These are extracts taken from books on meditation published by two of our regular meditation teachers, active at the West London Buddhist Centre. Want to learn to meditate? Look at our What’s On pages.
We all come to meditation with our own reasons, with a feeling that perhaps meditation can help us in some way. Very few of us really understand what it is that we are embarking on. Our reasons may be simply to feel more relaxed, to enjoy life to a greater degree. And this is where we start. However, if we allow it, meditation can be the beginning of life’s greatest challenge and adventure….
Even early on we catch a glimpse of what we can be. We can experience ourselves in a completely new way. We gain some sense that we can be free from negative states, and free to act creatively in the world. This path of self-transformation is the way to freedom. It is the path that some men and women of all cultures and at all times have valued, not just under the name of Buddhism, but under many names. Meditation is the first step on this path. It is the simple and natural process of beginning to take the time to get to know ourselves. It is a means by which we can slowly uncover what is highest in us, and open up more and more to the beauty all around us. Good luck.
Extract from Change Your Mind (Windhorse Publications, 1996). Available from the Centre bookshop.
There is no one experiencing our mental states from outside them. We are them. If we want to experience different mental states, we have to become them. And that process begins the moment we form an intention to meditate. Meditation is a practice, not a performance. You can start whenever you can clear a short space in your day. Now, for example.
To try it out all you have to do is put aside for a few moments all the things you have to worry about today and sit down: still, relaxed, softly awake, eyes gently closed. Then begin to appreciate these empty moments in themselves. These moments are owed to no one. Nor are they an investment for some future pay-off. You don’t even have to make the most of them. Savour them at your ease. Just watch them bubble out of your mind… then notice the baggage of reactions with which you want to weigh them down… Now see if you can be patient enough to release the bright, steady, spacious quality that is present in those moments.
Extract from Meditating (Windhorse Publications, 2000). Available from the Centre bookshop.
Led meditations by our excellent teachers can be found on FreeBuddhistAudio.