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An excellent book for beginners, but skip the companion CD
on August 12, 2004
This is an excellent book for beginners and skeptics (and I was both). It makes meditation easy. Really! It's also very well-written, reader-friendly, easy to read, and witty.
The book plugs a companion CD, available only at the author's website for $17. I bought the CD, have used it, and would like to review it here, so that those of you who buy the book can better decide whether you should spring for the CD.
The CD contains 16 tracks.
The first eight tracks are very short (e.g. 2-minutes), and summarize some of the content from the book. These short tracks are useful reminders of some of the key points in the book, but as the CD tells you, it is not intended to substitute for the book.
The rest of the CD consists of 8 "guided meditations," one for each week of the book's 8-week program. In each of these tracks, the author spends a few seconds telling you what activity you're supposed to do, then he tells you to start, then 8 minutes later a gong sounds, signaling you to stop. About every two minutes during the meditation, the author interrupts you to say things like "Has your attention drifted? That's okay, just return your focus to your breath." This type of reminder might be useful, especially at first, but after a while, I found it intrusive. Also, the sound of his voice is not especially soothing or gentle. For me, it's better to just do as the book says - use a common kitchen timer set to 8 minutes.
Aside from the occasional interruptions, there is complete silence during the 8 minute meditations. I prefer the silence to the soft new-age music or nature sounds on some other meditation CDs.
In my opinion, the CD is not a good value: the total amount of content on the CD is about 20 minutes, maybe less. This is due to the fact that the CD has a lot of silent parts during the guided meditations; this silence is appropriate, but it reduces the amount of time available for spoken content. And, more importantly, all of the spoken content on the CD--and much more--is already in the book.
On the plus side, the service was excellent - the CD arrived two days after I ordered it.
In summary, I recommend the book highly if you're a beginner. But my opinion is that you skip the CD and save your money.