Relaxing into Meditation is the best book on meditation I've ever read, and I've been browsing them since the mid-70's. I say this because of the distinction made between relaxation and meditation, and the explanation of why relaxation must happen before meditation can begin. I have never seen it spelled out so clearly before, and in such a gentle, non-didactic manner. The writing draws you in and you come to love the teacher as if you were also a member of one of her meditation groups. I love that the chapters are short and not overwhelming. The author doesn't talk down to the reader and isn't too folksy. It is simple, but not “meditation for dummies.”
Some years ago I was watching a cable-access show presented by one of the guru-types that so frequently make appearances on such venues. One thing he mentioned came through loud and clear. In his discussion on meditating the guru explained that one can't just jump into meditation and expect it to “work.” Rather, he said that “the secret” is that your focus should be on “becoming meditative” rather than “meditating.” That is, if you stop putting the emphasis on attempting to have the perfect meditation experience and just relax by performing the preliminaries, a meditative state will come upon you in a natural, non-forced manner.
This struck me, for having read various meditation books through the years I would become motivated to practice but would stop and start, becoming bored or frustrated with my lack of “progress.” Thus, hearing about the idea of not trying so hard at it, but just relaxing into "becoming meditative" was very appealing. Unfortunately, I never saw that presenter's show again so I never learned what it meant to “become meditative” – that is, until I read Relaxing into Meditation.
The beauty of the text is in the presentation of the ways of becoming meditative, i.e. through breath-work, song or movement. Each exercise is enough in itself. There is no pressure to move on to the next technique, and the benefits of each level are given respect. That is not to say one is not invited to try other meditative techniques, just that each one is whole and respected in itself.
The illustrations of the text along with the warm and friendly manner in which it is written make attempting each new meditative technique a real pleasure. This is a fabulous book for those who have been curious about meditation but were a little hesitant, feeling they didn't have “the right stuff” to be successful at it. The text is gentle and fun and calmly inspiring, and even if you have dabbled in meditation before you'll learn new ways to think about what you have been doing. Relaxing into Meditation is sure to become a classic.