People ask me questions about Buddhism and meditation all the time.
As an introduction to my monthly column, I thought I’d share some of the basics with you here.
If you would like to submit questions for the next column, please email me at [email protected]
Frequently Asked Questions:
1) Do I have to be Buddhist to meditate?
No. Anyone can meditate. Most spiritual traditions have some form of meditation, though it may be known by a different name, like contemplative prayer or centering. You don’t have to become Buddhist to meditate. I don’t try to get anyone to become Buddhist.
2) Why do we meditate?
Meditation is a way of slowing down our minds, of getting in touch with our true self. Our true self resides in the place between thoughts, before we put labels and judgments and our personal delusions on the phenomena around us.
3) Will meditation change my life?
Yes. If you engage in regular meditation practice (once a week or more) you will change your life by transforming yourself. It will come slowly at first and then more quickly. You will experience increased focus, emotional stability, memory retention, ability to relax, and compassion for yourself and others. These practices have been demonstrated over and over to have predictable results.
4) Why should we meditate in groups?
There’s only really one reason to: doing it alone is hard.
In the modern world we seem to think we have a right to be entertained. Endless entertainment and information is in my pocket. If I am at home by myself and I want to meditate, there are a million ways. In a group, this is not so. It’s like working out with a friend.
Meditating with others helps us stay on track and keep focused. If I’m meditating by myself and I skip a day to watch Netflix, no one knows. If I’m in a group everyone knows.
5) How long should I meditate?
I recommend thirty minutes or more. In my group we do 35-40 minute sessions. Some people recommend 10-15 minutes. I don’t think that’s enough and I haven’t had much progress with such short meditation periods. That being said, those micro-meditations are certainly better than not meditating at all.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: aimforawesome at Flickr