Now more than ever it seems that life is ridiculously busy. The evolution of technology which was intended to make life easier has instead created more problems and accelerated the pace of our lives to a ridiculous, unsustainable velocity. Just listen to someone yelling at Siri if you don’t believe me. We’ve gotten so advanced that we’re de-evolving in some ways. Instead of using the prefrontal cortex of our brains, which manages planning, emotional reactions and solving problems we’re in a continual state of overdrive on the amygdalla, which governs our fight or flight reactions and our sense of fear.
In the midst of all of this sound and fury seeking tranquility and calm can feel like another source of stress. Finding the perfect time and place to contemplate life is a very tall order, but meditation doesn’t have to be done sitting in the lotus position in an empty room for hours at a time. Meditative practices can be done anytime and anywhere, and the benefits are immediate and amazing.
Each chapter of this book offers a new insight into ways to bring more mindfulness and relaxation into everyday life, even when you’re washing dishes or driving to work. The mindfulness practices Jon Kabat-Zinn writes about are easy and accessible techniques to bring a little meditation into your daily routine. With a little practice, it becomes as automatic as brushing your teeth, and can have as many health benefits.
Not only does this book have one of the top 10 non fiction book titles of all time (it’s number 8 on my list) it contains an intriguing mix of Eastern medicine, Western therapies and ancient teachings. William Miklaus has brought these concepts together in a way that speaks to someone looking for physical benefits as well as to someone in search of a more creative way of living.
Pema Chordron is the first American woman to become a fully ordained Buddhist monk. She has written numerous books, and is the director of the Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia. This is a book to be read slowly and in stages, in order to begin to absorb the teachings. I found myself with more questions than answers by the end, but surprisingly it wasn’t frustrating, more like walking through a narrow gap in a hedge to find more beautiful gardens to explore.
If you’re not looking to contemplate, but still feel flooded and overwhelmed, try checking out A Boy Named Queen. In this children’s book, Queen teaches a classmate a great lesson about filtering out the cruel words of their schoolmates. Sara Cassidy wrote this book for children, but the message works just as well for adults who need to take a step back from all of the unwanted input that is constantly bombarding us.
Even if just reading the word meditation immediately fills you with fear and loathing, you can still find some measure of calm and centeredness in our super saturated, super speedy world. Just take a moment, take a breath, and be here now.