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Meditation for Beginners: Techniques for Awareness, Mindfulness & Relaxation (For Beginners (Llewellyn's)) Paperback – October 8, 2002


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Product Details

  • Series: For Beginners (Llewellyn's)
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Publications (October 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 073870203X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738702032
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #260,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

A professional astrologer for over twenty-five years, Stephanie Jean Clement, Ph.D., was a board member of the American Federation of Astrologers and a faculty member of Kepler College and NORWAC. Her Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology prepared her to work with clients in defining their creative potential and refining their creative process. Her books include Charting Your Career; Dreams: Working Interactive, What Astrology Can Do for You; The Power of the Midheaven; Charting Your Spiritual Path with Astrology; Meditation for Beginners; and Mapping Your Birthchart.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1
Why Meditate?
No one has ever plumbed the depths of either the conscious or the subjective life. In both directions we reach out to Infinity.
Ernest Holmes
The Science of Mind
If you are reading this first chapter of this book, you have probably already asked the question, “Why meditate?” You might also have some ideas about why you want to explore meditation further. Maybe your friends have tried it and you’ve seen some beneficial changes in them. Perhaps your doctor has suggested that you find ways to relieve stress. You may have heard something about it in a class or workshop and decided to get more information. This chapter lists different reasons why people begin meditating, as well as the short- and long-term results you can expect from it.
The most basic result of meditation is an altered state of consciousness. Actually, this result is not difficult to achieve, as your state of mind changes from moment to moment anyway. With meditation, however, there is a certain direction that the alteration is expected to take: muscles relax, emotional states become more calm, the mind rests, blood pressure decreases, pulse rate declines, the eyes focus in a different way, breathing slows, and an awareness of sounds in the immediate environment may increase.
If you meditate for an extended period of time, you may become aware of the shifting angle of the sun coming in a window. Your awareness may extend to other people in the room, or to sounds outside the building. Some people have said they can tune in to the movement of the planet itself by lying still on the ground and looking up at the night sky.
If your only meditation goal is relaxation, you will meet a challenge. Yes, your muscles relax, your emotions become quiet, and your heart rate slows. You can achieve measurable stress reduction in this way. On the other hand, the chatter in your mind becomes more and more apparent as you become quiet. Also, after an extended period of sitting in a meditative posture, your muscles begin to rebel. You develop twitches, muscles begin to cramp if the posture is unusual, and you fidget. What is meant to be relaxing becomes uncomfortable—sometimes quite uncomfortable.
During extended meditation it is helpful to vary your technique. A period of sitting can be followed by a few minutes of walking to loosen up your muscles. You may think that ten minutes is a long time to sit still, and one minute of walking around is enough to flex and stretch. Often, people sit for forty-five to fifty minutes and walk for ten.
Meditation is not about how much time you put into it. Unless you live in a monastery or ashram, you probably don’t have many hours each day to devote to meditation. However, you do have shorter periods of time available. The following are some examples:
•After you come home from school or work and have prepared supper, use the fifteen to twenty minutes while your food is baking in the oven.
•When you are on a plane or train or bus.
•When you are getting a haircut.
•When you are waiting for an appointment.
•When you are in the dentist’s chair and waiting for the shot to take effect. (I know, this one will be a challenge for almost everybody!)
•When you are walking, running, or jogging.
•When you are painting, raking leaves, or doing other repetitive work.
By the same token, there are other times when your conscious attention needs to be given to what you are doing, and safety is an issue. Examples include:
•Driving a car
•Weightlifting
•Boiling or frying food
•Using any sharp implements
•Caring for children
•Crossing streets or roads
•Handling breakable objects
•Attending a lecture or performance
•Walking up or down stairs
•Moving furniture
These lists are not exhaustive, but they show that you can find meditative moments in your daily life. You don’t have to set aside hours of time. If you can, that may be helpful. If not, find short bits of time and make use of them each day. Meditation will help you become more clear and focused when you are engaged in those other activities that demand your conscious attention.
Meditation Goals
If your meditation goals go beyond relaxation, then you will want to experiment a bit to find methods that help you to achieve those goals. Don’t get me wrong, relaxation is an admirable goal in our stressful modern lives. In fact, it is essential to physical and emotional health. Still, you may have other goals for your meditation.
Insight
Insight is a time-honored goal of meditation. Eastern adepts and Western monks and nuns have spent years in meditation or retreat in order to discover their connection to the universal plan. Your personal goals are just as important
to you.
I will relate a story told to me by an elderly Episcopal priest. He had been a priest all his adult life. During the Lenten season he had undertaken a forty-day retreat, something most of us will never do. He had devoted his life to understanding the nature of God and to helping others. In a conversation with me concerning how we demonstrate our love of God and what we feel we owe God, he said, “You know, Stephanie, I have been a priest for over sixty-five years, and in these past weeks on retreat I have only now learned something about Him. God does not put us on Earth just so that we can love Him. He puts us here so that He can love us.” This simple statement changed my life. Since that conversation I have often remembered this, and I have occasionally shared it with people who seemed to need reassurance that we each are part of a larger spiritual plan.
Now, we are not all priests or monks and we cannot all go on extended meditation retreats. What we can do is take the moments we have to calm our minds. Then we can perceive our place in the universal plan more clearly. You may connect through the Goddess, through multiple gods, through vibrational methods, through scientific investigation, or whatever means suits you. You can devote as much time as you wish to your meditation goals. Personally, I have found that more is not necessarily better, but some is necessary. The pace of my life could easily prevent me from having the time to write, for example. I can always find something else to do. Brief moments of quiet allow me to formulate and reorganize my thoughts. Then I can sit down and put the words together.
When you have a complex problem in the work environment, you need to get away from it to get a different perspective and to let the details sort themselves out in a way that points to a solution. Meditation provides one means of this. Sometimes a walk around the block is enough to accomplish this task.
Regarding the practice of meditation, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche has written:
Many people expect the result of meditation to come in a short space of time, overnight, so to speak, but this is not possible. It is a process of development wherein consistency is the key. If we practice every day, regularly, even for a short period of time, that will add to our development.1
Whatever your meditation goals, you can begin with just the simple act of sitting down and trying it. You don’t need any fancy equipment or clothing and you need not revolutionize your daily schedule. Eventually you may want to find a teacher or attend workshops, but for now all you have to do is begin.
exercise
beginning to meditate
Read through the exercise, then close the book.
1. Sitting comfortably with your hands in your lap, or standing in a quiet spot, look at the cover of this book.
2. Relax your eyes and simply look.
3. Allow your attention to examine the details of the book’s cover.
4. Continue doing this until you see something that catches your attention.
5. Then focus on why it caught your attention. Was it the color, the shape, the texture?
6. Refocus on the book’s cover, and continue for a few moments.
7. Does something else arise to take your attention?
8. Notice any connections you make between the book’s cover and your personal experience as you do this exercise.
Whatever arises for you is a bit of insight. It may not be the most profound insight you will ever experience, but it is insight. In the moments when we are not totally focused on the outer environment, or when we have a gap in our thought process, we allow insight to pop into our minds. You don’t need a huge gap, just a relaxed state and attention to the meditation process.
summary
The simple act of altering your focus can place you in a slightly altered state of mind. In fact, we alter our states of mind every moment of our waking (and sleeping) life. We are constantly processing information, relating it to what we already know, and storing it for future use. Usually we are not conscious of the process, but we enter an altered state from moment to moment to moment.
The next chapter introduces a few meditation postures and other meditation tips.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By "roxx33" on October 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
This isn't my way of telling you not to read the book. Meditation for Beginners is the only title that I've seen that tells you "read through the exercise, then close the book." Since I am not one long on patience, or someone who follows directions all that well, this advice is perfect for me. If you're new to meditation, you will soon learn that it isn't just the stereotype of chanting "om" in the most uncomfortable position possible. This book shows several types of meditation, such as using walking, mantras, cards, and dreams. Easily distracted? It's okay, part of meditation can be "thinking about thinking." Find the right posture and breathing that works best for you. Should your eyes be opened or closed? Many options are explored to help you find the best possible experience. Meditation for Beginners teaches you how to lock on to inner awareness, even if your thoughts show you being aware of nothing but distraction. This book will encourage you to move to the next levels of relaxation so you can ultimately reach a point of peace and visualization, it will surely lower your blood pressure.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By KJ Colleen on March 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
I was dissapointed with this book, because it was exactly what I was trying to avoid. Clement falls into the same trap as so many other authors - they tell you when to meditate, why to meditate, who meditates - but never gives a good explanation on HOW to meditate. She never quite gets to the meat and potatoes of meditation. This is a good book to read if you've never heard of meditation - not one article, not one example of the experience - an absolute beginner. Otherwise, throw this junk aside. There are better, more complete guides available (such as "The Best Guide to Meditation" by Victor Davich).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Naveen Garg on January 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book makes you curious about meditation and then makes it easy for you to do it by giving very simple instructions.
The quote from frost's poem "mending wall" in this book is a great motivator to question yourself how meditation might make you think in new ways.
It also gives you examples from every day activities that are similar to its ideas of meditation. But it clarifies watching tv is not meditation, neither is highway hypnosis. It gives you techniques to make you more self aware when involved in these tasks. It also teaches you to concentrate when your mind wanders.
Easily one of the most efficient self help books available.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Clement on November 5, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Since I wrote Meditation for Beginners, I have been so excited to see it translated into languages from around the globe. My intention was to develop a book that helps people try meditation without making a commitment to some unknown regimen or dogma. Each chapter in the book encourages you to try something and then decide if it works for you. You may discover that you already have activities that involve meditative practices -- you may not be a raw beginner at all!

The English book has gone through three covers, but retains the original interior design, which I found to be user-friendly from the beginning. Now you can carry it around on your electronic device and have it handy when you travel. The chapters are short enough to read and digest in one sitting, yet you may find yourself returning to your favorites again and again.

Happy reading!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Occam on September 17, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic book. The reviews here aren't doing this little gem justice by any means. I've read several meditation books, and this one synthesizes the ideas of meditation beautifully and simply. Whether you are completely new to meditation, or have some hours of practice under your belt, you will find insight and clear information in this book.

Stephanie has a gentle, logical approach to the practice, ideas, and benefits of meditation. She clearly explains what meditation is, what it isn't and the various types. She moves slowly, but keeps your interest and provides exercises to do before moving on. It's a great course on meditation, an easy, worthwhile read, and definitely worth the price, as it the ideas and methods within will change your life if you practice them.
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