Ready, Set, Meditate!
With all the press about the benefits of meditation, you may be thinking it’s time you began meditating. But how to get started?
One of the greatest challenges for beginning meditators is the great noise of their minds. It is easy to feel like a meditation failure and so it helps to have a little help.
The best starting place is to study with a meditation teacher, but if you would prefer to dabble on your own, there are many resources available. There are apps for your smart phone, podcasts, online websites, books and more. The number of resources can be overwhelming, so here are some suggestions to get you started.
Google the word “meditation,” you may well be overwhelmed. Your search will yield pages and pages of resources. In addition to websites, you will find YouTube videos and playlists on Spotify and other music services.
With so many different resources to choose from, I suggest you begin your search by exploring on-line resources from well-known teachers, such as Tara Brach, Joseph Goldstein, and Sharon Salzberg.
Apps and Podcasts
There are numerous apps available for your iPhone, Android or iPad. Most apps offer a few free guided meditations but require you to subscribe in order to access the rest of their content. This can be expensive as some of them cost upwards of $100 a year! So the app I usually recommend to students, because it is free, is Insight Timer.
Insight Timer offers paid courses, but by and large its content is free. Some of it’s most appealing features are:
- a customizable timer with your choice of bell tones to start and end your meditation session
- ability to search for guided meditations by instructor or topic, such as sleep, stress, anxiety, etc.
- a bookmark feature which allows you to create your own library of favorite meditations
While this is the app I recommend most often, I encourage you to explore others, such as Headspace, Calm, and10% Happier to find one best suited to your preferences.
As for podcasts, I recommend reading this article about the best meditation podcasts. Many of them are by teachers mentioned here.
Books and Other Resources
A visit to your local library or bookstore will provide you with a wide array of meditation books and audio resources. In addition to resources from the meditation teachers mentioned above, you’ll find some true classics from the following teachers:
- Jon Kabat-Zinn, has written several books worth reading, namely Full Castatrophe Living and Wherever You Go There You Are. The latter is shorter and a good place to start. In my local library, I also found a set of CDs by Kabat-Zinn in which he talks about mindfulness meditation and provides several guided meditations.
- Sally Kempton, Pema Chodron and Thich Nhat Hahn have written several wonderful books about meditation. Take time to search online for guided meditations by both of these esteemed teachers.
- Be sure to check out the popular book by former ABC news anchor, Dan Harris called, 10% Happier. In his book, Harris describes his journey from being a “meditation skeptic” to becoming an avid practitioner and creating his 10% Happier app. The book is funny and informative, providing insight into the benefits of meditation as well as the stressful world of TV network news.
Keep in mind this list is intended to be a starting place rather than a comprehensive list. No doubt, you’ll find many more, so explore and see what resonates with you.
Whichever of these resources you choose to use, remember to be gentle with yourself as you begin practicing. Some days your mind will be quiet and blissful, and other days you won’t be able to quiet it for 30 seconds. This is normal and even experienced meditators struggle some days. Keep at it. The long term benefits are worth it.
Still overwhelmed and not sure where to begin?
Try one of these guided meditations:
5-Minute Meditation You Can Do Anywhere
original 4/16/20; updated 3/6/23