This answer was given to me by one of my teachers when asked about a home meditation practice. “Just sit down and begin,” she said, “the rest will take care of itself.” Pretty Zen, huh? Well, in her infinite wisdom, she is correct. Nothing begins until we start and with meditation we must sit down. Although this sounds oversimplified, it will start your journey. However, I also want to help set you up for success in keeping the commitment you wish to make to yourself once you actually sit down. The beauty of a home practice is that it is yours to create, you are in charge, and you are free to make it whatever you wish. So here are a few simple tips to consider when you decide you are ready.
Locate a space:
Where do you want to meditate? Some people find serenity outdoors, so you may want to consider a spot in your yard, on your patio, deck, or even in a park nearby. The key with this is to make it convenient and not somewhere that weather would impact or prevent you from sitting down. Maybe its in a corner, room, or closet in your home. Get creative. Find a spot that can be private and free of distractions for you. For example, you will not want to try practicing in the middle of the living room when your kids are running around or your partner is watching tv. It does not have to be a large space, just enough to sit comfortably.
Decorate your space:
Candles are a simple and easy way to set the mood for meditating. You can even use the candle as a focal point to send you into that space within where your peace lives. Something to sit on can be helpful as well. Having your hips raised off the floor can make it a bit more comfortable. You can use a pillow from home, a rolled up yoga mat, or you can invest in a traditional meditation cushion (options are endless).
The key here is to make the space sacred in nature. There are no set rules about what makes something sacred; that is defined by you. Meditation is your time to connect with your spirit and with a creative force that is greater than you (insert your divine connection here), so make it special, sacred, and meaningful to you.
Create an altar:
Additionally, an “altar” is a great way to set the stage for meditation. An altar is not religious in nature but certainly may hold spiritual or religious pictures, symbols, or objects. It may also hold pictures of your loved ones, special sayings, or meaningful symbols of who you are. You may use a trunk, shelf, box, table, etc. Cover it with a pretty cloth if you wish. Pay attention to pieces that call to you and be creative.
For example, my home altar has a Hindu symbol of Ganesh (remover of obstacles), a picture of Jesus, smooth rocks from my favorite place in Maine as a nature symbol, my favorite spiritual book “The Prophet”, an angel, a special prayer box from Israel, candles, prayer beads, and a few phrases that are meaningful to me. This is located on a small table that sits in front of a window. Have fun creating your own individual altar and let this become a space that nurtures you. In time, it will add to the fullness of your practice and provide a place of refuge for you when you need it.
Use a timer:
Although you will want to have your phone turned off during meditation, you can set a timer on your phone or have a separate timer with a soothing or non-startling tone. This way, you can set it for the amount of time you want to meditate and let go of time for a moment. Then you won’t get seduced by the distraction of spending your meditation looking at your watch or continuously wondering how much time has gone by. If you are new to meditation try 5 minutes at first. Work your way up to a minimum of 15 minutes and shoot for 30 minutes 3-5 times per week.
Music or silence? Maybe guided?
How you want to structure your meditation is totally up to you! You may want to download some guided meditations and listen to them (my CD is great for that!), sit in silence, play some soft soothing music to set your mood, or just listen to the sounds of nature. Set an intention for yourself if you wish. What experience are you seeking from your time here today? Tune into your breath, allow your thoughts to float in and out of your awareness without attachment or judgement, relax, and listen.
Have a journal or pad nearby:
Have a journal ready for when your meditation time comes to an end. As you return from your experience, take a moment with yourself to reflect and write down any insights you may have had, messages that came to your mind, images that arrived to you, or new clarity that revealed itself. Remember, meditation is a time to listen. When you hear what comes to you, write it down, because once you return to your bustling life, that information is likely to return to the recesses of your unconscious mind and is easily forgotten like a dream.
And now… begin. Sit down. Breathe. Smile. Experience peace. Become acquainted with the present moment. Fill your heart with love. Share your peace with everyone around you. And have fun!