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Excerpted from A Gradual Awakening by Stephen Levine. Copyright © 1979 by Stephen Levine. Excerpted by permission of Anchor Books, a division of Random House, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 


"We've all developed some degree of concentration and awareness. Just to be able to read a book, to live our complicated lives, takes awareness and concentration."

Stephen Levine, A Gradual Awakening, Part 1

Meditation is for many a foreign concept, somehow distant and foreboding, seemingly impossible to participate in. But another word for meditation is simply awareness. Meditation is awareness.

The motivation for meditating is often quite different for each person. Many people come to meditation because of their love for the qualities of some teacher or their desire to know God. Others because of a desire to understand mind. Some begin not even knowing what meditation is, but with a great longing to be free from some sadness, some pain, some incompleteness in their lives.

Here is offered a simple Buddhist mindfulness practice to come to wholeness, to our natural completeness. The basis of the practice is to directly participate in each moment as it occurs with as much awareness and understanding as possible.

We've all developed some degree of concentration and awareness. Just to be able to read a book, to live our complicated lives, takes awareness and concentration. They’re qualities of mind present in everyone.

Meditation intensifies those qualities through systematic, gentle, persevering techniques. To develop concentration, we choose a single object of awareness, the primary object, that the attention is "re-minded" to return to and encouraged to stay with. A basic difference between various meditation forms--such as TM, or Sufi dancing, or confronting Zen koans, or sitting meditations, or Christian prayer, or chanting mantra, or listening to the inner sound current, or cycling light, or observing sensations in the body, or visualizing techniques, or watching the breath--is the primary object on which concentration is developed. We choose a primary object and work with it; whether it is something we generate in the conceptual realm, like a verbal repetition or the idea of loving-kindness, or something that is always present, like the sensations in the body.

Mindfulness of breathing is a powerful means of developing concentration. The breath is a superb object because it's constantly a part of our experience.

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