So what is Buddhist meditative practices? Often divided into two categories: wisdom practices, and method practices, the Wisdom practices are designed in a way for the practitioner to perceive, or experience the true nature of human experience. It is often called Emptiness or the Truth of No-Self by many Buddhists, the Wisdom practices can lead to enlightenment. On the other hand, Method practices may lead to conditions that are favorable for wisdom practices to occur. If you engage in Buddhist meditation practices, there is a good possibility that it falls into the Method category.
So now you’ve decided to try Buddhist meditation practice. What’s next? The old Buddhist adage is, Best not to start, once started, best to finish. In other words, the path is not easy. It requires years of devotion and encourages you to see it through to end.
So look for and try a variety of meditation practices until you find something that works for you, the way you want it to work for you. For example – if you want stress-relief, find some stress relief! However, stay away from expensive practices that promise the moon and stars. Those practices will only lead to a lighter checking account without ever reaching the moon and the stars. Instead, look for practices that encourage you to look inward and know yourself in simple terms; the way one gets to know a new friend. A good Buddhist practice will help you check in with yourself, not check out.
Find a practice that encourages friendly, compassionate curiosity about your own existence and experience. A good start is simple breath meditation. If you give your breath all of your attention, everything you’ve got, you will understand the kind of focus that is possible. You will also understand how difficult it is stay focused. Don’t be surprised if your mind constantly tries to pull you away from clear, steady, awareness. Eventually, you may discover that it is worth your effort to develop focused attention and your new-found focus might just be your own nature, existence and humanity. With practice and dedication you could turn your attention outward, to your world, and decide that you can contribute in some way. That’d be great way to start on a new path!