Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation.
The text being referenced for the next few weeks is "The Art Of Contemplation". Obtaining the booklet for yourself would be a good move. Use it as your prompt, your guide - even as a note book; don't fear to scribble points for yourself within the pages! The exercises might be looked at separately; but there is a 'step-ways' progression, so best to begin at the beginning!
Having established that one of the best ways of burning out the old and useless vaasanas is to replace them, initially, with more useful and positive ones, such as taking up spiritual saadhana. The saadhana given focus in the current teaching is to chant mantra in the mind. Train the mind to always fall back to mantra when not being employed in more immediate and purposeful work.
There is an extension to this. One of the traps in taming the mind is letting it have too much freedom in sleep. Modern psychology now offers various technical methods for utilising the mind whilst asleep - but the technique was always there. Did your grandparents not advise you to say your prayers before bed? Did they not, also, advise that early rising and offering thanks for coming through the night and to the sun for rising again is a good practice? As children we think our elders our being mean, much better to play or make up scary stories. Then when we have our nightmares and can't sleep at all we don't make the connection to the cause being the preceding activity. Saying prayers, or reading scriptures, prior to sleep switches the brains waves onto positive things and only beneficial thoughts will arise, our dreams will be sweet and non-disturbing and we are likely to find that the quality of the sleep is such that we are much more refreshed. This is something to give thanks for on rising!
Let your mind keep the mantra of your choosing occupy your mind in those last moments before sleep. The moment you become awake, let the mantra be the first thing to mind. Let the first verbal words of the day be the mantra.
You will be surprised how quickly the mind accepts and wants to carry out this exercise! It is like 'sugar' for the mind. More and more you will find the mind is willing to follow your instruction.
The rising discipline is an important one to establish for maximum spiritual benefit. The old adage "early to bed and early to rise makes a man health and wealthy and wise" holds validity! Whilst that is a maxim which arose from the Western model, it equates very well to the teaching of the Rsis. On waking, don't lie and drift into nonsense. Immediately rise from the bed, all the time with the mantra (or the morning prayers) being recited, mentally or verbally. Make your ablutions and then settle in your seat of meditation. Gaze upon your altar or item of focus and begin your prayer and meditation saadhana.
Chanting is the job you give the mind to do when no other more important work is available. Sitting in the morning, come to know one clear fact, "I am not the mind; mind is but a vehicle and tool of interaction which I control." Build this relationship with your mind. The more you do this the greater will be come the awareness of being the observer and not the mind itself. Merely chanting, "Mano buddhi ahankar chitani naham" (I am not the mind, intellect, ego, or memory) does not of itself make us the observer. We have to feel it; we have to experience it; we have to make it our Knowledge. "Chidaananda rupaH shivoham, shivoham" (I am that consciousness and bliss which is most auspicious). Nothing of the past can linger in me, nothing of the future can bind me; in this state of Pure Consciousness, time takes its place and the word of names and forms dances within time.
Any animal which has known freedom, fights to regain that freedom when it has been caught. The mind is no different! Till now we have not understood that our mind has been roaming like a wild animal, but we begin to put on the harness of control, it will fight back. Do not be daunted. Keep at it. After a time, the mind will find that even if it escapes for a while into the old distractions, they no longer hold the lustre which was thought to be there. The true gleam is found in the kernel of the Self.
Resolve to have your chosen mantra in mind as you sleep and as you rise.