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Meditation Coaching – What To Expect

My meditation coaching calls have been picking up considerably and though there haven’t been any unmet expectations yet, it probably won’t hurt to let you know what to expect and not expect during a call. 🙂

My Meditation Coaching Sessions

You should know…

I’m not Buddhist. I’m not Hindu.

I don’t follow any religion.

I’m not an atheist. I don’t follow any spiritual teacher, modality, or mythology.

I don’t follow any guru or teacher specifically. I do like some of what Buddhism espouses, and I do like and agree with many of the things some Buddhist monks say about meditation. But I don’t follow anyone closely enough that I’m up-to-date on what they are saying currently.

I can’t advise you on how to better follow the Buddhist path. I can’t tell you about the 8 precepts or how to avoid the hindrances because there is no need to.

I can’t tell you I know anyone who is enlightened in the classic Buddhist interpretation in this present day, I’m not too sure I know anyone who is.

I can’t tell you all about the chakras or opening the third eye, or anything about the spirit realms.

I didn’t learn about all modalities of meditation and belief. I only know what I experienced, and though it mirrors what some other advanced meditators have experienced, there are lots of differences in HOW we all went about it.

There seem to be multiple paths that lead to multiple (and different) outcomes that are possible with a simple meditation practice of looking at the breath as the object of meditation.

Buddhists seem to believe there is only one goal of the meditation process – Nibbana. I think there are probably many possible outcomes, with Nibbana being only one of them.

My path has led to a complete revolution inside my mind. I’m nothing like the person I was before beginning my practice in 1997.

The changes within happened so quickly for me. I don’t attribute this to some special state of being I was in prior to beginning to meditate.

I don’t attribute this fast progression to some level of cosmic karma that I acquired or built up over my life.

I was certainly not in any sort of privileged position to receive these changes that occurred.

Presumably, you aren’t either.

I tend to think we’re all pretty much the same. We can all follow a path and see changes. Remarkable changes if you just stick with it for a bit. The changes may come very fast or they may go easier on you.

I don’t have any insight into what makes for faster changes or slower changes in some people. I suspect it has a lot to do with the exact process you use while meditating on the breath.

Meditation kutis (huts) for Buddhist monks to live in at a temple in Krabi, Thailand.
Buddhist monks stay in these tiny kutis (huts) while living at Wat Tham Seua in Krabi, Thailand.

Well, that, and a few more things we can get into later. But in talking with students I’ve coached in the past, we’ve discovered some distinct differences in the details of the meditation process.

There’s a qualitative difference.

There’s also a consistency that is necessary.

There are helpful actions you can use to prepare yourself for a good meditation session that is more likely to bring some advancement toward your goal.

Some people like to meditate for the pleasure of it. The bliss and/or feeling of equanimity they get out of it. The balance they feel. The good feelings.

Some people meditate for the social aspects it can bring. They like to talk about it with others and share experiences. The meditation itself becomes this sort of social construct that helps people come together.

That’s fantastic and it is what most people are really looking for in their practice. It can be a great way to connect with people.

If you’re looking for that, I can’t really be of any help.

While it’s great to connect with others, if you want to progress in your practice, having other people around is not going to help. I believe it’s going to be a detriment in most cases.

The meditation I’ve done hasn’t been (for the most part) full of joy, or bliss, or been the topic of extended conversation at the coffeehouse, park, or over dinner.

Oh yes, there have been moments of pure ecstasy and bliss that confounded the mind and showed me the power of meditation as a means to free the mind of fear and doubt, worry, and apprehension.

But most of the meditation sessions I had before getting into the Jhanas were just a means of relaxing and playing a sort of game with the attention of the mind. Not fun, but not stressful either. Just a consistent process that, over time, leads to mind-shattering results in people.

What Are You Looking for in Your Meditation Practice?

Is meditation a means to finding friends and sharing conversations and experiences? My coaching cannot help.

Let’s look some more at what I can and cannot help you with.

Is Meditation a Way to Relax After Stressful Days?

My coaching can help you to some degree, but what might be better is to combine meditation with some of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books on being in the present moment. Mindfulness + meditation + other relaxing activities can take the edge off stressful days.

I don’t do any guided meditation activities. You might find them helpful – there are many on YouTube by monks and other meditation teachers.

Unfook Your Meditation Practice

Many of us start out with a plan in mind for how we’re going to meditate. We may read a book or attend a course, or do a 10-day silent Vipassana Retreat and then begin our practice. Over time, the practice deteriorates and becomes not at all what you intended.

This happens to most people to some degree, I think. To be honest, talking with your friends about your practice and hearing how they’re doing something differently can have profoundly negative effects on your own practice. This happens often.

If your goal with meditation is to reach a highly concentrated state on the breath – “Samadhi” as some Buddhists call it – I can help you do this in our coaching sessions. It may just take one hour of coaching if you take notes and can implement it easily during your meditation session.

Jhana Experiences

More people are starting to hear about the experience of Jhana during meditation. Some insist that Jhana is necessary to reach Buddhist enlightenment. Others will tell you it is nothing to bother yourself with.

It does seem that most monks here in Thailand have given up on reaching the Jhanas. They don’t find it easy enough and have many reasons in their mind about why it won’t work, so they don’t try that hard. Some chalk it up to bad karma and past lives. Others are using techniques that won’t get them there. Still others are just not consistent enough.

Before even knowing what Jhana was, I had been through all of them. The ‘mundane’ and ‘supramundane’ Jhanas. When I was finally able to find a Western monk who was familiar with the states, I learned that I had somehow passed through them in the exact order of how they were supposed to come.

I don’t know why that’s so fascinating to me, it’s obviously a natural process the mind is capable of, but how is the mind capable of this? It’s one of the most perplexing mysteries about this whole journey that I have to this day.

I can help you reach the Jhana states. To me, they were nothing special. I didn’t hold them in high regard, and didn’t even have a clue that they were different levels as I moved through them just by letting go of whatever was present in the mind.

The higher you hold the Jhanas as a goal in your mind, the more difficult it will be to move through them. There is fear, apprehension, excitement, and bewilderment that hold you back. The states are different from anything you’ve ever experienced or imagined. If you think they are the key to your ascension into the realm of the gods you’ll have the worst time reaching them.

When you want them, they do not come. They slip away. The more you want them, the faster they’ll go away.

You can be on the doorstep of a Jhana and have a thought about OMG, this is IT! And it’s gone in a flash.

This happens constantly to monks and others who have put the Jhanas on par with having a meeting with God itself.

The sooner you can normalize the Jhanas as just another meditation experience, the better off you’ll be. This was part of the reason I wrote the book “101 Curious and Bizarre Meditation Experiences.”

When you see that many of the experiences that are absolutely meaningless (except for the brief thrill they provide) are every bit as weird and even weirder than the Jhanas, then you can start to normalize the Jhanas as something less than otherworldly or godly.

As a result, hopefully, you can experience them without so much apprehension and expectation.

Nibbana or Nothing!

Shaved head hair on the floor as I shaved my head to become a monk in Thailand.

If you’re looking for classic Buddhist enlightenment you are probably better off to join a Buddhist temple as a layperson and then take the monk robes in a couple of years when you’re sure about it.

It’s going to be hard to live in Western society when you have no desire to work, own a car, wear work clothes, and other things enlightened people probably don’t do.

I don’t know anyone who I think is enlightened, with the exception of maybe Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese monk who recently passed away. I’m not sure most of us could live the life of a modern-day enlightened monk. If you can, by all means, aim for it. 🙂

Oh, and yes, I think I could be helpful in teaching you to get into Jhana. For all of the other Buddhist stuff that goes with Buddhist Nibbana, you’ll have to find somewhere else.

A Typical 1-Hour Meditation Coaching Session with Vern

They usually go something like this:

  1. Introduction and I ask how you became aware of my coaching sessions. Usually, it’s through one of my books at Amazon, but more and more people are just finding the Jhana8.com blog when they search for information about Jhana.
  2. I ask what goals you have for the coaching session. I want to make sure I address these topics.
  3. I ask what you’re doing now in your practice. I need to know exactly how you practice and all the details so I can see how I can help you meet the goals you have.
  4. You can talk about or ask questions about anything you like. Many people ask me about odd experiences. Many ask about my own background. It’s up to you what we talk about, as long as we meet the goals you had for the coaching session.

Keep in mind, the order above can change, and questions can start immediately and go throughout the session. Usually, there are so many things to talk about and it’s all very interesting for me too!

The rate is just $30 per hour. I’ve had people say I am not charging enough, but in an ideal world it would be free, wouldn’t it? I charge just enough to cover some of my time and chalk the rest up to my contribution to the space.

What Does Meditation Coaching Do for People?

There are a few things different people mention to me over and over after we’ve had a session or two.

  1. They get very clear on the process they need to follow to make progress. This is one thing that is lacking in nearly everyone’s practice. Crystal-clear clarity.
  2. Almost everyone mentions how nice/refreshing it is to talk to someone about this topic, only about themselves and their experiences. I would have LOVED to talk to someone who could tell me what was going on with my practice in 1997-1999. I had tons of questions that Thai monks at the temples close to me couldn’t answer.
  3. Many people have mentioned that it’s nice to talk to someone who is not judgemental about or authoritarian about their meditation practice. There are few rules and not that many crucial pieces to this puzzle that you need to know and follow, but what you do need is to practice diligently. Big changes will happen, and if not, we can have another call to clarify whatever is holding you back. Everyone can experience positive gains with a well-guided meditation practice.

If you think you could benefit by talking with me about your meditation practice, whether you’ve never done so or have meditated for decades on end – contact me and we can start as early as today or tomorrow.

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