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Not for Beginners! Nor for Experienced Practitioners
on April 24, 2013
This book seems to have been written for beginners, ie. people new to meditation. For those people, much of this book will appear unfocused and confusing. (The very first section, explaining why meditation is beneficial, may be useful to them, however.)
First problem: Salzberg throws in numerous types of meditation. For a beginner, the first 28 days (and past that) should be focused on simply being with the breath. Learning how to exist in the moment. This is not a process that can be truly experienced immediately. (28 days is a very short amount of time!!) But rather than suggesting this most basic and essential of meditation techniques alone until the person become familiar and comfortable with it, Salzberg piles on a dozen or so other techniques as options. In doing so, she creates a bit of a garbled mess.
Second problem: Salzberg recommends doing 2 twenty-minute meditation sessions the first week, then adding additional twenty-minute days in weeks thereafter. There are two issues with this method. A little every day is far more useful than longer periods with less frequency. (Greater frequency makes it easier to get into a rhythm.) And twenty minutes may seem like a long time to a newbie, who could become easily discouraged with the monkey mind. A much more useful and non-demoralizing plan would be to start with, say, five to ten minute sessions every day for the first week, then increasing the time per session another five to ten minutes each subsequent week.
Third problem: The cover of the book promises the impossible. If you are not particularly happy, 28 days of meditating will not make you happy. It certainly will start you on the path in that direction!! But true happiness takes much longer to achieve. The Buddha himself pursued true happiness (enlightenment) for years before achieving it.
Fourth problem: The book should have been article length. Not nearly enough content for a book. And, in trying to stretch the content, Salzberg commits the first problem.
All in all, I would not recommend this book for a beginner. Nor would I recommend it for experienced meditation practitioners, because for them it would be far too basic/simplistic.