Do I have to be Buddhist to meditate?
Meditation can be practiced by anyone. The practice of meditation is a process of turning inward to learn about the workings of the mind and how thoughts and emotions shape perception. It does not require one to believe any particular religious doctrine, though many of the world’s greatest sages and saints have used meditation as a way to deepen their understanding and experience of their own faith. Currently, meditation is taught and practiced in health care settings to relieve stress and cope with chronic pain; in the corporate world to develop authentic, value-based leadership; and in the educational system to help students concentrate and center themselves.
What can I expect from meditation?
Meditation has many benefits. In a general sense, meditation allows us to access the mind’s innate qualities of peace and serenity. Eventually, these experiences become a living reality and our happiness is no longer dependent on the fluctuating conditions of the world around us. Meditation can also be used to cultivate certain qualities, such as compassion or wisdom, and also to address specific problems, such as destructive emotional patterns, chronic illness, and challenging relationship issues. The point of meditation is not to escape such situations, but rather to see that everything we experience can be transformed into a source of joy through the practice of meditation.
What is the best way to learn how to meditate?
There is no one approach to meditation that works for everyone. Indeed, the “best” approach is simply the one that works best for you. To learn more about the style of meditation practiced in the Tergar community, the easiest way to begin is to take our free, self-guided Intro to Meditation course on the Tergar Learning Community (TLC). You can also read our Top Eleven Books for Beginning Meditators or one of the other teachings in the TLC library. Once you’re ready to dive in, you can look for a retreat or workshop in your area or take our Joy of Living Level I class online. If you have questions, feel free to contact a community leader or send us an email via our contact page. We’d be happy to tell you more about our approach to meditation and help you get started in practice.
If you feel drawn to our approach, then you’re in the right place! Feel free to contact a community leader or send us an email via our contact page. We’d be happy to tell you more about our approach to meditation and help you get started in practice.
Questions About Meditation Practice
Is it important to have a daily meditation practice?
The ultimate goal of meditation practice is to bring awareness to every moment of one’s life, not just the time one spends in a formal meditation session. That said, setting aside time each day to cultivate awareness is an indispensable part of the process. Most people find that the more time they devote to meditation “on the cushion,” the easier it is to bring awareness to their experiences “off the cushion.”
How long should I meditate?
When beginning a daily meditation practice, it is important to meditate in short, frequent sessions. Twenty minutes a day, practiced over one or two sessions, is a good general guideline for beginning meditators. It is important to note, however, that you can and should practice anytime, anywhere. Once you know the key points of meditation, you will be able to use any experience or activity as a way to practice sustaining meditative awareness.
How do I know if I’m really meditating?
Meditation is a state of heightened awareness. When you try to meditate, there will likely be periods where you are lost in thought, and other times when you are fully aware in the present moment, meaning that you are fully conscious of what you are doing at that time. Whether you are focusing on your breath, observing thoughts, or simply resting in awareness, the sign of meditation is that you know what you are doing. In other words, you are not only watching the breath, but also aware that you are watching the breath. Meditative awareness can be practiced at all times. You simply need to be aware of whatever you are doing in the present moment. If you are driving to work, for example, you can pay attention to the road and your surroundings, but also maintain a heightened sense of awareness that you are driving. You can even do this while engaged in conversation, watching television, or working in front of a computer.
What do I do when thoughts come up?
Thinking is a natural function of the mind; there is no need to stop thoughts from occurring. When you are meditating and you realize that you have been lost in thought, simply return your awareness to the object of your meditation. There is nothing more to it than that. You may even take your thoughts as the object of meditation, or rest in open awareness, letting thoughts come and go without paying too much attention to them. The key point is that thoughts and distraction are a natural part of meditation. As you grow more and more familiar with meditative awareness, thoughts will bother you less and less. You may even find that thoughts actually help your meditation, insofar as they are one more experience that you can use to expand your awareness.
How does meditation relate to daily life?
Meditation allows us to be more aware and present in whatever activity we are doing. This has a beneficial impact on virtually every aspect of day to day life. In relationships, meditation will help us develop unconditional love that springs from a place of deep peace and serenity. At work, meditation will enable us to be more focused, creative, and efficient, while at the same time being emotionally balanced. In terms of health, meditation has been shown to have a dramatic impact on the physical body, including lowering stress levels, increasing immune system functioning, and increasing the capacity to cope with illness and chronic pain.