Grab Bag of Guided Meditations

Truly this an impressive How to Meditate: Links for Guided Meditation Practice from Contemplative Mind in Life. The meditations are led by a few different groups, many loosely affiliated with the Vipassana tradition that spawned today’s mindfulness movement (as one critique put it, “Mindfulness Lite”) First, the meditators that came back from Asia in the 60s. These are the current popularizers of mindfulness you are likely aware of (Sharon Salzburg, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Joseph Goldstein, etc.) and also some of their instructors (S. N. Goenka, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, etc.). There are also meditations by those more aligned with academic research and health and wellness concerns (UC San Diego Center for Integrative Medicine, Diana Winston at Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, Secular Humanist Contemplative Group at Harvard, Zindel Siegel of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy). There are one or two that don’t really fit into these camps (Shinzen Young is one).

What won’t you find here? There’s not much Zen, but beyond that there’s not much in the way of the next generation. This is pretty much a baby boomer’s list – a very specific group that has done much to make popular and make secular. Just an observation. Definitely worth checking out.

Pema Chodron’s “How to Meditate” — A Minor Classic?

photo by Aravind Jose T (creative commons)

Here’s a review of How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind I wrote a couple years ago. What I like so much about the book is that, beyond being a competent how-to manual, it addresses the difficulties — many of them emotional — that meditators often face:

Recommended. I have read quite a few meditation books and this is one of the better ones, for sure. The key is the subtitle — because really only section one is devoted to the technique of meditation. After that this book rather artfully addresses various difficulties meditators face — whether it be the ceaseless wandering of the mind, the surge of unpleasant emotions, the discomfort of crossed legs.

The book is actually more like a handbook of psychological difficulties one might encounter during meditation, and some very handy suggestions as to how one might deal with them. It’s interesting to me that Chodron studied under Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. I believe it was he that said Buddhism would come to the West as a psychology.

The writing is fresh and direct and mostly steers clear of jargon. She writes about meditation in ways that are just different enough from other things I’ve read that I found myself underlining quite a lot in the book. Many of her book covers note that she is the author of “Things Fall Apart” — perhaps one day they’ll note that she’s the author of How to Meditate. She might just have a minor classic on her hands

Local Meditation Instruction – Los Feliz Neighborhood

If you’re an LA Eastsider — that is, on the East side of Los Angeles — and looking for a group to sit with, you might try InsightLA. I’m not affiliated with them, but have taken a few of their classes and they’ve all been good.

Every Monday at 7 p.m.:
InsightLA Los Feliz Community Sit
3910 Los Feliz Blvd. on University of Philosophical Research campus – there is ample parking in the lots.

We will start with a 30-40 minute sitting meditation with guidance in the beginning, (sometimes) followed by 10-15min walking meditation. The teacher will then give a short talk. We will end with a period of discussion either about the talk or about your mindfulness practice.

Email Meditation Course

Ever heard of such a thing? I tell you, it’s better than you think. Of course, it would be preferable to sit with a group or a friend or a teacher — but in absence of those people — or while they’re not around, why not try this?

The style is called Aro Meditation, and it’s a fairly obscure Tibetan branch of Buddhism, by their own account.

You simply type in your email address and they send you a weekly email with meditation instructions, and some thoughts about meditation, each week.

The weekly reminder is quite handy for developing the habit. And the prompts are interesting. They say it’s 18 weeks, but I got emails for longer. But they were never bothersome, nor did they ever become spam in any way.

I am not affiliated with them in any way, but I tried it and if you’ve read this far — you should too!