Living As a River: Book Review
I love it when I find a book that deepens my understanding of things (understanding being more a river than facts). Science and spirituality are twins in this book, as they are outside of it. Though the author is Buddhist, the possibility for clarity of mind extends to people of all faiths, agnostics and atheists.
Sometimes the best way to see what is, is to look at what is not. Living As a River takes the idea of each of us each having a separate self and does a great job of blurring the edges between us - until they virtually disappear. This doesn't mean you disappear, of course. You will still get up tomorrow and slog to the bathroom to do business. This book might, however, shift a person's perspective about themselves in relation to the world.
Ultimately, the book hopes to allay human fear by pointing out the obvious we often deny: everything's always in flux or impermanent. To put our sense of security into things that seem permanent but are not is cause for fear. Bodhaipaksa has the reader take a look at "Self" by way of a tour through the Meditation of 6 Elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space and The Conscious Element. There are no exercises or steps to follow, only an enjoyable read on the tour bus.
Bodhipaksa writes, "We imagine there's a "thing" called an eddy, and that this thing is embedded in another "thing" called "water." But when we reflect more deeply we see there's only flow. " In other words, we humans are a process, or maybe I should say life is a process. No movement, no life. Our bodies are in a constant exchange with the elements of our world. That is the core of the 6 Element Meditation - to realize how much of what we consider us is actually borrowed. The author opens up the enormity of this element-exchange and backs it with data from science (not a lot of data, just enough to illustrate).
Why is this material is so attractive to this reviewer? I believe if we all bravely look at what we share in common and how intertwined we are, it would seem a self-advantage to support all life everywhere. I'm also of the opinion that keeping up with science deepens one's spiritual sense and makes the stuff of life even more amazing. If you haven't learned any science since, let's say, 1940, you're perceptions are outdated! Knowing what's been recently discovered about our universe heightens one's enjoyment of the miraculous.
The book contains a Reader's Guide which gives suggestions and asks questions related to the main content. I find it helpful. Just reading through the 12 paragraphs jogs my memory, or I can focus on one at a time as a contemplation or meditation point.
If you've ever asked yourself what it means to be human, this is a book to savor. If you believe we are all separate individuals, this book will challenge you. Enjoy.
Living As a River - Finding Fearlessness in the Face of Change
"I could describe the book in just two words: "Embracing change." So that's what the book's about. It uses the structure of the Six Element meditation in order to face up to the reality of change, and to help us let go of clinging so that we can embrace impermanence." Bodhipaksa
A highly readable mesh of science and spirituality regarding who we are by way of who we're not.
Your Turn - Review, comment, debate.
Does "Living As a River" provoke insight?
It does for me
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The least movement is of importance to all nature.
The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.
~ Blaise Pascal ~
(quote from the book)
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"As the body makes a journey across the continent of life, from the coast of conception to the far shore we call death, it too is continually changing, the physical and mental components forever being replaced." (pg. 67)
Bodhipaksa's Website - Wildmind Meditation
Bodhipaksa's official site
We are like violins,
We can be used for doorstops, or we can make music
~ Barbara Sher ~
(quote from the book)
More books by Bodhipaksa - Vote for your favorites, or add any I missed.
These three meditations from the Buddhist tradition will help you develop greater depths of calmness and self-awareness, and will help you to cultivate greater appreciation for yourself and lovingkindness for others. As is traditional in Buddhism, these guided meditations do not contain musical accompaniment.
To face reality is to embrace change; to resist change is to suffer. This is the liberating insight that unfolds with Living as a River. A masterful investigation of the nature of self, this eloquent blend of current science and time-honored spiritual insight is meant to free us from the fear of impermanence in a world defined by change. The primary vehicle for this journey is Buddhism's traditional Six Element Practice, a deconstructive process of deep reflection that helps us let go of the belief in a separate, static self-the root of unhappiness. Bodhipaksa takes readers through a systematic yet poetic analysis of the self that supports the realization of: A sense of spaciousness and expansiveness that transcends the limitations of the physical body Profound gratitude, awe, and a feeling of belonging as we witness the extent of our connectedness with the universe Freedom from the psychological burden caused by clinging to a false identity The relaxed experience of "consciousness, pure and bright"Engrossing and incisive, Living as a River is at once an empowering guide and a meditative practice we can turn to again and again to overcome our fear of change and align joyfully with the natural unfolding of creation.
The average person has 12,000 thoughts per day--most of them a recurring handful of unwelcome distractions. On Still the Mind, master meditation teacher Bodhipaksa offers a two-CD combination of instruction and guided practice to help listeners discover an untapped source of mental clarity and inner peace. Drawing from more than 20 years of teaching, he shows us how to connect with the transformational energy and wisdom behind every single breath. Still the Mind is an essential guide for anyone looking to move beyond the chatter of a too-busy mind and build the foundation for a daily mindfulness practice. Bodhipaksa takes the mystery out of meditation, enabling listeners to settle into the deepest parts of the self--away from the stresses of habitual thinking. In a straightforward, contemporary style, he discusses: * Basics of sitting practice, from time and place to posture to proper breathing * Tips to connect with the natural flow of your own breath quickly and easily * How to combine the relaxation of the out-breath with the invigoration of the in-breath * Using breath-based mindfulness practice to unlock your powers of intuition, enhance creativity, and more. Whether you're a first-timer or a seasoned meditator, Still the Mind lets you access a serene openness in any situation through something you're already doing: breathing.
Product Description: Mindfulness has been shown in clinical trials to be an effective way of reducing stress. It is a form of focused awareness that helps to prevent the runaway thinking that gives rise to physical and emotional hyper-arousal. The two meditations on this CD help us to develop this transformative quality of mindfulness, by means of which we practice acceptance of our present-moment experience in a non-judgmental way. Although the meditations on this CD are Buddhist in origin, they can be practiced by people who follow any spiritual tradition or none at all.
If you feel the need to learn meditation but you find that the idea of finding 30 or 40 minutes to meditate is itself stressful, this CD is for you. Short "power meditations" such as these - between three and nine minutes in length - can be highly beneficial for busy people. Each practice teaches a specific and powerful technique for quickly transforming the mind, encouraging the rapid development of calmness, spaciousness, and relaxation. Additionally, by practicing these meditations you'll learn attitudes and skills that can be used throughout the day in any activity you're involved in, bringing more mindfulness and creativity into daily life. You'll notice benefits from repeated practice, and although daily practice is ideal, whatever you can manage will be of benefit. Doing even a small amount of meditation is better than doing none.
All that is born, all that is created,
all the elements of nature are interwoven and united with each other.
~ Gospel of Mary Magdalene ~
(quote from the book)
Meditation CDs - guided meditations
If you are interested in Living As a River, you may also enjoy . . .
THIS CD CONTAINS THREE GUIDED MEDITAATIONS
MYSTIC WATERFALL: a meditation for chakra healing. Cleanse your chakras in this healing waterfall meditation while consciously letting go of patterns that no longer serve you.
INNER WISDOM:a meditation for receiving insight.
LIFE VISUALIZATION: a meditation for manifestation. In this guided meditation, empower and energize yourself while envisioning yourself manifesting your goals and dreams.
Once referred to as "meditations without borders", the Ease of Being does not represent any particular tradition. It gives you the freedom to relax into your own, unique healing journey. One customer stated, "These meditations are unique - you can just float with them". If you listen with an open mind and heart, The Ease of Being can take you straight to the "heart of healing"! (amazon)
For those eager to begin a meditation practice of their own, TRACK 1 offers clear and concise instructions on how to set up and maintain a meditation practice at home. TRACKS 2 and 3 provide guided meditations of mindfulness of breathing. TRACK 4 provides ways of transforming difficulties encountered during mindfulness. TRACK 5 offers a guided meditation on the traditional Buddhist framework of the "Four Applications of Mindfulness". (amazon)
You can listen to the four meditations all the way through or one at a time. This program is arranged for listeners to have choices. If you are new to meditating, you may wish to listen to this in its entirety so that you can become accustomed to getting yourself into deep relaxation. Thereafter you will notice that it will become easier for you to let go. You will be surprised at the benefits it provides each and every time you play it. Expect to release at different levels each time. (amazon)
This CD contains 4 of the best guided meditations from Meditation Oasis podcast. Accompanied by beautiful music, Mary Maddux's soothing voice gently guides the listener to meditate easily and effectively.
Track 1: Breath Awareness Meditation.
Track 2: Effortless Meditation.
Track 3: Emotional Ease Meditation.
Track 4: Letting Go Meditation.
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