Five Classic Meditations


by Shinzen Young

Audio Renaissance Tapes; 1989

60 minutes, audiotape

Readers of the Review will recall reading (Noetic Sciences Review, Autumn 1988) excerpts of a stimulating conversation between Shinzen Young and me on the practice of mediation(1) and other mindfulness techniques. Shinzen Young is an American who studied classical meditation practices in the East for many years before beginning to teach in the Los Angeles area. I have always been impressed by the depth of his understanding and consider him one of the leading pioneers in adapting the vital essence of meditative practice to contemporary Westerners.

Five Classic Meditations is an excellent series of guided meditations for those who want to practice, rather than just think about, meditation. After general instructions applicable to most forms of meditation, Shinzen guides the listener through classic concentrative meditation in the form of mantra (special sound) meditation and then into traditional mindfulness (Vipassana) meditation where we learn to objectively observe and flow with the natural processes of mind and body instead of psychologically freezing around them.

Concentrative and mindfulness meditations are the foundations of classic Buddhist practice and are found in some form in almost all the great spiritual traditions. They can produce an increased ability to focus that applies in all areas of life, not just formal meditation, and increased insight into and understanding of all our life. These instructions alone, with Shinzen's excellent guidance, would be sufficient to call this an excellent tape. Yet there are three other guided meditations to further flesh out the spectrum of meditation.

The third is metta, a meditation on loving kindness, which infuses a vital human warmth into life and practice which might otherwise be too "cool" and detached. The fourth is karma yoga, which further integrates meditative practice with the rest of life by showing how your daily activities can lead to concentration and insight. This direction is strengthened in the fifth meditation from the Jewish Kabbalah tradition on accepting and integrating the forces of the flow of life in and around us.

If you are a beginner to meditative practice, this tape will get you off to a good start in a way a book alone cannot. If you are already accomplished in meditation, you will appreciate the knowledge and caring that come through in Shinzen's guidance and probably want to give this tape to friends who are just starting.

Article copyright Institute of Noetic Sciences.


By Charles T. Tart

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