Can you meditate without guidance? Yes, for sure, anyone can learn to meditate! However, this doesn’t mean they will make a good job of it or achieve the results they want.
And actually, the same can be said when studying under some teachers…. not everyone will be able to realize their potential or achieve their dreams.
For some of us, the time was right, and we were able to ‘just meditate’ without much guidance. And yet, I know other people who benefit greatly by following a structured method of meditation. Without the guidance, they would not have been able to achieve their specific goals.
So, what about you? Should you seek out a teacher, a class, or an app to learn to meditate, or do you need to be taught to meditate?
Can You Meditate Without Guidance?
Yes, you can meditate without guidance. Even the Buddha found enlightenment without a teacher. And if you think about it, who taught the first teachers? They too would have learned to meditate by themselves. However, some forms of meditation that have specific goals, are easier to learn from an experienced teacher. While other types of meditation, that promote general mental, emotional, and physical well-being, are easy to learn and practice on our own.
Can anyone learn to meditate?
The inconsistent and often contradictory advice given regarding whether meditation can be self-taught or not is not wrong. It is, however, a reflection of our individualistic nature, our diverse reasons for wanting to meditate, and the intensity with which we will devote to our meditation practice.
This adds up to the fact that no one answer suits us all….. and really, life is better like this. We are all diverse in our skills, abilities, our wants, and our desires. So we will also be diverse in how we learn to meditate and what type of meditation will be best for us.
However, I still believe that anyone can learn to meditate. We just need to find a way that is most suitable for us. And it helps us to find our way if we consider a few factors.
Our Unique Personalities Will Determine The Best Way For Us
We all currently have a unique set of skills and abilities- some of which will be conducive to meditating alone, and others that make it easier for us to learn from a teacher, an app, or a book.
– Some people are driven to achieve
They can learn almost anything alone or with a little guidance. These individuals may intuitively be able to just begin a meditation practice that is best for them.
It may be enough for them to read a few books on different techniques, or watch a few YouTube videos to establish their practice.
If you are self-motivated, there won’t be any problem setting aside the time to meditate. And finding answers to any questions that may arise as your practice progress’s will also be relatively easy.
In effect, it is our meditation practice that becomes our teacher. And once we have learned to trust our inherent wisdom, we will be guided to practice in ways that best suit our current needs.
– Some people are laid back and easygoing.
These people may do better in a group environment, with an app, or under the guidance of a teacher.
An experienced teacher will have already encountered many issues that you may have, and overcome them. They can then pass this knowledge on to you, effectively making your path a little quicker….
Who you are will play a big part in determining if you can teach yourself to meditate or if you need to be taught to meditate.
For me, over 25-plus years, I have tried a few classes, have done several retreats, and used various ‘Brain Entrainment Technologies’ to help refine my practice.
Now, most of my meditations are done in silence and are focused on self-awareness of either my mental activity, my feelings, or bodily sensations.
Why? Because for me, meditation is a peaceful respite from an overly noisy world…..and any teacher adding to that noise by giving instructions just defeats my purpose for meditating.
What Are The Reasons You Are Wanting To Meditate?
Some people want to connect with their innate spiritual wisdom, while others just want to learn to relax, enhance their ability to concentrate, or improve their mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing.
Throughout history, meditation was often just one aspect of more comprehensive traditional spiritual practices.
Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, and many more including Christianity (prayer can be considered meditation) teach meditation as part of their dogma or ideology. The end goal of the complete systems may be enlightenment or spiritual awakening.
In these traditions, the teacher or Guru offers step-by-step instructions to each of their students. The instructions are used to bring about specific results that allow the student to progress to ‘higher’ levels of skill and understanding.
It is important to be aware that any teacher can only teach to the limit of what they know. For a beginner meditator, most teachers can offer some practical advice as to how best to proceed when different common obstacles or questions arise.
However, if your intention is enlightenment or a spiritual awakening, you will not be able to learn how to get there from a teacher who has not attained this level of evolvement themselves.
It’s only recently in history, when meditation spread to the western world, that we ‘watered it down’ to suit our own needs and desires.
So now, anyone (including non-religious people,) can practice easier and non-committed forms of meditation whenever they desire.
The benefits we can achieve include better overall health, stress reduction, enhanced mental performance, balancing of emotions, etc. And these things are easily achieved by practicing alone.
However, many people are promoting the idea that we are better off with guidance from someone more experienced than us. And while this may be true, we need to also be aware that they may have vested interests in ‘signing you up’ for their program.
Yes, the business of teaching meditation and providing meditation aids is a huge multi-billion dollar industry now. And of course, each company has the ‘best product for you.’ Some of them will be good…. but are they necessary for you? Only you can decide that!
So, Can You Learn To Meditate Without Guidance, Or Do You Need Guidance?
This method I’m going to describe below is, in effect, offering guidance! However, because you have asked whether you need guidance or not, it’s obvious that you are looking for at least a little direction.
A Beginner’s Meditation Practice for Teaching Yourself to Meditate
– Choose a time and space where you won’t be disturbed for the intended duration of your practice.
– Ensure you are comfortable, either seated, lying down, in lotus position… or any position you can sustain without becoming uncomfortable. (Don’t be too comfortable if you are likely to fall asleep.) A straight spine is recommended, and if not possible yet, will naturally develop as your practice evolves. (Your body’s intelligence will guide you.)
– It’s easiest to begin with your eyes closed. This limits some of the distractions from your immediate environment.
– Take a few relaxed breaths (deep into your belly) through your nose to settle your body and mind.
– Either keep your attention on your breath, naturally entering and leaving your body through the tip of your nostrils;
Or place your attention on any sensations you may feel within your body. Just notice the tingling, the ache, the warmth, (etc.) in different areas of the body.
Do not linger on any one sensation and do not think about it in any way whatsoever. Just be aware of it, and then move on to the next sensation.
Do either of these practices for the next 10 to 15 minutes if possible. And whenever you find your mind wandering, thinking, or distracted, just return it to your breath or body sensations over and over again.
– Repeat this process every day. By practicing regularly, you will begin to notice improvements in your posture, concentration, and emotions.
In the beginning, it’s normal to question ‘if you are doing it right?’ I also questioned myself many times over the 25-plus years ago since I began. However, know this: There is no right and wrong with meditation. And if you are becoming more self-aware in the present moment as a result of your practice, then you are progressing. Just keep at it…..
With time, the meditative state will become second nature for you, and you will live incorporating greater self-awareness in more and more moments throughout each day.
We all have different skills and different reasons for beginning a meditation practice. So whether we will benefit from the guidance of a teacher will depend on what point of understanding we are beginning with, as well as the intensity of our desire to meditate.
You don’t need guidance or a teacher to meditate effectively. However, it is a good idea to learn about some different techniques to see what style of meditation suits you the most.
However, if you are desiring specific outcomes from your meditation practice, you may get there quicker with the guidance of an experienced teacher.
I wish you all the best with your practice, and if you have any questions, please ask them in the comments below.