4 times a day
“Just as one eats morning, noon, afternoon, and night, so also will one have to meditate four times a day if one wants to realize truth quickly. When one meditates one will develop divine virtues, and a spiritual path is constructed in the mind. If one does not practice regularly and becomes lax, the spiritual path will be washed away by a flood of impure thoughts. Regularity in meditation is of paramount importance.” ~ Swami Rama
“To break the habit pattern, to change the grooves that you have created in your mind. You have to constantly practice meditation.. regularly…every day…at the same time. Why at the same time? Why do we stress much on the time. Because your mind is conditioned by time, space and causation. Time is a great factor in your life, it’s a great filter. If you understand what time is perhaps you will learn to annihilate time.” ~ Swami Rama
Swami Rama recommends to practice 4 times a day, at the same time. This is why the daily schedule is often set uo that it includes 4 meditation times a day, everyday at the same time. When people join us at the ashram in this rhythm for a few days or a few weeks, it will be easier to take the practice home and continue with a daily practice at home. Preferably 4 times a day, but at least two times is recommended. These four meditation times are the backbone of everything we do. The rest of the day is formed around these four meditation times as it provides three time slots; morning, afternoon, and evening for satsang, coaching and training. This daily schedule is also used in retreats and will be maintained as much as possible wherever I go when I travel.
Variation in duration of the 4 meditation times:
We emphasis that the practice times ideally includes all the 5 steps; preparation, stretches, relaxation, pranayama, and meditation (read more on systematic meditation sequence). But. that the time it will take to go through all the steps might vary during the day. Maybe you’ll have more time in the morning and evening, but only have a few minutes for a session before lunch and 15 minutes for one before dinner. Still in all four moments you could go through all the steps. The sequence can be done in 5 minutes and can be as nice and deep as a longer practice. So it doesn’t really matter if one practice of a day is only 5 minutes, it will have a tremendous effect on the continuity of your practice and will deeper your meditation in actions during the day.
“Above all else, remember this one thing: it is easy to meet the Infinity within – to attain this awareness you just have to be silent and quiet. When you calm your mind and make it one-pointed, it can penetrate those fields of the mind that are not ordinarily penetrated by humans, and the you will perceive the Reality within.” ~ Swami Rama
There are two parts in the meditation practice; preparation for meditation and silent meditation. Together they are called meditation. Our meditation practice always includes both.
Preparation for meditation includes; preparing room and body (pleasant temperature, enough fresh air, going to bathroom), stretches/yogapostures, relaxation, and breathing practices.
Silent meditation includes; meditation on body, breath, mind and eventually objectless meditation.
Scheduling your practice:
We like to sit in silence everyday at the same time. So, the time you start with your practice depends on how long you like to prepare yourself. An example will show you how it works:
If you like to sit at 7am every day, because this is a time that works for you every day, you plan your preparation for meditation before that time. One day you might want to prepare more then another day. So on one day you might start at 6.30am (= half an hour preparation) and another day at 6.50am (= 10 minutes preparation).
Duration silent meditation:
Also how long you sit for silent meditation will be different for every individual. If you set your timer for a certain amount of time, but before it ends you feel like meditation is over (sometimes you get, playfully said, kicked out of meditation) then it’s ok to stop instead of forcing yourself keep sitting. Meditation should be pleasant and enjoyable, not rigid and forced. There is nothing special in sitting half an hour. More important then quantity is quality. It is said that if you are able to direct your attention for 10 minutes straight to the same point, without any interruption, in the eleventh minute you will be in samadhi.
If you like to join us in your practice at home:
At the Ashram we sit silence at 7am, 12am, 6pm and 9pm. Or you could make up your own schedule. Most important is that you choose meditation times that work for you, and your daily activities, so that it will be most easy to sit everyday at the same time.
Auspicious meditation time:
Brahma Muhurta is said to be the best time for meditation, which is one or two hours before sunrise. Or it has been often said that 3am or 4am the best time is for meditation. There is something to it, in the sense that the world and your home is very quiet at that time. Therefore there will be very little disturbance coming from your family members or housemates, and you will also not disturb them. But if this time doesn’t work for you then use a time that does work. Again, it is most important that you choose times that work for you!
Benefits of ‘same time every day’:
Creating a conscious habit pattern of meditation will maybe cost effort in the beginning but will start helping you at one point. If you meditate every day at the same time, after a while the mind will start helping you in meditation. Meaning it, the mind, is so in the habit of practicing meditation at that time that it will naturally start moving inward; it has becomes the new habit at that time. Just as the mind, for example, is used to eat at 7pm and sleep at 11pm.
Nothing else at your meditation time:
When you have set your times, then make a conviction that at time nothing else will keep you from you moment of quietness. Explore what it does to you, when you make this the most important thing in your life at that time. Not taking another cup of tea, not 10 more minutes of the movie, not another look at facebook/email, only your meditation. It will strengthen your determination enormously.
Do not get too rigid:
What if you didn’t make it on one of your meditation times? It does and it doesn’t matter…Do not become angry, rigid, irritated or hard on yourself, that doesn’t make sense. There is a delicate balance between motivating, setting goals, setting convictions and setting yourself up for failure. Be reasonable and loving to yourself and do not harm yourself. Meditation should be pleasant and enjoyable.
What if you have a irregular schedule?
If for some reason your life doesn’t allow you to have a regular schedule (be mindful if you use your daily schedule as an excuse to not meditate at the same time, read again “benefits for same time everyday”) then you could set up the same order of the day. For example someone who works different shifts, like a nurse that works sometimes morning shifts and sometimes night shifts. Every time she wakes up (which could be 6am or 3pm) she goes to bathroom, takes showers and then starts meditation practice. Or every time when she comes home she does the same; she drinks a cup of tea, takes showers or brushes teeth and then does meditation practice. So the same order, no matter which time it is.
Example of a daily Schedule at the Ashram:
Meditation 1: preparation from 6.00am-7am
silent meditation from 7am-7.30 or longer
Meditation 2: preparation from 11.30am-12pm
silent meditation from 12pm-12.30pm or longer
Meditation 3: preparation from 5.30pm-6pm
silent meditation from 6pm-6.30pm or longer
Meditation 4: preparation before 9pm (at night we do mostly just a little preparation)
silent meditation from 9pm-9.30pm or longer
4 times we dive into Silence:
Four times a day we dive into the silence. Four times a day we have an opportunity to take the silence with us into the rest of the day. The silence can be present all day long. All day you can live in awareness of Tripura. Remember Her while living Her cities (waking, dreaming, or deep sleep). This can be done while doing your actions or diving deep within with silent meditation to go to the Fourth, to Turiya.