Meditation is training / exercise for the mind. Theravada Buddhist Meditation’s ultimate goal is to help you become free of suffering. As you become more and more free of the suffering, caused by your mind, you will find yourself becoming more and more happy, joyful, peaceful, and kind… both to yourself, and to those around you.
One can meditate without any supernaturalistic beliefs. Gil Fronsdal describes what he calls Natural Buddhism in which he describes a view of meditation without supernaturalism.
Learning to meditate is like learning to play tennis or drumming. It is a skill, that requires some instruction, but ultimately your ability to do it well will depend on how much you practice.
With the magic of the internet, you can now listen to dharma talks (instructions / pep talks) as they were meant to be… heard. I have tried to build this page mostly of links to things you listen to.
Thanissaro Bhikkhu is a Theravada Buddhist monk I have found helpful, and the way his site is setup appealed to me when I first started listening to dharma talks.
Get started by listening to “The Basics”, A graduated series of 50 dhamma talks for meditators, starting with breath meditation and leading through issues of discernment. Don’t be overwhelmed, start by listening to just one of these talks each day (the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step), and you’ll have completed the series before you know it. An expanded version of this series (64 talks) is also available on YouTube.
Then, continue to listen to a dharma talk each day. Use the “Play random talk” at the top of the Evening Dhamma Talks Full Archive, to make doing this easy. Let the topic and the sound of Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s voice wash over you. Make it a daily ritual, and I think that within a month you will begin to see some definite results.
Try meditating yourself. Thanissaro’s meditation manual / instruction book; With Each And Every Breath will give you detailed instructions on the meditation process right online.
Gil Fronsdal is the senior guiding co-teacher at the Insight Meditation Center (IMC) in Redwood City, California and the Insight Retreat Center in Santa Cruz, California. He started Buddhist practice in 1975, and has been teaching for IMC since 1990. Gil is an authorized teacher in two traditions: the Insight Meditation lineage of Theravada Buddhism of Southeast Asia, and Japanese Soto Zen. He holds a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Stanford. He is a husband and the father of two sons.
Learn mindfulness meditation online. Here are 4 weeks of mindfulness guided meditations & instructions, given by Gil Fronsdal from August 24th through September 18, 2020.
Week 1) Mindfulness of the Breathing
Week 2) Mindfulness of Thinking
Week 3) Mindfulness of Emotions
Week 4) Mindfulness of the Body
and / or…
You won’t be able to walk into a book store and buy the Pali canon as a single book, like the Christian Bible, so don’t drive yourself crazy looking for it. Instead, you’ll have to find and acquire the suttas (texts) in pieces in various places. I’ll make a page to show you where to find them another time, but don’t want to clutter this page at the moment. You should ease into the canon. Perhaps starting with… The Dhammapada, One of the most popular / beloved of Buddhist writing collections.
– PDF version - a printed copy is also available for free by writing the Metta Forest Monastary, PO Box 1409, Valley Center, CA 92082
Here are some additional teachers that have helped me from two big archives of dharma talks by a variety of people; audiodharma.org talks archive and dharmaseed.org talks archive. They publish new talks almost daily by a variety of people. Hearing the dharma explained in a variety of ways by a variety of people really helped me begin to grasp meditation in a way I had not when exposed to meditation in some of the general religious introductory books I read years ago. Perhaps they will be of help to you as well.
– My “Dharma - tts (text to speech)” YouTube playlist - mostly stuff converted for friends when asked.
– Mindfulness in Plain English, by ven. Henepola Gunaratana - Great intro to meditation book, free online version