In my family we have this problem. . . see we just dont ask for help, ever. So when we are learning something new it requires a lot of trial and error, and often something that could be shown to me by a competent teacher i instead muddle my way through taking twice as long to get half as far. This was definitely the case for me and meditation. When i decided to learn about this whole Buddha stuff I had the same preconceptions as lots of folks do and spent way too much time arguing with my mistaken notion of what Buddhism is and what meditation is ‘for’.
eventually through practice, muddling, and reading I began to separate my goofball notion from the reality of the whole deal. Buddhism is both much simpler and much more sublime than the crude stereotypes i had associated with it. One of the main things I came to understand was that Buddhism is something you DO not something you BELIEVE. In fact belief is absolutely besides the point.
So I found this rather relaxed and accurate guide to starting meditation on you tube. I really wish I would have seen this 10 years ago, but hey, its there now. If you have any interest this little quick guide is all you need to know.
heres a few things that confused me about meditation that hopefully i can help you avoid.
1. you arent trying to achieve any special state. You dont need to stop thinking, you dont need to ‘feel peaceful’ or float, or any other wacky trance like shit. a trance is not meditation. meditation is being in reality moment by moment and just being with that moment.
2. meditation is not a way to feel better. it not going to make your bad day go away (though there are meditation-like exercises to help with stress, they arent technically Buddhist meditation) however, after some time with the practice you will find that all that stress simply stops arising and your ability to withstand the blows life inevitable throws your way becomes easier and more natural.
3. reincarnation, god, heaven or hell, all this stuff has nothing to do with Buddhism. they are questions that no person can answer with actual experience so in Buddhism we dont bother to ask them. Is there life after death? who knows!? I guess we will find out after we die, til then there is more important stuff to deal with now.
4. after many years I can tell you that meditation never gets fun. you never get trippy experiences (if you are doing it right) and it never feels like you have ‘gotten enlightened”. Were not looking for any sort of goal, and yet the ‘side effects’ of meditation do have beneficial results, the funny part is they dont show up til you quit looking for them.
5. its not a tough guy contest. its better to meditate for a few minutes every day than for 3 hours once a week. like anything in life worth doing, you build it gradually, stick with it regularly rather than doing it intensely every so often. The example that is often used is trying to make a fire by rubbing a stick against another stick, rubbing the stick for a few seconds here and there wont do anything, but doing it steadily for some time will get that fire lit!