Meditation resources?
April 30, 2012 8:32 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to start meditating to help me live more in the moment, know my body and mind better, reduce stress, and increase my ability to focus and concentrate. What are some mindfulness/meditation resources and guides that can help me accomplish those goals without any woo?

Hoping to avoid religion, guru-ism, cults of personality, and even most philosophy. Practical and clear beginning steps (do x like y for z minutes) preferred, as would be overviews of kinds of meditation—how they differ in practice and effect.

Links to information freely available online is always appreciated.
posted by jsturgill to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
I have been reading about discursive meditation and it seems like an excellent beginner technique, if not precisely the commonly-understood Zen form. (I've done Zen as well, and I like that fine, but most of the recommendations you get will be along those lines.)

(Feel free to ignore all the Druid-specific bits of that essay - it just happened to be one that I knew about and was written relatively straightforwardly.)
posted by restless_nomad at 8:49 AM on April 30, 2012

Jon Kabat-Zinn's work approaches mindfulness meditation from a perspective of stress reduction and life enhancement, without any woo. Because he works mostly in conjunction with medical facilities, there's a lot of science in his work - good controlled studies, etc.
posted by judith at 8:55 AM on April 30, 2012 [5 favorites]

posted by mattbucher at 8:59 AM on April 30, 2012

I'm very woo-adverse, and I did a mindfulness meditation course last year. The key is to look for actual mindfullness courses, which are specifically woo-free. They address the issues of what meditation is, and what it does for you, without relying on the crutch of religious thinking.

I'm in the UK, so I was able to use the website to find a course. This also gives you a rundown of the different types of mindful meditation courses - MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) and MBCT (cognitive therapy, for combating depression). This is the stuff that Jon Kabat-Zinn worked on, as mentioned above.

Finally, Kabat-Zinn also has a few books with CDs that talk you through meditation exercises. I chose to go to a class, because I thought the extra effort of attending the class would get me to actually do it. For that reason, if you have the opportunity to go to a class, I would recommend it - but don't be afraid to ask questions before you plunk down the money.
posted by The River Ivel at 9:00 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've heard very good things about Martine Batchelor's Meditation for Life, which is written from a secular Buddhist perspective -- basically, Buddhist practice without god(s). The Secular Buddhist Association website might be useful as well.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 9:05 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would recommend Shinzen Young's work. It is concise with zero woo, if you accept the basic premises which you did above. You can skim his practice manual here:
posted by zeek321 at 9:07 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (PDF)

I'm not sure what woo is (though I'm guessing it's similar to hoodoo-voodoo), but Shunryu Suzuki's book is by far the best practical instruction on meditation I've ever read.

I don't really consider Buddhism religion though.

basically, Buddhist practice without god(s).

I thought all Buddhist practice was without gods, but then again, I'm not a Buddhist.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:29 AM on April 30, 2012

This was mentioned in the previous post, but the 8 minute guide to Meditation (can be found at link) was incredibly accessible, reasonable and really avoided anything but how to take the gloves off and start meditating.
posted by priested at 9:32 AM on April 30, 2012

I got a lot out of The Artist's Way. It's a 12-week schedule of practice, specifically designed to reset and recover creativity, but it touches many of the aspects you are looking for.
posted by bonehead at 10:59 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I also really liked Mindfulness in Plain English. I found it here.
posted by hannahelastic at 2:57 PM on April 30, 2012

You can download a bunch of free guided audio meditation tapes from the University of California San Diego's Center for Mindfulness (Jon Kabat-Zinn's academic home).
posted by catlet at 2:58 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Others disagree, but I found The Artist's Way to be pure woo, but sort of of the Chicken Soup for the Whatever Soul kind of woo.

Neither Buddhism nor Zen are religions or woo. Buddhism, I think, is harder to penetrate with the no-woo mindset because it tries so hard to describe all this stuff which, by definition, can't be described and also because some people treat it as religion. Zen, or at least the forms I've been exposed to, is a purely empirical process. Try this and see what happens. Alan Watts, any Alan Watts is a good entry point into Zen for a westerner.
posted by cmoj at 3:22 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

n-thing Jon Kabat-Zinn's work. He really leaves out all the bullshit.
posted by xammerboy at 6:14 PM on April 30, 2012

Get Some Headspace

They have a great 10 day guided meditation on their iPad app too. Totally free, no woo.
posted by heatherann at 7:35 PM on April 30, 2012

any Alan Watts is a good entry point into Zen for a westerner.

Reality is ... *GONG*

I enjoy Alan Watts a lot, but haven't read or listened to anything from him about meditation ... thanks.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:16 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Woah I had no idea about that film. Thank you!
posted by cmoj at 2:39 PM on May 1, 2012

While Jon Kabat-Zinn looks and sounds creepy as fuck, his guided CD and books co-developed with scientists actually worked for me, I feel.

See also this, this and this previously.
posted by yoHighness at 6:23 AM on May 5, 2012

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