Saturday, July 28, 2012

Meditation - A Beginning

I don't know about you, but I've been wanting to try meditation for a long time.  Why?  If you do a little research, you'll find that there are all sorts of studies suggesting that it's good for you in a plethora of ways.

There's just one problem.  The rational side of me, not fully knowing the possible benefits, has sapped my motivation for a long time.  I mean, seriously.  Who thinks it's a good idea to sit around for a half an hour or so doing absolutely nothing when there is so much which needs to be done and so much that is highly desirable to do?

So I've got a real cost/benefit struggle going on in my head about meditation.  But it's gone on for so long that another rational side of me is making the argument to go ahead a try it, see if it works for me, and then forget about it if it doesn't work.  That way it will be finally resolved one way or the other.

Sabio recently suggested meditation to me in one of our comment exchanges.  He recommended following Shinzen Young's teaching of The Five Ways.  That has turned out to be just the kick-in-the-pants I needed to give it a try.

Have you ever tried meditating?  Have you ever wanted to?  Shinzen's The Five Ways appears to be a very methodical way to practice, which is outlined in easy to understand language.  Would you like to give it a try with me?

This weekend I plan on diving deeper into The Five Ways; committing to reading the first five chapters.  Sometime this week, hopefully multiple times, I'll be beginning my practice of meditation.  I'm going to post my experience with the practice along the way.  If nothing else, it will be a way to motivate myself to keep going, but hopefully you will be able to see the value and struggles of beginning meditation as I muddle my way through it.

If you'd like to give it a try yourself, or follow along, Shinzen has graciously made the PDF teaching of The Five Ways available for free download.  That's pretty awesome, I think.


  1. I like the fact that Shinzen is right up front and says:
    A practice is said to “work”if, in a reasonable time frame, it delivers one or several of the
     Reduction of your physical or emotional suffering
     Elevation of your physical or emotional fulfillment
     Deeper knowledge of who you are
     Positive changes in your objective behavior

    Which of those would you like to see happen? It would be interesting to rate yourself on a 1-10 scale before beginning for each of these:
    (1) Physical suffering/fulfillment
    (2) Emotional suffering/fulfillment
    (3) Knowledge of Self
    (4) Objective Behavior

    Then, after, what?, 3 months, re-evaluate -- or better yet, have someone close re-eval.

    And BTW, as you will soon find out, you won't be doing "nothing" -- that is why it is tough. Watching TV is doing nothing!


  2. BTW, I don't see the link to Shinzen's "Home Practice Program" -- no more needing to travel to far-away cities to study meditation. I've not tried it yet, but hope to in August -- maybe with thee!

  3. Although I can’t claim to be a daily meditator in the formal, cross-legged-on-the-floor sense, I meditate often enough to know that it’s never a waste of time. Sure, there are lots of times when my mind starts to churn around all the things I need to get done before noon, and I’m compelled to get moving. Yet there are plenty of other times when I can sit for an hour without any external or internal interference.

    Yesterday I was in a booth selling books with some friends at an outdoor book festival. One of my friends was a little grumpy about how things were going. At one point in our conversation she said, “Are you practicing some sort of Buddhist thing?” I cocked my head, not sure what she meant. “You look so serene.” I said, “Yes,” because it was true. I was paying attention to my breathing. After years of sitting meditation, watching the breath comes naturally at various intervals throughout the day. Learning how to become calm and balanced under a variety of situations isn’t a waste of time. Stay with it long enough and you’ll notice a difference. So will others.

  4. Great questions, Sabio! I am definitely hoping to get a deeper knowledge of myself and positive changes in my objective behavior. As best as I can tell, the little suffering I do have is more related to a lack of self-mastery than anything else. So I kind of see the first two points as gratis with the second two. :-)

    I've been pretty focused on myself for sometime, in addition to just being self-centered. ;-) So I would actually rate myself relatively high already, maybe 6, 7, 8, 7 respectively. But it's hard to know if that's accurate without really knowing first-hand what's possible.

    Paul, that's pretty encouraging, and also one of the things that attracts me to meditation. Although a lot of people think I am pretty serene already, I know my own inner turmoil at times. I'd definitely like to develop better management skills.