Preparation

A word of caution - if meditation is not done properly, can give you negative results! This may be hard to believe, but it is true.

Please see this article from The Guardian for some examples - Is Mindfulness Making Us Ill?

The mind is like a tool. When someone has a powerful mind, we call it a sharp mind. When you practice meditation, it makes the mind sharper. A sharper tool can cut into very complex problems. But a sharper tool, if used carelessly, can also cut very deep and cause more damage. Hence, preparation is very important before meditation. Always get help from your teacher to make sure that the practice is correct.

The mind, also acts like a sponge after meditation. Like a sponge absorbs water, the mind can absorb knowledge, information, feelings etc. In our day to day lives, our mind is full, it has absorbed a lot of things. This is why, it is difficult to learn new things or change personal habits.

If you take a sponge and squeeze it, make it empty, then it is ready to absorb. An empty sponge, however, can absorb clean water as well as dirty water.

Meditation also does something similar. Doing meditation, is a bit like squeezing a sponge. Since it can then easily absorb, we need to make sure that it doesn't pick up dirt.

Frequency of Meditation

Meditation need not be done daily.

Meditation is an altered state of mind. Meditation has short term effects that last a few hours to up to a few days.
If practiced regularly, meditation also has long term effects, such as changes to personality.
How long the short term effects last depends on session, state of mind, health condition etc.
You should give sufficient recovery time between meditations. Initially, it is hard to get into a deep trance state, so every alternate day is good. With practice, as you get deeper, every 2/3 days is a good frequency.

Set and Setting

Set and setting means one's mindset (shortened to "set") and the physical and social environment (the setting) in which the user has any experience. The results of our experiences depend almost entirely on set and setting. Set and setting also apply to the experience of meditation.

"Set" is the mental state a person brings to the experience, like thoughts, mood and expectations. Mentoring is particularly important in the outcome of the experience. Mentor is able to control or guide the course of the experience, both consciously and subconsciously. Stress, fear, or a disagreeable environment, may result in unpleasant results. Conversely, a relaxed, curious person in a warm, comfortable and safe place is more likely to have a pleasant outcome.

Of course, the deep trance state of meditation is a temporary experience and will not immediately produce a long lasting change. But it acts as a key — it opens the mind, frees the nervous system of its ordinary patterns and structures. The mindset of the individual, includes his/her personality structure and mood at the time, expectations and narrative. Setting is physical — the weather, the room's atmosphere; social — feelings of persons present towards one another; and cultural — prevailing views as to what is real. It is for this reason that guidance is necessary. The purpose is to enable a person to understand the new realities of the expanded consciousness, to serve as road maps for new interior territories which the process has made accessible.

Set Preparation

Conscious mind runs on logic while the subconscious mind works on symbols.
Set needs to be clear for the conscious as well as for the subconscious mind.
One very important part of the set is the narrative or you might call it the story.
The teacher needs to clarify why a person came to meditation in the first place.
The teacher also needs to work through mental resistances a person might have.
The resistance can be conscious as well as subconscious. Resistances, many times, are habitual defense mechanisms that the person has acquired over lifetime.
These resistances, though they helped during certain circumstances, act as blocks and limit the progress.

Setting Preparation

Setting is easier to control than set. Different people face different problems establishing a setting. Some aspects of setting are easier to control. For example noise disturbance during meditation. Other aspects might be difficult, for example, finding a psychologically safe space.

Please refer to detailed articles about Set and Setting. Our teachers will guide you to also establish a safe and healthy set and setting.

Miscellaneous Things to Remember

Everything can be turned into an addiction. Do not turn meditation into an addiction.
You should not develop dependency and should not have withdrawal.
Do not develop identity based on meditation.
If you see these happening, it must be discussed with the teacher.