Investing time in what we call “The Silence” is an integral part of our practice. There is very little difference between prayer and meditation. In fact, the “5-Step Prayer Process” traditionally taught in Unity utilizes meditation as part of its structure.
A Simple Meditation How-To
There are a lot of different types of meditation; the perfect one is the one which you will actually do on a regular basis! If you think that meditation is difficult and mysterious, rest assured it is not. Here is one of the most accessible meditation techniques
Prepare your space- unless you are comfortable sitting on the floor or a cushion, a comfortable chair is really about the only thing that you need. It is not necessary to sit in any special postures or to make yourself physically uncomfortable. Your chair should not be so comfortable that you’re likely to fall asleep.
If a candle will help you focus, or if you enjoy soft music, make those preparations as well, although neither is necessary. Obtain a timer with a non-jarring sound. A small electronic kitchen timer can be purchased for a very few dollars. Just be certain that whatever timer you use does not have a ringer or sound that will startle you when it goes off. Program it to sound gently after 5 minutes.
Pick a time of day that you will usually be able to be alone, and a place that you are not likely to be interrupted. If you live with other people, either ask them to leave you alone, or place a note on the door asking not to be disturbed.
Turn the ringer off on your landline, turn your cell phone to OFF, or put it on silent mode and leave it in another room. Humans lived for millennia without being instantly available via electronic means. Trust that if there is enough of an emergency that you are truly needed, you will be interrupted in spite of your request.
This can be a very difficult step for some- you know who you are! Consider making the commitment to honor your spiritual growth by promising yourself (and honoring that promise!) that, for just these few minutes each day, you will answer ONLY the call of Spirit.
The Simplest Possible Method
- Relax into your chair for a few moments. If you notice any specific areas of tension or discomfort, breathe gently into that area and allow your body to relax.
- Set your timer. Five minutes is good to start, but feel free to begin with two or three minutes.
- Gently close your eyes
- Breathe in your normal, relaxed manner
- Focus on your breath. If you prefer, you may wish to use a special word or short phrase (mantra) upon which to focus. “I AM” “Jesus” “God Is” “Peace” “I Am Whole” “Om” are all examples of suitable mantras.
- When you realize that your mind has wandered, take your attention back to your breath. When it wanders again, focus once more on your breath. The next time it wanders, re-focus yet again. And again and again. Simply breathe in and out, slowly and regularly, repeatedly returning your focus to the breath, until the timer signals the end of your meditation period.
That’s it! If you sat there for five minutes, you did it correctly.
Of course your mind wandered- its what our mind does. Don’t worry about any of the thoughts that come to you. Simply remind yourself to return your focus to the breath until the timer sounds. You will probably feel frustrated, you may feel irritated, you may find yourself fidgeting in your chair, you may think you need to go to the bathroom, you may have an amazing amount of distractedness. That’s okay. As long as you sit there for the allotted time, you have done it properly.
Come back tomorrow and do it again. And the next day, and the next. Once you have made this five-minute commitment a daily habit, add one or two minutes each week until you’re meditating for 20 minutes each day.
Then, you may want to add a second meditation session each day. No one is grading you, no one is judging you, and it is not a competition. Meditation is called a “practice” for a reason! While it is very simple, it is not necessarily easy. The important thing is to show up each day and honor your commitment to your spiritual growth.