- Paperback: 454 pages
- Publisher: Yoga Pubns Trust (June 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 8185787417
- ISBN-13: 978-8185787411
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #262,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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About the Author
Swami Satyananda Saraswati was the disciple of swami Sivananda and became a wandering mendicant and he founded the the International Yoga Fewllowship in 1963 and the Bihar School of Yoga in 1964. He now lives as a paramahansa sannyasin.
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Top customer reviews
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I found this book to be incredibly useful. While there are mountains of books on yoga, there are relatively few that shine a light on the practices of the mind, and among those that do only very few are nonsectarian. Many books look at meditation solely as a spiritual practice and a few others present it exclusively as a secular scientifically-grounded practice. This book skillfully bridges between, and does its level best to get the accounts of different systems right. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few oversimplifications or minor misunderstandings here and there, but the good overshadows them by far. It should be noted that even within the domain of yoga, many authors warp concepts such as jnana yoga and tantric yoga to fit their worldview or sect instead of reporting on how practitioners of those systems would see them. This book seemed to me to be much fairer than many in this regard.
The book consists of an Introduction and seven chapters. Chapters 1 and 2 discuss tools and aids used in meditation. The primary difference between the two chapters is that the first looks at traditional aids such as mantra, mandalas, and symbology, and the second discusses more modern scientific aids such as biofeedback, drugs, and sensory deprivation tanks.
Chapter 3 is one of the largest (more than a quarter of the book) and it explores the many yogic meditation techniques, including: antar mouna, japa, ajapa japa, chidakasha dharana, yoga nidra, prana vidya, trataka, nada meditation, jnana yogi meditations, kriya yoga techniques, and tantric techniques. While the later discussion of non-yogic approaches generally includes instructions for basic exercises, the descriptions in this section are much more detailed, and some include variations on the primary practice.
Chapter 4 is about the same length as chapter 3, and it investigates many of the other systems of meditation from around the world. These include religious systems such as those in: Hinduism, Jainism, Taoism, various sects of Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, the mystical branches of Christianity and Islam (Sufi,) and Native American animist traditions. It also includes secular systems such as hypnosis and autogenic therapy.
Chapter 5 delves into how movement of the body is used as an anchor point in meditation in yoga, on pilgrimage, in Tibetan Buddhism, in Zen Buddhism, in the martial arts, in dance, and in sports. This is where I saw those few of the aforementioned minor oversimplifications and misunderstandings (e.g. referring to all martial arts under the rubric “karate.”) However, I greatly appreciated that the authors included discussion of this important topic, and so I can’t say that there was anything that detracted from my enjoyment of coverage of the topic.
The penultimate chapter is a catch-all for miscellany not covered earlier in the book. It includes meditations for kids (who require a very special approach, I can attest.) It also has a section on meditation on death, which I believe to be an immensely important topic for helping people shed their fear so they can get the most out of their lives. The other two sections are on nature and sensory meditations, respectively. The last chapter is short and discusses samadhi as the goal of meditative practice.
There are only a few graphics in the book, mostly symbology, but there is a glossary and a bibliography.
I would highly recommend this book for yoga practitioners and those who have a broad interest in meditative and mind science practices.
In essence it is a history/discussion of meditation in all its forms, through history and all over the world. The questions of using biofeedback and psychedelics, and even sensory deprivation tanks, are addressed in a balanced way. A large section then covers various forms of yogic meditation. The final section summarizes meditation methods and origins in essentially every world tradition: shamanism, the druids, neo-Platonists, Hinduism, many schools of Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and so on. The author is a yogi, however, so the more rationally-minded will have to take discussion of chakras, nadis, and so on with a grain of salt. That said, this kind of dogma is very minimal in the book and does not detract from its value or clarity. Parallels (alleged) are pointed out, but no strenuous effort is made to cram all forms of meditation into a yogic framework or philosophy.
It is an introduction of course, each technique is glossed over fairly superficially, but then that's the idea. An incredible introduction and source book to lead you onto many further studies.
I can't recommend it enough.
Many of the practices also need a living guide / teacher