I've never done this before. Can I really learn to meditate?
Yes. You are not alone. Many have done so.
All I ask is for the slightest willingness to learn something new. As the instructor, I then take full responsibility to teach you everything that I learned as a monk, but in a much more user-friendly way. It's my responsibility that you "get it", so there's no pressure on your side.
And yes, you really can do it.
It's likely that the stories you've heard of other people struggling to meditate, or thinking it was a chore, was because they didn't have proper instruction in this subtle domain of the mind.
As an aside, teaching meditation seems like it should be easy, but it is not. Many well-meaning people teach some simplistic form of meditation but end up confusing or limiting the student. I've seen this happen often. There's a lot of "meditation stress" out there, so you're not alone.
Will I have to sit on the floor? Or hold some uncomfortable posture?
Not at all. This isn't like any other kind of meditation that you have encountered before—this is gentle, natural, and soothing for the body. You will sit in comfortable chairs and we take as many stretch breaks as we need to.
As it turns out, holding a rigid posture will add stress into your nervous system. That very stress will have to exit at some point, and none of it is conducive to what we're trying to accomplish.
Don't believe anyone when they say that being uncomfortable or suffering in any way is a necessary component for meditation. It just ain't so.
What if I have issues sitting for long periods?
That's okay too. Let me know ahead of time and I will bring a "zero gravity chair" that reclines and will take the pressure off your spine.
What type of meditation is this?
This is "automatic self-transcending" or simply, "self-transcending" type of meditation.
Meditation researchers have found that there are three main families of meditation based on levels of effort, brain wave patterns, and parts of the brain that are activated. This approach is the lesser known of the three families, partly because it takes more finesse to teach; it cannot be reliably taught in an hour, for example.
What characterizes this type of meditation? Deep relaxation, gentle, not feeling like work, no special postures required, and experience of the Infinite being the goal.
I'm already am an advanced meditator, can I skip the first class?
Sorry, I'm afraid not. We won't be using the techniques you have nor the application of the techniques, and therefore missing any class is not recommended.
This form of meditation, which is from the lesser known "automatic self-transcending" family of meditation, is fundamentally different in regard to the techniques and how those techniques are applied. Meditators used to the more common traditions of meditation, such as mindfulness or Vipassana, find this approach vastly easier, more effortless, more accepting, more understandable, and more enjoyable.
However, do bring your passion for meditation and wanting to know the larger aspect of yourself! Passion is passion and is very useful.
Will this de-program me? Or turn me into a zombie?
From my 20+ years of meditating and observing monks as a monk myself, I’ve found that meditation doesn’t automatically de-program one from one’s world views. If that were the case, then all advanced meditators would have the same personality. They certainly don't.
On the other hand, I find that meditation makes you more authentically you. It makes more space in the mind, and it makes one more likely to step away from one’s programming, giving you freedom to be yourself apart from your fears.
I say that meditation gives you back your power of choice, in contrast to living a life of unconscious reaction.
Is meditation the "one thing to rule them all" for my growth?
Meditation is certainly not the only tool you'll ever need in your life. Meditation shouldn't be used in place of physical training, nutritional education, and personal development. For the latter, meditation is a very powerful complement to the wisdom gained from personal development. When used together, growth is rapid yet gentle.
Four Sundays? 10:30 - 5:00? When will you have shorter classes?
I get asked this a lot, about having shorter workshops. Yet the way that I teach is very different than other approaches, with a different technique and a different goal. It's not about relaxation nor focusing on the breath, as there are plenty of simple, hypnotic-type meditation formats for that.
I believe it's more important to build a sustainable new skill-for-life, rather than being given something that's consumed like popcorn with little thought behind it.
For this particular approach, there needs to be a clear understanding of how the mind works, why thoughts are there, emotions too, the way the mind-body connection affects the mind, before even getting to consciousness. There's so many non-obvious things to learn to create this new skill, that it cannot reliably be taught in a shorter period of time.
I'm still interested in pursuing a different format course, but at this point I am unsure how to go about it. The material needs about 4 days to cover everything fully so that the practice can be integrated confidently as a new skill.
I see learning to meditate as if learning to fly a plane, or to scuba dive, or to salsa dance. It's all the same commitment. Yet the broad-spectrum of benefits are completely worth the time commitment.
That said, there is an hour break for lunch, and we take as many shorter breaks as needed. So it amounts to 5 hours per day, but don't worry, we're not meditating the entire time, which is another common concern. This is ultimately a healthy approach to meditation.
How often do you teach this?
Between two and four times a year. Usually from September - November and January - April. When it's cold outside.
What's the best way to stay in touch for new courses?
Send an email to hello at needmeditation dot com and I'll put you on our low-volume mailing list.
Can I really bring my dog?
As long as no course participant has a dog allergy, yes you certainly can. The wonderful Creative Coworkers venue is fully dog friendly, and dogs love it when we meditate together; they tend to calm down and sleep, especially the older ones.