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Guided Meditations: For Calmness, Awareness, and Love Audio CD – Audiobook, October 1, 2002
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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"I have bought quite a few meditation CDs and tapes lately, and yours is the best! Thanks." -- Amy, California
"It is really helpful and just what i need - thank you." -- Mark, South Carolina
"You have achieved the right balance between leading and allowing enough time so that it is not intrusive." --Ian. Glasgow, Scotland
From the Inside Flap
Although these meditations are taken from the Buddhist tradition, you do not have to be a Buddhist or to abandon your current spiritual tradition in order to practice them. These are universal practices, speaking to the human condition and helping us to become more aware and more loving individuals.
Mindfulness of Breathing
This practice is in four stages. After setting up our posture, we become more aware of our bodies and relax as deeply as possible. We become aware of the breath naturally flowing in and out, and then:
1. Count just after each out breath. Count up to ten breaths, and then start over at one.
2. As with the previous stage, but count just before each in breath.
3. Let go of the counting, simply following the breath.
4. Focus on the place where we first feel the breath entering and leaving our bodies (usually the rims of the nostrils).
Whenever we become aware that our minds have wandered, we let go of our distractions and come back to the breath once again.
Metta Bhavana Practice
"Metta" is essentially untranslatable. It means "love", "friendliness", "lovingkindness", and "empathy". It's an attitude of caring, concern, and cherishing. It's something we've all experienced to some degree or another. We experience metta every time we feel concerned about someone we know, or when we practice patience, or when we spontaneously help someone who is in difficulties. "Bhavana" means "cultivation" or "development", and so this is the practice of the "development of lovingkindness". It is based on the insight that all beings desire freedom from suffering.
The metta bhavana is in five stages. As always, we begin by setting up our posture, becoming more aware of our body and relaxing as deeply as we can. We become aware of our emotions, accepting that whatever we feel is where we are starting from.
1. Cultivate metta (love, care, forgiveness, etc) towards ourselves.
2. Cultivate metta for a good friend.
3. Cultivate metta for a "neutral person" (someone we don't have any strong feelings for).
4. Cultivate metta for someone that we experience conflict with, or for whom we feel ill will.
5. Cultivate metta for all beings capable of experiencing suffering and of desiring well being.
Walking meditation is an unstructured practice where we use the experience of walking as an object of awareness being aware of our bodies, our feelings and emotions, our thoughts, and our senses. If our mind wanders, we bring it back to our present experience. This helps us to remain "in the moment".
You can do walking meditation as part of a normal walk to work or to the grocery store, or you can set aside some special time to do the practice in the countryside or in a park. Other forms of walking meditation are described on the Wildmind site.
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This specific CD contains three basic meditations: mindfulness of breathing, loving-kindness and walking meditation. The first two are rather common to find, but instruction on walking meditation is a bit more unusual to find on audio.
I found all of the meditations to be simple, straightforward, uncomplicated by distracting music and well thought out. The first two do an excellent job of covering the basics and are quite good for a beginner. There are many fine points to both these meditations that one can learn later from a book such as MINDFULNESS WITH BREATHING by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu or Sharon Salzberg's book on Loving-Kindness Meditation.
I'm glad a walking meditation was included on this CD and I think this one is a good start. However, I felt this section of the CD could be better and include more instruction. There are many levels to walking meditation and perhaps the author felt it was most important to start somewhere and give people a simple practice to start.
I have found walking meditation to be particularly useful for busy Westerners and learning the various levels and fine points of this practice important. There are not a lot of audio resources for this information, but the Insight Meditation package by Salzberg and Goldstein does a pretty good job. However, their voices are not nearly as pleasant as Bodhipaksa. This additional instruction may help you to take your practice of walking meditation further, however.
Overall, I think is a very good CD and I would recommend to beginners particularly Westerners without reservation. At the same time, I would also recommend that beginners continue to grow and pick up additional resources as they progress particularly with respect to walking meditation.
I would like to mention that all of the meditations are a good length for beginners, easy to follow and stress basic points. For some beginners, thirty minute meditations may be a bit long, but you can always take the CD, learn the principles and practice any length you desire. A strong point of these CDs is there is not so much information that a beginning practitioner is not overwhelmed or trying to follow to many fine points where diminishing returns sets in.
I notice some people mentioned trouble falling asleep in other reviewers, this is a normal part of the struggle of learning to meditate. Focusing on upright posture, narrowing the attention in tighter to the object of concentration or openning the eyes briefly with a soft gaze can help at the beginning stages of practice. For people who still have trouble, 10-15 seconds of rapid breathing through the nose as described in pranayama yoga practices of Dr. Andrew Weil's tapes on breathing could also help.
One of the best I have sampled so far. I highly reccomend it.
As they say in Yoga: keep that beginner's mind. This CD is great for beginners but I also find it useful for those times when I want something external to help me focus.
Perhaps, in years to come, I will be so adept in my meditation practice that this will be completely superfluous. For now, it's a little luxury, a healing voice to ease me into my my own peace.
Some meditation CDs I have tried have not felt right. The voice seemed hurried, or sounded tense; the background music seemed intrusive, or there were noises that interfered with concentration. This is just perfect as an introduction for new meditators, and it's also a meditation that I return to again and again. I'd give this more than five stars if that were an option. Even my students, who are not ordinarily very receptive to meditation, relax when they hear this one!