If you want to start meditating, just begin. Don't make a big deal about it.
Meditation is a natural human experience. You have touched on it it many times in your life, for a few seconds or minutes, or, if you are fortunate, hours. Meditative states occur naturally when listening to music, walking in nature, being grateful, praying, watching waves, looking at art, dancing, sitting by rivers, being in love.
Most people I meet have a deep longing for meditative states. They just don't know how to get there by sitting in a chair for twenty minutes.
The guidance for meditation comes from within. Instinctive meditation is a way of learning and practicing meditation so that the essential authority and guiding wisdom is within. This is a brave and gutsy approach. Each of us has our own favorite gateways. Don't think so much about "learning meditation" as "learning your
Yeah, yeah, I know – there is a lot of noise in the head about meditation. Lots of superstitions. This is because meditation is ancient – for thousands of years, people in many cultures have found it incredibly valuable as a way to gain inner peace. And these teachings have been preserved. That is the good side. The bad part of the teachings being thousands of years old is that they have passed on every superstition known to man. If anyone anywhere had a bad day and blamed it on clouds, black cats or women, the meditation traditions wrote it down and preserved it and someone is teaching it as sacred truth.
To help you learn and get established in a form of meditation that works for you, we offer:
– Lots of free information
on this site. Techniques that would take a lifetime to explore.
you can buy in bookstores and online that take you through the process, step-by-step, of developing your meditation practice. The books are more elegant and succinct than this site.
– workshops and retreats
in beautiful locations where you can come and rejuvenate, and take home the skill of being able to relax deeply at will.
– individual coaching
via phone, email, and in person.
Honor Your Individuality Every body responds differently to meditation. Each of us has a learning style. The worst thing you can do in meditation is to force it, to try to impose the wrong technique on yourself. There are many ways to meditate, and some of the are right for you, they fit.
How to Begin? A good way to begin is to re-visit some of your past meditation practices. For the next few weeks, indulge yourself in your favorite things: the most beautiful music, the most intense and vivid colors, the best smells. Visit museums, go to concerts, get massaged, set up special times with your best friends and talk to them. And while doing so, memorize the way you pay attention when you are doing these things. For when you are listening to music, you are paying attention joyously. When you are looking at gorgeous colors and shapes, you are paying attention in a joyous way. When you are receiving a good massage, you are paying attention gratefully to the sense of touch. When you are walking in nature, you are paying attention through all your senses: vision, hearing, touch, smell, motion. When you meditate, you pay attention to your inner world in the same way you pay attention to nature.
Approach meditation in such a way that you feel at home with it. There are thousands of different techniques, so you may as well select those that go with your nature and support you in your life.
We each have areas of experience we feel at home with. Some of us can put on music and be at home with the rhythm, no matter where we are; some of us are most at home in a conversation between friends, or being in nature, or praying. Whatever your inner style is, honor that style and let meditation be an evolution of everything you love.
–You can't do someone else's meditation. You have to find your own.
–Do yourself a favor and just give up your old ideas of what meditation is.
–Don't make yourself wrong. Meditation, as with all self-improvement techniques and spirituality in general, is the land of impossible ideals. As in, to be perfectly skinny and have a perfectly blank mind.
–Study your natural meditative states, and revisit them. Give time to going to concerts, museums, mountains, forests, gardens, dance classes.
–Catch up on your sleep. Most of us have some sleep debt, and therefore will fall asleep if we really let go in meditation. And the whole point of meditation is to be so relaxed that you can fall asleep.
If you used to meditate and want to get into it again, then just begin. If you are interested in meditation right now, it could be because you sense that you need more of that quality in your life again.
You might read through the introduction to The Radiance Sutras and then read a few of the sutras, to get a sense for the immense variety of approaches to the inner world.
If you are a beginner, or are beginning again, I recommend getting a copy of Meditation 24/7 and reading it and listening to the CD. The text and the guided meditations on the audio recording will give you a good foundation.
There are 14 different meditation techniques in the book and on the CD. Each one deals with a different transitional moment we encounter during a day: waking up, eating something for breakfast or drinking something, walking out the door, commuting, moving our bodies, having lunch, making it through the afternoon slump, the evening, falling asleep. The meditation techniques are oriented toward what we deal with each day in living our lives.
Each of the guided meditations on the CD take from 3 minutes to about 8 minutes. There is always time in a day for one or two of these. Just select one of more of the 14 meditations, and begin to play with it. Notice what you experiences are, both during and after. And if you want to work with me privately, you are welcome to call me and schedule some individual coaching to start you on your way. Or come to a retreat.
Meditation is not some odd activity that only specialists do. Meditation is a way of paying attention to the current of life flowing through you - and life is always flowing through you, as long as you exist. Take, for example, your breathing and your heartbeat. Let's review that sentence - pay attention to the current of life flowing, for example your breath and your heart.
Have you ever had a time when you enjoyed breathing out - for example, it was cold and you enjoyed seeing your breath make a fog? Or if you used to smoke, did you like to see the smoke flowing out?
Or if you were satisfied with something, did you enjoy a sigh? A sigh, that whoosh of breath, can be very pleasurable. A relief. Paying attention to that whoosh for the 2 seconds it takes to exhale is a 2 second meditation. There is no difference between a 2 second and a 20 minute meditation except time and intensity.
Have you ever breathed in gratefully – in delight, or love, or awe? That also is an almost universal human experience. This is the very essence of meditation.
Learning to meditate is a matter of honoring your individual essence, your unique personal experience as you begin to play with the techniques. If you do not honor your individuality, then you will be learning to suppress yourself, and meditation will become a weakening process. You might still get some peacefulness, but it will be at the expense of your vitality, and this is an unnecessary sacrifice.