I’ve been meditating on and off since college. At one point, I had racked up more than 750 days straight. Sometimes, I’ll talk about meditation with people who don’t do it and they’ll ask me good, incisive questions: How do I meditate? How much time? What style do I use? Can you do it lying down? In an easy chair? At work?
Perhaps its a rhetorical error on my part, but their interest in meditation seems to fade rather quickly.
My hypothesis: Talking about meditation is fucking boring for non-meditators. It’s almost like listening to someone talk about a cult. “Oh they’ve done so many great things for me. I’m less anxious now and my life is together and the lentil paste they serve is incredible.”
So, to quell this boredom, I’m sharing three short guided meditations for beginners. This way, you can meditate and experience how it feels and we can all get deeper into the conversation of how to better meditate, think, and live.
First, the shortest video. A 4:35 guided meditation from clinical psychologist and mindfulness teacher Tara Brach. This is a perfect meditation for a break from a stressful day at work, your first few experiments with meditation, or when you only have a few minutes of time and don’t want to be sitting around relaxing for 25 minutes.
Brach has some very good long meditations (and lectures) as well, which I can share in future posts. For my beginners, start with this one. It’s one of the better quick meditations I’ve seen thus far, perhaps showing you the power of meditation in only a few minutes of time.
Next, an 8:53 offering from neuroscientist and author Sam Harris. Known better for his writing and commentary on religion (most recently, an appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher), Harris has spent years studying meditation, consciousness, and the brain.
This is a guided session I often send to friends who are very interested in what meditation is about but would probably be (rightly) skeptical of some of the pseudo-religious bullshit a lot of meditation teachers tend to spout.
Harris also has a longer version of this video, which you can find here. If you enjoy the short version of his “Looking for the Self” meditation, which can be filed in the vipassana (or “to see things as they really are) family, give the longer one a listen when you have time.
Last and longest is a 14:44 guided meditation with Alan Watts, a philosopher best known for translating eastern thought for a western audience. This may be the most powerful of the three guided meditation sessions in this post, as it narrows in on how you can use listening without trying to understand to quickly get into a meditative state.
Be warned: The first time I listened to this Watts meditation, I cried. Ugly cried. However, it felt great during and afterward, almost blissful (See? This shit sounds cultish). Sometimes, when you relinquish control and simply watch your mind, you’ll see or feel or experience exactly what you need to be seeing/feeling/experiencing.
Give those three a listen and let me know what you think. If you’d care to discuss meditation or have your own suggestions, post them in the comments. I’d love to see more.