Over the years, people have often asked me for recommendations for mindfulness meditation resources for beginners. Here is some of what I have suggested:
(1) I believe that breath meditation is the best place for people to start a regular meditation practice; it is the most basic, foundational, beginner meditation practice. Here are some breath meditation instructions for beginners.
(2) After some experience with meditating on the breath, meditation on body sensations is an usual second step for mindfulness meditators. The “Body Scan”/”Body Sweep” technique is one of the most popular mindfulness meditation techniques in the world, and “Labeling Body Sensations” is my favorite meditation technique that I have done pretty much every day for three decades.
(3) The guided meditations that I have posted to Insight Timer – Self-Friendliness, Finding a Solid Meditation Posture, and relaxing Forest Waterfall Visualization – are all great for beginners.
(3) This blog post helps people to understand meditation practice by seeing it as similar to the habit of physical exercise and working out, which is something that more people are more familiar with and able to understand.
(4) If you plan to start an actual personal practice soon, then I recommend reading this post about what time of day to sit, and for how long.
(5) This post has suggestions for taking a healthy, comfortable posture when meditating in a chair.
(6) This post has helpful tips for what to do when feeling sleepy while meditating.
(7) I wrote a brief piece that explains some core overview theory about the differences between cultivation meditations and mindfulness meditations, and about the fundamental aspects of mindfulness meditation. You can check it out here.
(8) One dilemma beginning meditators sometimes face is whether to practice sitting with our eyes open or closed. I wrote a short piece with the goal of resolving this question.
(9) If you plan to buy a meditation cushion for yourself, then this blog post may offer you some guidance.
(10) A book that I cannot recommend strongly enough to beginners is: “Mindfulness In Plain English”. I love this book, I find it to be clear, simple, and powerful description of the basics of mindfulness meditation, easy to read yet comprehensively covers the important areas. The author, Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, has, as an act of generosity, allowed his book to be posted online at various sites for free (you can, of course, also give back and order a paper copy).
(11) My main meditation/spiritual teacher Shinzen Young has written and posted some insightful, comprehensive, clear, and otherwise excellent overview articles about the meditative path: What Is Mindfulness, an introduction to his mindfulness system, and more explanation of the core practice that he teaches (if any of those links are broken, check out the top of this page for working links). YouTube also features two channels containing free videos of his teaching (here and here), and he recently released an excellent book containing an extended investigation into his teaching.
(12) One of my other main teachers, Gil Fronsdal, has free MP3 recordings of years of audio lectures online available for general download. Here for example, are links to audio recordings of an introduction to meditation class series. I usually find his lectures to be inspirational, clarifying, deeply informed by traditional teachings, entertaining, and easy to listen to.