I promised to elaborate further on my ten worthwhile summer projects, the no. 1 project being “Meditate”. How do you get started? What is it? And for the more curious, how do you find out more about Buddhism?
I have listed several online resources for meditation instructions and Buddhist teachings. However, there’s no substitute for showing up in person at a meditation center to really learn the proper posture and to ask questions about your practice. It is my hope that once you get started, you will continue to meditate throughout your life, and develop wisdom and lovingkindness.
Tricycle Magazine: a great resource for those who are new to meditation and Buddhism, and for those who are already practicing the Dharma. Sign up for their Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/tricyclemag)
San Francisco Zen Center: the Zen Center is located in San Francisco at 300 Page Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 in Hayes Valley. They have regular meditation sessions for beginners and more experienced meditators. They also run the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in Marin County and the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in Carmel Valley.
Dharmaseed.org: online repository of dharma talks by teachers of Vipassana or Insight practices of Theravada Buddhism. Until now, the teachings had been available only on CD or tapes. You can find them now in MP3 format on this website. They continue to add new recordings of teachings given at various retreats.
My personal favorites are the Satipatthana Sutta teachings given by Joseph Goldstein, cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts (where I hope one day to go for a two-week or longer retreat). Listen to his other teachings, too, which are very clear and inspiring.
Tassajara Hot Springs: affiliated with the San Francisco Zen Center, this wonderful retreat is located at the end of a dirt road in the Carmel Valley. It is about 4 hours from San Francisco. There is no electricity, except in the dining hall, kitchens, Japanese bath house and the zendo (the hall where monks and visitors meditate). It is closed in the fall and winter for the Zen practice period. I went to the Tassajara Hot Springs for a 5-day meditation and yoga retreat which turned out to be a deeply spiritual experience. I joined the monks in their 5:40 a.m. and 8:40 p.m. meditation sessions, hiked in the mountains, did yoga twice a day (2 hours per session), ate delicious vegetarian food from their famous kitchen (the Tassajara cookbooks are sold everywhere) and sat in the Japanese style hot springs. I went to bed as soon after the evening meditation. I appreciated how peaceful I became without the demands of email, mobile phones, Twitter and all the other ways we distract ourselves in our daily lives. There is no cellular signal so one is truly cut off from the world. What a luxury!