Quiet Mind [Sale Copy]
A Beginner's Guide to Meditation: With CD of Guided Instructions
New/Red dot to underside copy. A unique beginner's guide to meditation, with six simple practices presented by leading Buddhist teachers with accompanying audio CD of guided instructions. Compiled and edited by Susan Piver.
This unique book and audio programme (includes 78 minute CD) brings together six of the most respected Buddhist teachers in America, each known for presenting meditation in practical, accessible, and inspiring ways. Each teacher offers a short written teaching along with an audio recording of a guided meditation practice from his or her Buddhist tradition.
Includes: Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche on shamatha, the practice of tranquillity; Larry Rosenberg on vipassana, the practice of insight meditation; Sharon Salzberg on metta, the practice of loving-kindness meditation; Ed Espe Brown on zazen, Zen meditation practice; Judith Lief on tonglen, the practice of Lojong mind training transformation; Tulku Thondup on using meditation to heal body and mind; and Richard Faulds on yoga and meditation.
For those who are curious about meditation and would like to give it a try, Quiet Mind is a great place to begin.
Read an extract of this title
The practice of meditation is over 2500 years old, and countless individuals have attested to its power to cultivate compassion and wisdom. Most recently, a growing body of scientific and medical research has shown that meditation can reduce stress, improve health, enhance performance, and measurably make us happier. Whether inspired by anecdotal or scientific evidence, more and more people are turning to meditation as a way of improving the quality of their lives. While some are looking for concrete health benefits, others feel drawn to meditation simply because they long for stillness and joy amid the pressures and challenges of daily living. This book-and-CD set is designed for anyone who wants to give meditation practice a try but doesn't quite know where to begin. This is the place!
WHAT IS MEDITATION?
As interest in meditation increases, so do misunderstandings. It would be really easy to get the idea that meditation involves having no thoughts and feeling blissed-out while sitting in a very uncomfortable position. Not so. All meditation involves is substituting for your thoughts another object of attention. Whether it is your breath, an image, or a sound, when the mind becomes absorbed in something other than thought. it relaxes. From this relaxation come many wonderful things, which you will discover for yourself if you make the practice a part of your life. So don't worry about clearing the mind of thought (which is impossible anyway), aspiring to any particular emotional state (meditation teaches you how to be comfortable with all emotions, even uncomfortable ones), or developing the ability to sit twisted up like a pretzel (sitting in a chair is fine, if you prefer). Meditation is the noble act of making friends with yourself. Breath by breath, moment by moment, you begin to learn who you really are. At first, this prospect may seem interesting, shocking, appalling, mysterious, or boring. Eventually, though, as you practice meditation, your mental chatter starts to quiet, and you find natural attunement with yourself. You breathe in and out. You notice the play of light and dark. Sensations rise and fall in the body and in the mind. Slowly, thoughts begin to settle, and you find that you are actually living in a very open and spacious world.
Meditation is often associated with Buddhism, and the practices contained in Quiet Mind are from the Buddhist tradition. The Buddha was simply a person who discovered a fundamental truth about being alive: To find lasting happiness, there is no need to be anyone other than who you already are. In fact, the core teaching of the Buddha is the importance of discovering this true self. Through meditation practice, you befriend your fear, restlessness, desire, shame, and dullness-those things that keep you from waking up to your natural state, which is already fully joyful, awake, and courageous.
The Buddha didn't invent meditation; it has been practiced in one form or another for many thousands of years-in fact meditation is understood to be our natural mind state to begin with; Therefore, it's not necessary to even think about becoming a Buddhist in order to practice meditation, just as it's not required to become a Christian to practice charity. These things are simply our birthright, the ground of being human.
A LITTLE HISTORY
Since the 1950s, the concept of meditation has become more and more familiar to Westerners. From Zen to Transcendental Meditation, from Tibetan to Korean to Burmese practices, various meditation traditions have made their way west and become familiar to us. We now see meditating monks in commercials for telephone service, and we find that a respected Buddhist teacher happens to be from Brooklyn or Melbourne.
Principles associated with meditation, such as mindfulness, equanimity, and compassion, are being embraced by executives, filmmakers, and advertisers. Once viewed in the West primarily as a relaxation technique, we're now investigating the role of meditation in the treatment of depression and the repair of the immune system. But no matter how many marvelous applications it has regarding mental or physical health, meditation is primarily a spiritual path and was intended as such by the Buddha when he began teaching it.
If Buddhist meditation is new to you, it can be helpful to understand where it comes from. The starting point for all the practices in this book is the Buddha, who was born a prince in India in the fifth century B.C.E. His given name was Siddhartha Gautama, and he led a privileged and sheltered existence until, as a young man, he encountered the realities of sickness, old age, and death. These so shocked him that he renounced his wealth and position and committed himself to finding a way out of the suffering that all humans experience. He tried a lot of different methods, and after years of spiritual seeking, he finally decided to simply sit down under a tree in meditation until it all made sense, which it did one night, under a full moon in May, when he achieved enlightenment. The essence of his realization was this: Suffering is optional. He vowed to teach this truth to others.
It's interesting to note that as he was sitting in meditation under the tree, he wasn't thinking about the great questions of life, mulling over all sorts of explanations until he went, "Eureka, I've got it!" Instead of working harder and harder to understand, he relaxed more and more until the answer revealed itself This is one way of thinking about meditation: that it is a profound relaxation of your conventional mind which then naturally calls forth the mind of wisdom. And since Siddhartha, a human and not a god, could do this, so can we.
The Buddha went on to teach about the path to enlightenment in India, but in the centuries that followed, Buddhism spread to Tibet, China, Southeast Asia, and Japan. Each time Buddhism arrived in a new country and culture, it changed somewhat, and certain teachings and practices were emphasized and others deemphasized. As a result, today we have a variety of schools of Buddhism, including Tibetan Buddhism, Vipassana (also known as Insight Meditation, which comes from Southeast Asia), and Zen (which comes from China and Japan). These are the major Buddhist traditions practiced in the West today, and they are also the traditions studied and taught by the contributors to this book.
Quiet Mind features six different sitting meditation practices presented by six renowned Buddhist teachers. Each teacher has written a chapter giving a brief overview of a particular practice. On the CD, they each offer guided meditation instructions so that you can try it out for yourself. Both the book and CD conclude by spotlighting yoga poses that support the body in sitting meditation. Also included are chapters on correct meditation posture, how to create a daily practice, and frequently asked questions, which anticipates the queries that come up at one time or another for most meditators, such as "How do I know if I'm doing it right?" and "What if my foot falls asleep?"
Please try these practices in any order that feels right to you. Here's a sampling of some of the ways you could use Quiet Mind:
Select a meditation practice that interests you, read the essay on it in the book, and then listen to the corresponding audio track to try the practice. (A complete track list can be found at the end of the book.)
Try a meditation practice from the audio program first;
then read the chapter on it to enhance your understanding of it.
Put the CD on and listen straight through to each meditation, noticing which practice or teacher you feel most drawn to.
Sample each of the practices progressively, doing one
practice daily for one week before moving on to the next.
If you find that one of the meditations or teachers interests you more than the others, there is a list of resources for further exploration at the end of the book.
If you want to practice meditation as a way of enhancing your mental and physical health, that's awesome. But if your aim is to know the true nature of reality, meditation can show you this, too-if you practice with discipline and commitment. So at some point, it's important to select one of the practices and commit to working with it for an extended period of time. This is the way the practice reveals its true essence and can genuinely transform your life. One warning: No matter how enthusiastic you are when you begin to practice, at some point it will become boring: This is actually thought of as a good sign. Though it sounds counterintuitive, when boredom rears its head, it's an indication that your conventional mind is running out of tricks. So hang in there! Interesting and beneficial things are just ahead. Please visit the aforementioned list of resources at the back of the book to locate a meditation teacher or center in your part of the world.
Each meditation in Quiet Mind is grounded in a lineage that is thousands of years old and the benefits have been touted by men and women, believers and agnostics, Westerners and Easterners. You can have confidence in them. That said, it makes no difference whatsoever to know how great these practices are unless your experience corroborates it. So be prudent. Check them out for yourself. The Tibetan meditation master Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche taught that when we receive spiritual instruction, we shouldn't receive it uncritically. "Burn it, hammer it, beat it, until the bright, dignified color of gold appears' he said. He also wrote, "It is not enough to imitate your master or guru. The teachings are an individual experience".
In that spirit, let your mind and heart wander through and resonate with these extraordinary teachings. Though they stem from different Buddhist traditions, each practice has exactly the same intention: to introduce you to your inherent wakefulness and joy. It is my sincere hope that these teachings will bring you happiness, freedom from suffering, true joy, and lasting equanimity.