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How to Meditate with Pema Chodron
A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind

by Pema Chodron

      After years of teaching and writing about meditation, Pema Chodron has at last recorded an audio course for beginning meditators! Recorded live at Gampo Abbey, where Chodron is a resident teacher, How To Meditate is an excellent introduction for those who donít have access to a meditation teacher or who are reluctant to jump into a class of experienced students.

If youíve tried to learn to meditate by reading books, if youíve been flailing about wondering whether youíre doing it right and what the heck youíre even supposed to be doing, youíll be delighted to find that this audio course addresses all those questions and others you probably havenít thought of yet.

The course is more than a list of instructions, however. Throughout the sessions, Chodron provides clear explanation of the how and why of mediation. She explains that "Dukka (suffering) is kept alive... by ignorance" of our own minds. Meditation allows us to develop an awareness of how our thoughts create suffering, and this awareness can free us from suffering. Meditation is not, says Chodron, simply spacing out and letting the mind wander at will.

She begins with a friendly explanation of core concepts and basic terms, then explains proper posture - where to place the hands and why it matters, where to direct the gaze, even how much to open the mouth - and goes on to cover such ethereal topics as how to settle, how to establish intention, and how to stabilize the mind. She addresses the most common obstacles with gentleness and humor, assuring us that itís normal to find that your mind wandered away for the entire session, and what to do about that.

Short periods of meditation are included within the context of the course, along with directed meditation sessions aimed at specific themes. Throughout the sessions there are short, insightful talks to enhance the teaching and help listeners get a better grasp of the purpose and techniques of meditation. In addition, there are "assignments" intended to encourage daily and ongoing attention to what is taught in each session, and to encourage students to learn to trust their own insights. More than five hours of sessions were recorded over several weeks and make an excellent home course for ongoing and evolving instruction by an individual or a small group of people who want to learn together.

Pema Chodron always manages to convey compassion as well as deep-seated wisdom and understanding. Sheís a woman who has experience in life and knows first-hand the difficulty of moving toward sanity and away from the ingrained reactions and over-reactions to the events we mistakenly believe to be reality. Her unhurried and extemporaneous delivery is warm, encouraging, and lightly humorous, encouraging us to recognize the importance of meditation practice without taking ourselves too seriously in the process.

The Book

Sounds True
December 2007
Audio / 5 CDs, 5.75 hours
Mind & Body / Meditation
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The Reviewer

Deborah Adams
Reviewed 2008
NOTE: Reviewer Deborah Adams is the Flair and Macavity Award winning author of the Jesus Creek Mystery Series: All The Great Pretenders, All The Crazy Winters, All The Dark Disguises, All The Hungry Mothers, All The Deadly Beloved, All The Blood Relations, and All The Dirty Cowards. She was also an Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel.
© 2008