When You No Longer Need A Meditation Teacher

It's quite comforting to have a mentor, isn't it? Someone to turn to when motivation is running low. Not to mention being taken over by doubt about your practice or meditation technique.

Meditation teachers should obviously encourage their students and help them along the way, but I would like to take it a step further. A teacher should also strive to make his students as independent as possible.

The opposite is all too common; the needy meditator who has to see his teacher for comfort and a boost of motivation. That's an undesirable situation.

How To Become An Independent Meditator

The first thing you should do is to develop a deep understanding of your meditation practice. That includes the meditation technique and the theory around it. In order to meditate independently you need to be familiar with your spiritual path. Where will the practice take you and what are the known challenges ahead?

You also have to put in some training under the guidance of an experienced meditation teacher. That will give you confidence in your practice and a strong foundation to stand upon. Remember that true confidence in your practice reduces doubt to the bare minimum. As a result, you won't be thinking about your doubts when you're supposed to meditate. Another way of phrasing it would be to say that it's easier to meditate in the absence of doubt.

Traditionally, Buddhist monks trained with their masters for 5 years, then they were on their own. So, practicing independently is not an ego thing. It's about taking full responsibility for your practice and to explore the true nature of existence, on your own. True spiritual practice can also be defined as observing the five senses and thinking, in the present moment.

Once you have clearly understood the fundamentals of spiritual investigation, all you need is plenty of practice. You can always read or listen to a master's teachings for inspiration, but avoid becoming dependent on it.

Let's also recognize that the path to insight and wisdom is best suited for individuals who can cope with solitude.

There are many benefits to meditating alone. When you no longer need a teacher, you can practice with confidence wherever you are. That said, it's good practice to meditate in a group too. Now, let's outline how you can practice on your own.

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Independent Meditation Practice

Practice in the four body postures. That is standing, walking, sitting and lying down. Always alternate between the four postures, for example every 30-45 minutes. The goal with your practice is to be mindful throughout the day, which inevitably involves doing two things at the same time. For example, to give relaxed attention to your meditation object while driving a car. Please don't try this until you are really confident in your practice.

Here are two techniques that can help you build steadfast attention that supports continuous mindfulness:

- Sit or lie down on your back. Give relaxed attention to your meditation object while reading an inspiring book about meditation or spirituality. Read as slowly as you like and only give as much attention as you can to your meditation object. This is a great way to build steadfast attention. Every now and then, you can close your eyes and give full attention to your meditation object for a moment, if you like.

- Practice casual walking meditation in nature and in bustling city centers. Please don't try this until you are very confident in your practice. This type of training leads to steadfast attention at the same time as it helps you transcend distractions.

A mindful person is connected to her very being and literally bathes in soothing stillness, which spreads like ripples on water and benefits everyone around her.

Whatever you experience during meditation should be thoroughly investigated. This type of practice leads to wisdom. Reflect as often as you like, it's highly beneficial. For example, once during alms round in Thailand I saw a dead scorpion on the roadside. Then, I mindfully contemplated the impermanent nature of existence, "Everything that is born, is bound to die."

I strongly recommend that you reflect on the following concepts over and over again. If you're unsure of how to do it, feel free to email me...

- Suffering/unhappiness

- Personal preferences

- Cultural conditioning

- Neutral sensations

- Consciousness

- Impermanence

- The 5 senses

- Selflessness

- Selfishness

- Frustration

- Perception

- Happiness

- Language

- Ignorance

- Emotions

- The body

- Intentions

- True love

- Laziness

- Patience

- Thinking

- Religion

- Irritation

- Racism

- No self

- Desire

- Stress

- Time

- Truth

- Hate

You can practice alone, at meditation centers and in retreats. Always try to be mindful wherever you are. A good pointer is to only give as much attention to your meditation object as the situation allows. For example, if you're parking the car, it may only be safe to give 5-10 percent of your attention to your meditation object and the rest to driving. Again, this type of practice is only for advanced meditators.

In conclusion, to be mindful is to give relaxed attention to your meditation object, even if it's only a small part of your attention. It's true that mindfulness aligns you with the the present moment, and the opposite of mindfulness is to be caught up in thinking.

It's really inspiring to be mindful while listening to meditation talks or watching meditation dvds. In the end, there is no need for your practice to be a separate activity. Mindfulness is a beautiful thing...

Best of luck!


Related:   Mindfulness Practice   Meditate With Open Eyes   Insight Meditation

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