Unlearning Meditation: What to Do When the Instructions Get In the Way
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Unlearning Meditation: What to Do When the Instructions Get In the Way

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  40 ratings  ·  8 reviews
When we meditate, our minds often want to do something other than the meditation instructions we've been taught. When that happens repeatedly, we may feel frustrated to the point of abandoning meditation altogether. Jason Siff invites us to approach meditation in a new way, one that honors the part of us that doesn't want to do the instructions. He teaches us how to become...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 6th 2010 by Shambhala (first published 2010)
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Jason Siff has a broad background in vipassana meditation, both with the Goenka/U Bha Khin techniques as well as an ordained monk in the Mahasi Sayadaw lineage. He came to some conclusions regarding the meditation practice as taught in these lines and began to evolve his thinking regarding meditation in general. This resulted in a shift in language, practice, and teaching style that he tries to capture in this book. He brings to bear a style called 'Recollective Awareness Meditation,' which feel...more
I began this book much more enthusiastically than I finished it. Siff's early chapters develop a critique of the way many meditators are taught, especially by being given conflicting sets of instructions that set them up for frustration and guilt. And he offers an alternative set of instructions that are quite loose and freeing in the form of his own Recollective Awareness meditation. These sections are a heartening and useful corrective. As the book proceeds, however, one gets the sense that pe...more
Steve Woods
After 7 years of fairly disciplined practice based largely on the Thervada traditions of Thailand I found that there was much in my meditation experience that seemed to run across the fairly ascetic interpretation of the process in which I was involved. I did not push myself into the strict mould prescribed but seemed to allow quite a lot of latitude in accepting what came up. There is no denying that there have been major changes within as a result of all that practice, but somehow I always fel...more
This book, and its author's meditation practice, emphasizes an attitude of broad receptivity to experiences that come up during sitting, rather than suppression in service to instructions from a teacher or tradition. Instead, Jason encourages investigation and curiosity, and provides some tools that help us understand the experiences that may come up in your meditation, including a form of journaling that documents the sitter's mental states. I am studying meditation with this method, including...more
Bishop Bergland
It's an okay book. He has a point about methods getting in the way. In many ways he reminded me of my Christian contemplation teachers who stressed the method of no method, which caused me to struggle as a beginner but now (nearly two decades later) I can appreciate. That being said, to some extent he beats a dead horse with example after example and the book becomes redundant.
Mar 02, 2011 John added it
If you've just started meditation, this book might answer your questions. If you're an experienced meditator, this book might question your answers.

I liked this:
pg 105
"I didn't consider that there was anything to unlearn about calm states until I began questioning the whole notion of applying effort to become calm."
The first few chapters make this book worth reading. The end flutters to a close. Highly recommended for people who find it hard to use breath as an anchor for meditating and people who have an adversarial relationship with meditation "directions."
Good for people who want more freedom in their meditation practice, or people who think "I don't meditate right" and feel guilty when they don't meditate "the right way."

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