Basic Meditation

Teachings in this section are about the basic meditation practices called calm abiding (shinay in Tibetan, shamatha in Sanskrit). Sometimes this family of practices is referred to as "mindfulness," or "mindfulness-awareness", or "shamatha-vipashyana," and are similar to practices taught by other Buddhist lineages as well, such as the Theravadan vipassana practice, and zazen in the Zen traditions.

The strength, clarity, and stability uncovered by calm abiding practice serves as the basis for the more challenging awareness and compassion practices, such as contemplation of the four limitless qualities and tonglen (sending and taking), which are a particular specialty of Pema Chödrön.

Among the Pema Chödrön programs, we recommend the first two talks and first two meditation instructions (by Carolyn Gimian) of the 143 set "Smile at Fear" for basic meditation instruction. The rest of the set is also excellent. You can also purchase Carolyn Gimian's instructions from the set separately. Books which include commentary on the path of mindfulness-awareness meditation include Turning the Mind into an Ally, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, The Path is the Goal, and The Heart of the Buddha. These books are by Pema Chödrön's teachers Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.

We recommend that students receive in-person meditation instruction from an authorized Shambhala instructor (or some other genuine lineage) if at all possible. We would be happy to answer questions about meditation practice. Feel free to call (269) 384-4167 or write Also check out our links page for referrals and resources to groups and instruction.

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