Here is an interesting learning meditation thought-
Gravity sometimes doesn't work.
Some things are both waves and particles. . .at the same time.
Electrons simply disappear . . . all the time.
If the universe is this wild and unpredictable, so full of possibility, why are your thoughts about your own life so limited?
Transcendental Meditation was a meditation technique taken up by the Beatles, which was how it became so popular in the west.
The technique was taught by an Indian Guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who founded a school which still exists in Fairfield Iowa.
Learning meditation the TM way was particularly easy. It involved an brief training and an initiation at which time you were given a mantra to use during your twice daily meditation.
I did do the training because I was looking for a tool that would help me quit drinking, and my experience was very positive.
For a number or reasons, I did not continue the practice, but I still remember my mantra, and some decades later when I began a serious study of Chi Gong as part of my spiritual work, that mantra came back to me, and helped me relax into the kind of internal imagery necessary to do Chi Gong effectively.
Later on in the 1980's, I was forced to discover the 12 Step Path of AA, which includes the 11th Step, where I seek knowledge of my Higher Power's Will for me through daily prayer and meditation, which is and was a very important step for me, in part because it feels good.
It was at this time that I began to read about learning meditation, and began to do experiential therapies like holotropic breathwork as part of my attempt to understand and to live a spiritual life.
So learning meditation can be experiential and cognitive. I did not have a guru to train me, but I did believe in the power of prayer, of listening inward to the 'still, small voice' for guidance about the direction of my external life.
And I also read about quantum mechanics and Shamanism and Carl Jung and Stanislov Grof, and his work with non-ordinary states of consciousness, so for me, in an attempt to stay alive, I began a circuitous study.
I still have not discovered the secret to life, nor have I found the secret to great wealth, but I have discovered more knowledge of what M.Scott Peck called The Path Less Traveled, and I have some experience with a number of meditative styles and tools which have been of value to me and to my clients over the years.
This quote is from a neat site that speaks to my meditative experience:
"Meditating is actually easier than you might imagine. Most of us have dabbled in meditation by participating in conscious relaxation. Maybe during an exercise class or to manage pain at the dentist or anxiety before a test. We start by paying attention to our breathing. The practical effort to focus completely on our breathing takes our minds away from the "mind clutter" that constantly tries to invade our mind and eliminate feelings that will lead to a time of calm. With repeated effort the goal of clearing your mind – to think of nothing, does occur and the process of meditation takes on its own energy. The result is, and I guarantee this, peace, serenity, calmness, eventually opening yourself to new insights."
My experiences about learning to listen inward are very similar to what the author above describes.
Rather than talk about the great Eastern and religious meditative and spiritual traditions, I want to talk about technologies I have discovered which are Western and fit our lifestyle well.
I do not take time to do twice daily TM meditations for example.
But I do take many frequent breaks to do HeartMath or Open Focus, and I am very relieved by the writings of Sharon Begley about how Buddhist monks who have meditated for 10,000 hours have literally changed their brains.
Begley's discovery would not be possible were it not for fMRI, or functional magnetic resonance imaging, a way of looking at blood flow in the brain in almost real time, and measuring the results of a focused meditative lifestyle.
Those results encourage me to live a life based on a different physiology than the high stress, high adrenalin kind of life so valued in the West, and I still get to maintain a high level of productivity.
So learning meditation these days could be very informed by technology, and the experience is still ineffable.
The single most important tool for me, the one that taught me a skill in six practices which I can cue any time I want was HeartMath, which is a heart rate variability biofeedback tool, that I discovered in a list serve for practitioners of EEG biofeedback.
Bet you didn't know you could learn to manage your brain waves, or the time between your heart beats, or the temperature of your hands? In my experience, learning how to manage physiology this way is part of learning meditation.
Well, you can. HeartMath is an outgrowth of research into the heart's own nervous system. Not too many years ago, we did not know that the heart had a separate nervous system.
Rather than go into all the research in the new field of neurocardiology, I am simply going to refer you to the HeartMath site.
I have used this tool personally as part of my 12 step path since I got trained to use in about nine years ago, and it is an extremely helpful physiology to cue as a professional and as a husband and as a late-life father.
HeartMath is a practice which I have taught to hundreds of anger management and domestic violence clients in my counseling practice. It fits with our western life style.
With practice, it becomes easier to stay in the HeartMath coherent heart beat more, even though there are still a lot of "alligators up to my butt".