When you're just starting out with meditation, guided meditations are the way to go. Sitting still that long without some help is just no fun, and no use either. In Tibetan Buddhism they do two types of meditation: concentration and analytic meditation. Thubten Chodron explains both types well. Concentration is what you'd think: concentrating on one thing for a while. Analytical meditation is what is also sometimes called contemplation.
Best Guided Meditation Book: audio and text
I love guided meditations. Presently I love Thubten Chodron's Guided Meditations on the Stages of the Path, from Tibetan Buddhism.
When you start meditation practice, you come across all kinds of obstacles. The main obstacle is, I think, that there are just too many options. Then there is the obstacle of perseverance: once the thrill of trying something new wears off, how do you keep going? Motivating myself is hard sometimes, especially when I'm tired.
One of the things that makes it easier is to have a great meditation CD full of quality meditations (15 to 25 minutes) that I can just turn on. Once I'm going, I'll get into it. However, having a voice to listen to is a definite help.
See Thubten Chodron's "Guided Meditation on the Stages of the Path" on the right and described below.
Since I'm a Buddhist, it is natural for me to go with Buddhist meditation. Personally I feel it's essential to my path that it's not just about relaxation and destressing, but also about working on becoming the best I can be: that includes facing up to my issues, ethics, mindfulness and awareness.
Buddhist Guided Meditation from the Tibetan Buddhist Gelugpa lineage
|Guided Meditations on the Stages of the Path (with 15 hour mp3 medi...|
Because meditation IS hard, here some links to my thoughts on how to deal with common issues that come up
What they don’t tell you about meditation
The below was written over the past month, as I did a (mostly) daily regimen of 15 minutes of meditation based on the various books about Buddhist meditation I’ve been reading.
Guided meditations on the Stages of the Path, by Thubten Chodron
I've been active in the FPMT - a Gelugpa Tibetan Buddhist organisation - for half a year now and when I said to a long time member that I wanted to do more Lam Rim meditation, they recommended Thubten Chodron's 'Guided meditations on the Stages of the Path'.
They were right: it was just what I was looking for. For me, with already some instruction and a bit of meditation practice under my belt, this was just the thing. I glanced at enough of the book to know what to do with the CD and went with audio (ripped to my phone) after that.
If you're reading this WITHOUT a Buddhist background, or without a solid meditation background, then you probably DO want to read the book too.
Tibetan Buddhist meditation can be a bit overwhelming at first. This book breaks the components down for you and explains the concepts as well. The book includes a glossary, which you may need.
Thubten Chodron is a no nonsense spiritual teacher, a nun, who makes the teachings and meditations accessible without losing the essence. At times this may mean that she will go beyond what you were expecting in a meditation session. She puts it very clearly when she says, in her chapter 'Enjoying the meditation practices' (p. 58):
The purpose of meditation isn't to get a "hit" of good feeling. The purpose is to understand what life is about and how to make our lives meaningful. The purpose is to understand our Buddha potential and to actualize it for the benefit of all sentient beings.
Be brave and honestly acknowledge what is going on in your mind. ... Do research in the "laboratory" of your own mind and heart. In the process, you may discover some biases and prejudices. It may become evident how you create the friend and the enemy and ignore everybody who doesn't directly affect you.