For a long time, I’ve been on the lookout for a really good book to recommend to a beginner wishing to learn meditation. This is that book. Finding the Quiet by Paul Wilson is a perfect introduction to meditation practices.
There are a lot of good books available (several that I own by Wayne Dyer) that teach a particular KIND of meditation, and do it well. This book teaches several kinds of meditation, encapsulating the essence of all the meditation traditions in general, in a wonderful style. Wilson is a student of a wide variety of meditation traditions, and he has done a great job of stripping away all the complexity and tradition-for-its-own-sake and streamlining the heart and soul of meditation. These are a set of hybrid techniques that take the most useful parts of all traditions and leave the rest.
Paul Wilson was apparently a natural mystic from the time he was a child, where he learned to find the quiet in the isolated Outback of Australia. Later, he took these lessons with him into the city and became a meditation expert – known as the “guru of quiet”.
The book focuses on both physical and spiritual aspects to meditation, and offers a variety of techniques that can be incorporated into anyone’s spiritual tradition without causing conflict. Wilson is especially conscious of the difficulties many Christians have in reconciling meditation with their religion, and offers techniques drawn from the Christian and other theistic contemplative traditions. Ultimately, Wilson believes, all these techniques lead to the same place, which he calls the Quiet. But the path may be slightly different. Since I have seen a lot of Christians get opposition even to so innocuous a practice as centering prayer, I appreciate Wilson’s efforts here.
The book is pleasantly neutral in regard to spiritual traditions. The beginning chapters establish the groundwork of what to expect and teach postures and other physical techniques for preparing for meditation. Next is an explanation of the three broad kinds of meditation. The the last section, which deals more with the spiritual aspects of meditation. But these spiritual considerations are entirely optional. All you need to start meditating is the first part of the book.
Along the way, Wilson unobtrusively introduces explanations of the science behind meditating and the brain function behind it. Hopefully this will make meditation more appealing to those who dislike all the unfortunate associations the New Age movement has burdened it with.