Meditation has long been practiced as a means for heightened spiritual awareness. Though the more recent trend has been associated with new age and spirituality, the truth is, meditation can be right for anyone in need of mental clarity and relief from everyday stress, regardless of age, gender, occupation, or personal beliefs.
We’ve gathered seven top tips that are designed to take your meditation and self-awareness to the next level.
Surround yourself with waterWater equals life and has been recognized for its healing properties for centuries. Being in the presence of water, feeling the water on our skin, listening to water, and of course, drinking it, can help us feel better, cleaner, more alive and invigorated. Before starting a meditation practice, take a shower and imagine the water purifying your body inside and out. This will help entrain your energy to match the high frequency of water. In addition, be sure to drink a glass of water before meditating so that your body remains hydrated and balanced. If you can, find a stream to sit by and listen to the sound of the water. Being near an ocean or a river is also a powerful advantage. When all else fails, a soundtrack of water can work as well.
Try cannabidiol (CBD)While marijuana and hemp plants have been used for centuries to help mankind reach altered states of consciousness, there is now a growing interest in using cannabidiol (CBD) specifically for meditation purposes. CBD is an all-natural compound created in cannabis plants, but unlike THC, CBD is non-psychotropic, meaning it will NOT get you “stoned” or “high.” Scientists are currently studying how the compound interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), a system in the body that helps maintain overall balance and homeostasis by controlling functions such as sleep, immune response, and mood. In the context of meditation, further scientific studies are required, but at this stage, people have reported that CBD helps them to: a) relieve stress and reduce anxiety, b) improve mental clarity and focus, c) reduce pain and discomfort. CBD can be vaped, taken sublingually as an oil tincture, or in edible form, and can potentially be a beneficial tool for centering the body and calming the mind. It is worth noting, however, that because the interaction of CBD in the body takes time, it should not necessarily be used to enhance a specific meditation experience, but rather be part of an overall routine of holistic self-care.
“You have to be comfortable in the uncomfortableness.” -A J McleanWhen practicing meditation, there are two things to keep in mind regarding comfort. First, do what you can to make sure you are comfortable before beginning your meditation session. This can include wearing soft, loose-fitting clothes that allow you to breathe easily, and finding a comfortable position (for example, sitting up against a wall or any other kind of back support to straighten your spine and reduce backaches.) Stretching exercises before meditation can also help your muscles relax. Then, and this is the tricky part, once you find your position, allow yourself to surrender to any further discomfort that may suddenly appear. While it’s ok to shift yourself occasionally to help you settle in, the secret to successful meditation is surrendering to what is. Or in other words, find ways to be “comfortable in the uncomfortableness.”
Become one with nature (nudity optional)For an enhanced meditative experience, connect with nature whenever possible. This can include walking barefoot through the woods, or finding a log or tree stump to sit on. This will help set the mood for your meditation and help you become one with the earth. You can even visualize roots coming down from your feet and into the earth, connecting with the network of trees and wildlife around you. In addition, if you can find a place with enough privacy, and are not afraid to take your meditation experience to the next level, try meditating in the nude. Yes, the nude. There is something about feeling the sun and wind against your bare skin as you meditate that you need to experience for yourself in order to fully understand.
“Ritual is necessary for us to know anything.” -Ken KeseyRituals create a space for us to focus on the moment, prepare for what’s to come, and give meaning and purpose to our actions. When starting a regular meditation practice, begin each session with a custom-made ritual designed to get you relaxed, focused and in the right mood. Some people prefer to shower beforehand (see #1), or organize their meditation space, making the bed, etc. Feeling clean and seeing your space tidy before you begin meditating can help you clear your mind and focus on the moment. Setting up the right ambiance is also helpful: lighting candles, using aromatherapy, or playing relaxing music helps prepare the body (and soul) for the meditation. Workouts, walks, and other cardio exercises right before mediation can also become a useful ritual in your practice.
Find a metaphor for your thoughts.Thoughts can be considered the worst enemies of a meditation session. They come and go, constantly seeking our attention, often causing us to feel like they are out of our control, and fighting them only makes it worse, since what we resist, persists. One of the best ways to help you work with your thoughts (rather than against them) is to set up a metaphor for them that works for you. For example, some people envision their thoughts as clouds, and like to watch the clouds of thought float across the vast open sky that is their mind. Someone more computer-inclined may want to picture their mind as a Task Manager, with each thought being an unwanted process that you can just “click” or “swipe” to shut down. Another interesting visualization by Padmasambhava to consider: “Get to a point where thoughts are like thieves coming in an empty house…there’s nothing to take.” Find the metaphor that works best for you and go with it.
Meditation is not an activity; it’s a state of mind.Meditation is not some task to be done and completed–it’s an ongoing state of awareness and wellness. You can (and should) incorporate meditation into every other activity throughout your day. Some of the greatest meditators reach their meditative sweet spot while working on their cars, tending to their garden, even walking up a flight of stairs. The key is in relaxing, clearing the mind, and surrendering to the moment. If you can find small ways of entering a meditative state throughout the day, you will be that much closer to bringing peace and clarity into your daily existence, enjoying all the benefits meditation has to offer.