Meditation for Newcomers

What is Meditation?

"Meditation is mind's gift to itself" - Lama Ole Nydahl
In Buddhism, meditation means "effortlessly remaining in what is." This state may be brought about by calming and holding the mind, by working with the body's energy channels and meditating on Buddha forms of light and energy. The most effective method is the constant identification with one's own Buddha nature which is taught in the Diamond Way. By keeping the highest view during and between the times of meditation, the goal of the Great (skt. Mahamudra) is reached.Everything we experience is created in our own mind. This is why it is so important to experience the timeless, indestructible nature of mind. Through meditation, mind’s full potential is realized, which step by step leads to the goal of Buddhist practice: Enlightenment.

New to Buddhism & Meditation?

What comes to mind when you think of Buddhist meditation? A saffron-robed yogi on a freezing mountaintop, completely still, experiencing no thoughts at all? It can be a little intimidating or confusing for a lay person looking to start a meditation practice.  You are invited to join us on our "Newcomer Day", for an introduction to Buddhist meditation, followed by a guided Meditation on the 16th Karmapa. One of our friendly members will provide a brief overview of who we are and what we do prior to the meditation. Individual questions are welcomed.  Please make allowance for +/- 60-90 minutes for the introduction and meditation (times will vary depending on the day).  See our regular meditation schedule

What meditations are suitable for newcomers?

The very first meditation that you’ll learn in a Diamond Way Buddhist centre, while very profound and authentically Buddhist, is easy to approach for newcomers to the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. The main practice is the Meditation on the 16th Karmapa, which was composed by the head of the Karma Kagyu lineage specifically for busy Westerners. It is offered regularly and guided in English – see our regular meditation schedule.  Having learnt it, you can practice this meditation in the centre or at home.  Should you wish to deepen your practice, you can additionally embark on the Four Foundational Practices (Tib: Ngöndro), for which you can receive explanations in your local centre.

Do I need any special equipment?

You won’t need to bring anything, just come as you are. We are lay Buddhists (not monastic), and the style in the centre is relaxed.  Meditation cushions, blankets and mats are provided. People who meditate a lot usually use a mala, or set of meditation beads, to help them focus  A mala is also needed for some meditations where you want to count how many repetitions you do. But it’s not necessary in the beginning.

Can I try a guided meditation for beginners before I come?

Absolutely. You can meditate along with Lama Ole Nydahl, a modern Buddhist meditation master, in the video below. This is a simplified version of the meditation that we do in the centre.


Do you sit in the full lotus position?

As long as you can meditate with with good posture – i.e. relaxed with an upright spine, that’s the most important thing. If your sitting position is so uncomfortable, that you cannot concentrate on the meditation, that defeats the purpose!  Most people end up meditating in a simple cross-legged position, in some variation of a half-lotus, with the right foot on the left thigh. Should you have problems sitting on the floor, you can even use a chair.  With our meditation practices, we do not lie down, as we want to avoid getting drowsy.

Does it cost anything?

You can participate in our meditation evenings free of any obligation or charge, in order to find out if it is the right thing for you. The centers are run on the basis of donations, minor membership fees and idealistic voluntary work.  We are a Non-Profit Company.

Meditating in Daily Life

For best results, Buddhist teachers advise us to meditate regularly. Most of us already have busy schedules, so what strategies can we use to integrate daily meditation into our lives?

After trying the meditation on the 16th Karmapa in a Diamond Way Buddhist center, what next? If you like the general feeling of this main meditation and the people in the center, it means that probably Diamond Way meditation methods suit you. All of our centers offer the meditation on the 16th Karmapa at least once a week. And we can also use these methods at other times.

It makes sense to take refuge first thing in the morning – to open up to the goal of enlightenment, to the teachings that bring us there, our friends on the way, and our chosen teacher. Turning our mind towards lasting values, and strengthening the wish to be useful to others, sets an excellent frame for the day. Having taken refuge, we can use brief moments throughout the day, when the boss has gone out or the children are sleeping, for informal meditation sessions. Performing a shortened version of the meditations on the teacher that we have already learned and practiced formally is a great way to step off the treadmill of our ordinary attitude.

And of course, including a formal meditation session at the beginning or end of each day (or whenever possible) ensures that we are not only growing older, but also wiser.

Can I just meditate at home?

After learning a meditation by getting the explanations and meditating it through with someone in the center, you can practice it home or anywhere, not only in a Buddhist center.

Most Diamond Way practitioners combine both — the comfort of meditating at home and the support of meditating in the Buddhist center with people doing the same meditations. In the Buddhist center, someone is always available to answer questions we might have about our meditation practice. This is especially useful if we decide that we want to take Diamond Way Buddhism as our path and start the Foundational Practices.

Being around the sangha (Buddhist practitioners) is a great way to strengthen friendships as well as our practice. Rich human exchange with friends who are on the same path as us is a real gift and is a helpful mirror to our own development.

Meditation courses

Meditation courses offer the chance to practice more intensively, or to learn new things. In Tibet, the Karmapas and other Kagyu masters would often travel from one place to another with hundreds of their students, meditating with them and giving teachings as they went. Travelling to meditation courses/events, near and far, whether small events with a handful of friends, or large international courses of a several thousand people, is very common among Diamond Way Buddhists. It always brings an enriching exchange with the teacher and fellow practitioners. A great opportunity to meet Diamond Way Buddhists from all over the world is to attend the annual Summer Course in the Europe Center, which always has a full program of meditation and teachings or empowerments by high lamas.