This is a book about the “nuts and bolts” of meditation. Meditation has been a hot topic for the last decade or so in neuropsychological research. Scientific studies of the brains of experienced and novice meditators show that practicing meditation on a regular basis produces changes in the brain’s activity and even in the structure of the brain. Some of the findings of these studies include that meditation increases relaxation, attention, feelings of well-being, improves the functioning of the immune system, and decreases anxiety and stress.
Psychology is now increasingly using meditation as part of treatment programs. Examples of these treatment programs include Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and a program for relapse prevention of depression (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy or MBCT).
Meditation can be viewed as reprogramming the brain. This is also how Sakyong Mipham approaches meditation in his book “Turning the Mind Into an Ally“. Although he does not specifically mention the phrase “reprogramming the brain”, or talk about the brain explicitly, he is talking about taming the mind, as if the mind is a wild horse.
The idea behind taming the mind, is that the purpose of meditation is to make the mind useful. Very often the mind does not do what we want it to do. For example, when studying for a test it could be that the mind wanders off to other topics, that you find yourself procrastinating, or that it is just very hard to focus. If you train your mind with meditation, you train it to focus when you want it to. When you have a trained mind, it can be a very powerful tool. The really cool thing is that you don’t have to go on very long retreats or devote hours of your time every day to train your mind. Sakyong Mipham explains how practicing meditation consistently for ten or fifteen minutes every day can already be very helpful. This book is full of great practical tips on making meditation a part of your daily routine, and on how to deal with obstacles when it becomes difficult for you to meditate.
Although the author of this book is Buddhist, you don’t have to be a Buddhist to benefit from meditation, or from the insights into the meditation process that this book offers. In fact, the practice of meditation is much older than Buddhism. Human beings have practiced meditation for thousands of years because it works.
Below is a video of the author giving meditation instruction. Give it a try, and see for yourself what it is like!
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