Quick Tips to Deepen Your Meditation
1. Relax the Body
It is common for new meditators, in an effort to concentrate, to tense the body unconsciously. Deep concentration, however, is possible only in a state of complete relaxation.
Practicing the Tense and Relax exercise is an effective way to release stored-up bodily tension. Together with the Measured Breathing Exercise, these are preliminary exercises taught by Yogananda to help prepare the body and mind for meditation.
Begin your meditation with a prayer. This will help you remember why you are meditating! You will also be inviting the Divine, or your Higher Self, to help you in your practice.
3. Sit Perfectly Still
Moving your body even slightly sends the energy into the muscles. The purpose of yoga is to withdraw that energy inward and upward, to the brain. Thus, any physical movement during meditation will counteract your meditative effort.
To keep yourself from fidgeting, try to think of your body as a rock—solid and unmoving. Refuse to move for the first five minutes of meditation, and you will find that your body will grow calm of its own accord.
Your physical and mental restlessness will subside the longer you sit still. A glass of muddy water will become clear in time if it’s undisturbed. The same is true for us!
4. Eye Position
Your eyes should be closed and held steady, looking slightly upwards, as if looking at a point about an arm’s length away and level with the top of your head.
It is essential to keep your gaze gently raised to that point throughout your practice. This will magnetize your spiritual eye, and draw the energy to the highest spinal center, the seat of spiritual awakening in the body.
5. Do Not Control Your Breath
After the preliminary breathing exercises, you should cease any effort to control the breath. Let it flow naturally. You may notice that the pauses between the inhalation and exhalation are gradually becoming longer.
Enjoy these pauses, for they are a glimpse of the deep state of advanced meditation. As you grow very calm, your breath may become so shallow, and the pauses so prolonged, that it hardly seems necessary to breathe at all.
Do not be alarmed. This is good!
How Long to Meditate
It is entirely up to you and what you can do comfortably. Start with 5 minutes twice a day, in the morning when you wake up and in the evening prior to bed. Increase the amount of time by 5 minutes every so often. Make a goal of 30 minutes by the end of a month.
Make sure, however, to allow enough time after the Hong–Sau practice to sit still and enjoy the calm meditative state.
Where to Meditate
If possible, set aside an area that is used exclusively for meditation. In time it will become saturated with spiritual vibrations. A small room, a corner of your bedroom or even closet can suffice, as long as it is well ventilated.
Keep it simple. All you really need is a chair or small cushion to sit on, and perhaps a small altar. Face East if possible, and place a wool or silk blanket on the floor to insulate your body from the subtle magnetic currents of the earth.
Proper Meditation Posture
In addition to sitting on a straight-backed chair, there are other ways of sitting that are appropriate for mediation. You can sit on the floor in any of the several poses: cross-legged, half-lotus pose or full-lotus pose.
Two things, however, are essential: your spine must be straight, and you must be able to relax completely without slouching.