Monday, November 11, 2019

EFF This! Meditation: Book Review

Meditation is totally trendy right now.

Unfortunately, that's the problem. Though the relaxation technique is scientifically proven to have both physical and mental health benefits, for many people, it just feels like another 'thing' they believe they 'should' do.  Recently I have seen a lot of articles slamming the pressure women get to perform 'self-care', which really just makes them more anxious and self-critical when they fail to be able to make it happen.

Typically, we think of meditation as sitting in lotus position, with our eyes closed and not moving for an extended period of time, our minds blissfully free of any thoughts at all. Though this traditional form of Buddhist meditation works brilliantly for many people, for the rest of us, myself included, it's a no go.

I detailed here what happened to me a few years ago when I did an intensive mindfulness meditation course. It didn't work for me at all. I hated the meditation exercises and felt I got absolutely nothing from them except wasting time I would never get back. I have many counselling clients who have had the same experience.

Subsequently, I have learned that I get the same benefits some people get from traditional meditation, from reading, especially the reading I do each night before falling asleep, and from the exercise I do each morning. I even get similar benefits from humour (I am part of a private pun group on Facebook where we share puns that make everyone else - lacking a decent sense of humour - cringe). There is nothing more therapeutic than a laugh or giggle! Also, looking at videos of kittens on Instagram are just as helpful for me. Nothing soothes me more than a purring kitten!

I have shared with many of my clients that mindfulness/the benefits of meditation can come from all sorts of activities if, like me, they are not fans of traditional meditation.

Given my own experiences, I was immediately excited to review the book, EFF This! Meditation and suspected that author, Liza Kindred, and I are kindred spirits. Ha ha pun intended.

Surprisingly, Kindred is actually a Buddhist meditation teacher, but works in rather unconventional views and practices. I love her already! Check out her website and you will too!

This is a brief description of her approach:

Our specific focus is on meditation as a physical, felt experience. Many mindfulness practices begin and end in the head–observing how the mind works, opening our eyes and ears, focusing on the way our breath feels on our nose or lips. We expand this awareness to include the whole body–which also includes our energetic field and the way that our emotions are manifesting in our body. While our thoughts don’t always tell us the truth, our bodies always do.

In the book, Kindred explains that she believes most of us think we are broken and must find a way to fix ourselves when really, the problem is the world we currently live in. I could not agree more! Several years ago, Kindred developed a new style of meditation better suited to the reality of most people's lives.

The exercises in the book that are meant to promote wellness incorporate meditation, nature, movement, breaking, balancing creation with consumption, creating space and employing more mindful use of technology.

The book is divided into sections based on the time required for the exercises, which range from 1 minute to 1 hour plus, commitments.

Pouring over the pages, I realized I do many of the things Kindred suggests, or recommend the practices to my clients. It's everything from positive affirmations, breathing exercises, time spent in nature, to connecting with loved ones, using technology to nurture ourselves, enjoying music or a preferred artistic endeavor, to mindfully drinking a hot cup of tea or savouring a favorite dessert.

The book is very straightforward and approachable and appealing to even the biggest mindfulness skeptic.

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