Meditation can be a very rewarding practice, even if you have little experience with it. While guided training and a carefully cultivated practice is needed, there are ways in which novice meditators can overcome some of the common problems that prevent profound meditations for beginners.
Here are several simple and practical hints you can use to kick-start your meditation practice and have fulfilling meditative experiences. These tips will help you use both inner and outer conditions to your advantage, so that mental stillness and deep inner peace come more easily.
1. Meditate at the Right Moment
The yogic tradition suggests that the best moment for meditating is early in the morning. Indeed, meditating before sunrise seems to work better than later in the day, simply because your mind is still at rest following a night’s sleep and thoughts haven’t yet crowded it.
Another “right moment” to sit for meditation is when you get that “hunger“ for mental silence. Meditate when you no longer want to listen to any of your thoughts or ideas, when you’ve grown tired of thinking, or when you feel the only thing you want is to dive into quietness and peace. There are always moments in the day when the “monkey“ in your mind is too tired to react or jump around. These are privileged moments for meditation.
2. Use Background Noise to Your Advantage
Many beginners on the path of meditation often complain about surrounding noise. Indeed, background noise is almost an unavoidable reality nowadays, especially in a city. Novices complain that noise prevents them from focusing on their inner silence, and that exterior sounds are disturbing.
In fact, if you stop seeing noise and sounds as a disturbance, you will greatly improve your meditations. And that’s because the problem lies not so much with noise itself, but with the way you relate to it. Stop perceiving sounds and noises as enemies, and instead, use them as reminders for going deeper into yourself—to focus even more on your meditation.
Just as with thoughts, let sounds come and go without paying attention to them or labelling them as disturbances. Think about this idea as if you are a lighthouse.
A lighthouse in the middle of a stormy sea is not fighting the big waves crashing into it. And neither are the waves fighting against the lighthouse. Both are just what they are—the lighthouse is a construction of strength and immovability, while the waves represent movement and unleashed energy. The lighthouse doesn’t need to remove the waves in order to exist, and neither do waves need to remove the lighthouse in order to be. You don’t need to fight background noise in order to be still.
3. Take Time to Not Think
A successful meditation implies the ability to calm your mental activity. The problem is that the only time most people devote to training this ability is when they meditate. Thus, instead of actually meditating, you are exploring ways to avoid, ignore, or—even worse—fight off your thoughts.
Beginner meditators know what a tiresome battle this can be. That’s why it would be much more helpful to practice developing this ability outside your formal meditation practice. Learn how to use the dead moments of the day—like waiting for your computer to restart or standing in line—for training your non-thinking ability. Most people spend their idle time having long, repetitive, and useless mental dialogues with their inner Self that amount to nothing. Try trading these times for a moment of deeply regenerative mental rest.
Whenever you have the possibility throughout the day, let go of thoughts and instead, simply bring your attention to your breath. This practice will bring not only make a difference in your meditations, but also in the rest of your life. A quiet mind is prone to receiving much higher and more sublime inspirations than your merry-go-round thoughts can create.
Try using at least one of these tips and witness the change in your meditation practice. Meditation takes a long time to master, so take it one step at a time and enjoy the journey.