When you are just learning to do meditation it’s important to know what to do before and after your practice sessions.
Before meditation is the time to create your meditation space, get yourself in the right frame of mind, and remove any distractions.
After meditation, it’s important to set your intention and take steps to protect your Zen. This is mostly achieved by following the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. If you do not do this, you’ll lose your meditative state the moment you stop meditating.
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What To Do Before Meditation
Make sure that you are properly prepared for your formal practice. There are a few steps you should take to make sure your meditation will be successful.
1: First, you will want to set the space.
Your meditation space should be peaceful and relaxing. It should be quiet. And it should be free from distractions.
You might need to clean your room before you meditate in it. Otherwise, you might get distracted. Also, make the room quiet (you can always cheat and use some noise-cancelling headphones).
Finally, make sure you have any items you need, such as a meditation chair.
2: Once your space is set, choose your technique.
You want to make sure that you’ve chosen the best technique before you meditate. Otherwise, you’ll start umm-ing and ahh-ing and changing your mind about what you’re doing.
Actually, as a meditation teacher, one of my most responsibilities is making sure my students are doing the perfect technique for them, based on their individual needs.
So, make sure you’ve chosen the method you’re going to practise, and that you know all the steps for performing that technique.
If you’re just doing mindful breathing, you probably won’t need instructions. But if you’re doing an advanced method like Chakra Dhyana, you might want to have the instructions ready in front of you.
You should be somewhat relaxed before you meditate. If you’re not, do a few relaxing activities to start to calm your mind. For instance, you could do some mindful stretching or listen to some relaxing music before you get into your proper meditation.
Writing for Tricyle, John Yates, PhD. [founder of Dharma Treasure Buddhist Sangha in Tucson] says you should set your intention and remind yourself why you are meditating.
4: Then check your posture
When you meditate, it’s important to have the right position and posture.
If you’re not comfortable, you will fidget when you’re meditating, which is not conducive to focus. You could always get a meditation chair to help you out here. Either way, make sure you have proper posture and that you’re comfortable before you start.
5: Remind yourself that you’re starting meditation
Right before you meditate, remind yourself that you’re going to be meditating for twenty minutes. Tell yourself that during this time you don’t need to worry about anything, you just need to be still and focused.
Setting your intention before you meditate will help to make sure that you’re focused on your meditation and not distracted by other things.
What To Do After Meditation
You need to know what to do after meditation so that you get the most out of your practice. You want to take steps to maintain your Zen after meditating. So, let’s look at how to do that.
1: Slowly open your eyes
Naturally, you will want to open your eyes after meditating. But the way you open your eyes is important.
Open your eyes slowly, saying to yourself, “Opening… opening…”. Take about ten seconds to open your eyes slowly.
While opening your eyes, aim to maintain the sense of quiet focus that you had while you were meditating.
2: Observe how you feel
Take a moment to mindfully observe how you are feeling.
Hopefully, you are feeling calm and focused. Observe that feeling. Tell yourself that you are going to carry that feeling with you for the rest of the day.
3: Set yourself up for tomorrow
Say, “I’ll meditate again tomorrow.”
You want to commit to your practice and make sure you meditate again the next day. So, before you do anything else, tell yourself that you will meditate again tomorrow, and choose a time when you will meditate.
4: Mindfully observe your body
Take a few moments to mindfully observe your body before you start moving. This will help to ground you. Then, move slowly and mindfully as you begin to go about the rest of your day.
5: Set your intention, again
The key to staying mindful is to consciously set your intention as you go about your day.
Tell yourself the one thing you are going to do. Then perform that one action in a mindful way. Once you complete that action, set your intention again for your next action, and so on. In this way, you are consciously going about your day moving from one intention to the next.
6: Take mindful moments
In my experience, the key to a good day is maintaining my meditative state after meditating.
One fantastic way to do this is to take a mindful moment every hour. This is a brief time (about one minute) in which you will close your eyes, breathe, and recall the way you felt after meditating (calm and focused).
These mindful moments will help you to carry your Zen with you throughout the rest of the day.
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison