For several years now Iíve thought about meditating. Iíve read about it, written it on my To Do list, and even
tried it a few times. It seems so difficult, and the nearest instruction is two hours away at a center where
sitting begins at five A.M. So far Iíve taken this as a clear signal from the universe that the time wasnít
right for me to begin a serious meditation practice. Ten minutes into Guided Meditation: Six Essential
Practices to Cultivate Love, Awareness, and Wisdom, I realized that I must finally be ready because the
teacher had appeared.
In this gracefully structured two-CD course, Jack Kornfield demonstrates why he is so highly regarded as a
meditation instructor. His warm voice and generous spirit transcend the medium to provide a clear line of sight
to the heart and soul of meditation. The down-to-earth instruction dissolved my perception of meditation as a
high-brow endeavor; simply by following along as Kornfield speaks, I realized that all I have to do is stop
NOT being mindful.
Dr. Kornfieldís credentials are impressive. Trained as a Buddhist monk, with a Ph.D. in psychology, he is
also the author of several books and the co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society and the Spirit Rock Center.
More importantly, he is a gifted teacher. From the reminder that "wakefulness, love, and ease are within you,"
Kornfield guides us through these practices with sincerity and with confidence in his listenerís innate
Beginning with Mindfulness, Kornfield explains proper body placement to aid meditation, for "putting the body
and mind at ease." In Loving Kindness meditation, he uses "phrases, images, and feelings that allow us to express
compassion effortlessly." And Forgiveness Meditation, he explains, "enables us to be released from the sorrows
of the past."
The second CD takes us through a Gratefulness Practice where Kornfield reminds us that most ancient cultures
have rituals, chants, or prayers to acknowledge blessings, and he encourages us to "awaken a benevolent and
compassionate heart." Buddha Transforms Difficulties offers particularly vivid visualization exercise to ease us
through any number of personal difficulties. And then there is Mind Like Sky, which must have been designed
especially for me. This practice, which is meant to help us "open to spaciousness," is a surprising - and
surprisingly effective - approach for those of us who are captivated by just about anything except breath.
This course is a rare example of truth in advertising. Just as the jacket promises, Guided Meditation: Six
Essential Practices to Cultivate Love, Awareness, and Wisdom really can "open the door to the ...joy of
meditation." Whether you choose to experience all the sessions in the order theyíre presented or to focus on
only one or two, I believe youíll find Kornfieldís easy and non-judgmental style encouraging. If you arenít
ready to commit to sitting practice, this course could easily be used to enhance physical and emotional
relaxation with no effort beyond pushing "play." And if youíre an expert meditator already, Guided Meditation:
Six Essential Practices to Cultivate Love, Awareness, and Wisdom can bring you back to the pure basics of