on 31 January 2011
If, like me, you want to try meditation but are put off by the religious/ spiritual vocabulary that often comes with it, this book is an excellent one. I had dabbled with other texts, CDs etc but was always uncomfortable with the religious aspects that often underlie them.
This book is clear, well illustrated and gives a wide variety of meditation techniques. It begins with a very clear guide to posture, basic breathing meditation and other techniques - mindfulness, visualisation, meditating with nature sounds etc. This is all supported by a CD which, after playing it a few times, I found I didn't need to use again. There are occasional 'notes' pages to allow you to chart your progress and see which of the meditations work best for you.
A few of the meditations included are indeed derived from Eastern spiritual traditions, but they are offered amongst a wide range of others and all are offered as possibilities, not as mandatory. Speaking as a fairly cynical person who has been ejected from 3 yoga classes for laughing out loud, I am delighted with this book. It really is a good course in meditation, and I have now made meditation a daily practice which I look forward to.
on 17 June 2010
The Meditation Experience is 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 thought I would find it hard to empty my mind, but I was relieved to learn that I'm certainly not alone in that - and most meditative techniques don't even require it. 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.
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.
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 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.