Monday, January 16, 2012

Guided Meditations for Love and Wisdom: 14 Essential Practices CD by Sharon Salzberg.

Guided Meditations for Love and Wisdom: 14 Essential Practices CD by Sharon Salzberg. Sounds True. 2009.

The CD starts right of with a breath meditation. Sharon explains how any time you are able to breathe you are able to meditate, whether that be standing in line at a grocery store, or waiting in a doctors office any time you can breathe you can be using that time to meditate.

Sharon then begins this meditation by telling you how to sit and relax. There is a lot of discussion on what you should and should not be thinking about, so much in fact it becomes very distracting. These moments of discussion are then followed by long drawn out silences. You find yourself waiting for her to begin talking again, this also ends up being distracting. You should be able to be focusing on your meditation, not focusing on when the speaker will begin speaking again.

The next meditation on this CD is a hearing meditation. Again this is a meditation you should be able to perform just about anywhere. You are to observe and listen to the sounds around you but not let them distract you. However when the speaker refers to things such as perhaps there is a bus outside, and perhaps you will start to think about the bus route, or how the bus route should be changed for you, these things become distracting. By telling you not to elaborate on these thoughts that's exactly what you end up doing. What if there is not a bus outside? Your mind ends up focusing on a bus that is not even there. So often on this CD, statements are made that focus your mind to places or things distracting you from the actual meditation.

The third meditation on this CD is about sensations. The sense of touch. It can help you evaluate pain. While she tells you you do not have to name your sensations just feel them, just the fact that she says that you don't have to, focuses your mind on actually naming them. This is mentioned more than once, drawing your attention to it over and over again.

The fourth meditation is a walking meditation, though she tells you you can do it without walking. What she means is if you are unable to walk and are in a wheelchair you can still do this meditation just focus on the wheeling instead of the walking. Again in this meditation also, so many other things are brought up, distracting you from the true point of the meditation.

You may be noticing a theme here, these are some of the most distracting meditations I've ever seen, or should I say heard. In the walking meditation when she actually tells you how to take a step, it seems so slow you feel like you're going to fall over. You also may notice the title of the CDs is Guided Meditations for Love and Wisdom - yet almost done with the first CD and there hasn't really been anything about love or wisdom mentioned yet. The concepts of these meditations have not touched on the two topics so far.

Next we come to a drinking team meditation, in which you begin by observing the cup, feeling the warmth, smelling the tea, tasting the tea, and so on. Immediately she begins telling you you may have too many judgments about your tea. I don't know about you but I'm generally not too judgmental about my tea.

Finally we come to a loving kindness meditation - that centers on our attention. And believe it or not again we have the same distractions.

I could go on about this CD but I think you're starting to get the point.

This CD finishes up with a loving kindness walking meditation. The second CD contains meditations for: reflection on interconnectedness, meditation on seeing the good, meditation and compassion, meditation on emotions, letting go of thought, mental noting, and meditation on balance. So while the topics finally start turning toward the title topic, it takes a long time to get there, with many distractions inbetween.

Perhaps there are people out there who enjoy meditations that are done without any music, and enjoy the dead air of silence. I myself am not one of those. Perhaps you don't mind what I take to be almost rambling, of the person guiding me through the meditation. I do mind, and find it to be thoroughly distracting.

While I believe many of these meditations could be useful, it is the way in which they are presented that turns me off. They just can’t get me in, and keep me in a meditative state.

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