Establishing Your Practice

Now that you’ve had some opportunity to gain insight into building confidence and proper mental attitude towards your meditation practice, it is now time to establish the framework of your practice. What is meant by this? Basically, this refers to the ‘where, when, what and how’ logistics that will help you to develop a strong, consistent habit of meditating on a regular basis. Once your body, mind, and spirit become acclimated to the idea and habit of meditating, the rest will take care of itself.

      An individual who wishes to train the body to run 20 miles must develop a training schedule to accomplish this. There must also be the desire to run, a place to run, time to run, and knowledge of how to run. There must be a strategy designed to incorporate these variables so that the end result is accomplished. Slowly– day by day, bit by bit, mile by mile–the athlete pushes the body and mind in increments. First the body is trained to handle mile runs, then two miles, etc., until eventually the body and mind are able to reach and tolerate the higher mileages. There will be days when the mind objects to the difficult training, but the body will welcome it. Conversely, there will be days when the mind is ready for the work, but the body will resist. The trick is to learn how to manage these scenarios over an extended period of time so that ultimately, the desired training effect is accomplished.

      Establishing your meditation practice offers the same challenges. Your immediate goal is to develop a consistent training regimen so that the habit of meditation becomes the rule rather than the exception. Once the body, mind, and spirit become used to the habit of meditating, your practice will take on a life of its own. Indeed, with consistent work, there will become occassions when your practice will call you to the pillow to sit.

      To emphasize these points, the first offered study aid in this section of your training is entitled, Structuring Your Meditation, Chapter 8 from Mindfulness In Plain English.

      At this point in your development, we suggest that you now take the time to really study and consider the material presented thus far. It is important to remember that this is not a race. This is a life enhancing effort that will require time, patience, and courage. Take your time and digest the information shared. Work with it. Most of all, do not become discouraged if it appears at first that nothing is happening when you practice. Keep in mind that every moment you spend sitting on that pillow or in that chair, you are moving forward on your journey. The practice of meditation isn’t just about peace and harmony. Meditation is also about facing the truth of oneself, and facing the truth about your intimate connection with the world/universe in which you are an intricate part of.

      You will know that you are on the right track when it becomes clearly evident to you just how chaotic and untamed your mind is–like a galloping, bucking stallion caught in a corral, racing in circles, fighting for its freedom to run wild. You may even think that you are a bit nuts. Congratulations! This is your first step on the path. Take comfort in knowing that those who have gone before you have experienced the challenges that you are now facing.

      Our next offered reading is a wonderfully condensed, yet comprehensive publication written by a very well respected meditation teacher and author, Ven. Sujiva. He has written many books, poems, and lead many long retreats in Europe, Asia and several in the U.S. We hope you enjoy his insight and instruction in For The Stilling of Volcanoes, which is an introduction to Insight Meditation for beginners.

      Our final offered resource for this last level of beginner training is from an interview with a meditation master. Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw sat for an interview with beginning students and shared his wisdom with them. Please take the time to read An Interview with Mahasi Sayadaw (Bilingual).