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Am I Doing This Right?

July 6, 2016

Mindful Magazine recently invited me to offer a regular feature to support people who are meditating and getting stuck. We are calling it “Am I Doing This Right” and is an opportunity to have some fun, address some common questions and concerns that people have when they are meditating, and hopefully facilitate more mindfulness and compassion in the world. I will be posting the items here as well, but for the full presentation check out the latest issue of Mindful, or better yet, subscribe and get them all!


Meditation is simple, but it’s not easy. Most of us wind up with lots of questions. In the first installment of a regular series, we provide some answers.

I really like listening to audio meditations. Is guided meditation as good as quietly meditating?

The key word here is “listening.” If you’ve  arrayed yourself on your meditation cushion or favorite chair, flipped the switch on your sound system, and settled in to listen to Jon Kabat-Zinn guide you through an awareness of breath meditation because you just love his voice, then you may have a bit of a problem because you really aren’t meditating. You’re listening to a recording while sitting on a cushion. Big difference.

But you may find that having a gentle, invitational voice nudge you back on track when your attention drifts facilitates your practice. Maybe when you sit on your own without the recording, your attention seems to drift, wander, meander, and dart about aimlessly. Then perhaps the delicate scaffolding of a recording will help you develop the mental discipline you need to more frequently tap into the experience of being present.

But could the use of a recording actually be a mindful choice you make as you take stock of the state of your mind for any particular meditation session? If you actually practiced meditation a time or two without guidance, what could you learn? What would you lose? What would you discover?

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