Before Meditation: Meditation ‘Take-off’ Checklist
Meditation is like flying a plane: It works best if you focus 100% in it. Before meditation, there is a list of item we should check before we ‘take-off’
1) Turn off electronics
Make sure that you turn off your cellphone and laptop before meditation; aside from the noise that these devices make, they also create a magnetic field that can affect you during deep meditation. And the fact that they are on and might beep with a message is already a subtle distraction for your mind.
2) Set alarm
If you need to get someplace within a certain amount of time after meditation, set an alarm before meditation. There are lots of nice applications that can give you a good meditation bell sound to bring you out of your meditation more gently.
3) Set meditation seat
Make sure you have a comfortable meditation seat. Tradition says that the back should be slightly higher than the front. See that the seat keeps your bottom off of the floor, especially if it’s cold; and check that there is enough padding under your ankles and knees to keep them from hurting if you sit for a long time.
4) Cross legs
It doesn’t matter too much if you sit on the floor or on a chair. The main point is that you should be completely comfortable: that you “park” your body in such a way before meditation that you will be able to forget about it for a half hour, and feel no discomfort that will draw you out of your concentration.
5) Place hands
Place your hands in chin mudra on your thighs, or set the right palm down on top of the left palm on your lap, palms up.
6) Straighten back
Sit up as straight as if there were a cord attached to the top of your head, and someone were pulling up on it. Keep pushing down against the floor on the other end, since gravity will naturally pull you down as the minutes go by, and you will need to continually straighten yourself subtly.
7) Tense up abdomen
Slightly tense the muscles of your abdomen, which will release and lengthen the lower spine. Try not to curve the lower part of the back inwards when you sit up straight—avoid creating a kink in the lower back.
8) Shoulders level
Some people tend to scrunch up on shoulder or another when they concentrate. Be sure to keep both shoulders relaxed and down, the neck erect and extended upwards.
9) Chest out
Pull your shoulder blades together slightly in the back so that your chest puffs out slightly. Pulling your hands back on the top of your thighs will create a slight isometric effect which will help bring your chest out. Pushing your hands out the other way, so that they hang over your knees, may create a slump in your spine, so watch out for that.
10) Set chin
Set your chin at a level which doesn’t make you sleepy (too far down) or scattered (too far up).
11) Relax forehead
Very purposefully relax the areas of your forehead where you might normally be scrunching it up: no horizontal lines across the width of the forehead, no vertical frown lines between the eyebrows.
12) Relax lips
Consciously relax your lips and mouth in a comfortable, natural position. Check for any tension in the corners of the mouth as you focus your thoughts—and watch out for tension in this area throughout the meditation session.
13) Relax eyelids
Relax your eyelids, so that there is absolutely no tension in them. You can keep your eyes slightly open if it helps you prevent sleepiness; but if you do, keep them unfocused and down. Close your eyes completely if that helps you concentrate better without feeling sleepy.
14) Relax face
Consciously check in on the other areas of your face, such as cheeks, and chin, and relax them.
15) Slow breath
Now begin to slow down the breath before meditation, in preparation for Breath Meditation. Work for long, full exhales which will automatically lead to corresponding inhales that are not so deep that they could cause tension.
Congratulations! Now you’ve completed your Meditation Takeoff Checklist. You plane is ready to take off now. From here you can begin the preliminary breathing meditation, and then move on to a meditation with actual content.