Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Reading List: Meditation for the Love of It

( I am officially back from vacation and am settled in enough to start blogging again. It's kind of like having a hangover trying to get back into real life after vacation, don't you think? hmmmm)

Meditation has never particularly been my strong suit on the 8-limbed path. I've had a haphazard practice since I workshoped with Cyndi Lee in 2007. I'd sit for an inconsistent amount of time every few days, I'd miss a week or two, or would just not particularly be interested in trying it. In the last year I've had more fits and starts with it. Small pockets of longer timings and then days or weeks off. Sitting was never as important or protected in my day as my asana practice. I had the interest, but never much instruction in what to do... and therefore nothing much ever happened when I sat.
Then, a few months ago, you may remember I took a little bloggy break because my daughter needed my attention during naptime and, seemingly, at all times. It turned out that the only freetime I had for any sort of spiritual practice was in the early morning hours before she awoke or after she went to bed. Well, after bed time was too late for any contemplation, but during those intense weeks I took my tush to my cushion every morning religiously.
And then, she got back on track, and one morning I didn't sit, and for the rest of the day I felt terrible. I noticed then, just how in-touch my sitting practice made me feel. How much more I could tune in to my daughter, my husband, and everything else going on in my day. I started to crave meditation. As soon as I noticed the benefits of meditation I made a commitment to sit every morning (except I did take a break on vacation, too hard in a little hotel room)
Well, just in time for my little Meditation Awakening, Sally Kempton has a new book out called Meditation for the Love of It: enjoying your own deepest experience. Um. Phenomenal, Transformative, Awakening, Enlightening, Magical. Simply put, this book is Awesome! Literally from the moment I read the first chapter my meditation practice was transformed. No longer sitting just to sit, in the very first chapter Sally Kempton asks what do you want from your practice? and simply by asking for more, I experienced more. It's like my practice was waiting all this time to reveal itself to me. What is even more exciting about this book for meditation instruction is that Sally Kempton is knowledgeable in Tantra and specifically Kashmir Shaivism -- the very systems that Anusara aligns with. So not only am I deepening my experience of my heart and the Divine in meditation, I'm doing so with the guidance of a scholar in my very system. Her instructions and insight bring home much of what I've already learned in yoga classes and training.
The book has chapters on what to expect in a meditation session, how to optimally get started and finish each session, tools for entering into a meditative state, what to do to work with the mind and all it has to "say", how to work with Shakti/Kundalini energy, a 3 week jump start for starting a new practice, and finally Q & A for some of the common questions that accompany meditation. Each chapter is filled with so much information, but it is presented in an easy to read and inspirational conversational style that made me want to get on the cushion again and again.
This is a highly highly highly recommended read for anyone but especially yogis on the Anusara path who want to deepen or start a meditation practice. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Contemplation: What do you want from your meditation practice?

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