Getting started in meditation
Choosing and trying meditation for yourself
There are lots of meditation types around these days. Finding what you are looking for can be quite an adventure in itself. It is really helpful to learn from a teacher who has been practicing meditation for some years and has actual personal experience of the ups and downs, highlights and difficulties encountered in it.
Try meditation out for yourself…
It might be useful to make a note at the beginning of what you feel you want from learning meditation, and checking as you go along if the practices you come across seem to be actually helping you with your aim. It will probably be an exploration rather than an instant certainty of what hits the spot, but it is crucial in meditation to trust your own experience, be honest with yourself about what is happening for you. Your experiences will change, but you can get a sense of a cumulative progress. As you do with a fitness training program, you get a sense of progress, but you also have off days and doubts along the way!
Like sports and creative arts, meditation is verb not a noun! Learning to meditate is not like going shopping for a ‘thing’ or a predictable experience (like a CD or a beer), it is more like being introduced to some new techniques or inner tools, and learning how to use them in a more and more skilled way.
Where can I start meditation?
There’s a lot out there. Try a local evening or even lunchtime class if you can find one, or a weekend beginners’ retreat can be a great introduction if you’re up for it. Some retreats combine yoga and walks in beautiful countryside into the weekend’s activities, and usually there’s great healthy food provided.
I have listed some information on organizations, retreat centres and good introductory books below.
How much does it cost?
Evening classes can be run on a drop-in basis paid for by donation, or sometimes in courses, the cost is similar to that of yoga classes. Introductory retreats are also by donation in a few places or with a sliding scale of cost for example £115 waged participants, £85 concessions.
Try the following venues and phone numbers for information on what’s available near you:
The London Buddhist Centre
(drop-in evening and lunchtime classes, also weekends and longer retreats)
020 8981 1225 (telephone enquiries 10.00am – 5.00pm)
51 Roman Road, Bethnal Green, London E2
(Can give information on meditation centres around the UK and international centres)
Manchester Buddhist Centre
(drop-in meditation classes, also yoga, shiatsu, massage etc. in built-in ‘Bodywise’ alternative health center)
16-20 Turner Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M4 1BZ
Rivendell Retreat Centre
(introductory weekends, yoga, arts, communication retreats)Rivendell, Chillies Lane, High Hurstwood, Uckfield, East Sussex
Also for Rivendell enquiries and bookings (020) 8688 8624
Dhanakosa retreat center, (stunningly sited beside Loch Voil)
(introductory meditation, hill walking, yoga and other themed retreats on a donation basis)
Dhanakosa retreat center, Balqhidder, Lochearnhead, FK19 8PQ Scotland
+44 (0)1877 384213
‘Change Your Mind’ by Paramananda
Windhorse Publications 1996, £8.99
‘A Deeper Beauty’ by Paramananda
Windhorse Publications 2001, £8.99
‘Awakening Loving-Kindness’ by Pema Chodron
Shabhala Pocket Classsics