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Inspiring health and happiness in body, mind and spirit

Meditation Resources

April 7, 2014
Are you interested in learning more about meditation? Whether you learn best by reading books, watching videos, listening to audios or sitting in the flesh next to a teacher, resources abound!

My first recommendation is to seek out a meditation group in your area led by an experienced instructor. Regular practice in the same room with others, especially when led by someone who can guide and inspire, offers an energy and structure that can help create a habit of meditation that you can carry with you anywhere.

My second recommendation is to explore a number of different approaches to meditation before settling on one. There are many different systems of meditation, each with its own background and method, and it's worth giving a few different methods a try. Some approaches are allied with the Buddhist tradition, some have their roots in yoga, some have evolved from the Christian tradition, some have developed through the lineage of Chinese medicine, and some are secular and non-denominational. All share a common aim - settling into a calm, clear and welcoming state of being - but their methodologies vary.

I especially like the clear and thoughtful approach of Vipassana, or Insight meditation, which has its roots in the Buddhist tradition. If you would rather steer clear of Eastern spirituality, then I recommend the methodologies of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Integrative Restoration (sometimes called iRest). Both of these approaches are based in ancient traditions, but have been updated and secularized for modern practitioners.

Whether you are able to find a local group or not, you might like to explore books, audios and other online resources. Some of my favorites follow. In addition, please visit my Getting Started with Meditation page, which offers more information, instruction, inspiration and resources to launch you on your meditation journey.

BOOKS
When someone tells me they'd like to learn more about meditation and mindfulness, I point them to my favorite three introductory books: Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a beautiful and poetic primer on paying attention in the world;  It's Easier Than You Think by Sylvia Boorstein, a lovely, gentle introduction to both meditation and some of the founding principles of Buddhism; and and How to Meditate by Pema Chodron, a reassuring and approachable introduction to the practice.

Are you interested in diving more deeply into the practice? I recommend any of the books by these wonderful teachers:  Jon Kabat-Zinn, Sylvia BoorsteinPema ChodronJack Kornfield, Thich Nhat Hanh, Will Johnson and Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano. A great list of meditation classics can be found here.

AUDIO OFFERINGS
If you can't find a beginning meditation class in your area (and even if you can), then an audio course can be a fabulous resource. There are many comprehensive offerings that will guide you from your first meditation session all the way to the depths of the practice.

I love the Introduction to Meditation courses offered by Gil Fronsdal. These sessions are recordings of Gil's past introductory classes at his Insight Meditation Center in California. You can stream or download these wonderful offerings, which are designed for complete beginners but are filled with wisdom for all practitioners. I return to them often!

I also love Richard Miller's lovely and gentle Integrative Restoration approach offered through his iRest Meditation set. In this complete audio course, Miller offers a meditation program that is grounded in the yoga tradition but offered in a streamlined, secular and approachable way.

In addition, many teachers offer guided meditation practices that work well for those who are already familiar with the practice of meditation. These can be a wonderful way to help your mind stay clear and focused while you practice. I especially like Jon Kabat-Zinn series of guided audio sessions and Jack Kornfield's Guided Meditation: Six Essential Practices To Cultivate Love, Awareness and Wisdom

I have also created a series of Guided Meditation Audios to help my students as they practice on their own. These audios are designed to accompany a meditation session, as if I were meditating right next to you and offering you guidance about how to meditate along the way. They were created with beginning practitioners in mind.

I also treasure Pema Chodron's audio recordings from meditation retreats, which offer great wisdom not just about how to meditate but also how to live your life. And if you are a yoga student and interested in learning more about how the physical practice relates to stillness within, I highly recommend learning more about the works of Erich Schiffmann.

ONLINE RESOURCES
Both Lion's Roar and Tricycle magazines offer a wealth of information about meditation. I also highly recommend Dharmaseed.org, which offers a huge catalog of dharma talks by meditation masters from around the world. These talks - some of which include guided meditations - are available to download free. And Sounds True also offers a treasure trove of audio instruction from a range of meditation masters from many traditions, and even online courses open to all.

I haven't found any meditation apps that I especially love and would recommend. I do highly recommend the Enso meditation timer, which offers a great way to time and track your meditation sessions.

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