When you are beginning a Kundalini yoga meditation practice, you may never have spent much time meditating before. You might sit and fidget, all the while thinking “Am I done yet?” and “I can’t possibly be doing this right.” You check the clock. You’ve only been meditating for 2 minutes?!? This is a very common scenario. It doesn’t mean you can’t meditate. It doesn’t mean you aren’t doing it right. The mind, like any muscle, must be trained to do your bidding rather than its own. You are selling yourself short if you think that because you can’t instantly quiet your mind, you can’t meditate. Just as you don’t walk into a gym and bench press hundreds of pounds, you can’t sit down and meditate like a Buddhist monk. You must work on the development of your meditation muscle.
When it comes to meditation, nothing replaces consistent effort. Meditating even for 11 minutes every day will add up, and your mind will relax more and more. Developing a consistent sadhana is the most important tool a Kundalini yogi has. The more you do, the better you get. Sadhana, and we’re not overstating this, is everything.
But…for those moments when your mind is spinning like a top, remember that you aren’t your thoughts, and the “you” thinking inside your head is actually not “you”. It’s an amalgamation of several parts of the minds (positive, negative and neutral), subconscious and conscious minds, and many (and I do mean many) combinations of projections and aspects. (Read “The Mind” for more information on how your mind really works.)
If you are a Kundalini yoga beginner, and you are attempting to sit for a meditation, the following tips can help you settle into your body to support your mind on this journey. Your body will ache and distract you, and these tips help to prepare the body (and thus the mind) for sitting for long periods of time and focusing on a Kundalini yoga meditation.
1. Correct alignment
So often when I lead meditations, someone will say their back hurts. Sometimes I even say that to myself. Much of the time it is incorrect alignment of the body while sitting that is the culprit. We slouch. We slack. We never really learn to sit on the ground properly in modern western life. You need to support the natural curve in your spine to maintain a strong core structure. Often something as simple as sitting on a pillow even 1 1/2 inches high to raise your tailbone off the floor can provide the necessary curve in the spine to give you a strong structure. Guru Prem Singh, author of Divine Alignment, is known as the Posture Master. His book can help you to understand the mechanics of your own body and how to support them. It’s also important to note that the stronger your core muscles, the muscles of your navel center, the less your body muscles have to work to keep you erect when sitting. You can do a few minutes of Stretch Pose everyday to help develop your core muscles. Once your body is in a natural position, it will be easier to maintain it during meditation without moving.
Don’t leave your limbs hanging. If you sit in easy pose with your legs crossed and your knees are up in the air, then your hips are tight. You’ll likely hunch your back to help your hips hold up your knees. Support yourself! Put pillows or blocks under your knees to prevent them from dangling and take the strain off your hips and back. If you have severe back problems, try using a backjack, or sitting in a chair. If you do sit in a chair, make sure both of your feet are flat on the floor (and take your shoes and socks off, to maximize the energy flow between you and the earth.) Using a meditation cushion may shift your pelvis into a comfortable position as well.
3. Warm up the body
The purpose of physical yoga is to prepare the body for meditation. Ancient yogis developed kriya and asana not only as a way to keep the body healthy and increase longevity, but also to increase circulation and prana, so that they could sit in meditation for longer periods of time. Ever seen a hyperactive child after they’ve run around all day? They practically pass out. That’s partly what happens to your mind after a particularly strenuous kriya. Your mind settles down and its easier to go into deep meditation. Doing a kriya prior to meditation can also help with leg tingling and other signs of reduced circulation.
4. Cover your spine and head
Keeping the spine warm during meditation helps the Kundalini energy rise and also helps contain the energy you build up during meditation in the body. Covering the head focuses the energy in your body up to the crown chakra and makes it much easier to meditate without mental distraction from outside sources. Our heads are very energetically sensitive. Try different types of head coverings out until you find one that works best for you. Turbans are most highly recommended, but bandanas, headscarves, or head wraps can also work. Try meditating with a shawl and headcover and see if you go deeper.
5. Find music that makes your heart sing
Many Kundalini yoga meditations require music or mantra with them. Find a version of the mantra required for that meditation that really uplifts and inspires you. You might listen to 3 or 4 versions before you find one that resonates with you. The right yoga music can make all the difference in meditation. One personal favorite is Snatam Kaur. If you haven’t heard her music yet, listen and see if it doesn’t move you to the core. Try the Meditation into Thoughtlessness to meditate with Snatam Kaur’s Aad Guray Nameh.
Be patient with yourself! Learning to meditate isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be painful. Kundalini yoga meditations can make your spirit soar! Find a teacher that you trust to guide you through Kundalini yoga meditations, or ask Spirit Voyage questions on our Facebook page. We’re always happy to guide you!
The Fundamentals of Kundalini Yoga is a 40-day online course that will transform your life from the inside out, led by 24 world-renowned master teachers of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. It’s a journey through the core teachings of this transformative yogic technology. Discover how to ignite your inner power and develop strength, flexibility, and peace in your body, mind, and spirit. Enroll today!