Freedom in Meditation

Carrington, Patricia. Freedom in Meditation. New York: Anchor Press, 1977.

Reason read: January is traditionally the month everyone tries to hit the reset button. Yoga and meditation are high on resolution lists. I’m reading Freedom in Meditation in honor of good intentions.

The very first thing I learned about meditation while reading Carrington’s book is that meditation is not just meditating on a mat in a near-dark room. It is not sitting quietly and emptying the mind while incense swirls about your ears. Consider the clinically standardized meditation taught in two sessions. Or the Benson method which has supposed health benefits like lowering blood pressure and even a lowering of metabolism. In truth, meditation success depends on the personality. But also true to every kind of meditation locale and atmosphere (vibe, if you will) are important. Every technique recommends having plants nearby, the burning of incense and candles, maybe even bell ringing, but above all else, calm and quiet. Meditation can be seen as a rebirth, a companion to hypnosis even. Carrington goes on to to talk about the science of meditation, the therapist’s opinion of meditation, and even the misuse of the practice which I found interesting.

Author fact: At the time of publication, Dr. Carrington was a clinical psychologist who taught at Princeton.

Book trivia: There are only two illustrations in Freedom in Meditation. Both are showing you what to do with your hands during meditation.

Nancy said: Pearl mentions Freedom in Meditation first in her list of zen books. She says it is “probably the best book written about meditation” for beginners (Book Lust p 255).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Zen Buddhism and Meditation” (p 255).


Everyday Zen

zen.jpg

Beck, Charlotte Joko. Everyday Zen: Love and Work. San Francisco: Haper Collins, 1989.

I had a hard time wrapping my brain around the reading of this book. I think I couldn’t figure out what was bugging me until I realized the reading required more than just my brain. It asked my heart and soul, my beliefs and convictions to get involved. It became a religious thing and that was something I really struggled with in order to read Beck’s book. I admit it – I am a person wrestling with and for a belief. If that bothers you, stop reading right here. I am searching for self-acceptance for what I believe and, ultimately, do NOT have faith in.

I found it insteresting that Beck put the word love in the title of her book because in the chapter specifically on love she states, “love is a word not often mentioned in Buddhist texts. And the love (compassion) they talk about is not an emotion…” (p 71). I had an interesting time coming to terms with that concept.

The other quotes that I took to heart are:
“…the storms of life eventually hit them more lightly. If we can accept things just the way they are we’re not going to be gratly upset by anything. And if we do become upset it’s over more quickly” (p 13).
“We can’t love something we need” (p 39).
“Other people are not me” (p 68).
“Not all problems are as tough as these, but less demanding ones may still send us up the wall with worry” (p 99).

New Words:

  • sesshin
  • zazen
  • koan
  • zendo
  • samadhi

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter “Zen Buddhism And Meditation” (p 255).