At the Young Adult weekend retreat earlier this month, we discussed the basics of passage meditation extensively. This inspired us to turn to our greater YA community via our email group – the YA eSatsang – and ask them to share "What's your meditation routine?" We've been amazed at the variety of ways people prepare for meditation and have been inspired by some of the little ways people structure their lives to put their meditation first!
LB from Chattanooga, Tennessee
My routine begins when my phone alarm goes off at 6:30 a.m. (sometimes it's 6:45 or 7:00). I get out of bed and head straight outside to let my chickens out and pick up the newspaper. If the night has been especially clear, I might spend a few seconds enjoying the first pale streaks of sunlight filtering through the trees, or, if it's late in the year and still fully dark, I'll look at the stars. Then I go inside and spend a few minutes reading the paper, giving myself a little more time to wake up. Around 6:55 I go to my meditation corner, unfold my bench, lay out my blanket, set an alarm on my phone, and begin to meditate. After my thirty minutes is up, I spend a few minutes in prayer before continuing with the rest of my day.
I've found that it's crucial for me to get adequate sleep the night before or I won't be able to stay focused during meditation.
One thing I'd like to change about my routine is what I read before meditation. I'm not sure the newspaper is the best thing to start my day with. I might experiment with reading a brief passage from a spiritual work instead. This way I will be preparing my mind to focus on spiritual ideals and principles during meditation.
Kate from Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Over the past few years, I've realized how critical getting up on time is for the morning meditation routine. I managed to get through high school and university without being a snoozer, and somewhere in my late 20s, I developed a strong habit of snoozing my alarm, and not getting up right away. This snooze time really can affect my morning because, as you will read, I have a fairly lengthy morning routine. Any time I give away to snoozing, I take away from my morning routine, so that is an ongoing opportunity for me, right out of the gate!
After I manage to get up, I go to my couch and begin reviewing my passage for the day. Right now, I have the luxury of spending about 20 minutes on this. I have a cycle of passages that I go through, and I tend to spend a few days on the same passage, which means there are long stretches between each passage use. It means I always need some time in the morning to refresh the words of the passage I'm about to use (by reading and/or writing it). Depending on which passage I'm using, I can also use this time to memorize a new passage.
Then, I meditate for 30 minutes. I've learned to time myself pretty well without a timer, and just by peeking at a clock. I've recently moved, so I've had the opportunity to set up a new space dedicated to meditation. As you can see, I use several pillows so sit on to prevent my legs from falling asleep, and to prop up the small of my back.
After meditation, I write the mantram for a few minutes, and then read or listen to some inspiration from EE for about 10-15 minutes. Then, I'm ready for the day, and I go have breakfast with my housemates.
Nikhil from White Plains, New York
I wake up between 5:15 and 5:30 a.m. After freshening up and a glass of water, I head to my loft which is my dedicated meditation corner. I sit on a chair and take a few minutes to think about which passages I will use. I choose based on the challenge I face that day or the aspect of my personality I am working on (e.g. patience, fear etc.).
I use the phone to time myself and keep a copy of God Makes the Rivers to Flow next to me. I take 30 secs to breathe deeply and settle my mind and then meditate for 30 minutes. Right after meditation, I repeat the mantram and read the Easwaran Thought for the Day. Then I read passages in God Makes the Rivers to Flow for further inspiration. All this takes me 45 minutes total.
Drew from Honolulu, Hawaii
Most mornings I try to get up early, usually between 4:30 and 5:00. I aim earlier, as it leads to a much less rushed morning, but I admit that sometimes I set my alarm for 5:00 or even later (which leads to a much more rushed morning). After I get up, I go to my office area and prepare to meditate. Because of limited space, I don’t have an area specifically for meditation, but I do have a screen that I use to partition the room and create a little alcove of sorts.
Up until recently, I would do writing and other things to wake up before meditating, but was inspired by our recent YA Satsang conference call to get down to business more quickly. Before I mediate, I determine which passages I’m going to use, review them briefly, and enter this information into a meditation tracker Excel sheet that I use. I don’t always review the passage or use this tracker, but find that when I do my meditation is generally much better.
When I finish meditating, I enter information into my tracker about the quality of my meditation (i.e. did I fall asleep, was I a jumping bean, how was my concentration in the beginning, middle, and end, etc.). Afterwards, I write in a couple logs about things that I’m trying to work on in my life (i.e. slowing down at work, controlled internet use, interactions with specific people, etc.).
Finally, if I have enough time, I spend about five minutes reading through a list of people in my life and praying for them. I have a fascination with Mr. Rogers of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood fame (I’m convinced he was a mystic), and read that he spent several hours each morning praying for people. So, I attempt to emulate this in my own small way.
Carlos from Concord, California
My meditation routine consists of waking up, going to the restroom, drinking water, and meditating on the inspirational passage. But what makes it routine? After all, the more I seem to meditate, the more I see the discrepancy between the ideal person and myself, between the ideal life and mine. Do I meditate because I’m good? Do I fit the YA mold? If I’m bad, why am I starting this? Why am I still doing this? What about being capable or incapable? Worthy or unworthy? Free or entrenched? Strong or weak? Skinny or fat? Vegetarian or, close to it? The best I can say, is that I meditate, more and more, not because of these things. I could also say that, more and more, I don't meditate for these things either. I hope we get started, over and over again, to meditate, continue to meditate, and continue our meditation routines for the reason we chose.
Natalia from Helsinki, Finland
I wake up long before my kids and spouse to have time for meditation without rush. It's best to keep the alarm so far I need to get up to shut it down, then there is no temptation to go back to bed anymore. Though my body has got so used to getting up early by now I very often wake up naturally before the alarm even rings. On summers I've had a fixed meditation space on balcony. Wintertime I've moved around the apartment to find a clean peaceful spot, but at least the mats I use for meditation are fixed ;-) It's good to wear enough before I start so that cold won't catch me, and to keep tissues and a clock that is not ticking right next to me when I meditate so that there is no reason to get up for next half an hour.
After my meditation I still have peaceful time for myself before my family wakes up to keep me busy. I really used to think I'm a complete night person who cannot get up early. That I changed completely when I noticed how much better I can concentrate both on meditation and everything else after a good night sleep if there is no rush. Nowadays I'm convinced it's best to take my own time from the morning, not from the evening.
Lisa from San Francisco, California
I usually wake up around 5:00 or 5:15 a.m. and roll right out of bed, put on a sweatshirt and knit cap and settle myself on the meditation bench that lives at the foot of my bed. Usually I time myself by the nearby clock, but sometimes I use my phone as a timer. After 30 minutes I read Easwaran’s Thought for The Day via the app on my phone and then go about getting ready for the day.
Usually I take one night a week and refresh a slew of passages to use in the upcoming week. I’ve never been terribly systematic about rotating through my passages and realized recently when I set up my Passage Portfolio that I’d let loads of passages fall into disrepair. This inspired me to try and come up with a new routine to refresh old passages and memorize new ones – we’ll see what I’m able to come up with!