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Meditation For Dummies, w/Audio CD, 3rd Edition

ISBN: 978-1-118-29144-3
384 pages
August 2012
Meditation For Dummies, w/Audio CD, 3rd Edition (1118291441) cover image
Take an inward journey for a happier, healthier, more productive life

Meditation is a great way to reduce stress, increase energy, and enjoy better health. It is believed to result in a state of greater calmness and physical relaxation, and psychological balance. Plus, practicing meditation can change how you relate to the flow of emotions and thoughts in your everyday life.

This fun and easy guide has long been a favorite with meditation newcomers . . . and now it's even better. Meditation For Dummies offers a newly recorded CD featuring more than 70 minutes of music and guided meditations that are keyed to topics in the book, from tuning in to your body, transforming suffering, and replacing negative patterns to grounding yourself, consulting the guru within, and finding a peaceful place. The book also discusses the latest research on the health benefits of meditation, along with new advice on how to get the most out of meditation in today's fast-paced world.

  • Includes new information on the recent research on the causes of happiness and how meditation can improve mood
  • Features a set of suggested meditations for becoming happier
  • Examines new research on brain changes in people practicing meditation
  • New, revised, and refreshed content throughout, including insight into the best meditation apps, electronic content, and websites

Praised by Deepak Chopra as "a useful guidebook filled with clear instructions and helpful hints," this hands-on, friendly guide gives you everything you need to begin experiencing the many benefits of meditation.

CD-ROM/DVD and other supplementary materials are not included as part of the e-book file, but are available for download after purchase.

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Foreword xxi

Introduction  1

Part I: Getting Acquainted with Meditation  7

Chapter 1: Embarking on Your Meditation Journey 9

Chapter 2: Why Meditate? 25

Chapter 3: Zen and Now: Where Meditation Comes From 41

Chapter 4: Your Brain on Meditation and How it Impacts Your Life 57

Part II: Getting Started  69

Chapter 5: Laying the Foundation: Motivation, Attitude, and Beginner’s Mind 71

Chapter 6: How Your Mind Stresses You Out and What You Can Do about It 81

Chapter 7: Mindfulness Meditation: Awareness of the Here and Now 101

Chapter 8: Preparing Your Body for Meditation 113

Chapter 9: Where to Sit, What to Wear, and Other Practical Stuff 129

Chapter 10: Just Doing It: Discipline, Effort, and Letting Go 141

Chapter 11: Opening Your Heart with Love and Compassion 153

Part III: Troubleshooting and Fine-Tuning Your Practice  171

Chapter 12: Meditating with Challenging Emotions and Habitual Patterns 173

Chapter 13: Troubleshooting Common Roadblocks and Side Effects 193

Chapter 14: Developing a Practice That Works for You 211

Part IV: Meditation in Action  223

Chapter 15: Cultivating Spirituality 225

Chapter 16: Don’t Worry, Be Happy — with Meditation 251

Chapter 17: Meditating in Everyday Life 271

Chapter 18: Using Meditation for Healing and Performance Enhancement 287

Part V: The Part of Tens  307

Chapter 19: Ten Commonly Asked Questions about Meditation 309

Chapter 20: Ten Favorite All-Purpose Meditations 315

Part VI: Appendixes  325

Appendix A: Meditation Resources 327

Appendix B: About the CD 339

Index  341

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Stephan Bodian, a licensed psychotherapist and former editor-in-chief of Yoga Journal, has practiced and taught meditation for over 40 years and has written extensively on meditation, stress management, and spirituality. His articles have appeared in Fitness, Cooking Light, Natural Solutions, and other national magazines.

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September 12, 2012
Curing the Postmodern Problem: Meditation For Dummies® Shares Eleven Ways in Which This Ancient Practice Can Help You

These days, it feels like everything is a race: A race to get all the boxes on your to-do list checked off. A race to make it to the next rung of the professional ladder. A race to keep up with and perhaps even beat out “the Joneses.” A race to make sure your kids have the perfect academic, extracurricular, and personal qualifications so that they can get into a good college. A race to make sure all the bills get paid, even though you’re on a reduced budget.

However, instead of building the perfect lives we want, what we’re really doing is racing each other into the ground…and over the edge. If this last description of manic modern life sounds all too familiar, it’s high time you stepped off the merry-go-round (for at least five to ten minutes), sat down in a quiet place, and participated in a simple practice that has been around for millennia: meditation.

“When people operate on low margins with time and money (which is everybody I know right now), their stress levels can go through the roof,” points out Stephan Bodian, author of Meditation For Dummies®, 3rd Edition, (Wiley, August 2012, ISBN: 978-1-1182-9144-3, $24.99). “In many ways, meditation is the perfect antidote to the postmodern predicament because it effectively reduces stress, increases energy, and enables you to enjoy better overall health…and much more.”

Bodian, who is a licensed psychotherapist, served as the editor of Yoga Journal for many years and has also practiced and taught meditation for over 40 years. He has packed a fascinating array of facts and best practices into this easy-to-read volume, which also includes a foreword by Dean Ornish, MD.

“Since our culture programs us to expect a perfect life that is impossible to achieve, our best efforts only cause us to become overstressed, overscheduled, overstimulated, and overtired,” explains Bodian. “This is all compounded by the fact that your body and mind have been ‘programmed’ to respond to life’s inevitable ups and downs with stress, anxiety, and dissatisfaction. But you have the power to change all of that through meditation. You can program yourself to experience inner peace, harmony, equanimity, and joy."

Before any false assumptions you’re harboring cause you to give up on meditation before you even begin, Bodian assures that you can keep it simple (you’ll see positive results after just five to ten minutes of meditation a day) or explore the practice’s subtleties in great depth. It’s entirely up to you.

If you’re intrigued but still not entirely sure that meditation is for you, then read on for 11 more reasons why this ancient practice can help you live your best, most healthy and fulfilling life:

Improving your mental and physical health. If you’re a skeptic at heart, then you’ll be reassured to know that studies have proven that meditation offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Quicker recovery from stress
  • Fewer heart attacks and strokes
  • Reduced cholesterol levels
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Reduction in the intensity of pain
  • More happiness and peace of mind
  • More loving, harmonious relationships
  • Enhanced creativity and self-actualization
  • Reductions in both acute and chronic anxiety
  • Heightened perceptual clarity  and sensitivity
  • …and much more!

“While scientific studies of meditation weren’t conducted until the 1930s (and have really taken off in the past 10 to 15 years), practitioners have been experiencing these significant benefits for centuries upon centuries,” points out Bodian.

Awakening to the present moment. When you rush breathlessly from one moment to the next, anticipating another problem or anticipating a coming pleasure, you miss the beauty and immediacy of the present, which is constantly enfolding before your eyes.

“Meditation teaches you to slow down and take each moment as it comes—the sounds of traffic, the smell of new clothes, the laughter of children, the coming and going of your breath,” explains Bodian. “In fact, as the meditative tradition reminds us, only the present moment exists anyway—the past is just a memory and the future is a fantasy.”

Making friends with yourself. When you’re constantly trying to live up to expectations (your own or someone else’s) and adapt to an ever-changing, competitive environment, you rarely have the opportunity or the motivation to get to know yourself just the way you are. But when you meditate, you learn to welcome every experience and facet of your being without judgment or denial. You begin to treat yourself as you would a close friend, accepting (and even loving) the whole package.

Connecting more deeply with others. As you awaken to the present moment and open your heart and mind to your own experience, you naturally extend this quality of awareness and presence to your family and friends. And when you start to accept others the way they are—a skill you can cultivate through the practice of meditation—you open up the channels for a deeper love and intimacy to flow between you.

Relaxing the body and calming the mind. As contemporary health researchers have discovered—and traditional texts agree—mind and body are inseparable, and an agitated mind inevitably produces a stressed-out body.

“As the mind settles, relaxes, and opens during meditation, so does the body—and the longer you meditate (I mean both minutes logged each day as well as days and weeks of regular practice), the more this peace and relaxation ripples out to every area of your life, including your health,” says Bodian.

Lightening up! Have you ever thought and worried yourself into an uncontrollable frenzy…or even a meltdown? It’s easy to do: fears feed on one another, problems get magnified exponentially, and the next thing you know, you’re feeling overwhelmed, panicked, and desperate to take a leave of absence from your own life.

“The good news is, meditation encourages an inner mental spaciousness in which difficulties and concerns no longer seem so threatening, and constructive solutions can naturally arise,” promises Bodian. “Meditation also fosters a certain detachment that allows for greater objectivity, perspective, and even humor.”

Enjoying more happiness. Research reveals that the daily practice of meditation for just a few months actually makes people happier, as measured not only by their subjective reports but also by brain-mapping technology. In fact, meditation is apparently one of the only things that can permanently change your emotional set point—your basic level of relative happiness that scientists say stays the same throughout your life, no matter what you experience.

Experiencing focus and flow. Have you ever been so fully involved in an activity that all sense of self-consciousness, time, and distraction dissolved? If so, you’ve experienced what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls a state of flow.

“You might experience a state of flow when you’re creating a work of art, playing a sport, working in the garden, or even making love,” explains Bodian. “Athletes call it being ‘in the zone.’ Through meditation, you can discover how to give the same focused attention to—and derive the same enjoyment from—every activity.”

Feeling more centered, grounded, and balanced. For many people, living in an increasingly flat and rapidly-changing world can foster feelings of insecurity and of not having a “place” to call one’s own. To counter these negative mindsets, meditation offers an inner groundedness and balance that external circumstances can’t destroy.

Enhancing your performance at work and at play. Studies have shown that basic meditation practice alone can enhance your perceptual clarity, creativity, self-actualization, and many of the other factors that contribute to superior performance. Plus, specific meditations have been devised to enhance performance in a variety of activities, ranging from sports to schoolwork.

Aligning with a deeper sense of purpose. When you practice making the shift from doing and thinking to being (one way to describe this is fully experiencing the present moment with love and without ego), you’ll discover how to align yourself with a deeper current of meaning and belonging.

“For instance, you might get in touch with personal feelings and aspirations that have long remained hidden from your conscious awareness,” suggests Bodian.

“If there’s any such thing as a ‘magic bullet’ that can help you survive and even thrive throughout the 21st Century, then meditation is it,” assures Bodian. “If you allow it to become a regular part of your life, it will relieve your stress, disappointment, fear, anger, outrage, and hurt while focusing your energy, making you more effective, and even improving your mental and physical health.”

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