6 Cornerstones of Daily Meditation



“If you need to do something more than once, have a system for it”

This quote comes from the corporate world but applies very well to any daily meditation practice. Meditation may seem as a mysterious activity but the reality of it resembles very much a gym workout; it’s a commitment, it includes repetition and although may be hard at times, there’s no doubt it’s good for you. Meditation is an equivalent of gym for your brain – it improves your cognitive fitness. Utilizing the gym metaphor, it’s important to have a daily routine; choose time and place convenient for you and stick to it. Frequent changes, particularly at the beginning are not recommended. How often should I meditate, you may ask? Twenty minutes, twice a day it’s a solid start but if you have time for only one session per day, it’s better to do it in the morning. Choose place that is quiet and with no distractions. Your mind is full of them and adding more may be counterproductive.

Meditation practice also resembles a scientific experiment. You start with a protocol; the more detailed the better. Then you take it to the lab and test it. There are many successful experiments to learn from. Books, scientific journals, teachers. Thank to their experience we know what works, what doesn’t and how to avoid common pitfalls on the way. Even with the best protocol there will be challenges but the ride is always smoother if you’ve got a good map. Besides, problems are opportunities in disguise, you can learn from them!

Having a protocol for your meditation practice will save you a lot of time. Rather than trying to remember what the next step is, you may consider writing it down or printing out the procedure. This way, every time you sit down to it, you feel less anxious because you know exactly what the next step is. It will also allow you to better focus your attention, knowing that everything is ready for the journey.

If you have chosen a suitable place and assigned the time for your practice, let us talk a bit about the preparation itself.

When I started facilitating meditation classes I though about an easy way to help a new person to get started without getting lost in the details of the process. As a scientist I’ve read and written many protocols, manuals and procedures and I know how important is to choose a right one before starting an experiment. This one I call:

Six Cornerstones of Daily Meditation

  1. Affirmation
  2. Intention
  3. Position
  4. Relaxation
  5. Practice
  6. Gratitude

AFFIRMATION – is  a simple verbal statement of how long you are planning to practice for. Although it may seem trivial, it’s an important first step to establish a connection between your body and mind; a verbal contract if you will. The affirmation may be very simple: “I meditate now for 20 minutes”. It is important that you say it out loud in the present tense. On the subconscious level this is a signal to your brain to start the preparation right away.

INTENTION – A clear intention makes a huge difference to you practice. If you embark upon a journey, first you must choose a destination. The road may take you to places you didn’t expect but without direction and purpose  you will end up nowhere. Intention can be simple: I want to unwind, I want peace of mind or more profound: I want to find purpose in my life. There are no good or bad intentions. There are only intentions that are meaningful to you, which you feel strong resonance with and those that means nothing to you, doesn’t matter how profound they sound. I suggest to choose the former!

POSITION –  Comfortable position is an important aspect of the meditation session. In uncomfortable position you will get tired quickly and won’t be able to focus on the mental process. Remember: meditation is the training of your mind. Find a position that you will be able to maintain during the entire meditation period. Although some may argue, I don’t belive that a purpose of meditation is to fight physical discomfort. Even in perfectly comfortable position there are many challenges that you will have to face. If you are not sure how to start, begin sitting down in a comfortable chair. Choose a position in which your feet are resting on the floor, with hands on your laps, open, facing up or down. Your back straight but not rigid. To achieve that you may want to roll your shoulders back and then drop them. In this position your breathing should be easy, unrestricted. Allow your eyes to close.

RELAXATION –  In a way relaxation should be always one of the initial intentions of the practice. Meditation is a mental activity and as such should take the body out of the picture. I’m not saying that body is not important. Physical body is manifestation of the consciousness. Focusing on the mental process will benefit the body as well. To relax your body you may take three deep breaths; inhale deeply through your nose as if you smell flowers, hold your breath for a moment, and exhale through your mouth as if you try to blow a candle. As you exhale you may release any tension and discomfort that may get in the way of the practice. Let go of expectation and get ready for the unknown.

PRACTICE – after all the hard work it’s time to dive in and enjoy the benefits of the calm and quiet. As you sow, so shall you reap. The more attention you pay to the preparation the more likely you will enjoy the experience. Some may say that meditation is not always about enjoying yourself but I say: misery is optional:) Set up the timer and dive in!

After the timer goes off, don’t get up just yet. Now it’s time for a short reflection.

GRATITUDE – is a step often forgotten after you just descended from the heavenly stillness. There’s a chance that you didn’t enjoy the session. Regardless of your perception every session is beneficial. The only bad meditation is the one you didn’t do. You may express your gratitude in many ways, as an example: put one hand on your heart and say: thank you for the time I was given and the wisdom I received.

This is a very personal take on the meditation practice and it’s not my intention to convince anyone of validity of this approach. At the same time, if you disagree with all or any points, I’d love to hear from you. There’s no such thing as a critique, there’s only feedback and it’s always welcome. Please use the comment section below.

2 thoughts on “6 Cornerstones of Daily Meditation

  1. Paula

    Tomsk, I very much liked your meditations on insight timer. How do I find days 3,4,5 of have a good week etc that on not on insight timer? Sincerely, Paula Falkner

    • tomek7799

      Thanks Paula. Day 3 should come online tomorrow, Day 4 a week after and so on.

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