Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Relaxing into Meditation : Review in Spiritual Lounge magazine

The Indian magazine Spiritual Lounge have reviewed Relaxing into Meditation in their January 2011 edition [PDF]:


As a Buddhist teacher and a community education tutor Ngakma Nor'dzin has been teaching meditation for long. The book Relaxing into Meditation has been the product of all the years of teaching. The book is a no-frills, 'How to' guide to meditation that looks at a typical group meditation scenario.

Nor'dzin starts of with the techniques, which allow the students to arrive at a starting point to meditation. There are chapters on the best position for meditation, the technique of breathing with alternate nostril, the skill of just 'listening in', the essential breathing patterns and the actual posture while meditating etc.

Nor'dzin also makes a special mention of singing that the students should undertake in a group. She says, “Our voices are an energetic aspect of who we are. The sounds we make are 'material' in that they affect our senses, but their 'materiality' is intangible. Our voice is the intangible and energetic link between our mind and our body – between our insubstantial being and our substantial being. Practices using the voice help us become keenly aware of the power of this energetic communication.” She would advise practitioners to look at singing as a tool to relaxation, to let go of their inhibitions that might hold some back.

The book also carries a gentle warning against sitting in a room with incense sticks burning when the students are engaging in breathing exercises. The resulting deeper breaths will mean smoke is inhaled deeply into the lungs and will lead to coughing. For today's several New Age enthusiasts who are more concerned about the props that accompany any such practice, this advice should come handy.

Nor'dzin's writing is practical and, as she takes you through the steps, all of it seems like the most natural thing to do. I particularly liked the chapter on 'Walking Meditation' which is not very commonly known and which uses the physical process of walking as the focus instead of the breath.

Another interesting concept is the meditation that involves analytical contemplation and visualisation. It involves dwelling on a subject and attempting to deeply penetrate the essence of that subject in order to discover our preconceptions, our prejudices and our habitual views. The meditation 'Friend, Enemy, Stranger' looks at our concepts and feelings around people we like, people we do not get along with, and people with whom we have no personal connection. Writes Nor'dzin, “Our view is the basis of all our expectations of life, our interpretations of circumstances, and our responses to the experiences we encounter in our lives. Our view governs how we are as people in the world and causes us to create an inter-penetrating network of reference points.” She claims offer us an opportunity to look at our entrenched viewpoints and can unlock our previously closely held points of view.

The book also explains how meditation helps us discover that there are qualities and aspects of our lives that are not as we would wish them to be. When we begin to meditate daily, they often seem to show up suddenly, but the fact of the matter is that they have always been there and it is now that we are becoming aware of them. Visualization techniques help us to cleanse ourselves of them and eventually get rid of them to embrace more enlightened attitudes and conduct.

Nor'dzin's approach is simple and direct. Along with a short glossary of terms explained, she gives illustrated tips on making sitting equipment for the practice. Her line drawings explaining the postures have more of a utilitarian rather than an aesthetic value. The book, on the whole, seems rather unadorned but it's friendly, down to earth and, most importantly, useful.



Relaxing into Meditation by Ngakma Nor'dzin
Aro Books worldwide  ISBN 978-1-898185-17-8 http://bit.ly/nrprim

Available from Lulu.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, and other bookshops worldwide.

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