People often ask what you need in order to meditate. In terms of outer aids, we need very little; meditation can be practised anywhere and anytime. All you need to meditate is yourself and the willingness to set aside apart of the day. There is no other requirements.
However, there are certain things that will help the process. But there are several things which will help meditation be more profitable.
I like to meditate in a chair. Not too comfy (like an armchair) that you fall asleep in! But also not too hard, that after ten minutes you feel the physical discomfort. Some people like to use a meditation cushion or meditation stool to help sitting on the floor. Some people learn yoga postures, such as the lotus posture or just cross legged. Once mastered, this enables someone to meditate in a seated position for a longer time, but it is not essential. Personally, I’ve always struggled to get comfortable sitting on the floor, and prefer meditating in a chair.
Music can play two roles in meditation. Firstly, it can drown out any background noise which may disturb our meditation. Secondly, if the music is suitable, it can create a good atmosphere and help to bring the heart / the spiritual part of ourselves to the fore. There is a huge range of meditation music to choose from – from simple chants to flute music and groups of spiritual music. In the meditation classes at London, we use music by Sri Chinmoy and his students. You can listen to a selection of the meditation music at Radio Sri Chinmoy.
There is no requirement about clothing for meditation. But, the best is to wear comfortable loose clothing. Take off shoes and choose clothes which help you feel relaxed. If you really get into meditation, you may choose to keep clothes specifically for meditation. If you change from your work clothes to some other clothes for meditation, it helps to switch over from work day to the inner escape of meditation. Another thing that will help meditation is to have a shower, or at least wash your face and hands. This helps to freshen up, (useful early in morning) but also water signifies consciousness; it helps to wash away all the vibrations of the day and makes you feel more in tune for meditation.
In theory, you can meditate anywhere. But, to have a good meditation on the bus going home, you need to be quite advanced with tremendous powers of concentration to block out all the outer distractions. For beginners it is best if you can find a quiet, peaceful location. If possible, you would keep a corner of a room for meditation; somewhere where you don’t do anything else. As you meditate more, this area will build up the consciousness of meditation. If you meditate in front of the tv, you will notice the difference.
However, if it is difficult to devote a room to meditation, don’t worry; try to meditate where you can. Also don’t wait for the perfect silent location, because if you do you may never get round to starting to meditate.
The previous factors are all external, but the most important thing you need to meditate is the inner enthusiasm. Sri Chinmoy calls it the inner cry – the inner aspiration to bring to the fore peace, joy and happiness. If we are content with what already have, we will not feel the need for meditation. But, if we value meditation and feel the need to experience a deeper inner reality, then this will help overcome any outer obstacle. We do not necessarily need to know too many meditation techniques, just the patience to quieten the mind and try and allow our soul to come to the fore.
Meditating with others
We can definitely learn to meditate on our own. But, if we also meditate with others on a weekly basis, then we will get additional inspiration and encouragement. Meditating with others can also help give a stronger meditation experience.