book, I will get it from my library system it sounds very helpful on encouraging a letting go rather than pushing for some big enlightenment experience.

    • Ramesh says:

      Wonderful points, Jiivadhara. And thanks for those great quotes…. I like this sentence especially: "the mind is now taking its own object." That's true meditation!

  7. Bhaeravii says:

    I have listened to many stories of dadas who meditate in less than optimum self-created sacred spaces…this helps create focus and being able to block out the outer interference for deeper concentration, such as in railway stations. let there be meditation every place, including slaughterhouses, big pharm production plants, the lawns of monsanto, disaster zones, the house of representatives, lost in the desert. Having a private sacred space all to oneself is such a privilege…every individual has divine right to howl at the moon…

  8. yogiclarebear says:

    Ramesh,

    I see your list as a good outline of the tools we can use as humans to cultivate an environment for our own experience. That being said, it is always our own experience. I hold the state of mediation a sa gift from the Divine. I do not think there are "secrets"…I really think sometimes we just make it overly complicated. KISS is my "mantra" (keep it simple silly). Sit, breathe, be available to God…and what you have outlined, again, are great tools to aid that for some people. But it doesn't guarantee the gift…

    Thanks for sharing what sparks your stillness!

    • Ramesh says:

      yogiclarebear, thanks for your insights. I agree, yoga is a state of mind, and these tips are just ways to cultivate that state of mind more intensely, so that when we are not in a sacred environment it is so much easier to remember to KISS. Or to BLISS.

  9. Kala says:

    Hi Ramesh you are a friend of my new friend Prakash in Massachusetts, Iv'e just begun writing for Ele here http://bit.ly/hHH95j on starting life over and avoiding homelessness, its my story-I hope you'll check it out. Also I wrote a bit on http://www.embark-lovethelifeyoulive.com/2011/01/
    It's tongue in cheek but has great tips and would be a nice followup to your article!

    • Ramesh says:

      Kala, thanks for those links, which I will read with interest… and for being Prakash's friend– a wonderful man! And for writing on Elephant!

  10. Stressless says:

    I agree that yes, we do eventually have to do the sitting and observe what's happening now…. but I have to say when I've had a few tips on how to prepare the ground of my meditation things began to come together. Thanks Ramesh

  11. [...] My heart closes and I’m not able to access it. That is why I need to be involved in ‘sadhana‘ (spiritual practice) to open my other eyes and really see the heart and Spirit of things [...]

  12. Kevin says:

    you lost me at "good insulator from the electrical currents in the earth" I'm sorry but the electrical currents are not strong enough to affect you in any way. It is not scientific in any way and it does not add merit to your article if you do not have any cold hard evidence that there is indeed a tangible variable.

  13. [...] Everybody can meditate as it is a natural state of being—like sleep, like relaxation—everyone has it in them to experience this. [...]

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