“Are three hours of meditation possible?”
This was a thought running in my mind when we decided our routine in the monastery in Khandala. Three hours of group meditation supported by time for individual meditations! This, to me, didn’t sound difficult, but my concern was: “how can I keep my practices inspiring and regular?”
To my amazement, however, it’s been more than two months now and every monk (including me) has shown up for every group meditation. The only exception has been when someone is not well or is travelling – none of us that I know of have yet developed Swami Pranabananda’s skill of having two bodies!
Here are four simple tricks that has helped me:
1. Practicing the Presence of God:
Sometimes, I find myself trying too hard to practice the techniques. At such times what works best is to just relax and feel that I’m in the presence of God and Gurus having a constant conversation with them. The book The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence is a great read here.
2. Praying for others:
Meditation is best practiced with an attitude of Nishkam Karma, meditating without attachment to the fruits of meditation. Whenever I find myself meditating only for my own peace, calmness and bliss, the meditation inadvertently seems to turn dry. What helps me most is to turn the focus away from myself to praying for others. This completely shifts the mood from a dry meditation to a deep and joyful meditation.
We have dedicated a month each on the above two practices (practicing the presence of God and praying for others) in the monastery. It’s wonderful how focusing on one aspect of the teachings at a time allows us to go deep and apply them to meditation, service or any other situation in life.
3. Establishing a daily routine:
The routine activities in life, like time to go to bed, rising, eating etc., can help a lot to keep our inner lives inspired. Just like when it’s meal time we are hungry and want to eat similarly having a fixed time to meditate in the morning and evening helps me a lot. What also helps in building a routine is the support of group meditations and Satsang.
4. Ending the day on an uplifted note:
The beginning of the day is greatly determined by how we end the previous night. What benefits me the most is either reading a book or watching a video by Swami Kriyananda before going to bed. When we can end the day on an uplifted note, the next day becomes a continuation from where we left.
Experiment with one or two of these practices in your daily life – I think you’ll find that it makes a great difference in your spiritual life!