9 ways to improve meditation

I can remember when I first started to learn about meditation, I really just didn’t get it. I became frustrated and was apprehensive to do it. I dove into learning about meditation, sought out teachers, and pursued learning more about it. Some people meditate for the health benefits, some for a connection with God, others to clear their mind, center, and find peace. Whatever the reason meditation has been proven to be a powerful tool in wellness. Here are some ideas to help you improve your meditations. 

1. Mantra – mantra is a repeating of words or sounds. Often it is in Sanskrit but can be in any language. It can be silently repeated in the mind or out loud. I recently listened to a meditation lead by Deepak Chopra and he used the Mantra, “So Hum”. It is Sanskrit for “I am That”. In Kundalini Yoga we often use “Sat Nam”, which means “I am Truth”. “Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful” is another mantra used in Kundalini Yoga. You can choose a word that is something you want more of in your life or a favorite Saints name. For Catholics, saying the Rosary can be a form of mantra meditation. 

2. Breath – focusing on your breath is a technique many teachers and people use for meditation. Let your focus rest on the rise and fall of your stomach. Feel the breath pass through your nostrils. Any time you start to notice thoughts, bring your focus back to your breath. 

3. Guided meditation – there are many guided meditations on YouTube. These can be helpful especially when you are new to meditation. More experienced meditators may find this distracting. I have also seen apps for meditation; they provide a reminder and a short meditation. 

4. Visual aides – meditation is about remaining present. Gazing at a candle flame or tracing a pattern in a piece of cloth with your eyes can be helpful in remaining in the now. 

5. Music – soft peaceful music can be helpful in preventing the mind from wandering to background noise. I heard a wise Buddhist teacher say once that when we meditate in the forest we do not become upset when the birds chirps because we do not think we can control the bird. Background noise can be distracting during meditation so adding some music can help distance it. 

6. Coloring or mandalas – adult coloring books have recently become very popular. This is a great meditation technique. Take a deep breath and just be present while coloring in the small spaces. A mandala is a circle you fill in with color, pictures or designs. They can represent your subconscious or reflect your inner self. 

7. Essential oils – Frankincense and Sandalwood are two of my favorites. Other nice options are Lavender and Chamomile because of their calming nature. Many of the essential oil manufacturers also make blends that are helpful attaining a meditative state. 

8. Crystals – stones and crystals all have their own vibrational qualities (think back to your science classes about atoms). Having certain stones or crystals near can help you in your meditation. Some of my favorites are fluorite, amethyst, aquamarine, and quartz (either clear or smokey). 

9. Have a cup of tea – have a cup of tea with an herb to aid in relaxation prior to meditation. After you finish your tea make sure you empty your bladder. You do not want to get in a nice Zen state only to have your bladder distracting you. Some nice relaxing herbs that can be found in teas are Kava Kava, Chamomile, and Valerian. 

Meditation can be such a big step towards wellness. It is certainly one worth taking. These are some things that have been helpful for me on my meditation journey. Do you have other suggestions for new meditators? I would be interested in hearing your ideas or how any of these things work for you. 

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