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, what can you do? YouTube (and other sites) have a slew of teachers willing to show you how to meditate.
You can also find some YouTube videos by Wildmind: https://www.youtube.com/user/wildmindmeditation/videos
For Spanish, consider Venerable Sanathavihari Los-Angeles who provides a lot of outreach to the Spanish speaking community to include videos:
#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).
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):
- Insight Timer: A popular and free app where you can easily practice your meditation, connect with others, follow teachers, get courses, and much more. https://insighttimer.com/
- Bodhi Mind Meditations: This is a new app (iOS only) from Wildmind.org that is full of guided meditations. It will also soon have a new feature called “Sitting With Bodhi” which will offer a different meditation every day. https://itunes.apple.com/app/apple-store/id1260761658
- 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: This is a paid service, so it may be beneficial to check out other options first, but offers guided meditations and more. http://www.getsomeheadspace.com/
- OMM: One minute meditation app, which is nicely done. Unfortunatley it is for iOS only. 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
While this part is not actually about “learning” meditation, it is about keeping on track. Keeping a regular practice of Meditation can be very difficult in the beginning, so one way to accomplish this is with technology.
- “Smart” Watches: Apps are integrating quickly with the smart watches that are out there. You can now have the app remind you at different times of the day to practice mindfulness and/or meditation. Perhaps most well known is the Apple Watch’s “Breathe” option that is built in, but others such as Calm, etc., also have Apple Watch and other watch integrations. An added benefit is they can also “track” your meditation progress.
- Calendar: 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.
- Get Out There: Join a group in your community is a great way to keep motivated, although that does mean actually leaving your house (which is a bit contrary to this article)! 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 other social media 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 may want to stay clear of them unless you want to and/or have no other choice.
- Skype or FaceTime: Perhaps getting out there is not your thing…then how about using video with Skype or FaceTime? This is a nice way to connect with a friend or teacher who can get you going (and motivated) on a routine basis. There is nothing like someone on the other end to motivate you, and practice meditation with.
Like never before, you can connect with meditation teachers and others who are practicing through the internet. While Meditation is, of course, best taught with an actual teacher in front of you…there are times when this is just not feasible or possible. A variety of resources are available on the internet, and these are just a few options:
- Dharma Seed offers Western Buddhist Vipassana teachings: https://dharmaseed.org/
- Free Buddhist Audio offers an entire section on Meditation: https://www.freebuddhistaudio.com/meditation/
- Wildmind offers comprehensive Meditation guides, books, series, and more by the teacher Bodhipaksa: https://www.wildmind.org/
Do you have some favorite meditation resources for practicing at home? Let me know in the comments!
- This article was updated on 12/30/2018 to remove the Google+ section, and update information and links.
- Thank you to Bodhipaksa (Wildmind.org) and Venerable Sanathavihari Los-Angeles for their recommendations.