Online Meditation Courses: How to Find the Best Online Meditation Course for You
Online meditation courses are a popular way to explore meditation and spirituality. Below, we’ll discuss what to look for in meditation courses online, and how to find the best online meditation courses for your interests and goals in your own meditation practice.
What Online Meditation Courses Are
An online meditation course in a structured meditation program, offered online—through a video platform like Zoom, through online course software, through video recordings on YouTube or Vimeo, and more.
The key benefit of online meditation courses is that they allow you to deepen and grow your meditation and spiritual practice from anywhere, and without taking time away to travel. As such, they offer flexibility, convenience, and access to a wide range of teachers and traditions.
Online meditation courses let you explore meditation and spirituality from anywhere.
As with in-person courses, online meditation courses are similar to meditation retreats, but courses are generally shorter and less intensive. For example, an online course usually won’t have day-long periods of practice, which is more typical of a meditation retreat.
Meditation courses are similar to meditation retreats, but generally shorter and less intensive.
The one tradeoff to be aware of is that they may not carry the depth of personal connection and community that in-person courses can provide. A good way to think about this is: If you take a course that you love online, do your best to experience the same teachers, community, or teachings in person, and see if the experience takes on any added dimensions.
Finding the Best Online Meditation Course for You: What to Consider
As you search for the best online meditation course for you, consider the following factors:
- Your goals and interests: Online meditation courses cover numerous topics and goals, so think about what you hope to achieve—reduce stress, deepen your mindfulness meditation practice, explore a new meditation tradition, explore a particular spiritual path—and look for courses that align with your interests.
- Your experience level: Online meditation courses cater to different levels of experience, from beginners to seasoned practitioners. Look for courses that matches your current level of experience and knowledge.
- Course format: Online meditation courses may be live, self-paced (recorded), or a combination of these. Read on for the advantages and disadvantages of each.
In general, the best online meditation courses for you will be the ones that speak to you the most—in terms of topic, teachers, community—and that matches your schedule and experience level. This is very much a “feel thing,” so trust your intuition and go toward what you find exciting.
Go toward the courses that speak to you the most, and don’t be afraid of some trial and error.
Don’t be afraid of some trial-and-error as you’re finding what’s best for you. A main benefit of online meditation courses is the lower commitment than in-person events, especially retreats, so look around widely if you’re still finding what most resonates with you.
1. Self-Paced Online Meditation Courses
Self-paced, or recorded, online meditation courses offer the flexibility to learn at your own pace, and allow you to revisit course materials whenever you like.
Self-paced, or recorded, online meditation courses let you learn at your own pace, and allow you to revisit course materials anytime.
Shambhala Online offers a huge variety of recorded courses that cater to different interests and skill levels. These courses are led by experienced teachers and provide valuable teachings and guidance for your meditation journey.
Below are some of our best online meditation courses, organized by the goals and topics that they will help you explore.
To Start or Resume a Regular Meditation Practice: Learn to Meditate
This mindfulness meditation course provides the foundational techniques and guidance you need to establish a consistent meditation practice. Develop mindfulness, reduce stress, and gain insight into your own mind through this essential practice.
To Develop Self-Love: Learn to Love Yourself
Learn to Love Yourself will help you cultivate self-compassion and self-acceptance through mindfulness and loving-kindness practices. Learn to embrace yourself with kindness and care.
To Cultivate Compassion: Melting the Ice and Getting Unstuck: Talks On The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva
Explore the bodhisattva path: the path of universal compassion. You’ll learn how to develop a compassionate heart toward all beings, make use of loss and suffering as a source of growth, and follow the guidance left by previous Mahayana Buddhist practitioners.
To Explore Buddhism and the Buddhist Path: Foundations for Freedom: The Hinayana
Dive deep into the foundational teachings of Buddhism through this yearlong course series. Explore the core principles and practices of the Hinayana path, developing mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom in the process.
To Discover a Spiritual Path in Everyday Life: Meditation in Everyday Life and Contentment in Everyday Life
In Meditation in Everyday Life, you’ll learn how to integrate mindfulness and meditation into your daily routine, fostering a greater sense of presence, balance, and inner peace in your life.
In Contentment in Everyday Life, you’ll explore the art of cultivating contentment and gratitude in your day-to-day life, and develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be truly contented.
To Explore Human Goodness and How to Build a Good Society: The Basic Goodness Series
Who Am I? The Basic Goodness of Being Human invites you to explore the basic goodness that exists within you and all humans. Discover, and learn to appreciate, your true nature.
How Can I Help? The Basic Goodness of Society examines the interdependence of individuals and society, encouraging you to contribute positively to the world around you. Explore how you can be a force for good, and help create a more compassionate and just society.
What is Real? The Basic Goodness of Reality delves into the nature of reality through nondual perception. Awaken to your innate capacity to directly experience the essence of reality, the essence of basic goodness.
Want to see more options? To see these and our other self-paced online meditation courses, browse our full recorded course library.
Other Places for Recorded Meditation Courses Online
Not all meditation communities will have a publicly available course library, as they can be logistically challenging to set up. However, there are lots of other ways to find recorded online meditation courses. Here are a few possibilities:
- Video platforms like YouTube or Vimeo often host single talks and, sometimes, full courses. Search by teacher name or topic.
- Some meditation communities have recorded courses specifically for community members. Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s community is an example.
- Meditation apps like Headspace or Calm often have recorded audio or video courses.
2. Live Online Meditation Courses
Live online meditation courses let you connect in real time with teachers and fellow students. You can join in Q&As, and there may also be a suggested schedule for regular meditation. If you can find a live meditation course that fits your schedule, it can be a great way to explore a particular teacher, community, or set of teachings.
Live online meditation courses let you connect in real time with teachers and fellow students.
At Shambhala Online, we offer live online meditation courses year-round, for meditators of all experience levels. Drop into one of our live online mindfulness meditation courses to strengthen your connection with meditation practice, or explore courses that bring the heart of meditation to topics from health and wellness to the arts to the Buddhist teachings and beyond.
Many of our Shambhala Centres also offer rich online programming, much of which is open to participants living anywhere. See their upcoming programs to find online course offerings that interest you.
Finding a Meditation Community through Live Online Courses
Meditation communities have joined in the huge expansion of remote meetings the past few years, and so most medium-sized to large meditation communities will have live online meditation courses at least occasionally.
Most medium-sized large meditation communities will have live online courses.
This could be as simple as a short Q&A with a teacher or community member, or as elaborate as a multi-week course. A live meditation course online is an outstanding way to get a feel for a community, its teachers, and its teachings, so if you know you are interested in a particular teacher or community, explore their website to see what they have available.
If you’d like some recommendations for meditation communities to start with, you could check out the communities of Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche or Tsoknyi Rinpoche—but, of course, you might connect most with a tradition outside Tibetan Buddhism, so explore widely.
A Note on Free Online Meditation Courses
Free online meditation courses let you access teachings without financial constraints. Many offerings are free or close to free—for example, anything you find on YouTube will be.
Financial constraints should never be an obstacle, as most meditation communities offer lots of options.
In general, you should never worry about financial considerations being an obstacle to exploring your meditation practice. Most meditation communities make plenty of options available to suit your needs, including:
- Pay-what-you-can options, that let you pay an amount lower than the standard course price if you need to.
- Donation-based meditation courses (these are often called dana-based—dana is the Sanskrit word for generosity), which carry no specific cost and request you to give what you feel inspired to give.
- Flexible payment schedules or other custom arrangements.
Again, whether you’re specifically looking for free online meditation courses or whether you do have a budget, meditation is one area where people take pains to make the material accessible—so don’t worry about being able to access the best online meditation course for you based on financial constraints.
Enjoy Your Next Online Meditation Course!
By now you should have everything you need to find the best online meditation course for you. Nothing beats these courses as a convenient and accessible way to explore meditation and spirituality—so enjoy!