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.