Thursday 17 June 2010

Review: The Meditation Experience

Meditation is one of those things that I know is supposed to be good for me, but I've rarely done.

The main excuse I've made is that I'm a busy person, but I also had this niggling feeling that I wasn't very good at it.

I felt that "proper meditation" meant being able to empty one's mind and sit still for long periods of time. Being naturally impatient and having to juggle the many different responsibilities of work, home and family, being a carer and also writing a daily blog, mean sitting still and doing nothing is something I find almost impossible.

Of course, meditation is actually one of the best things for busy people as it helps reduce stress and improves concentration.

And, of course, I was completely wrong in thinking that meditation is only done correctly by sitting still and emptying one's mind - as I found out when I recently read The Meditation Experience: Your Complete Meditation Workshop in a Book.

The Meditation Experienceis by Madonna Gauding, who is also the author of The Meditation Bible: The Definitive Guide to Meditations for Every Purpose, in the Godsfield Bible Series. It aims to be a complete meditation workshop in a book and presents a range of meditation techniques from around the world, with practical exercises that do not require any prior experience of meditation. A CD that accompanies the book provides verbal instructions, guided meditations and instrumental tracks to use as required.

The book is a series of exercises in the form of meditations, building up from very basic techniques such as taking deep, steady, regular breaths and learning to relax your body while listening to gentle music.

I was also very relieved to learn that I'm certainly not alone in finding it hard to empty my mind - and most meditative techniques don't even require that. The book explains that there are four basic types of meditation: using an object or image to focus on; using mindfulness to become more aware of the contents of one's mind, the feelings in one's body or the outside world; using a topic such as a philosophical concept or a passage from a spiritual book; and using the senses, such as chanting a mantra, listening to music or harnessing the mind's power in a guided visualisation or pathworking.

Madonna Gauding recommends reading the book through from cover to cover before starting the exercises, which I did. I found it easy to read, and highly informative.

I'd had a particularly stressful morning just before I began actually doing the exercises. I won't go into the full details, but it included heavy grocery shopping, an appointment being cancelled at the last minute, a minor car incident and a frustrating argument with my mother. Just a couple of easy meditative exercises got me feeling calm, relaxed and able to cope with the day ahead - which included writing this review.

Of course, as well as being a useful relaxation technique, meditation is used for spiritual development in religions from all over the world - by Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and pagans.

The publisher, Octopus Books, says:
"Practiced throughout the world and within many different religions, meditation has long been a pathway to spiritual harmony and enlightenment. This book provides you with a personalised, practical and direct experience of meditation, and demonstrates the powerful healing that can be achieved by mastering this art."
The Meditation Experience is not at all preachy, however. It allows people to pick what suits their own belief system and ignore anything they feel uncomfortable with.

The book seems pretty good value for money and ideal for someone who wants to learn to meditate, but can't afford the time or expense of going to a supervised weekend workshop.

The Meditation Experience: Your Complete Meditation Workshop in a Bookis available through Amazon


Rob LightBearer said...

fantastic post, im glad you wrote about it because your feelings reflect so many other peoples. Meditation is an artform but not a strict and rigid discipline but a way of life, and hopefully more people will read about your quandry and think again

City Wiccan said...

Thank you for this review. I do have a meditation practice and I will admit it is difficult and sometimes inconsistent. As someone who has trouble sitting still it takes a lot of practice.

This sounds like a very useful book.