Meditation is a form of focused thought that allows for undisturbed reflection on the nature of things, the meaning of life, struggles, experiences, decisions, expectations, emotions, both positive and negative. It allows for healing, forgiveness of oneself and others and progress in all aspects of one’s life that have been held back by regret, anger, comfort, dullness, fear, conflict or inexperience. But for meditation to open the door for progress, it must first be successful itself and this requires knowing how to approach it.
Successful meditation is part practice. Even when we have all the information, it is still practice that makes perfect. But meditating can get you where you need to be only if you approach it correctly. This means that you do need to make some efforts in this respect and consciously work towards achieving successful meditating that can allow you to grow, learn, accomplish and better yourself.
1) Declutter and organize. Meditating offers peace of mind, calm, quiet, but requires the same. If there is commotion, untidiness or clutter all around you, phones are ringing or buzzing taking up all of your attention, doors are opening and closing, you are being interrupted and there is chaos and disorganization, this can impact your ability to focus and reflect. Your mind will picture your surroundings and the outside clutter and commotion will reflect upon your thoughts, preventing you from reaching the peace of mind needed to meditate. Decluttering space and organizing your schedule so that you have space and time to yourself are important if you want to meditate successfully.
2) Have time alone. When it’s quiet around you, that’s when you can finally hear yourself think. And listen to what your mind has to say. Taking time to be alone with yourself by retreating to a place that you can have to yourself for some time can allow you to reflect on aspects of your life you feel need your attention and maybe find the answers you are looking for. You can find silence and piece of mind at home alone, at the gym late at night when there is practically nobody, in a park under a tree or on a bench while watching strangers quietly pass by, anywhere you aren’t interrupted or required to interact with others. Quiet is good for the mind and encourages reflection.
3) Make time. You cannot rush meditation. If you’re worried that you only have the house to yourself for very little or have an important meeting shortly, then you might focus more on the impending arrival or commitment than on the meditation itself. For it to be successful, enjoyable and productive, you might need to make time for it in advance so you can actually engage in it. When you have time to yourself, that’s when you spend time with yourself and learn about who you are.
4) Give it time. Meditation is a process, a means to a purpose, a journey. It doesn’t go by a schedule and you can’t program the results you are looking to obtain from it. There isn’t a set timeline for reaching enlightenment, getting over regret or learning to love yourself. You will get there when you get there. You can’t quantify the hours, days or sessions spent meditating and there isn’t a final amount of time to build up to in order to reach your goals.
With meditation, you start and you continue. You don’t finish. And you don’t fall behind either. There is always another chance to find your answers because successful meditation is about giving it time. You have to give meditating time to see results. After all, we are all a work in progress at all times of our lives.
5) Know what your expectations are. Do you expect to learn to control your anger by taking up meditation? Do you expect to change your outlook on life and learn to be more optimistic? Learn to forgive yourself or another? Move on from a person or past experience you have been dwelling on for too long? Get over a tragic event? Reinvent yourself? Know what you expect of yourself when meditating so you can reflect on what is really bothering you in order to find your answers and reach your goals. Because just letting your mind wander aimlessly is indulging in idleness, not meditating.
6) Learn to accept and love yourself. Meditating is to engage in introspection of our thoughts, emotions, decisions, behaviors etc. Introspection offers answers to what dissatisfies us with our life, choices or achievements and may reveal truths we may not be ready to hear. However, meditation also teaches us to accept our flaws, frailties and inadequacies and love ourselves despite them, as well as love others despite theirs.
Learning to see ourselves for who we really is not supposed to deter us from continuing to meditate, but encourage us to love ourselves enough to make those changes that separate the person we are today from the person we want to be. Only when we will understand how important acceptance is, will we be able to make genuine progress.
7) Value yourself. Self-worth is vital for personal development and everything good that derives from it. Valuing yourself means you appreciate the good, work on the bad and strive to be a better person. When you have low self-esteem, you do not see yourself worthy and this hinders personal growth and the benefits of meditation. It is an unspoken rule that we get what we think we deserve. This is because how we see and how much we value ourselves reflects in the way we conduct ourselves and attracts corresponding reactions from those around us.
If we have low self-esteem, we see and present ourselves as undeserving. Others will react accordingly and this will encumber our personal development. Meditation allows for self-awareness and self-knowledge which are meant to help better ourselves, but it only works if we cooperate. What this cooperation means is that we have to change our attitude towards ourselves and our self image. We have to start thinking we are deserving of the good things that come our way, able to rise above our frailty, no longer define ourselves by our failures or minimize our achievements. Otherwise we risk compromising the beneficial effects of meditation.
Meditation is a powerful tool for personal growth and development that allows us to know ourselves intimately. For it to work and be helpful, we need to be active participants in the process and put in effort, time, energy and willingness to learn to accept there are aspects that need changing or working on, love ourselves despite our imperfections and strive to be better people. Successful meditation encourages mindfulness and is a contributor to our happiness and well being.