People have asked me recently about the best way that they can begin exploring meditation and receive some instruction on the basics. I understand why they are asking that question. I spent years “learning” and “researching” meditation before finally putting my ass on a pillow. Information online is abundant and searching something like “meditation” pulls up 174,000,000 search results. That’s quite a habit hole to fall into and that information provides a distraction from taking real action. That said, I thought I would share what has helped me in my education. One book, one meditation center, and one app. Good luck!
There are millions of books on meditation but Sharon Salzberg’s, Real Happiness is at the top of my list. The book offers a 28-day course that slowly but surely introduces different meditation practices. Sharon Salzberg is one of the founders of the Insight Meditation Center. She has been practicing and teaching meditation for over 30 years and is a highly acclaimed author, teacher and a sought after public speaker. In this book, she draws from her own imperfect meditation experiences to explain the basic breathing techniques, posture, scheduling, etc… If you're looking for a straightforward guide to beginning a meditation practice, Real Happiness is my pick.
Theravada, Vipassana, Zen, Kundalini, what the hell are all of these words? I know, you just want to meditate and not necessarily learn a new language. I was lucky that I found a Shambhala Meditation Center close to my house. I like to think of these meditation centers as “Buddhist Light”. Shambhala offers an open house every Sunday morning that makes it really easy to drop in and see if it’s the right place for you. When you get there, you’ll be welcomed and then an instructor will briefly show you the basics of both sitting and walking meditation. After you’ll join the rest of the group for a session and some centers have a discussion afterward.
Shambhala Meditation Centers are all over the world so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a nearby center and if you like it, they offer retreats and such. Also, the group is affiliated with the Buddhist Nun and prolific author, Pema Chodron so there are lots of books your can read that are closely related to this practice.
Not religious, simple and easy, Headspace is a great app to launch your meditation practice. The app offers you ten, ten-minutes guided meditation sessions to help get your mind right.
I hope some of these picks will help you as you dip your toe into meditation. Don’t take it all too seriously, just sit your ass down and keep in mind the quote by Henry David Thoreau, “I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.”