I am Paul Routledge and I have been meditating off-and-on since an early age, almost 50 years. My parents joined the religious group Eckankar when I was young, which encouraged a mantra-based meditation for spiritual growth. After college, I trained in TM (Transcendental Meditation), also using a mantra, and then began chakra work, which is more focused on visualization. In my 30s, I joined a Buddhist sangha practicing Vipassana with a teacher, and later the Tibetan technique of Dzogchen. I continue to practice at home, and occasionally with the sangha.
I strive here to impart the tips and techniques I’ve learned over the years, in a simple way, with no emphasis on any spiritual group or practice. I want to make meditation accessible as possible to everyone. I will often return to the analogy that mindfulness meditation is a fitness of the mind, the same way physical exercise is fitness for the body. They both require a determination and disciplined approach, yet they are frustrating paths to embark on when your mind (or body) struggle against the discipline.
We won’t bite off more than we can chew at the beginning. Baby steps. It should be interesting and it should be fun. A good meditation practice takes time and you get out of it what you put into it. The good news is, you can practice it anywhere! You don’t need to go to the special meditation hall, as you might go to the gym. You often see images of the solitary meditator near a bubbling stream, sitting in lotus position, with a countenance of pure calm. The setting isn’t necessary, but the image does convey what we’re after: a calm mind.
A caveat. Although I have read extensively on the subject, practiced for years, and attended a handful of retreats, I am not an accredited teacher of meditation. I encourage anyone seriously interested in pursuing a meditation practice to seek a teacher, whether through a Buddhist group, a yoga facility, or even a local community college or park district. It’s immensely helpful to have an experienced teacher (like a personal trainer) to answer questions and inspire further practice. Even a peer-led group will foster a supportive dynamic for learning and growth.