I just got a DM in twitter from someone asking me for pointers to some resources on how to meditate, and thought I’d post my reply here in case these were of any help to others.
First off, to be clear, I am offering these not as any great expert but simply as things I have used in the past that I’ve found helpful. As they say Your Mileage May Very. Second, there are many, many different forms of meditation, traditions and rituals. I do not intended to go into those details. I sit with a Buddhist Sangha (community of practitioners) that practices in the “Plum Village Tradition” developed by Thich Nhat Hanh, but also have sat in the Vispassana and Zen traditions. It’s all good. I tend to not be overly dogmatic about these things, trying to find what works for me ,but I expect there are many more experienced practitioners who would chastise me for this as being lazy.
In any case, for some very brief reading you could try
One of the ways I got started was by listening to guided meditations. Two of the collections I like are
- BuddhaNet Audio (especially the ones from Malcolm Huxter)
- Audio Dharma (I like some of the Gil Fronsdal ones quite a lot)
I guess the biggest pieces of advice I would have are
- Don’t give up. I use the phrase “Firm but Gentle” to describe the attitude I need to have towards my practice and myself – I need to be firm in my resolution to keep practicing, but gentle both in my practice and with myself when my mind wanders or when I find a few days have passed without sitting.
- Let go of expectations – don’t expect a flash of lightning or a dramatic transformation to overtake you. That is not what it’s about, in my experience. But if you are consistent in sitting, starting with maybe 15 minutes a day and expanding as you go, you will start to notice subtle changes and benefits from cultivating mindfulness. But don’t even attach to those! Just sit.
- Find a sangha or others to practice with. This can take some time, and don’t worry if at first you don’t find one that jibes with you. Eventually you will, and it feels wonderful once you do, to simply sit with others.
That’s it. I’m happy to talk to anyone who has questions but I’m really no expert, just someone also trying to find his way along the path. – SWL