If you want to try meditation and do not know where to begin, Meditation for Beginners by Jack Kornfield is good place to start. The book comprises of 13 chapters, the first introducing background and contextual information, followed by eight chapters each explaining a focus for a meditation, the final two looking at social responsibilities and ongoing practice. The book also comes with a CD of the first six as guided meditations
The book is described as a complete course in meditation. The author explains it as offering “…the central training and teachings found in the best Bhuddist monasteries translated for Western society.” The first three chapters are short and explain what meditation is as well as the reasons and benefits to practice. The author trained as a Bhuddist monk in Asia, therefore he refers to Buddhist teachings while stressing the fact that meditation practice is not practicing a religion or being spiritual.
While the author has clearly aimed for this to be a practical guide for a reader who may not have any contextual references to meditation or mindfulness, these earlier chapters would have benefitted if they contained a wider scope on the subject. Perhaps explaining the different types of meditation and how this book specifically focuses on insight or vipassana meditation.
This is an extremely book to read and most readers should find it easy to understand. The CD encourages first time meditators to start and talks through the steps. However, rather disappointingly it is nearly word for word what is written in the book with long silent pauses. As a beginner, I used guided meditations downloaded as podcasts and found those with music and spoken guidance throughout the duration much more helpful.
Overall, this book will make meditation more accessible and provides enough information to get the reader started. From this aspect it fulfills its purpose well. Strengthening areas of contextual background and offering more supported guided meditations in the audio would improve the overall offering and support those readers that may initially struggle.
If you are interested to learn how to meditate this is a well-structured book to start with. In addition, I would recommend going online and downloading guided audio podcasts or using YouTube to find the best ones that work for you.
Published by Jaico Publishing House, 2010. ISBN 978-81-8495-144-8