Silent Mind Meditation Program: Practical Hints and Tips:
The following hints and tips are to help you with the Silent Mind Meditation Program. They will help you establish the practice required to master the art of meditation. Some are already mentioned in the program while others are new.
1. It is best to practice in the early morning at the same time daily. Once the day starts the chances of the session being disrupted by the hustle and bustle of everyday life increases dramatically. Also, consistency is going to be key and this is best established by setting a regular time for the practice. To add to this, the early morning hour (specially dawn) is indicated by yoga to be the most conducive time for spiritual activities.
2. Don’t give up if thoughts keep slipping through your awareness and you find it hard to catch them. Keep plugging away, as best you can. Every bit of attention you apply works to change the physical nature of the brain, transforming the organ at a cellular level. Often you will find that even though the SM meditation session did not appear to reap rich rewards, spontaneously during the regular day the brain falls very quiet. As you practice over time you will see the direct correlation between this unearthly silence and the quality and sincerity of your SM sessions.
3. As your practice matures, you will find that sitting for at least 1 hour (as opposed to 40 minutes) is more helpful to effectively perform the more advanced Silent Mind Meditations. It will be well worth the time and effort.
4. A technique that is very handy in bringing the fact, the current condition of the mind to light immediately is the technique of asking the right question. This question is often, “What is it that I am doing right now?” The answer of course is the very fact you are attempting to realize. This method of right questioning should not be underestimated. It has often proven to be the key in cracking the shell of the ego.
5. For the physical work it cannot be stressed enough not to overdo it. Use common sense. Don’t eat for at least 1-2 hours before the sets and wear comfortable clothing. You have been given a fantastic body, don’t push it prematurely to the point where you risk injury.
6. Drink plenty of water at the end of the sessions, especially after tough physical Yoga sets as you will want to wash out toxins that are released during the workout.
7. If you find the sets difficult to do, increase the relaxation time between exercises and reduce the duration time for the exercises themselves. If you are finding the Yoga for Energy and/or Yoga for Awareness sets of phase 2 and 3 too difficult, you may want to substitute the Yoga for Meditation set for them, till you feel more ready for this advanced work.
8. Similar to the last recommendation, you may wish to spend more than just 4 weeks with the phase 1 basic meditations, if you feel your sitting and concentration are not strong enough to go forward. Let your inner voice guide you.
9. If you are not able to crystallize during SM and are just catching occasional glimpses of the fact that is ok. You just need to keep trying your best; the rest will take care of itself. See #2 above.
10. You may want to set some dos and don’ts for yourself to help you with your practice. These can be as broad as I will change to a healthy diet, to as specific as I will not watch TV after 9:00 pm. Find those aspects of your life that are holding you down and make a resolution to correct them.
11. Helpful hints for making Sukh Asan easier for longer SM meditations…
a. Use a firm cushion to raise your hips higher than your knees. This coupled with Burmese style can make sitting for very long periods more comfortable. A tradition Zofu used for Zazen (Zen meditation) or Smile Cushion (crescent moon shaped) is specifically designed for this and may be well worth the purchase.
b. Don’t wear anything that will bunch up behind the knees, this will cut off blood circulation and put your legs to sleep and/or make them numb.
c. Don’t wear anything that is tight around the waist either, this will interfere with your breathing.
d. Once you take the posture don’t fidget, just remain still and the body will fall into line. If you start fidgeting it will never end.
12. You can use music while doing the physical Yoga work but do not use music during the meditation sessions. Music can help with you mood, specially if you are practicing alone and need to get motivated.
13. Pick a place in your house where you are going to do your practice daily. The place should be kept neat and you may wish to decorate it so it is inspiring to you. If possible ensure that you will not be interrupted or distracted during your SM session here. Having such a place helps in many ways establish a consistent practice. Over time, you and others will notice this place having a very different feel to it.
14. Anything is possible so don’t let the mind dissuade you and make excuses. Thoughts like, I am not smart enough, committed enough, strong enough, healthy enough etc. serve no purpose. Just start the program and put your best foot forward. Life will provide you with what is needed to progress. If you still feel that you are lacking something required to grow just sincerely ask the Universe for it. You will be surprised by her generosity.
15. There is no age requirement for starting the Silent Mind Meditation Program. You are never too old or too young to be your natural yourself.
16. After you complete the 12-week program you can choose to continue using any of the 6 SM meditations provided, or come up with your own as long as they meet the criteria laid out in Chapter 12: SM Meditation Program: The Silent Mind Meditations.
17. Often progress made in a meditation practice is compared to getting wet in a fog. In a fog you don’t notice yourself getting wet but after some time you find yourself completely drenched. So, even if you feel you are not “advancing” stop concerning yourself with results and keep going. On a similar note, others may quite often notice changes in you before you do.
18. The silence sometimes emerges deep within the mind and there can be the presence of thoughts at the surface. Try to stay established in that silence within.
19. Don’t wait for some “perfect” time to begin SM. The perfect time is now.