Only reason can distinguish truth from falsehood.
"God grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change things I can, and wisdom to know the difference" - Reinhold Niebuhr
Westerners always had courage to change things. A relentless struggle to improve both world and self defines Western culture. But that innate drive for the shiny and new hindered acceptance of things that can not be changed. Easterners, in contrast, spent centuries developing techniques of mental disciplines that cultivate tranquility.
For the benefit of Westerners in need of a serenity boost, I pulled together some resources for learning the art of Eastern meditation:
In his book, Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabat-Zinn spelled out the "Attitudinal Foundation of Mindfulness Practice"
Austin, James H., Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness, 1998.
Kabat-Zinn, Jon, Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness, 1990. Although much of this book focuses on the use of mindfulness to help people with chronic health problems, it is the best "how-to" I have found on meditation practice. It lays out the basic theoretical principles (non-judging, patience, beginner's mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance, and letting go), but also covers all the practical questions like "What do I do if I have an itch?".
Jackson, Phil, Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior, 1995. How the coach of the Chicago Bulls used Eastern mindfulness to build one of the legendary dynasties in the very Western game of basketball.
Nyanaponika A. Thera, The Heart of Buddhist Meditation: Satipatthna, 1962.
Shattock, E.H., An Experiment in Mindfulness: An English Admiral's Experiences in a Buddhist Monastery. Admiral Shattock traveled to Burma in the 1950s to learn meditation from the monks there.
Suzuki, Shunryu, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. A classic. The author was a Japanese Zen Master who came to the United States and founded the San Francisco Zen Center.
Bodhipaksa, Guided Meditations: For Calmness, Awareness, and Love, Audio CD.
Kabat-Zinn, Jon, Guided Mindfulness Meditation, Audio CD. Copies of the recordings used in the UMASS Medical School Stress Reduction Course.
Kabat-Zinn, Jon, Mindfulness for Beginners, Audio CD. A shortened, audio version of the basics covered in Full Catastrophe Living, with a few brief meditations.
Kornfield, Jack, Meditation for Beginners, Audio CD.
Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Mass General Hospital
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