Helpful things I’ve found exploring the practices of meditation and yoga. Overall, I prefer resources that point directly and plainly to the techniques, results and experiences. The less religion and tradition encrusting the information, the better.
Meditation promises direct experience if one adheres to the practices, yet there seems to be much resistance when anyone asks for specific signs about progress or achieving certain described states of consciousness. I find this vagueness very odd for a set of techniques that are claimed to offer specific results. The resources I’ve included below are not afraid to do this, and that makes me believe they are speaking from a position of direct experience themselves.
One cannot claim that yoga is a science, but then scoff at practitioners who ask for signifiers of progress. Some of the experiential claims are quite profound, and seem like they should be obvious milestones to be able to note for new meditators.
Advanced Yoga Practices: an “open source” approach to the techniques of yoga and meditation. Incredibly informative, direct and inspiring information. I’ve read the entire series of AYP books and they are excellent as well. Plenty of free information on the website. A great place to start.
Swami J: encyclopedic reference and informative library on the practices and techniques of meditation. Written in a very plain, direct and Western voice. A good companion or follow-up to Advanced Yoga Practices. Might be a bit overwhelming at first, due to the large amount of articles (and sadly, poor website navigation). Exhaustive amounts of free information.
Mindfulness in Plain English – a great introductory primer on the Vipassana approach to meditation. This gave me my first “Aha!” moment, understanding that the goal of meditation is not to “clear the mind” or “empty the mind of thoughts”. It was here that I began to realize my assumptions about meditation were incorrectly tinted by pop culture and misinformed writing. Free digital versions.
Mastering The Core Teachings Of The Buddha – a wisely irreverent and incredibly informative, no-nonsense, first-hand reference on the stages of meditation and what to expect. Author Daniel Ingram exposed me to the distinction between Concentration and Insight practices, which wasn’t clear from my readings of Advanced Yoga Practices or Mindfulness In Plain English. Ingram also focuses on results, which I find important for a process that claims direct experience. He also inspires you to believe that it’s possible to achieve the state of enlightenment yourself, which he discusses in the book is ironically something shunned a bit in meditation circles. Ingram also tries to give some signposts for your journey, another concept that seems to be frowned upon. Again, for an experiential process it seems this would be obvious to offer to aspirants. An absolute must-read. Free digital versions.