Regardless of the particular form of meditation that you are using there are a few good rules of practice you should follow. I outline them here so that I don’t have to repeat them as I describe each practice. These apply to all forms of practice.
- Choose a time and place where you will feel comfortable and you won’t be disturbed. It is important to set aside both time and place that will help you practice. Meditation is NOT about suffering, but it is about important, internal, work. You should place your self in an environment that supports your process, but a place that is in effect neutral so that it doesn’t draw your attention.
- Place a pen and pad close by so that if you should think of something you need to do, you can write it down and return to watching your thoughts. Trying to remember something that you must do while at the same time attempting any form of meditation simply doesn’t produce a useful result because your mind will be divided. Writing your thought on paper will let you put aside the task until you are done with meditating.
- You should use a chair that isn’t so comfortable that you will fall asleep easily yet not so uncomfortable that you will focus on your discomfort.
- Where possible you should choose a chair position that faces the most neutral part of the room. For example I face a part of the wall in one room that has no decoration to take my attention.
- The chair you use should let you place your feet comfortably on the floor.
- You should avoid chairs with arms so that you can place your hands comfortably on your lap. This provides a posture that you can use anywhere rather than relying on a particular chair.
- Your back should be comfortably straight. It is not necessary to focus your energy on making your back rigidly straight. This is more about avoiding lounge chairs that will leave your back bent than it is about having a perfectly straight back.
- Place your hands comfortably on your lap. You should find what works for you, but I offer the following approach as a starting point for your consideration. Place each hand on the same side leg, ie., right hand to right leg and left hand to left leg, with palms up and hands comfortably on the middle to near the end of each leg. In this position the hands will tend to turn downward should you fall asleep and the effect may wake you. The best part of this approach is that once you place your hands comfortably in this position, they tend not to draw your attention.
- Ultimately meditation is not just about isolating your self for the purpose of an internal investigation. As your practice improves over time you will bring your practice to all aspects of your life. So, in line with that goal I recommend you make an effort to keep your eyes open during any of these meditative processes. Meditating with your eyes open also tends to reduce the tendency to fall asleep. That said, it may sometimes prove beneficial to close your eyes for short periods to gather your attention and there is another exception to this rule that I will mention later in this document.