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Meditation

Book Description

While meditation is viewed in many ways, it's essentially the slowing down of your thoughts in order to achieve awareness. Many use it as a daily form of prayer. Meditation can help focus your thinking, lower your stress levels, lower risks for medical issues (such as high blood pressure, glucose levels, and heart disease) and is considered to be preventative medicine. It promotes mind-body balance and fitness, mindfulness, and creativity. Idiot's Guides: Meditation offers a concise, easy-to-grasp primer on the numerous types of meditation and how to practice them. The book includes:

* The definition and fundamental basics of meditation
* Preparing to meditate: What, when, and where to meditate
* Tips for dealing with distractions while meditating
* Working meditation into your daily life
* Types of meditation: Zen, Vipassana (breathing), Tibetan Buddhist, Mindfulness, Jewish meditation, Christian prayer, Sufi meditation, and Native American meditation
* The physical and mental benefits of each type of meditation.
* Mind/Body connection (dealing with emotional challenges and habitual patterns)
* Meditation in adults and children
* Healing mediation (dealing with pain)

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Introduction
  5. Part 1: The Basics of Meditation
    1. 1 What Is Meditation?
      1. A Brief History of Meditation
        1. The Evolution of Meditative Practices
        2. Meditation as a Specific Discipline
        3. Meditative Practices as Part of Spirituality and Religion
        4. Twentieth-Century Developments
      2. Meditation Defined
        1. Conscious Direction of Your Mind
        2. For a Period of Time
        3. In Order to Affect the Mind Itself
      3. Meditation’s Two Main Functions
        1. Calming the Mind
        2. Cultivating Insight
      4. The Scientific Research on Meditation
        1. The Challenges Faced by Researchers
        2. Current Scientific Conclusions
      5. The Benefits of Meditation
        1. Mental Health
        2. Physical Health
        3. Spiritual Health
    2. 2 Basic Meditation Postures
      1. The Essentials of Good Meditation Posture
        1. Staying Comfortable but Alert
        2. The Proper Spinal Position
        3. Unrestricted Breathing
      2. Sitting on the Floor
        1. The Value of a Meditation Cushion
        2. Various Things to Do with Your Legs
      3. Using a Meditation Bench
      4. Sitting on a Chair
      5. What to Do with the Rest of Your Body
      6. Dealing with Physical Discomfort
        1. Restlessness
        2. Legs Falling Asleep
        3. Pain
      7. Alternatives to Seated Meditation
    3. 3 Getting Started with Meditation
      1. All You Need for Meditation
        1. Willingness and a Beginner’s Mind
        2. Intention
        3. Reasonable Expectations
        4. Patience and Commitment
      2. Supports for Effective Meditation
        1. Basic Moral Behavior
        2. Stable Life Circumstances
        3. Physical and Mental Health
        4. A Positive Worldview
      3. Choosing a Type of Meditation
      4. The Time and Place for Meditation
        1. When to Meditate
        2. How Long and How Often to Meditate
        3. Where to Meditate
      5. Removing Barriers to Getting Started
      6. A Disclaimer About Meditating on Your Own
        1. The Value of Meditation Teachers
        2. When to Get Some Help
  6. Part 2: Meditation for Enlightenment
    1. 4 Yoga Meditation
      1. Overview of Yoga
        1. The Idea of Spiritual Development
        2. Yoga as a Lineage Tradition
      2. The Essence of Yoga
        1. From Egoism to an Experience of Unity
        2. A Science of Spiritual Development
        3. The Role of Meditation in Yoga
      3. Three Benefits of Yoga Meditation
        1. Better Physical and Mental Health
        2. Decreased Bondage to Ego Concerns
        3. Greater Appreciation and Awareness
      4. Kriya Yoga Meditation
        1. General Description of the Method
        2. The Theory Behind the Meditation
      5. Beginner’s Meditation Instructions
        1. Setting and Posture
        2. Basic Practice
      6. Additional Guidance and Encouragement
        1. Concentration Through Relaxation
        2. Receptivity Instead of Achievement
      7. Deepening Your Yoga Meditation
        1. Following the Moral Principles of Yoga
        2. Keeping Good Company and Guru Devotion
        3. Learning More
      8. Yoga Meditation Over a Lifetime
        1. “Ideal” Yoga Meditation
        2. The Ultimate Goal
    2. 5 Insight Meditation
      1. Overview of Insight Meditation
      2. The Essence of Insight Meditation
        1. The Nature of Suffering or Dissatisfaction
        2. Letting Go of What Causes Suffering
        3. The Path of Practice
        4. The Role of Meditation in Insight
      3. Three Benefits of Insight Meditation
        1. Liberation from Suffering
        2. Unconditional Happiness
        3. Greater Skillfulness in Your Life
      4. Modern Insight Meditation
        1. General Description of the Method
        2. The Theory Behind the Meditation
      5. Beginner’s Meditation Instructions
        1. Setting and Posture
        2. Basic Practice
      6. Additional Guidance and Encouragement
        1. Not Trying to Make Things Different
        2. Realizing Not All Insights Are Pleasant
      7. Deepening Your Insight Meditation
        1. Other Supportive Practices
        2. Attending Meditation Retreats
        3. Learning More
      8. Insight Meditation Over a Lifetime
        1. “Ideal” Insight Meditation
        2. The Ultimate Goal
    3. 6 Zen Meditation
      1. Overview of Zen
      2. The Essence of Zen
        1. The Emptiness of Self
        2. Liberation Through Insight
        3. The Role of Meditation in Zen
      3. Three Benefits of Zen Meditation
        1. A Greater Sense of Calm
        2. Opting Out of Dysfunctional Patterns
        3. Deeper Knowledge of Yourself
      4. Meditation in the Soto Zen Lineage
        1. General Description of the Method
        2. The Theory Behind the Meditation
      5. Beginner’s Meditation Instructions
        1. Setting and Posture
        2. Keeping Your Eyes Open
        3. Basic Practice
      6. Additional Guidance and Encouragement
        1. Concentration vs. Expansive Awareness
        2. Not Judging Your Meditation
      7. Deepening Your Zen Meditation
        1. Finding a Zen Teacher
        2. Attending Meditation Retreats
        3. Practicing Zen Meditation with Koans
        4. Learning More
      8. Zen Meditation Over a Lifetime
        1. “Ideal” Soto Zen Meditation
        2. The Ultimate Goal
    4. 7 Vajrayana Meditation
      1. Overview of Vajrayana Buddhism
      2. The Essence of Vajrayana
        1. Rebirth
        2. The Bodhisattva Path
        3. The Tantric Vehicle
        4. The Role of Meditation in Vajrayana
      3. Three Benefits of Vajrayana Meditation
        1. Development of Bodhicitta
        2. Learning to Transform Qualities of Mind
        3. Greater Equanimity
      4. Chenrezig Meditation
        1. General Description of the Method
        2. The Theory Behind the Meditation
      5. Beginner’s Meditation Instructions
        1. Setting and Posture
        2. Basic Practice
      6. Additional Guidance and Encouragement
        1. Understanding Visualization
        2. Gaining Confidence
      7. Deepening Your Vajrayana Meditation
        1. Other Supportive Vajrayana Practices
        2. Learning More
      8. Vajrayana Meditation Over a Lifetime
        1. “Ideal” Vajrayana Meditation
        2. The Ultimate Goal
  7. Part 3: Devotional Meditation
    1. 8 Jewish Meditation
      1. Overview of Judaism
      2. The Essence of Judaism
        1. The Jewish View of God
        2. The Torah
        3. The Role of Meditation in Judaism
      3. Three Benefits of Jewish Meditation
        1. Understanding and Control of Your Mind
        2. Enhanced Awareness and Receptivity
        3. An Experience of Closeness to God
      4. Jewish Prayer as Meditation
        1. General Description of the Method
        2. The Theory Behind the Meditation
      5. Beginner’s Meditation Instructions
        1. Setting and Posture
        2. Basic Practice
      6. Additional Guidance and Encouragement
      7. Deepening Your Meditative Jewish Prayer
        1. Other Supportive Jewish Practices
        2. Learning More
      8. Jewish Meditation Over a Lifetime
        1. “Ideal” Jewish Meditation
        2. The Ultimate Goal
    2. 9 Christian Contemplative Prayer
      1. Overview of Christianity
      2. The Essence of Christianity
        1. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
        2. Accepting God’s Love as Salvation
        3. The Role of Meditation in Christianity
      3. Three Benefits of Contemplative Prayer
        1. Less Self-Attachment
        2. Greater Surrender to God
        3. God as a Living Reality
      4. Centering Prayer
        1. General Description of the Method
        2. The Theory Behind the Meditation
      5. Beginner’s Meditation Instructions
        1. Setting and Posture
        2. Using a Sacred Word
        3. Basic Practice
      6. Additional Guidance and Encouragement
        1. Letting Go of Rigidity
        2. Energetic Consent
      7. Deepening Your Contemplative Prayer
        1. Other Supportive Contemplative Practices
        2. Learning More
      8. Contemplative Prayer Over a Lifetime
        1. “Ideal” Contemplative Prayer
        2. The Ultimate Goal
    3. 10 Sufi Meditation
      1. Overview of Sufism
        1. The Development of Sufism
        2. Sufism in the World Today
      2. The Essence of Sufism
        1. Surrendering to God
        2. Remembering Original Unity
        3. Walking the Path of Love
        4. The Role of Meditation in Sufism
      3. Three Benefits of Sufi Meditation
        1. Purification of the Lower Self
        2. Cultivating Greater Love
        3. Deeper Experience of Connection
      4. The Practice of Dhikr
        1. General Description of the Method
        2. The Theory Behind the Meditation
      5. Beginner’s Meditation Instructions
        1. Setting and Posture
        2. Basic Practice
      6. Additional Guidance and Encouragement
        1. Opening to Longing
        2. Allowing Yourself to Be Transformed
      7. Deepening Your Sufi Meditation
        1. Other Supportive Sufi Practices
        2. Learning More
      8. Sufi Meditation Over a Lifetime
        1. “Ideal” Sufi Meditation
        2. The Ultimate Goal
    4. 11 Native American Meditative Practices
      1. Overview of Native American Spirituality
        1. Contact with Europeans
        2. Revival of Native Spirituality
      2. The Essence of Native Traditions
        1. The Circle of Life and the Spirit World
        2. Relationship and Reciprocity
        3. The Role of Meditative Ritual
      3. Three Benefits of Native Practices
        1. Deeper Appreciation for the Natural World
        2. A Greater Sense of Interdependence
        3. Perceiving the Sacred in Everyday Life
      4. Vision Quest as Meditative Practice
        1. General Description of the Method
        2. The Theory Behind the Meditation
      5. Beginner’s Meditation Instructions
        1. Setting and Posture
        2. Ritual Objects to Bring
        3. Basic Practice
      6. Additional Guidance and Encouragement
        1. Balancing Hope and Acceptance
        2. Challenging Yourself
      7. Deepening Your Practice
        1. Participating in a Sweat Lodge Ceremony
        2. Learning More
      8. Native Spiritual Practice Over a Lifetime
        1. “Ideal” Meditative Ritual
        2. The Ultimate Goal
  8. Part 4: Secular Meditation
    1. 12 Mindfulness Meditation
      1. Overview of Mindfulness
      2. The Essence of Mindfulness Practice
        1. The Nature of Awareness
        2. Cultivating Greater Awareness
        3. Suspending Judgment
        4. The Role of Meditation in Mindfulness
      3. Three Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
        1. Reduced Stress and Improved Physical Health
        2. Freedom Around the Content of Your Mind
        3. Seeing Reality More Clearly
      4. The Practice of Mindfulness Meditation
        1. General Description of the Method
        2. The Theory Behind the Meditation
      5. Beginner’s Meditation Instructions
        1. Setting and Posture
        2. Basic Practice
      6. Additional Guidance and Encouragement
        1. Letting Go of “Doing It Right”
        2. Taking a Gentle, Compassionate Approach
      7. Deepening Your Mindfulness Meditation
        1. Taking a Mindfulness Meditation Class
        2. Learning More
      8. Mindfulness Meditation Over a Lifetime
        1. “Ideal” Mindfulness Meditation
        2. The Ultimate Goal
    2. 13 Other Secular Meditation Techniques
      1. Autogenic Training
        1. Basic Practice
        2. Exploring Autogenic Training Further
      2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
        1. Basic Practice
        2. Exploring Progressive Relaxation Further
      3. The Relaxation Response
        1. Basic Practice
        2. Exploring the Relaxation Response Further
      4. Focusing
        1. Basic Practice
        2. Exploring Focusing Further
  9. Part 5: More Ways to Meditate
    1. 14 More Meditation Traditions
      1. Unprogrammed Quaker Meeting
        1. Description of the Method
        2. Exploring Quaker Worship Further
      2. Bahá’í Meditation
        1. Description of the Method
        2. Exploring Bahá’í Meditation Further
      3. Taoist Meditation
        1. Description of the Method
        2. Exploring Taoist Meditation Further
      4. Transcendental Meditation
        1. Description of the Method
        2. Exploring TM Further
    2. 15 Meditative Movement
      1. Still vs. Active Meditation
      2. What Makes Movement Meditative?
        1. Doing Only One Thing
        2. The Experience vs. the Results
      3. Slow and Fast Walking Meditation
        1. General Approach
        2. Walking Practice
      4. Meditative Running
        1. General Approach
        2. Running Practice
      5. Yoga, Stretching, or Weight Lifting
        1. General Approach
        2. Meditative Workout
      6. Bowing
        1. General Approach
        2. Bowing Practice
      7. Simple Work as Meditation
        1. General Approach
        2. Work Practice
    3. 16 Meditative Activities
      1. What Makes an Activity Meditative?
        1. Focusing on Doing One Thing
        2. A Positive Effect on Your Mind
        3. Secular vs. Religious Practices
      2. Chanting
        1. What Makes It Meditative
        2. Traditional Examples of Chanting
        3. Chanting Practice
      3. Hand Copying Texts
        1. What Makes It Meditative
        2. Traditional Examples of Copying Text
        3. Text-Copying Practice
      4. Fingering a String of Beads
        1. What Makes It Meditative
        2. Traditional Examples of the Use of Beads
        3. Bead Practice
      5. Ritual
        1. What Makes It Meditative
        2. Traditional Examples of Ritual
        3. Simple Ritual Practice
      6. Artistic Expression
        1. What Makes It Meditative
        2. Traditional Examples of Meditative Arts
        3. Meditative Art Practice
    4. 17 Meditations for Specific Challenges
      1. Meditations for Stress
        1. Awareness of Your Breathing
        2. Disidentifying with Your Stress
      2. Meditations for Anxiety
        1. Meditative Movement or Activity
        2. Drawing Boundaries with Your Anxiety
      3. Meditations for Anger
        1. Just Noticing Without Judgment
        2. Loving-Kindness Practice
      4. Meditations for Depression
        1. Meditative Movement and Activity
        2. Recitation of an Inspirational Text
      5. Meditations for Physical Pain and Illness
        1. What Part of You Doesn’t Hurt?
        2. Enduring Physical Challenges with Dignity
      6. Meditations for Loss and Trauma
        1. Acknowledgment and Acceptance Practice
        2. A Ritual of Healing
    5. 18 Meditation for Children
      1. The Value of Meditation for Children
        1. Empowering Kids to Deal with Their Minds
        2. A Tool for Calming Down
        3. Increased Self-Awareness
      2. Getting Kids to Meditate
        1. Making Sure Children Don’t Hate Meditation
        2. Letting Them See Others Do It
        3. Establishing a Ritual
        4. Ignoring a Certain Amount of Resistance
      3. Adapting Meditation for Children
        1. The Right Length of Time for Children
        2. Setting Parameters with Room for Wiggling
        3. Making It Fun and Interesting
      4. Some Kid-Friendly Meditations
        1. Pebble Meditation
        2. Heed the Bell Meditation
        3. Altar Ritual
        4. Chanting
  10. Part 6: Taking It Deeper
    1. 19 Developing a Meditation Practice Over Time
      1. Making Meditation a Routine
      2. It Helps, Even If You Aren’t “Good” at It
        1. Looking for the Results in Your Life
        2. Recognizing and Letting Go of Judgments
      3. Common Challenges in All Meditation Forms
        1. Difficulty Concentrating
        2. No Time to Meditate
        3. Boredom and Dullness
        4. Sleepiness
        5. Unpleasant Feelings and Thoughts
      4. Remarkable Experiences in Meditation
        1. Not Seeking Far-Out Experiences
        2. Accepting Experiences If They Happen
      5. Meditating with Others
    2. 20 Letting Meditation Transform Your Life
      1. Levels of Engagement with Meditation
      2. Meditation to Improve Your Everyday Life
        1. Time for a Restorative Reset
        2. Watching Thoughts and Emotions
        3. Getting to Know Your Own Mind
      3. Seeking to Live More Fully
        1. Noticing Constriction and Fear
        2. Tracing Back from Symptom to Source
      4. Greater Insight Into Universal Questions
      5. Reuniting with the Ultimate
  11. Appendixes
    1. A Glossary
    2. B Resources
  12. About the Author