I can't recommend this book highly enough. To begin with, it's the most beautifully produced introduction to meditation I've ever seen. The text is easy to read, the layout is clear and uncluttered and the accompanying photographs are breathtakingly beautiful. If you wanted a coffee-table book about meditation, you need look no further than Wildmind - simply handling the book could make you feel relaxed and at peace with the world. But of course it's much more than that. As a guide to meditation it comes with an impressive track record on several levels. The material in the book is based on Bodhipaksa's on-line meditation resource, also called Wildmind, of which I, for one, am already a satisfied 'customer' (that's why I needed no prompting to buy this book on the day it was published, and how I already know that if you want it to, what it contains could help you change your life, as it has done for me). That material in turn is based on Bodhipaksa's own experience of meditation over a period of more than 20 years, both as a practitioner and as a teacher. And as if that weren't enough, the techniques he introduces have themselves been tried and tested over the 2 ½ millennia since the Buddha first taught them - they have already worked for millions of people across space and time, who have found in meditation one of the essential keys to happiness and spiritual growth.
The personal experience of teaching and practice on which the material in this book is based shines through on every page. Bodhipaksa is confident enough to be refreshingly honest about the ups and downs of his own experience, and that in itself gives the book an immediate appeal for the new meditator - you feel as though you have a trusted mentor at your side whenever you need advice or encouragement. And the lived experience of his students over the years combines to provide an invaluable resource on which he's been able to draw to identify - and then answer - every possible question or difficulty that might come up. This is, I think, one of the features that will make this book as invaluable to a more experienced meditator as it undoubtedly is for the novice, though as a practitioner of barely a year's standing, I can as yet speak only for the newcomer to meditation. All I can say so far is that I've found that the material in this book repays repeated reading - on different days, and certainly as I gain more experience, I notice different things, and have always found new insights here.
Something I particularly like about this book is the way Bodhipaksa strikes a balance between clear and sometimes minutely detailed instructions for individual practice with a consideration of the wider emotional and ethical environment in which we all operate, in our daily lives as well as in meditation practice - there is plenty here to make us think - about our attitudes to other people and to animals, for instance, to the consumer society, and to the environment and the planet's limited resources. One of the benefits of meditation for me has been to increase my awareness of how connected each of us is to each other, and how everything we think, say or do, however small, has an effect on the whole.
There really is something for everyone here. Bodhipaksa teaches Buddhist meditation but as he points out himself, you don't need to be a Buddhist to meditate. Wherever you're coming from, and wherever you want to go with your meditation, you'll find something here that speaks to you. There is wit and wisdom and a light touch here, there is kindness and empathy, and there's also a challenge for those of us who want to take it up - meditation can help all of us relax and unwind, but it can also help us change more profoundly if we are willing to put in the effort. Bodhipaksa is a wise and compassionate guide for those of us who want to start on that journey.