To do anything well, requires our preparation. Whether climbing a mountain, sitting for an exam, baking a pie, driving to the beach, or even going to bed, we need to make suitable preparations in both our outer environment and inner focus.

Meditation is an inner journey, so our preparation involves reorienting our consciousness away from its usual absorption in the outer world, and towards the inner.

Take a shower or a proper wash to give you the feeling of a fresh start. Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing. Choose a place where you can be alone, quiet, undisturbed and undistracted by outer influences and obligations such as work, family and friends. Switch off and put away all devices with a wifi or phone connection. Use a candle, flowers and incense if these objects inspire you – anything which will reflect back to you the qualities we need in ourselves for meditation – simplicity, purity, beauty and sincerity.

Because digestion takes so much energy and dulls our subtle nerves, it is best to avoid eating anything substantial for a few hours prior to meditating.

We cannot just discard our outer consciousness like taking off a coat: it takes time for the waves of outer thoughts and preoccupations to subside. Spend some time in quiet without talking: read, sing or listen to spiritual music, all the while our mind is receding and our heart gently opening.

It is pointless to set off without a clear purpose and objective. An archer will never hit the target without first taking aim. First take careful aim, then shoot. After sitting to meditate, take a minute to preview the ideal meditation you are about to enter into. Prepare your defences against rogue thoughts and distractions, and set your sights clearly on your goal.

Then begin.