Meditation, Prayer & Creating an Alter
Some people wonder how to meditate – what do I need? Does it take special skills – do I need to go to courses, read books, learn specific techniques? How about prayer? Is there a particular way to pray? How do I integrate prayer and meditation into my daily life? Especially if busy with work and family commitments, it can be challenging to find time and dedicate oneself to any spiritual practice. For the novice, as well as experienced practitioners, these questions are paramount. So where to begin?
SpiritQuest Retreats teaches many different meditation styles and techniques. Some more basic and some quite advanced – classes can help, and you can start practicing right now without any training. Also, my philosophy is “all roads lead to Rome”, so adopt a practice that works for you. There is no right or wrong, just what works for you. A simple form of meditation is to gaze at a flower or candle, even a beautiful work of art that holds your attention. Do you ever find yourself sitting in nature or on your porch looking outside at a bird, trees, beautiful sunset, or something else completely mesmerized? This is meditation – it’s called “Drishti”, focusing the gaze upon an object to bring inner awareness and peace.
While on a spiritual retreat in Arizona with SpiritQuest a simple meditation practice is to focus on the breath – simple awareness of your breathing, noticing the inhale and then the exhale. Not changing your breath, just tuning into the nuances of your breath as it flows in and out, the quality of the breath, the texture, the temperature of your breathing. Some foremost yoga masters say all one needs to do is breath, practicing Pranayama (breathing techniques) will lead one to total enlightenment, no need to practice any postures whatsoever. The breath is our conduit to Spirit, so tuning into your breath can be a powerful meditation.
There is also stream-of-consciousness meditation that you may learn while on a Yoga Retreat at our Retreat Center in Arizona – wherein the practitioner simply observes his/her thoughts – again without trying to change them. Just simple awareness can lead to deep relaxation, peace, and no longer identifying so strongly with the thoughts – seeing them as passing, impermanent.
These and other types of meditation can be helpful only if you do them. So, where and when to practice? Some like to set up a sacred meditation space, perhaps even an alter area in your home or a corner of your room that is dedicated just for this purpose. You may want to include sacred statues or pictures symbolic of your spiritual values, or include crystals or stones that resonate with the energy you want to cultivate. If you meditate there, a cushion or seating pad may be helpful. It is important that you create a safe space for practice where you can be undisturbed as much as possible. Maybe set a timer for 10, 20 or 30 minutes to start – and dedicate yourself to your meditation. You may want to start with prayer, perhaps even some mantras, then meditate. You can create the flow that feels most beneficial for you, and it can change over time. Do what you can and enjoy the process – it is your Journey!