Many people find it difficult to achieve a meditative state, especially if they’ve had little or no experience when younger. Don’t expect too much of yourself initially, and start with regular short sessions of 10 – 15 minutes.
Posture and comfort are fundamental. It is important that your back is straight, to allow the flow of energy, and that you are able to hold this position for a period of time without discomfort.
You can try sitting on the floor, with your legs crossed. This position is more comfortable if you elevate your bottom by sitting on a cushion or meditation stool slightly higher than the level of your feet, and also use a flat cushion or blanket under your ankles. If necessary, you can lean on a wall or the base of a sofa to support your back, preferably with a cushion. It is also possible to do this sitting up in bed.
If you find it difficult to sit on the floor, try lying on your back (not recommended if you fall asleep easily), preferably with knees bent to support the small of your back, or sit in a chair with a straight back. When using a chair, always keep both feet flat on the floor, in order to stay grounded, and you may find it helpful to support your lower back with a cushion.
You have probably seen photos showing models in a meditation pose, with hands on their knees, palms turned up towards the ceiling, and the tip of the thumb and middle finger of each hand joined, forming an “O” shape. This is a mudra, a symbolic or ritual gesture used in Hinduism and Buddhism. In yoga, mudras are combined with breathing to stimulate flow of Prana or Chi (Life Force), and are in fact energy meridian contact points (from Chinese medicine). Other contact points include crossing the ankles when seated on the floor, hands simply resting on the knees, or hands held in the lap, palms turned upwards, with the left hand underneath the right, and the knuckles touching. The last one is particularly good when you wish to strengthen your own energy, as it enhances the internal circulation of Chi. Also connect the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth, at the point where the teeth and gums meet (where the tongue touches when you pronounce the letter “T”). Add diagrams
Making these connections is like closing an electrical circuit. The energy you generate remains within and flows through your own body. It is possible to build up a great deal of Chi by simply sitting, centring yourself (see below), making these connections, and breathing in the manner described above.
Start by focusing on the breath. Remember the above breathing exercise, lying on the floor, and try to recreate this in your chosen posture. Be aware of your breath, but don’t focus too much attention on it. You will find your breathing slows naturally. With each exhalation, try to release any tension you are holding in the body, and you will feel yourself begin to relax. Allow yourself to feel very heavy, and sense the pressure of the weight of your body against the cushion or chair where you are seated.
Draw your awareness (or attention) down through the centre of your body, starting with the crown of your head. Let it flow gently down, until it reaches the area an inch or two below your navel. This is known as the Sacral, Swadhisthana, Second, or Navel Chakra, also known as the Tan T’ien or Hara. It represents the lower half of Chi (Chinese system), Prana (yogic and Ayurvedic system), or Life Force, depending on the system you are using, and it is also your centre of balance. We will discuss Chakras in detail later. For now, just sit quietly with your mind in this space, and feel the power and the stillness. If you find it difficult to visualise, imagine that your body is a clear vessel filled with golden honey, and you are dropping a small clear quartz sphere into the top of your head, which drifts down slowly through the honey, until it comes to rest in your abdomen.
Learning to centre yourself is essential in healing, as well as in meditation and psychic work. Every time you scan a client, dowse, read oracular cards, skry or meditate, you should begin from this place. With practice, you will find you are much more accurate when gathering information, and will have far less outside interference in meditation. One friend refers to this interference as “psychic TV” – those pictures that come into your head, sometimes quite disturbing, which have absolutely no meaning for you. This is more likely to happen if you are wide open and uncentred, as you tend to pick up information from everywhere, not just where you are focussing your attention.
If you have a lot of worries, or you can’t stop thinking about mundane things like the shopping list, start by trying to release this, as well as any tension you are holding in the body. With each exhalation, mentally “shoo away” the chatter of your mind. This over-active mind is sometimes referred to as “monkey mind” or “monkey chatter”.
Meditation can be as simple as focussing on your breath, centring yourself, and sitting for a period of as little as 5 to 10 minutes. If any pictures or thoughts enter your mind, just acknowledge them and let them pass. Don’t attach too much significance. Also, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get into a relaxed state of meditation when you start. The key is to practice, and to find space for yourself. Most people find it difficult to begin with. If you manage a short period every day, you will begin to find it easier, and your mind will begin to still more quickly.
It is helpful to have a specific time and place every day, and even use the same music when you meditate. Having a regular ritual or routine can help train your mind to calm down almost immediately. If you live in a noisy house with lots of people, try to find a time of day that is relatively quiet, and a corner that’s just yours. Separate it from the communal area, even if it’s only with curtains or an imaginary barrier. I know of one person who even cleared out a large cupboard to use as her sacred space, as it was the only part of the house in which she could be alone.
There are as many forms of meditation as there are people, but most are based on two basic techniques. The Zen ideal is to entirely empty your mind, and have no images or particular direction with your meditation. Tibetan Buddhists, on the other hand, have very intricate visualisations. This keeps the mind busy, so it doesn’t wander. Most western people find this technique, or a technique based on visualisation, far easier than completely emptying the mind.
If you are interested in exploring further, there are a number of good books to give you guidance, including How to Meditate: A Practical Guide by Kathleen McDonald and Robina Cortin, and Moon over Water: Meditation Made Clear with Techniques for Beginners and Initiates, by Jessica MacBeth.
Crystals to Aid Meditation
Crystals can be used to enhance or deepen your meditative experience. You can simply hold a crystal as you meditate or try meditating in a stone circle for a period of time.
This is not to suggest you plan a trip to Stonehenge, but simply surround yourself with small crystals. Choose crystals that represent what you would like to bring into your meditation, and use any number from three upwards. All crystals can be used in this way. Rose quartz is very gentle and loving, prehnite and “new jade” are detoxifying, honey calcite can aid meditation by grounding spiritual energy, blue kyanite can deepen the meditative state, and black tourmaline can help you feel protected, and can also help you to move on when you’re feeling “stuck”. This is just a basic guide and a few suggestions. It is useful to combine crystals as well. As mentioned above, if you use crystals with terminations (such as clear quartz or amethyst points), the points can be aimed in different directions to varying effects. In addition to pointing them away from you, towards you, clockwise or anti-clockwise around you, you can also place them in patterns, such as a spiral or Star of David. As with the larger grids, placing the crystals with their terminations going in a clockwise direction will amplify and raise the energy, while an anticlockwise direction will diminish or ground the energy. The latter can be useful if you are feeling overwhelmed or wish to calm down. Experimentation is key – you will not understand how it feels until you experience it for yourself. Try out different stones, and see how they work in combination. Smaller crystals are preferable, but this is by no means a rule. Many small crystals can be purchased for very little, so expense shouldn’t hinder you. The important thing is awareness. If it feels uncomfortable, unless you are convinced that the discomfort will achieve what you want, simply stop. Discomfort can be essential when trying to shift a blockage, but it can also indicate that you are pushing yourself beyond what is necessary.