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Tips and Advices for Beginners in Meditation

Tips and advices for beginners in meditation is an extraction from Swami Vireswarananda: A Divine Life.

How long should I meditate?

You may do meditation as long as you can, but be careful that you do not strain yourself too much. Though you may feel joy at the beginning, you may tax your nerves and a reaction may set in after some time. You must have sufficient rest and sleep at night so that you feel refreshed when you sit for meditation in the early hours of the morning. You must take rest and sleep for six hours at least. If, for any reason, that is not possible at night and your habit is to get up very early in the morning, then make up the deficiency by taking a little nap after lunch. Often at the beginning, when our health is good and nerves are strong, we may not feel the deficiency in rest and sleep, but the accumulated strain will affect us in the long run.

What if I am unable to meditate for long time?

Do not feel depressed as you are not able to meditate for long or see the form of your deity in the heart. It will come by practice. But do not meditate between the eyebrows. That is risky. You may be able to keep the mind fixed there for some time while you cannot do it in the heart, but later, it may result in physical or mental disorders. It may strain your nerves and you may get a nervous breakdown or constant pain in the head etc. Practice meditation and japa regularly and everything will be set right through the grace of God.

The mind will be restless in the beginning

You see, at the beginning, for some time the mind remains restless and gets disturbed by small things. So, concentration is difficult at the initial stage. But do not be depressed at that. It is common experience with all beginners. Keep to the practice with determination and bring the mind back again and again to the object of worship and meditation, if you find it has wandered away.

Desires need to be shed slowly and mind tamed through discrimination

These are but desires that make the mind restless and concentration, difficult. Renounce these desires through discrimination (vichara) and purify your mind; then you shall have concentration. Practice and vairagya (dispassion) are the only two means to get concentration of mind. By vairagya I mean discrimination and weeding out all desires (vasanas) from the mind, thus making the mind purer and purer.

How Long is the Struggle?

When the mind becomes pure, you shall be able to meditate well and derive great joy. The struggle will be there for one or two years at least. So, stick to spiritual practices daily and routinely and all your difficulties will go away. Concentration does not come so easily; you go on with your practice regularly and in course of time, you shall have good concentration.

Srimat Swami Vireswarananda Maharaj (1892 to 1985), 10th President of the Ramakrishna Order