Teachers and Communities
The Importance of a Teacher and Spiritual Community
Probably the best way to sustain a regular and productive practice of meditation is to find a suitable teacher and spiritual community. Of course you can "go it alone" but most people find a teacher and spiritual community provides a nurturing and sustainable foundation for a long term spiritual practice. This is by no means a revolutionary idea, rather people have realized the benefits of a teacher and community for millennia - think Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and so on.
The challenge is to find which teacher and community is the right one for you. Spiritual Communities tend to form around spiritual teachers, individuals who, through their own spiritual practice, have developed the capacity to serve aspiring seekers. Again you, and only you, can determine which teacher and community resonates with you.
Here is something reassuring Sri Chinmoy once said about the individual's (seeker) search for a teacher, "There is no seeker on earth who will remain without a teacher if he is desperately in need of one. If his aspiration is intense, if his inner cry is constantly mounting, how can God remain asleep? It is God who has kindled the flame of aspiration in that particular seeker, and it is God who will bring a spiritual master to him or place him at the feet of a spiritual master."
You can start by exploring which teachers and spiritual communities might appeal to you. Most meditation communities have some kind of public functions you can attend and many are free. Try a search for "meditation practice" with the name of your city. You could also try reading various teachers writings to see if you connect with them.
If you are serious about embarking on a long-term and dedicated meditation practice then at some point you will need to commit to a certain type teacher and practice and stick to it. Don't become a "spiritual tourist" floating from one group or teacher to another. Like anything in life if you want to make progress then you have to put in the "hard yards" and make a dedicated long-term effort.
Ultimately only you can direct your life. Spiritual teachers, family and friends can all make suggestions and provide direction but in the end it is your choice, so be mindful and be wise in how you choose to live your spiritual life.
"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience." - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
About the Author
Salil Wilson has been practicing meditation for 27 years under the guidance of Sri Chinmoy. Salil also serves as the Executive Director of the World Harmony Run, an global Torch-Relay - promoting the ideals of peace and international understanding.