Updated: Dec 19, 2019
When embarking on building a meditation practice, it’s important to consider a few steps leading into the practice. Meditation alone can be frustrating without some preparation. The following three activities, yoga, listening, and contemplating done before meditation can help you become more comfortable while gaining success in your meditation goals.
The history of Yoga teaches that the practice of yoga grew as a way of preparing the body for meditation. In modern society, it has become a staple fitness routine. Yoga is beneficial in many ways, but for the purposes of meditation, I will address the basic scientific concept.
When we breath deeply, as in yogic breath, we increase the oxygen levels in our body. As we stretch, bend, and put pressure on different parts of the body, we are allowing that oxygen rich blood to move into places and spaces that do not typically get as much circulation. Oxygen is a healer and this is why we feel better after even just a short yoga session. When our body is stiff, it can create uncomfortable sensations. By doing yoga and deep breathing prior to meditation, we can reduce these physical discomforts and distractions, making the practice of meditation a little easier, enjoyable, and successful.
Listening can be observed in many forms. Hearing is a function of the ears. However, through our senses, we can listen with other parts of our body. Eating a special treat or meal can be a way of listening through taste. Aromatherapy is a way to listen through smell. When hearing a spiritual leader preaching a sermon or verse, or perhaps conversations we have with people in our lives, we might experience visceral feelings. Listening, for the purpose of meditation, can also happen through reading inspirational text, or even body sensations such as in exercise or intimacy. Observing nature, as in bird watching, or sunset/sunrise can be considered a form of listening with your eyes. Once we take in this information, we can move on to the next step.
Contemplation is a process of the thinking mind. It is defined in the dictionary as “to think deeply and carefully about (something)”. This is often what we do when we think we have reached the stage of meditation. Really, this step is just before actual meditation. It takes a lot of practice and patience to move beyond contemplation into actual meditation.
In this stage we examine what we have listened to. Whether it was a poem or parable, we then apply it to a current situation in life, or perhaps how it relates to a personal challenge we are working through. Contemplating helps to focus the mental state much like Yoga helps to settle the physical state.
Next time you meditate, try incorporating these three steps prior to your practice. Notice by adding these steps if they help you go deeper into your meditation. If you are new to meditation or want a refresher on building your practice, check out my free e-book