An In-Depth Guide
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
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.
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
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
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.
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