- Moving into Meditation by Anne Cushman
- Publisher: Shambhala
- Format: Paperback
In recent years the spiritual practice of “mindfulness” has appeared in mainstream culture—much as yoga did two decades ago.
But how does mindful yoga evolve from a buzz-worthy concept to a lived experience? How do yoga asanas and pranayama support and express the practice of meditation? How do you explore the teachings of the Buddha through the vehicle of your own living, breathing, human body?
As we quickly learn, the practices are inherently entwined.
Experienced yoga and meditation teacher Anne Cushman answers all these questions and more in Moving into Meditation, teaching us to deepen our asana practices with mindfulness meditation and enhance our meditation practice with asana. With compassion, humor, and deep intelligence, Moving into Meditation guides us through integrating mind, body, and spirit practices for a wide-awake life.
There is an old Zen saying that states that: “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”
In the past the arguments for practicing meditation have been simply that it can help regenerate and revitalize the physical body and help you cope with the hustle and bustle of daily life.
However, living in this 21st century technological age presents to us all new challenges and stresses. The constant inputting of information into our brains from mobile phones, computers, portable media devices and TV can literally scramble the neural networks and create even deeper levels of stress and dis-ease.
It seems that whilst meditation and quiet contemplation is a spiritual practice that is as old as mankind itself with every new development in human evolution we are presented with an ever-increasing list of reasons why meditation is so necessary as a daily practice.
Moving into Meditation is a 12 week course for individuals who are looking to detox their spiritual and mental bodies through meditation, mindfulness and yoga.
Written by Anne Cushman—director at the ‘Mindfulness Meditation Training at Spirit Rock Meditation Center this book offers its reader a chance to see for themselves the sort of work that the author teaches to her students.
Her book is split into two parts. In the first section the author talks about the foundation principles to meditation before moving on to outline the teaching program itself.
Sectioned into 12, one-week sessions the course establishes the nature of the work needed to be undertaken by the student over the following 7 days.
The course starts off with e real basics for there is no assumption here that the reader will be anything other than a real—albeit enthusiastic, newcomer to the principles involved.
Week one takes a look at the mind-body connection. It is here that the initial understanding of the synthesis of mind-body-spirit connections need to be established before moving on to week two where the reader is eased into yoga and the action/reaction of moving the body in specific ways.
Week three focuses upon the practice of breathing and breath control. Rather than imposing a set regime of breath-work the author advises her reader to understand their own unique way of inhaling and exhaling.
In week four the reader is taught advanced breathing techniques before moving on to asanas, or the correct method for posture and seating before the following week’s work involving walking meditation.
Subsequent weeks tuition invites the student to investigate various key elements that arise from meditation work such as dealing with the issue of boredom and procrastination, the thoughts that emerge from deep within the mind during a meditation, the emotions that can arise in meditation work and the shift in perception on life that invariably results from this work.
Each weekly practice includes specific practical exercises and tuition. Most of them are also illustrated so that the reader can fully understand the complexities of the task at hand.
Finally the book closes with a full index so that its reader can refer back to key concepts and ideas at their leisure.
There is no doubt that the practice of meditation requires more from its practitioner than simply sitting still for a moment or two in a quiet room. If this was the case then books like this would not need to be written!
In truth the practice of mindfulness is a lot more complex than one would initially assume and there is no doubt that in order to do it properly a good teacher is a necessity.
In Moving into Meditation, the reader is clearly presented with a superb learning tool and the expertise of an equally excellent teacher.
This is an excellently crafted tutorial that speaks to its reader in a clear, compassionate and guiding way. It neither preaches nor is condescending in its tone and is highly effective in talking equally to both sexes despite the fact that as we all know the physiology of each is somewhat different.
As a 12 week course format this book works very well. Some readers I am sure will want to speed up their practices whilst others may take longer to perfect a specific exercises. This is OK and the overall pace of the book is non-hurried leaving the reader feeling free to explore and experiment with their own development over time.
Few books about meditation excite me. But, due to the anecdotes, the personal commentaries and esoteric philosophy woven into this publication, it’s central thesis stays fresh from start to finish.
As a beginner’s manual, it works superbly well but I am equally certain that this book also offers a great deal to advanced students’
Credit: Review copy kindly supplied by PGUK, London.