Meditation Resource Page for Fall 2023
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Meditation Resource Page
- This page gives you some links to information about meditation, some self-guided instructions for beginning a meditation practice, and some Spokane area community resources for supporting a meditation practice.
- To find out a little more about meditation before you decide whether to give it a try, check out this recent interview with Matthieu Ricard, a famous French-born Buddhist monk. The ‘World’s Happiest Man’ Shares His Three Rules for Life - The New York Times. The article isn't exactly about meditation, but I found it useful, as the journalist has a basic meditation practice and asks helpfully naïve questions of Ricard. It is also a little humorous and conveys some of the light heartedness of a mind that's logged a good 40,000 hours of meditation.
- You might then read Ricard's account of what meditation is in "A Lucid Assessment, 3-14" from his short book Why Meditate?. Bear in mind that for a Buddhist meditation is part of a systematic philosophy (an 8 fold path or "ashtanga") with a very specific set of goals for understanding the world and pursuing happiness, including the cultivation of compassion and altruistic love. Ricard is famous, in part, because he has a background in science and participated in some of the early neurological studies of meditative and prayer states. Of course, you can set aside the philosophy and science and still approach meditation as a simple technique for calming your mind. While the language of "transforming the mind" can sound grandiose, no one who reads about the brain doubts that the mind has habits that are affected by behavior and training. Meditation is a set of skills for training the mind.
- You can teach yourself to meditate, but it is also very helpful, early on, to discuss your efforts with someone who has experience. Most of the challenges to meditation have to do with the typical ways that our minds work. I can help with that, of course, but I have also identified some community resources that you may want to consider.
- My very brief self-guided instructions, along with links to major internet resources is at Meditation Exercises. These instructions just focus on basic mindfulness meditation (quieting the mind and become more attentive to its processes). These pages include links to the two main university research centers on mindfulness in the US, as well as some of the most popular guided meditations on the internet. My bias is toward silent meditation, but guided voice and meditative music are very effective in inducing a "meditation effect".
- 10% Happier was a popular book by a former NBC news correspondent who recounts his journey using meditation to address some problems in his life. The appendix to the book offers self-guided instruction and is available here. It has more practical detail than my guide and gives you a sense of some other meditations beyond mind quieting. The "metta" or loving kindness meditation is particularly effective in changing your mental state toward people you may be having difficulty with.
- One of the best short instruction books on meditation comes from Matthieu Ricard. His book, Why Meditate?, is worth reading in its entirety, but here I have excerpted the introductory instructions for basic meditations. You will notice some differences from the more generic guides above. He is more prescriptive about your posture and does not suggest closing your eyes completely. I find keeping my eyes closed less distracting, but you should experiment.
Spokane Community Resources
- There are several places in Spokane where meditation is taught and practiced.
- Anam Cara Meditation and Healing Center, 7 S Howard St Suite 210, downtown, offers an impressive range of classes and online resources that include meditation, but many other practices. The owner and principle teacher of the studio, Hannah Talbot, will visit our class. Browse the studio's website for more information.
- There are a number of meetup groups on meditation in Spokane. One of the easiest to connect with is "Spokane Mindfulness Meditation Community," which has a free group meditation on Wednesdays at 5:30pm at the Spokane Buddhist Temple, 927 S Perry Street, in the Perry District. The Spokane Buddhist Temple is in the Japanese Buddhist Tradition. Other meetup groups offer Zoom-based sessions.
- Spokane also has a Tibetan-Buddhist based Buddhist Institute, not far from campus at 728 E. Rich Ave. The resident teacher there is Venerable Geshe Phelgye, who was affiliated with Gonzaga for several years. You can attend a Sunday service there at 10am that includes meditation.
- Whether you ultimately decide that mediation is a private, secular experience or something to do with a group, perhaps one associated with a religious and philosophical tradition, you can benefit from group meditations early in your practice.