Mr. (Fred) Rogers has a song Peace & Quiet… one of the lines is “We all want peace, we all want peace.” I have always appreciated those words. I’d like to believe that they are true, that even under a violent person’s exterior there is the same longing for peace. At the very least I can help my own soul to be at peace. Some believe that this helps others, even in some mystical way, extending out to the whole world.
Meditation has been very helpful to me; my soul and my health. The more I read and learn about meditation, like many things in life, the more I see many different perspectives on what meditation is exactly. The way I like to think of it is that meditation is just your focused mind in a relaxed state—focused on joyous/peaceful images, stories, loved ones, etc. To me, meditation is the opposite of & the antidote for worrying. Some say that sitting still and focusing on the breath is the most helpful type of meditation, but my favorite type is guided meditation because it’s just more fun! Some of these I listen to on CD but if I can only find it in print form I will just record my own voice reading it.
Since I am not an authority on this subject, I am only recommending books and CDs that have been helpful to me.
Happier: learn the secrets of daily joy & lasting fulfillment by Tal Ben-Shahar. 158 BEN. I highly recommend this book. It was great for finding ways to make your life more fulfilling. It’s also a helpful time-management tool. There are meditation exercises throughout and especially in the third part of the book that help you focus on the things that make you happy in your life and how you can expand these experiences.
Finding the Still Point: a beginner’s guide to Zen meditation by John Daido Loori. 294.344 LOO. This book & CD combo is a simple, concise, illustrated step-by-step guide. Loori has a very soothing voice on the CD. The CD is not guided meditations, simply instructions and then cymbal gongs starting one short and one longer blank timed session for you to practice sitting meditation.
Meditation for Optimum Health by Andrew Weil. CD Spoken WEI. The first CD is a basic explanation of meditation, answering many common questions and concerns about it. The 2nd CD is guided meditations, mainly focusing on the breath and relaxing the body. My favorite one is the guided meditation called “lake meditation”.
Breathe: Managing Stress CD by Alice Domar, PhD. CD Inspirational BRE. Domar gives us practical breathing exercises and helpful insight into causes & solutions for stress.
Five Good Minutes in the Evening: 100 mindful practices to help you unwind from the day and make the most of your night by Jeffrey Brantley & Wendy Millstine. 158.12 BRA. This is a fun and easy way to do quick centering meditations and activities. It’s like a cookbook in that you don’t necessarily have to read it all through—you can just try a few “recipes”. I like the bedtime ones and there is also one to do when you’re leaving work. It’s just a nice way of sending positive messages to yourself and your surroundings.
Nature’s Way Meditations with Marlow D.J. Shami. CD Spiritual SHA. This is a series of guided meditations, all focusing on nature. My favorite one is “Opening to Nature’s Heart” because it takes a small pleasure and expands it to its maximum.
The Places that Scare You by Pema Chodron. 294.344 CHO. This very deep and profound book is by a buddhist nun. She presents challenges for your meditation times. She basically says to meditate on negative feelings that come up instead of trying to get rid of them; really feeling them all the way. Cameron introduced her to me and I am very interested in her other writings now. (Note: Just looking at her picture on the back flap of the book made me feel happy.) :o)
Loving What Is by Byron Katie. CD Spoken KAT. I have recommended this before in another blog, but I would like to recommend it again because it is a sort of meditation, asking yourself the 4 questions. They are very helpful to me if I find myself in a stressful situation.
The other day I was sitting in a parking lot reading while I waited and was moved by the following quote from a poem by Kahlil Gibran, My Soul Preached To Me from the compilation Thoughts & Meditations:
“My soul spoke to me and said, “Do not measure time by saying ‘there was yesterday, and there shall be tomorrow'”.
And ‘ere my soul spoke to me I imagined the past as an epoch that never returned and the future as one that could never be reached.
Now I realize that the present moment contains all time and within it is all that can be hoped for, done and realized.”
Jesse Lee Harmon is the bookkeeper/library assistant at the Oliver Wolcott Library and is currently humming the song Scar Tissue by the Red Hot Chili Peppers…