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Unlearning Meditation: What to Do When the Instructions Get In the Way

Overview

When we meditate, our minds often want to do something other than the meditation instructions we've been taught. When that happens repeatedly, we may feel frustrated to the point of abandoning meditation altogether. Jason Siff invites us to approach meditation in a new way, one that honors the part of us that doesn't want to do the instructions. He teaches us how to become more tolerant of intense emotions, sleepiness, compelling thoughts, fantasies—the whole array of inner experiences that are usually considered...

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Unlearning Meditation: What to Do When the Instructions Get In the Way

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Overview

When we meditate, our minds often want to do something other than the meditation instructions we've been taught. When that happens repeatedly, we may feel frustrated to the point of abandoning meditation altogether. Jason Siff invites us to approach meditation in a new way, one that honors the part of us that doesn't want to do the instructions. He teaches us how to become more tolerant of intense emotions, sleepiness, compelling thoughts, fantasies—the whole array of inner experiences that are usually considered hindrances to meditation. The meditation practice he presents in Unlearning Meditation is gentle, flexible, permissive, and honest, and it's been wonderfully effective for opening up meditation for people who thought they could never meditate, as well as for injecting a renewed energy for practice into the lives of seasoned practitioners.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A creative and illuminating approach to meditation practice.”—Joseph Goldstein, author of Insight Meditation

“A radically illuminating book for practitioners to newly understand their meditation through loving interest in what is actually going on, beyond any instruction or ideal.”—Jack Kornfield, author of The Wise Heart

“A wise, practical, and radical book that sheds new and wondrous light on dharma in the West.”—Joan Halifax Roshi, author of Being with Dying

“Jason Siff is one of the most distinctive and engaging voices of the emerging Buddhist culture in the West.”—Stephen Batchelor, author of Confession of a Buddhist Atheist

“Siff frees meditators from their own expectations, and ultimately, any guilt about not following the rules.  With a gentle style that’s encouraging, wise, and even playful at times, Siff provides a very useful guide for those who want to meditate, but need to ‘unlearn’ in order to move forward.  He blends his Eastern and Western experience to give the work spiritual rigor and grounding, while still appealing to a broad audience.  Readers don’t need to be Buddhist, or even familiar with its philosophical concepts, to benefit from Siff’s clearly articulated, thoughtful advice.”—ForeWord Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590307526
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/6/2010
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 807,949
  • Product dimensions: 8.72 (w) x 5.70 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Jason Siff is the head teacher of the Skillful Meditation Project. He teaches meditation and leads retreats throughout the United States and in Australia.

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Table of Contents

Introduction ix

Part 1 Unlearning Meditation

1 Being Realistic about Meditation 3

2 Gentle Intentions 11

3 Instructions as Rules 21

4 Unlearning for Beginning Meditators 27

5 Inconsistencies 31

6 Putting Meditation Experiences into Words 39

7 Personal Stories 47

8 Qualities 57

Part 2 Impasses and Calm Spaces

9 Impasses in Meditation 71

10 An Impassable Impasse 75

11 A Partially Cleared Impasse 83

12 Getting Through an Impasse 93

13 Effortless Calm 105

14 Meditating with Drifting Off and Waking Up 113

15 Drifting to Absorption 123

16 Questions Surrounding Samadhi 131

Part 3 Multiple Meditative Processes

17 A Theory of the Meditative Process 137

18 The Primary Transition 149

19 Unlearning Meditation and the Generative Process 157

20 The Three Developed Meditative Processes 161

21 The Non-Taking-Up Process 173

22 The Connected Process 181

23 How to Use these Meditative Processes Skillfully 185

Part 4 Leveling the Hierarchy of Experiences

24 Assessing Meditative States 191

A Postscript to Unlearning Meditation 199

Acknowledgments 201

Index 205

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2011

    Opening Doors...Freedom

    I appreciate the perspective I gained from reading this book. I learned about different meditation traditions and how they often set up a conflict between meditation instructions and "the mind as it is."

    Jason Siff opened my eyes and gave me more confidence to follow my own process in meditation. It may take longer to have some of the "payoffs" of meditation, but I appreciate paying attention to the quality of the moment and not forcing myself to follow a practice that I judge myself about.

    I feel more freedom from "meditator's guilt" -- guilt from not meditating every day or from not doing the practice "right."

    I am grateful for Jason's experience and the kind and thoughtful way in which he shares it.

    The breath-focused practice I began with is still valuable to me, but now I feel more confident about letting myself wander a little more. Or a lot more, as the case may be.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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