How to Meditate
Tara Brach, the founder and senior teacher of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC, wrote a series of instructions for beginning meditators. It provides an excellent starting point for those new to the practice.
The following books are recommended for new meditators as well as for anyone who wants to review the fundamentals:
- Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mindfulness for Beginners
- Jack Kornfield, Meditation for Beginners
- Sharon Salzberg, Lovingkindness
- Sharon Salzberg, Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program
Other suggested authors include Stephen Batchelor, Charlotte Joko Beck, Tara Brach, Pema Chodron, Gil Fronsdal, Joseph Goldstein, Bhante Gunaratana, Thich Naht Hanh, Noah Levine, Stephen Levine, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Andrew Olendski, Larry Rosenberg, Rodney Smith, Shunryu Suzuki, Thanissaro Bikkhu, Diana Winston, and teachers in the Thai Forest tradition, such as Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Sumedho, Ajahn Sucitto and Ajahn Amaro.
We also have a small library of books that you are welcome to borrow and return at your convenience.
Many of the talks we listen to are downloaded from Dharma Seed, an online library of recordings from teachers in the Vipassana and Theravada traditions. You can also download the latest talks through an RSS feed or an iTunes podcast subscription.
As a group we’ve listened to talks by Guy Armstrong, Sally Clough Armstrong, Pascal Auclair, Stephen Batchelor, Tara Brach, Anna Douglas, Joseph Goldstein, Will Kabat-Zinn, Jack Kornfield, Noah Levine, Kamala Masters, Akincaro Marc Weber, Carol Wilson, and others. The Talks page lists the recordings we've listened to since March 2013.
Another excellent collection is Audio Dharma, the online home of the Insight Meditation Center (IMC) in Redwood City, California. Gil Fronsdal and Andrea Fella are the guiding teachers at IMC, though the site features recordings from many guest teachers as well. You can also subscribe to the Audio Dharma podcast in iTunes.
Finally, the Zencast site and podcast curates selections from both Dharma Seed and Audio Dharma. For those new to meditation and the Vipassana community, this is a good place to start.
If you have a smart phone, Insight Timer offers a convenient way to time your meditation sessions. It features a world map that marks the locations of people currently using the app, a simple but powerful way to create a sense of community with other meditators around the globe.
For those interested in studying the suttas of the Pali cannon (the oldest extant collection of writings attributed to the Buddha), a recommended starting point is In the Buddha's Words, edited by Bikkhu Bodhi.
The site Access to Insight also has many articles, resources, and translations for those who want to delve deeper into the suttas and writings of the Theravada tradition.
Please note that these materials may be more challenging and less accessible for modern readers than the other resources listed on this page.
Classes, Groups & Retreat Centers
The following list is far from comprehensive, but it includes some of the major groups and centers in the United States as well as in our region and local area. You'll also find many helpful links and resources on their websites.
- UIUC 8-Week Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Classes (Urbana-Champaign, IL)
- Joyful U 8-Week Mindfulness Skills Instruction Classes (Urbana-Champaign, IL)
- UIUC Meditation Student Organization (Urbana-Champaign, IL)
- Insight Chicago (Chicago, IL)
- Mid America Dharma (Missouri)
- The Insight Meditation Society (Barre, MA)
- The Insight Meditation Community of Washington (Washington, DC)
- The Barre Center for Buddhist Studies (Barre, MA)
- The Seattle Insight Meditation Society (Seattle, WA)
- The Insight Meditation Center (Redwood City, CA)
- Spirit Rock Meditation Center (Woodacre, CA)