a course in Meditation

Guided Launch

Learn to Meditate Naturally, Right Now

Part Two: Learning the Method

  • Time: 22 minutes in Audio form
  • Summary: Learn the easy steps to a session of Natural Meditation
  • Experience: Practice the steps, being guided as you go

TO LISTEN: Select the buttons for #3, #4, and then #5
TO READ: See below

Welcome back

I call that last experience the “canoe ride.” It isn’t quite meditation, but it is a valuable introduction to the kind of experience you will have in Natural Meditation. You may have noticed an easing of tension in your muscles and a shift away from striving.

Of course, you were helped into that experience with an image of a canoe on a quiet lake. When you meditate, you won’t purposely begin with that image. If it comes in, that will be fine. But since the canoe ride image shows us some important things, let’s review it before moving on.

We saw that our minds are always flowing with thoughts, feelings, and sounds. We saw what it is like to ride along with that flow.
In the image, we were paddling a canoe in the same direction as the wind and water. We were going with the flow instead of against it. See yourself again putting the paddle into the water. You don’t have to struggle because you aren’t trying to go against the wind and current and you aren’t in a rush to get anywhere. So, you don’t struggle with the paddle.

Similarly, when you recalled yourself using the phrase, “I am here,” it was a gentle, graceful and accepting action, not a struggle. When you hear a sound or have a thought, you’re feeling your flowing mind, and it’s helping, it’s carrying you in the right direction.
That is the style of our meditation: graceful and accepting.

Study it in three steps...

So, let’s look now at how to meditate on your own. Each sitting of Natural Meditation has 10 steps—which might sound like a lot. We will look at each of the 10 steps later, but once you get used to it, a sitting of meditation feels more like three steps, which is how we will think about it now.

Viewed in 3 steps, meditation is just 1) Getting Started 2) Doing the Method, and 3) Coming Back.

Getting started involves several little steps. You sit down on a chair or couch, decide when the meditation will end, set up a clock or watch, close your eyes, and rest for a few heartbeats. Sit so that your head doesn’t rest back on anything and so that your back is supported. Be prepared to be deeply rested. Scientific research has shown that metabolism can drop further during a meditation like this than it does during a full night’s sleep. So get comfortable. If you’re on a couch you can fold your legs, otherwise sit with both feet on the floor with your legs uncrossed or crossed at the ankles. You can put your hands in your lap, folded together.

You should meditate for a specific amount of time, and 20 minutes seems to be good for starting out. So, later when you meditate on your own, you will need to look at a watch or clock at the start to determine when you will end. Then, you will close your eyes and wait for about half a minute. Once you have done that, you are done with Getting Started and then you begin doing the method.

The method is a single, simple, gently repeated mental action done throughout the full 20 minutes. It is similar to the canoe ride meditative experience we just had. You will gently recall the phrase “I am” and will do it every few moments, like a casual paddle in the quiet water. You’ll do it whenever awareness allows without trying to make it be something special.

And if you are doing it with the necessary lightness and ease, you will have several times when you simply forget that you are meditating. Forgetting is actually part of the process, and you must not struggle to avoid it. Remember, the point of the method is not for you to accomplish something by your own precise skill. It is to allow nature to do something within you. [low music] That music flowing quietly under my voice is like the blossoming of the meditative function when you meditate. You are in charge of allowing it to remain …and to blossom.

To do that, you need to step off to the side of the stage. To stop taking the center of the stage the way you do when you are being useful, purposeful and precise. Now, meditation itself is a smart, useful, intentional state and you are the one who decides to start it and when to end it. But you have to allow nature to do the work.

Let's do these steps...

READERS TAKE NOTE: This is quite effective and soothing to listen to, but not to read. You should read it only if you cannot listen to it, or want to guide someone else in learning by reading this aloud to the other and doing the timing, shown in brackets. If you are alone and cannot listen to the audio, then try this: First read this quietly to yourself. Then go through it and do what is indicated, closing your eyes and doing the timing yourself with a watch or clock. Note: our longer, free, online course “A Course in Meditation” written in 1999 (and also the book version of 2007) both are designed for readers. They give the self-paced learner “Guide Cards” to do the equivalent steps and the ones in Part Three. And that is the best way to do this if you cannot use the audio.

Pauses are important in this. They are indicated here as numbers, such as “…Three…” and brackets, and they specify the number of seconds or heartbeats to pause.

[This is the text of the audio:]

OK, let’s try some short experiences that will show you what I mean. Get comfortably seated, as before…Three … And close your eyes…Ten…
Recall the room you are in. Don’t try to see its details, just recall that is there…Seven…
Recall the room again, just the fact that a room is here. Recall the room without details and then let it go…Seven…
Now recall the room using the word Room. …Three … Room…Three … Room.
[15 seconds]…
In the same way, recall yourself, thinking your name.
[15 seconds]…
Now recall yourself, thinking the phrase I am. …Three … I am…Three … I am
[15 seconds]…
This is how to let nature’s meditative function flow within you. You let yourself be carried by nature. You ride on the flow of the lake of your mind. Thoughts and feelings and sounds flow in and out. You ride on their flow, gently recalling yourself every few moments with the phrase I am. Nothing to accomplish, nothing to remove. Letting nature do its healing work, stepping a bit to the side as nature comes in and works for your benefit. I am…Three … I am…Not trying to see or hear the phrase clearly. We will now go a couple of minutes.

[2 minutes]

OK…Open your eyes when you are ready. This is how to let nature’s meditative function flow within you. You let nature carry you. You ride on the flow of the lake of your mind. Thoughts and feelings flow in and out. You ride on their flow, gently recalling yourself every few seconds with the phrase I am. Nothing to accomplish, nothing to remove. Letting nature do its healing work, stepping a bit to the side as nature comes in and works for your benefit.

In the next step, you will do a full 15-minute meditation. I will guide you into meditation and back out, and in the middle you will be on your own. Take a moment now to stretch your arms and legs. You can stand up as you listen to a few more points on how to end a sitting of meditation that I’ll be saying right now.

You have heard about two of the three parts of a sitting of meditation. You’ve heard about getting started and doing the method. The final part, Coming Back lasts two or three minutes. It begins when you peek at your clock or watch and decide that time is up. You close your eyes again and give your body and mind a few minutes to come back into normal activity. The natural meditative effects on the body usually cause a deep rest that actually changes the chemistry of the blood and the electrical activity of the brain and nervous system. And mentally, your attention has been inward. Now you gradually let yourself come back to center stage. You move and stretch, but keep your eyes closed for at least two minutes. When it comes time to do this at the end of your first meditation, I will do the timing and will describe this all again.

If you wish to, take a break here. Otherwise, sit back down now and get settled for meditation.