"I expanded my knowledge of what meditation can look like."

Nelly: Podcast – May 19, 2024

Linda: Podcast May 20, 2024 (scroll down)


Nelly Kaufer

We do not guide meditation. We trust you can find your own guidance, your internal compass. There are times when you will skillfully guide yourself. On a Sati Sangha website this is characterized as “care” — learning to care for oneself in meditation. While we forge a somewhat different path of development, we also respect that guided meditation can be helpful.

We suggest being open and receptive to what happens during meditation. We are so conditioned to direct and control our experience, to make it better or how we think it should be, though it is not usually or often necessary to do this. There is a freedom and a relief that comes with no longer needing to control or direct or always “be on top” of what’s going on. As we are more receptive more often we learn that most of the time our minds are trustworthy.

Here are some thoughts from an edited version of “Trust Your Mind”, an article I wrote some time ago.

“You can trust your mind in meditation. What Reflective Meditators can trust is the development of awareness and a gentle reflective inner dialogue within meditation. A trusting curiosity, rather than specific instruction or guided meditation helps you become more aware of what is going on in your inner world, what you are thinking, feeling, and sensing. Think about it: when you are with a trusted person, you can reveal more of yourself. Over time, you develop this trusting stance toward the varieties of your meditative experiences. You gain greater awareness of your “usual” states of mind as you reveal more of yourself to yourself in meditation. This awareness will transform usual ways of relating to these states of mind. This trusting curiosity slowly enters your life. You gain more awareness of what you are doing and saying throughout your days and the inner world you inhabit. You will likely develop more awareness of habitual patterns and this awareness itself is transformative.”

Once we become more aware of the landscape of inner life in meditation we may find ourselves guiding ourselves. This guidance comes from an inner knowledge, a tried and true knowing that guides us to what may be more beneficial. For example, we might benefit from more relaxation and we are familiar with how to develop that in meditation. Or we might be on a thought train that we have been on countless times and it has been a dead end. We sense that there is nothing new to be learned from going down that repetitive thought stream so we redirect. There will be many other times when it is more caring to guide your meditation into different states of bodymind.

What’s important here is that we can become our own guides. That we won’t go to the depths in unmanageable ways but instead the depths will be revealed in manageable chunks and that we can redirect when too much. Over time we become more reliable than outside guides because we know best what we need and when we need it.


Linda Modaro

When I was training teachers from other sanghas to teach RM, to guide or not to guide was a common topic for us to explore. For those who learned meditation with a teacher’s voice guiding during the meditation sitting, it’s a harder transition into teaching Reflective Meditation. Harder to trust that others can learn this way, especially beginners. People new to meditation.

Their questions: How can I teach someone to meditate in a way that I didn’t start with? Is the reason I can guide myself because I have been meditating for a long time? Many of those teachers went back to teaching the practice they were trained in, or creating a hybrid practice. One teacher guides people using the language of our instructions: being gentle, curious, kind and leaving more space between their guidance so at times you may forget they are even there.

I muse a bit at those of us who teach Reflective Meditation, who embrace teaching to develop one’s inner guidance. Does it have something to do with the way we learned meditation? Though, this seems to be an unanswerable question. Especially if I don’t chalk it up to some speculative answer: it’s our karma. Or some generalized answer: we all felt such relief finding Reflective Meditation. Or some crazy theory: we all had helicopter mums who interrupted our play time.

But I can infer something here: finding one’s own path is a high priority for us. Making the practice your own is a high priority. Finding your own voice is a high priority. I’ll use an example of when you hear your voice on a recording, and feel the alarm of do I really sound like that!? How long it takes to become accustomed to what you say and how you sound – how much you want to edit out the ums and ahs, and wish you had said it better. It takes quite a bit of patience and determination to continue to listen to yourself.

Teachers who guide meditation often sound so soothing, calm, and friendly – like the GPS on my husband’s car – well modulated and in control. You invite their voices in, and they can “get in your head”. That’s how most people learn meditation. So, I’ll ask a few questions: When do you need an external voice to guide you, as we all need a hand to hold during meditation sometimes? Have you become dependent on those voices to meditate? When do those voices eclipse your own understanding and ways of knowing to arise? Is it time for you to transition to allowing your own voice to be heard during meditation?