What I Learned Teaching Meditation for an Indian Guru
I was 21 when I learned to meditate. After graduating from college, I moved into an ashram to study and practice the teachings of an Indian guru, Prem Rawat.
Five years later, he invited me to be a meditation instructor. After completing a three-month training program with a dozen other young people, I went on tour for four years throughout North America, Europe, Africa, and Australia, speaking at nightly meetings and helping people from all walks of life learn how to meditate.
After 49 years of practicing meditation as well as teaching, counseling, and observing others, I want to share three principles that contribute to a fulfilling experience of meditation: your attitude, what and how you practice, and your life orientation.
Attitude is how you approach the practice of meditation. It includes how you deal with expectations, your thirst to know the inner world, how patient you are, how you deal with spiritual concepts, and how open-minded you are to the inner experience.
Imagine you’re eating a hot, spicy meal like an Indian curry. Just after you’ve taken a bite, someone offers you a glass of expensive cabernet. Your taste buds are on fire, filled with aromatic spices. You take a sip, but the spices of the curry mask the subtle flavors of the wine — you can’t appreciate the full experience of the cabernet.
The same dichotomy holds for meditation. The experience is subtle, soft, and gentle, like a good wine. But we’re used to a world of stimulation — smartphones, text messaging, television, Zoom calls, working hard, and peak experiences of all types releasing adrenaline and endorphins into our bloodstream. So bringing an expectation of what you think the experience of meditation ought to be, is like having a mouth full of curry — we can’t appreciate the experience even though it’s right in front of us.
The best way to approach meditation is to have no expectations. Just be as attentive and present as you can.