Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: a 28-day Program by Sharon Salzberg (2010)
10% Happier. This beginning guide to meditation defines what meditation is, describes its benefits, then lays out a 4-week plan to get you started. Each week begins with a preview which describes the general idea behind each sort of meditation. Then the meditation sections walk you through each variation of that kind of meditation. This is followed by a FAQ and with reflections and the takeaway. The themes of the four weeks are concentration, mindfulness and the body, mindfulness and emotions, and "lovingkindness."
The first week is all about concentration, and asks us to focus on our breath (the basic kind of meditation that I've been doing), the sounds around us, or by being aware of thoughts we are having (without getting distracted by them - that's the tricky part.) In the second week we are asked to be mindful about what is going on in our bodies and the sensations that we are experiencing, and it includes a walking meditation. The third week is all about being aware of your emotions and realizing that they are temporary. The final week focuses on what Salzberg calls "lovingkindness" which means that while meditating you consciously feel compassion towards others, which is basically like sending good vibes.
I didn't intended to use this as prescribed for 28 days, so I didn't focus on these different meditations from week to week. I just wanted to learn more about meditation in general, because I knew there had to be more to it than just counting breaths and trying not to get lost in thought. I tried listening to the CD for the first meditation, but it was basically the same as what was in the book and for me it was a bit distracting. My experience with guided meditations has been pretty mixed so far in general, but if it works well for you, this is probably helpful. Otherwise, you can just read the meditation bits in the book before meditating.
This hasn't really changed my beginning practice yet, but it has given me ideas about where to go from here. Some of it may never be useful to me, but there are several kinds of meditation new to me that I will probably use. This book would likely be useful for anyone starting out with meditation who needs some guidance. I found it pretty easy to read and understand.
Do you meditate? If so, are there any books, blogs, or other sources that you have found helpful? I'm taking suggestions!