Sitting meditation is required to experience the joys of meditation and to begin to contemplate and investigate one’s intrinsic nature. ~ Ven. Master Hsing Yun
If you’re just beginning in Buddhism, one thing you’re bound to need help with is learning Meditation. But how do you begin to learn meditation if there is nobody in your hometown that teaches it? Or what if you are unsure or would like to start off independently at first? Not to worry there is hope!
Thanks to the internet, and your friendly delivery van, here are five ways you can start your meditation practice easily!
#1: Watch Instructional Videos
Say you are far from a Meditation teacher, there is still hope! YouTube (and other sites) have a slew of teachers willing to show you how to meditate. A nice collection comes from Mindah-Lee Kumar who provides you with a series of YouTube videos dedicated to Meditation (and Buddhism too).
Check out her Meditation playlist:
#2: Take Online Courses and Use Smartphone Apps
The internet has opened up education and information like never before. Before this explosion, you had to actually find a teacher where you live (or go to them), now they come to you. The popular Meditation author Bodhipaksa has online courses that you can find them on his website called “Wildmind”, which is dedicated to Meditation (to include an entire online store filled with supplies, books, and DVDs to help you along).
- You can view more information about Wildmind, and a schedule, here: http://www.wildmind.org/events-2017
- Another resource is called ‘Headspace’ and features online courses as well in a ‘bite sized’ fashion. You can find them here: http://www.getsomeheadspace.com/
With the plethora of apps out there now, you can find some ones that can help you not only track your meditation but also teach you. Not all of these will be available on all platforms (let me know your favorites in the comments):
- Calm: A beautifully designed app, with a ton of guided meditations for all sorts of things. Of course, mindfulness meditation will probably be on top of your list and they cover that as well. Some are free, while there is a paid subscription option as well. https://www.calm.com/
- Headspace: I already talked about this one above, but of course they have an app as well. This is a paid service, so it may be beneficial to check out other options first. http://www.getsomeheadspace.com/
- OMM: One minute meditation app, which is nicely done. Unfortunatley it is for iOS only at the moment. https://www.facebook.com/onemomentmeditation
- Breathe: This is a great app, which even teaches you how to meditate, and tracks your progress. What is brilliant about this app is that you can even add emotions, how you are feeling, etc., and it can provide you meditation options (and how long) to help or build upon. Oh, and it’s free! iOS, Android, and Web. http://www.stopbreathethink.org/
- Enso: A meditation timer that is very nicely done with great timer options, progress tracking, and more. Although it is for iOS only, it may be something you would find beneficial if your entire goal is just meditation tracking. However, this article is about learning meditation at home and options like Calm or Breathe might be better options until you are more comfortable. http://www.fascinative.ca/enso.html
#3: Read Books for Beginners
Although there is always limits to what you can learn from books alone, they are still a wealth of knowledge and assistance to your practice. Here are a few to start off with:
- Idiot’s Guide to Meditation: Despite the title, it’s a great book to get you started! Virtually everything is in this book to get you started, and covers a lot of topics that you may have questions on, or curious about.
- For all Living Beings: If you want to apply meditation to Buddhism, this is a great book to help you with that. An entire section of the book is devoted to meditative concentration which is easily explained, yet still thorough for someone new to Buddhism.
- Wildmind: A Step by Step Guide to Meditation: Bodhipaksa has lots of books and CDs devoted to meditation, and this one should be on your list if you’re just beginning with meditation.
- FREE: If you would like a free booklet about meditation, look no further than this one by Ven. Master Hsing Yun. This focuses on Ch’an meditation, which is commonly known in the West as “Zen” (thanks to it’s name in Japan). Download here, and you can even request a free printed copy thanks to donations by others: http://www.fgsitc.org/meditation/
#4: Set and Keep Goals
Keeping a regular practice of Meditation can be very difficult in the beginning, so one way to accomplish this is with technology.
- Perhaps one of the most popular is an app called “Lift”, which is available for the iPhone and also has a web version which just as well. You can add ‘habits’ to track, one of which is meditation (https://lift.do/habits/meditate). Another new feature is ‘groups’, where you can learn from experts, discuss, and encourage others to keep up with their progress. There are groups for meditation, mindfulness, and others currently available (https://lift.do/groups/). Find more information here: https://lift.do/
- Other apps I mentioned before, such as “Calm” and “Breathe” track your meditation as well. The Calm app even allows you to set a notification to remind you daily. The “OMM” app does the same thing, to include a ‘random’ option (which is a nice feature) which will remind you to take a one minute meditation during your day.
- If technology is not your thing, go the old fashioned way: mark it on a calendar. This can be as simple as a printed calendar where you set a time each day to meditate, or even use your calendar on the computer, smartphone, etc., to do a “recurring” appointment where it reminds you to meditate. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
- Join a group in your community is a great way to keep motivated, although that does mean actually leaving your house! Your end goal is to eventually find a teacher (if possible), and there are often groups out there. Try services such as “Meetup” to find one, a Google or Bing search, or even searching Facebook or Google+ to see if one is nearby. Try broad search terms such as “Meditation”. Remember, there might be some that are “for profit” meaning these are actually companies, rather than non-profits, and you will want to stay clear of them unless you want to and/or have no other choice.
#5: Connect With Teachers Using Google+
Like never before, you can connect with meditation teachers and others who are practicing through the internet. The newest start-up social network is Google’s “Google+” which features everything you would expect from Facebook and Twitter, but also the power of Google’s other products. Here’s why Google+ is great for learning meditation: it’s focused around interests rather than just your friends and family. This way, you can find experts in the field of meditation, and even whole communities devoted to it. Another feature is known as “hangouts” which is similar to Skype, however you can have it with multiple people using Google+. Through hangouts, you can, in real time, practice with your meditation teacher.
- You can find a list of meditation communities by going here: https://plus.google.com/s/meditation/communities
- The largest Meditation community (with over 30,000 members) is the “Buddhism and Meditation” Community which can be found by going here: https://plus.google.com/communities/105840296523530134569
- Wildmind also has a community on Google+, but it’s private so you have to request access: https://plus.google.com/communities/105552689235891548986