Buddhism for Beginners

The Buddha taught that the way to free the mind from suffering is through gaining insight into what truly is. One of the tools the Buddha taught for gaining insight is mindfulness, the ability to be fully aware in each moment. You can develop mindfulness through the practice of vipassana meditation.

Why Meditate?

Here are just a few of the benefits of a meditation practice:

  • Obtain quiet or inner peace
  • Have a respite from the pace of daily life
  • Collect and unify the mind
  • Clear the mind of emotional turmoil
  • Feel and experience the truth of “the way things are” for yourself
  • Learn loving-kindness and compassion for yourself and for others
  • Understand and learn how to practice forgiveness

How to Meditate

Mindfulness meditation begins with learning to concentrate your attention on an object, typically the breath, which enables you to notice how your mind is reacting to what it is experiencing.

  1. Start by sitting in a chair or on a zafu (meditation cushion) in a quiet space with your eyes closed.
  2. Direct your attention to the breath as it touches the body in a single spot, such as the tip of the nose, or focus on the rise and fall of the chest or the movement of the belly as the breath passes in and out.
  3. Stay with the experience of the breath as best you’re able using one of these techniques: counting, noticing the speed, making mental notes using labels such as “in” and “out” or “rising” and “falling,” or coupling a word with each breath.
  4. At first you won’t be able to keep your attention on the breath, because your mind will become distracted by thoughts, emotions, and sensations. When it wanders, gently direct it back to the breath. The breath becomes the anchor to which you return in order to stabilize and focus your attention. 

Starting a Mindfulness Meditation Practice

Fundamental Dharma Teachings

The Four Noble Truths

Glossary of Buddhist Terms

Recommended Reading