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Posted January 22, 2011
The psychological, spiritual, and physical benefits of meditation are undisputable. Yet for many, the mere thought of spending just a few minutes alone and focused on breathing seems impossible. In a modern world where multi-tasking and efficiency are key measures of success, our minds are trained to wander from thought to thought in a hodgepodge of confusion and calamity. Just a few short minutes a day of focused meditative attention can bring about clarity, relaxation, and spiritual enlightenment that make all of life's challenges more endurable and rewarding. How To Meditate: A Guide to Self-Discovery by Lawrence LeShan is an excellent introduction to various practices of meditation that includes explanations of meditation's benefits as well as several simple and useful methods by which to incorporate meditation practice into everyday life.
In his introduction, LeShan explains the various physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of meditation and discusses why meditation is so difficult for many. He accurately ties meditation to practices of mysticism that are focused on living a spiritual, peaceful, and joyful life in direct connection with the Divine. As has been discovered by mystics practicing meditation in all forms of mysticism, meditation has helped them to discover greater efficiency in life and a comprehension of reality that significantly differs from those who have not discovered meditation.
LeShan describes the various types of meditation, all focused on directing attention toward one single action at a time, essentially breathing. Both structured and unstructured meditations are covered in great detail, and LeShan provides examples of each type, stressing the importance of working with one particular type of meditation repeatedly until it has become engrained. This allows the practitioner to determine whether or not that particular meditation is an effective choice. In as few as 10 minutes per day, someone new to meditation can begin to experience its benefits, gradually increasing to up to 30 minutes per day.
Many practitioners of meditation have explained religious or paranormal experiences, and LeShan boldly states his beliefs that these experiences are real. Without firmly stating his personal philosophical beliefs, he describes potential psychic or ESP experiences that one may encounter during meditation. However, he is careful to warn readers to acknowledge those experiences and refocus their efforts on their breathing without getting caught up in the wonder and amazement of having had a paranormal experience. Inevitably, he explains, too much attention paid to these experiences will divert one's attention from the task of meditation, and the paranormal experiences will disappear anyway.
LeShan discusses various schools of meditation and weighs the pros and cons to working with an instructor versus a self-taught meditation program. As meditation becomes more mainstream, LeShan warns of gurus and schools who teach that their way is the only way and that you must be initiated and blessed with profound and secret knowledge.
Everyone can benefit from meditation, and LeShan's book provides an excellent doorway into the emotional, spiritual, and physical benefits of meditation.
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Posted February 27, 2013
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