Developing a Meditation Practice
Some people wonder how to develop a sacred meditation practice – 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?
Sacred Meditation: Breath, Awareness, & Gaze
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.
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 breathe, 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 and sacred meditation.
Stream of Consciousness Meditation
There is also stream-of-consciousness meditation wherein the person 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. This form of meditation allows for flow and non-attachment. You may also set a conscious intention during this meditation. Perhaps you need clarity on an issue? Set that as your intention. Or maybe you need to decide where to move or what to do about your job or relationship. Whatever the issue is, you can bring it into your meditation. Not that you want to identify with thoughts, or turn your meditation time into a cognitive practice. However, you can set an intention and then let go enough to allow freedom and flow. Now the Universe can deliver its important messages!