Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.
June 13,   2011
Meditation

Meditation:

An In-Depth Guide

 

By

Ian Gawler & Paul Bedson

Meditation is increasingly recommended for relaxation, for enhancing relationships and well-being, to increase performance in sports and business, for personal growth, and to assist healing. Introducing mindfulness-based stillness meditation, Ian Gawler and Paul Bedson explain how to build a daily meditation practice. The authors also show how meditation can be used to work with our emotions, aid healing, manage pain, or as a spiritual practice.

Meditation is a path we can pursue and refine throughout our lives. Drawing on modern science as well as ancient Eastern traditions and the authors own extensive personal experience as practitioners and teachers, this guide offers the techniques and understanding needed to explore meditation practice deeply. It is also an invaluable resource for meditation teachers from all background.

From Kirkus Review:

In a world of overextended schedules and stress-induced headaches, Gawler (You Can Conquer Cancer, 2007, etc.) and Bedson (The Complete Family Guide to Natural Healing, 2005) offer techniques for achieving peace.

There are many user-friendly books that teach basic meditation, but this edition is particularly unique in its authors' life stories and expertise in the mind-body connection. Bedson spent time in India learning from masters at a Tibetan monastery, and Gawler, diagnosed with swiftly fatal osteogenic sarcoma at the age of 24, overcame his painful disease through meditation and lifestyle change and has remained cancer-free since 1978. Realizing that the Western mind tends to have a take-a-pill-and-fix-it-quick attitude, the authors patiently explain the process and present much good advice, such as how to remain realistic (some people have grandiose expectations of what they will experience). Whether using the direct approach, which creates deep relaxation and an open awareness, or the gradual approach preferred by many novices, preparation is the foundation for creating a space conducive to relaxation, thus unleashing the modern mind to become aware of stillness. Nonetheless, the daily grind can often interfere with meditation, and the authors include many practical applications -- e.g., breathing exercises to help prevent some common obstacles to mindfulness, like boredom, restlessness and impatience. There are manifold physical and psychological benefits from meditation -- lower blood pressure, pain management, riddance of bad habits or negative thought patterns, etc. -- and each positive outcome creates a healthy mind-body ripple effect that radiates understanding, compassion and love for others.

Regardless of religious beliefs or life situations, any reader would benefit from the Mindfulness-Based Stillness Meditation (MBSM) techniques clearly outlined here.

On his blog, Ian Gawler writes:

Meditation in four easy steps

The process of learning to meditate can be summarised into four easy steps. Each one flows quite naturally into the next and together they combine to make up the technique we call Mindfulness-Based Stillness Meditation (MBSM).  Here are the four steps of MBSM in essentualised form:

    Step 1. Preparation.

In a conducive environment, take up a conducive posture, turn your mind inwardly and relax.

    Step 2. Relaxation.

Use the simplest, most practical technique that helps you to relax your body. Allow your mind to go with it. Let go. Effortlessly.

    Step 3. Mindfulness. 

As a natural sequence you could flow on to use the focussed mindfulness applications of mindfulness of sound, mindfulness of bodily sensations, emotions, thoughts and stillness. Or you could use the more open mindfulness that leads into simple, undistracted awareness  --  simply notice with bare attention whatever comes to your awareness, whether it be sounds, sensations, emotions, thoughts or stillness; whatever happens, simply being aware, open, and present.

   Step 4. Stillness. 

As you rest in this undistracted awareness you notice the movement  --  the activity or phenomena that occur within you and around you, and you notice the all-pervading background of stillness. Increasingly the stillness becomes more familiar. You smile as you are warmed by the comfort and easy that flows with this knowing, this experience of the essence of meditation.

Putting MBSM even more simply:

Having prepared well, we relax.

Relaxing more deeply, we become more mindful.

As our mindfulness develops, the stillness naturally reveals itself.

We rest in open, undistracted awareness.

This is Mindfulness-Based Stillness Meditation.

 Meditation  --  the Direct Approach.

Remember, meditation can be practised using the Direct Approach of no method, or the Gradual Approach that relies upon learning and using techniques. Having summarised the specific technique, the four steps of MBSM above, here is the essence of the direct approach to meditation.

There is nothing to do. Simply be aware. Open. Undistracted. Aware.

It is as simple, and as difficult as that.

Happy meditating!

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