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Unlearning Meditation: What to Do When the Instructions Get in the Wayby Jason Siff
Synopses & Reviews
Too often, meditation instructions get in the way of meditative awareness for people, causing them to feel “stuck in a rut” or even to give up on it entirely. Meditation teacher Jason Siff shows that sometimes the problem is in the traditional meditation instructions themselves, which set up a tension in us between what our own experience of meditation is versus what it should be. His solution: let go of the traditional instructions. Meditation is so native to us, he says, that you can learn it yourself, completely naturally, by simply sitting, recording your experiences, and reflecting upon them. The goal is in no way different from more traditional approaches to meditation. The insight resulting from a quiet mind remains the aim. Unlearning meditation simply shows you how to approach the aim from a different direction. The approach has been wonderfully effective for students in the authors workshops and retreats, opening up meditation practice for beginners and reenergizing the practice of people who have been at it for years.
When we meditate, our minds often want to do something other than the meditation instructions we've been taught. When that happens repeatedly, we may feel frustrated to the point of abandoning meditation altogether. Jason Siff invites us to approach meditation in a new way, one that honors the part of us that doesn't want to do the instructions. He teaches us how to become more tolerant of intense emotions, sleepiness, compelling thoughts, fantasies—the whole array of inner experiences that are usually considered hindrances to meditation. The meditation practice he presents in Unlearning Meditation is gentle, flexible, permissive, and honest, and it's been wonderfully effective for opening up meditation for people who thought they could never meditate, as well as for injecting a renewed energy for practice into the lives of seasoned practitioners.
About the Author
Jason Siff is the head teacher of the Skillful Meditation Project. He teaches meditation and leads retreats throughout the United States and in Australia.
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