Monday, February 03, 2014

Meditation Monday Postponed

You know, it seemed like a good idea at the time.  I wanted to do the Commit to Sit Challenge and starting today was perfect.  Then I started catching a cold.  I don’t know about you but I don’t like starting something new when I feel icky so I’m going to postpone my start date. 

Still, I thought I might share a few meditation resources because sometimes people ask me what I recommend and my mind becomes overwhelmed.  See, the problem is that there are so many wonderful ways to meditate, recommending anything means that I’m favoring one form of practice over another.  So I had an epiphany.  Rather than write one post about meditation, I’d just share a few every now again.  Sometimes it will be thematic, focusing on a particular type of meditation. Other times it will be more haphazard. 

On that note, here are some books I especially recommend.  If you know nothing else about me, you probably know I love reading so, naturally, I would start with a book or two. 

The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh is a short book, easy to read, but impossible to master, really.  You could spend a lifetime practicing mindfulness meditation and still find new things to learn and experience.  Some days it feels impossible.  Other days it feels miraculous.  One of the mistakes I made when I began meditating was thinking that if I kept at it, eventually I would get it right.  Now I know that mastering meditation is less complicated than I could ever have imagined.  And Thây’s writings have carried me a long way in releasing my expectations for what my meditation practice ought to be and just leaving space for it to be what it is, whatever it is, each time.

Lovingkindness by Sharon Salzberg is another treasure.  A small book with so much wisdom.  Salzberg introduces Metta Meditation which uses traditionally repeated phrases, wish the best for yourself and for others.  You can find CDs with guided meditation practices from Salzberg and others.  For those who find sitting in silence uncomfortable or who grew up in a prayer-based tradition, the Metta Meditation is a lovely way to experience mindfulness while stilling the mind with words. Of all the forms of vocalized meditation, this is perhaps my favorite.  You'll find different teachers who phrase the meditation slightly differently but the intention remains the same.  

Commit to Sit edited by Joan Oliver Duncan is a collection of short essays by many of the familiar names in Buddhist circles.  I haven’t read the book but I have read some of the articles culled from Tricycle magazine included in this single volume, including the ”Commit to Sit Challenge” featured in the Spring 2007 issue.  I would recommend this book for that one article alone, it is truly that good! 

It’s easy to get caught up in accumulating information and things without ever actually sitting down and doing the practice.  Although I’ll be sharing more resources as I go along, I hope you won’t get too caught up in trying to get everything that strikes your fancy.  Begin where you are.  Choose one resource and see if it feels like it’s right for you.  As I said, there are many ways to meditate and I’ll try to cover a lot of possible ways of creating a practice that meets your needs.  It may be you need a more active practice and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Or it may be that you have a practice in place already that feels stale.  Commit 28 days to something new.  And, when the 28 days are done, do what they say to do in AA:  Take what you like, leave the rest.  It’s not like I’m gonna tell on you!

Do you have any questions about meditation?  Is there a type of meditation about which you've heard that you'd like to try but you don't know where to begin?  Ask me whatever you like.  I know I don't have all of the answers but I know how to find them.


2 comments:

  1. Sounds like pretty interesting reads. I need meditation in my life :)

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    1. Assuming all goes well, I'll be sharing more than books. There are so many ways to practice meditation that I'll be sharing DVDs, CDs, and more books, naturally. I know I need meditation in my life and as soon as I am free from this cold, I'll be puling out the zafu.

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