The title of the book sounds very inviting: Relaxing into Meditation. But I guess I always reserved a bit of apprehension about the book itself, specifically because my experiences with classroom practices in meditation have usually involved me quickly trying to “get it” before everyone else begins. Invariably, the teacher needs to move on, and I'm found later sitting there still trying to figure it out (Am I sitting comfortably? Am I sitting upright and comfortably? Should I be comfortable or uncomfortable? Am I meditating?) instead of applying myself to this practice of meditating.
However, this book was written very much for the common person—like myself—who needs a bit of longhand instruction, practice at doing it, repetitive language to ease the transition into a new kind of practice, and a patient and uniform tone (although not a monotonous one).
This read was not only an easy one, but a very compassionate, economical one: I was able to read it, stop for a moment to practice what was suggested, then go back to reading without some word, term or complicated passage tripping me up. In fact, to ease the process of learning the author even suggests that some exercises are easier than they sound (a clear indication of time spent with visual and practice-based learners), and suggests that the uninitiated have someone read it to them when possible. The patience and accessibility of the information is one of the highlights of the book throughout.
In addition, the inspired italicized passages describing the author's classroom environment allowed me a window into the practice done over time and within different kinds of environments, and with different kinds of people. Strangely enough, those descriptions seemed to help me connect up with the practice much like I do when I am in a classroom. I suppose that, in reading the passages, I imagined the support of others around me doing the exercises too.
The content itself I found helpful as well. There are expository passages, such as the suggestions for singing, that speak to societal and personal pressures that keep us inhibited about practices that are possibly life-sustaining for us. I feel the short-handed written reasoning about such matters—without being overly negative about societal—or our self-induced pressures - helps us to gain some compassion for ourselves out there. The practices themselves, along with the philosophy behind them, simply offer an alternative to the current practices - an alternative that has the potential to be so much more helpful to our minds and bodies.
I appreciate the opportunity to be the first to experience this easy to follow, supportive book.