I am eternally grateful to Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now and A New Earth, for introducing me to the idea that I am not the constant stream of chatter that goes through my mind, but instead the observer of it. Tolle suggests focusing on what he calls “the inner body,” feeling your body, even just your hands, from the inside out, as a way to step out of those thought-streams. So your mind doesn’t necessarily go blank or empty, but you experience yourself outside of it, which can open up some room for a bit of peace or restfulness that you don’t necessarily get from your day-in, day-out routine. For many, the practice of meditation offers an inner richness that rivals the most exhilarating adventures.
Of course, there are many different approaches to meditation and other practices that are intended to offer respite from what some call “the monkey mind.” And as always, the library has a large number of resources that can assist you in learning more about it. The list below is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s available on the subject of meditation. Other important authors include Pema Chödrön and Jack Kornfield, both writing from a Buddhist perspective. You might prefer something written for a specialty audience: Christian, Jewish, pregnant, teen, hurried, idiot, or goddess. In any case, here are a few items to start with:
Science of Being and Art of Living: Transcendental Meditation, by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. One of several Indian teachers who introduced meditation to Westerners in the 1960s, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation was first popularized by The Beatles. More recently, scientists have been studying the effects of TM on the brain, with some very interesting findings.
The Blooming of a Lotus: Guided Meditation Exercises for Healing and Transformation, by Thich Nhat Hanh. Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, founder of the “engaged Buddhism” movement during the Vietnam War, has written many books on mindfulness and peace.
The Inner Wave, by Gabrielle Roth. Available in both downloadable video and on DVD, this is just one of several videos by Gabrielle Roth, who sees dance as a path to awareness and ecstatic experience.
Guided Mindfulness Meditation, by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Use these 45-minute sessions on CD to practice different kinds of meditation and “mindful yoga” from the founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.