What to Expect from Meditation
“Faith is the touching of a mystery.”
– Alexander Schmemann
Meditation Musings: The results from meditation vary from individual to individual. Much depends on a person remaining patient and persistent. The more committed you are, the better results your efforts will yield. Each time you meditate on a topic or goal, your mind slowly adjusts to the imagery provided. Consciously or subconsciously, it continues to mull over that imagery until eventually integration or attainment occurs.
Meditation as a Holistic Tonic
From a strictly physical viewpoint, meditation has been proven to decrease stress-related problems and improve the immune system. Even if these are the only positive effects you experience from meditation, it’s well worth the effort. From a spiritual perspective, meditation:
- Brings us into closer union with Sacred energies.
- Generates a better understanding of life’s network.
- Liberates us from negative energies
- Draws in positive vibrations
- Guides the quest for enlightenment.
- Empowers our magic by filling up the inner spiritual well.
Such results, however, are the product of time and practice.
How Long Does it Take?
Some tongue in cheek teachers reply to this question with, “as long as it takes”. For a slightly more concrete perspective, for simple thematic matters, such as understanding a problem better, meditate over several days at least. Each time you review the situation, you should get more insight. Make notes of your experiences and read them over later.
More difficult things, such as dispelling lifelong attitudes and habits, aren’t so quick to resolve. After all, they were years in the making. Expecting one or two meditation sittings to fix everything is just unrealistic. Dedicate yourself to several months, or even a year, of committed meditation on the subject. Again, make notes of your experiences. These will often reveal progress upon review, which provides more confidence and hope in your on-going efforts.
You know how when you paint a wall, using a primer improves the results? Well, the pre-meditation groundwork is like that on a spiritual level. You can’t just jump out of your car from work and hit the meditation pillow expecting any type of success. You are on a whole different wavelength at that point.
Similarly, if you’re sniffling and coughing, with wadded tissue in hand, it’s doubtful you can concentrate on anything before wanting to sleep, not the least of which is a meditation session. This is where a little common sense comes into the equation. Know yourself well enough to say, “nope not now.”
Beyond the personal element, there are environmental issues with which to contend. Are children running around playing merrily? Is the traffic outside heavy and the noise leaks into your space? Do the animals want food? Is there a bunch of clutter that might distract your attention?
When you want to sit still for a bit, in a place where disturbances won’t disrupt your efforts, these questions are important. Do a spot check (remember to turn the ringer on the phone to mute).
If all those things pre-meditation reviews come back positive, now you’re ready.
No-Nonsense Meditation Process
- Set up any desired incense, candles, music, etc.
- Dim the lighting in the room (or draw curtains).
- Shake out your arms and legs. Shrug and roll your shoulders and head to release tension.
- Sit cross-legged, or if that’s not possible, lie flat on a comfortable but firm surface.
- Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of your heart and breath. Just stay still and listen for two to three minutes to get back in touch with your body’s rhythm.
- Begin breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, slowly and evenly. Let the breath become all-connected so that it’s hard to tell where one breath ends, and another begins. Keep breathing this way for at least three minutes until you feel totally relaxed and mentally uncluttered.
- Start the meditation. Move through it at your own pace.
- At the end of the meditation, sit and take notes of the experience. Don’t get up or move too quickly. This will disrupt the soothing effect of the meditation, resulting in dizziness or a headache.
With meditation practices, patience really is a virtue. You will get better over time, particularly if you make it part of your daily routine like a spiritual vitamin.
Adapted from “Your Book of Shadows,” by Patricia Telesco. All rights reserved.