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Secular Meditation: 32 Practices for Cultivating Inner Peace, Compassion, and Joy — A Guide from the Humanist Community at Harvard by [Heller, Rick]
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Secular Meditation: 32 Practices for Cultivating Inner Peace, Compassion, and Joy — A Guide from the Humanist Community at Harvard Kindle Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Length: 306 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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'Grounded in solid research on the brain and physical and mental health - and full of practical ideas and methods - this friendly, down-to-earth guide is a wonderful resource for both beginners and longtime meditators.'
- Rick Hanson, PhD, author ofHardwiring Happiness andBuddha's Brain

'Everyone, regardless of views or beliefs, can develop happiness and wisdom. InSecular Meditation, Rick Heller and the Humanist Community at Harvard offer a straightforward way for nonreligious people to connect with their inner capabilities for compassion and clarity.'
- Sharon Salzberg, author ofLovingkindness andReal Happiness

'An ideal introduction for those new to the practice, as well as a valuable compendium offering fresh perspectives for seasoned meditators.'
- Stephen Batchelor, author ofBuddhism Without Beliefs andAfter Buddhism

This book is an ideal guide for those who want to study meditation and mindfulness but are put off by the focus on Buddhism or religion in general."
-Library Journal (starred review)

'The very short review of Rick Heller'sSecular Meditation: If you're curious about secular meditation and mindfulness, there's finally a book for you. And it's a good one.'
-The Humanist

'In simple, accessible language,Secular Meditation introduces practices that profoundly transform our hearts and consciousness. Through a rich weave of stories, teachings, meditations, and inquiry, this book offers trustworthy guidance on the journey of awakening.'
- Tara Brach, Ph.D., author ofRadical Acceptance andTrue Refuge

'This book - at once simple and profound - is a joy to read. Rick Heller manages to capture the essence of traditional Buddhist practices and translate them into a no-nonsense secular format. His suggestions for practice are straightforward and can be easily incorporated into daily life.'
- Kristin Neff, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author ofSelf-Compassion

'This book has the potential to benefit many people. Rick has a light and yet substantial style that makes his writing lovely and approachable. He is clearly practicing what he is writing about, which makes for an authentic and sincere offering to this world. '
- Narayan Helen Liebenson, guiding teacher at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center and the Insight Meditation Society

'Secular Meditation is a clear and generous adaptation of Buddhist and other practices for the humanist community. It is a great book for people who believe that the human mind can be trained just as the body can but who are uncomfortable with any supernatural claims. It is simple and accessible, opening doors to generosity, clarity, and joyfulness in this life.'
- James Ishmael Ford, author ofIf You're Lucky, Your Heart Will Break

'Rick Heller combines his secular humanist worldview with his expertise in guiding weekly meditation sessions, producing a unique reference work that's approachable, practical, and based firmly in the natural world. This book fills a gap in the current literature: a workable guide to meditation in theory and practice for a secular audience.'
- Ted Meissner, founder of the Secular Buddhist Association and host of theSecular Buddhist podcast

'Rick Heller's book represents a milestone in the emergence of a truly naturalistic form of contemplative practice. It will do much to help more people find happiness in life.'
- Daniel Strain, executive director of the Spiritual Naturalist Society

'I can't say for sure, but we may be seeing the beginning of a major revolution. This revolution is in some ways a natural next step from the Scientific Revolution that occurred about five hundred years ago and the Neolithic Revolution that occurred many millennia before that. Ever since the Neolithic, human spirituality has tended to center on a literal interpretation of organized myth. The Scientific Revolution decentered those myths. So is humanity now left without a source of deep meaning and moral compass? Perhaps not. The Mindfulness Revolution offers a totally new direction: industrial-strength psycho-spiritual growth based on industrial-strength attentional skills - concentration power, sensory clarity, and equanimity. This book offers a rich banquet, inviting you to taste many flavors of mindfulness.'
- Shinzen Young, director of Vipassana Support International

'Secular Meditation is a wonderfully practical book grounded in the latest neuroscience. Rick Heller shows readers how one can mindfully learn to love others and be loved by others. It provides a step-by-step guide for anyone who wants to live a happy life.'
- Paul J. Zak, PhD, author ofThe Moral Molecule

'Secular Meditation by Rick Heller is a wonderful door-opener for people who are interested in the benefits and how-to of meditation and mindfulness practices but who are skeptical about the religious sources. Heller, the meditation teacher for the Humanist Community at Harvard, has collected thirty-two practices that will have something for every curious reader. His style is warm and engaging, with great stories sprinkled in, and he pulls the reader into trying out attention and kindness practices from all different angles to find their right fit.'
- Christiane Wolf, MD, PhD, coauthor ofA Clinician's Guide to Teaching Mindfulness

Product Description

Meditation is a form of mental exercise with numerous scientifically verified physical and psychological benefits. As meditation teacher Rick Heller shows, the benefits of the practice extend beyond the personal to enrich relationships with others, with one’s community, and with the world. In Secular Meditation, step-by-step instructions, personal stories, and provocative questions teach empathy for others, stress reduction, and the kind of in-the-moment living that fosters appreciation for life and resilience in the face of adversity. Heller simplifies what is often found mysterious, describing and providing detailed instructions for thirty-two different practices, ensuring that anyone can find the right one.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1862 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1608683699
  • Publisher: New World Library (Oct. 19 2015)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #325,064 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've been looking for a book like this for many years. I've read many books about meditation but this was the easiest to understand and relatively jargon-free. I also appreciated that it was specifically written for secular people and provided several different, flexible practices. I only wish the book had an audio component to guide the meditations.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.7 out of 5 stars 18 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Compendium of Mindfulness Practices Jan. 21 2016
By Mark J. Knickelbine - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am pleased to be able to endorse Secular Meditation: 32 Practices for Cultivating Inner Peace, Compassion, and Joy, by Rick Heller. A journalist and meditation teacher, Rick is one of the founders and facilitators of the Humanist Mindfulness Group and the Humanist Community at Harvard, where he had a chance to field test many of the contemplative techniques he shares specifically with a skeptical audience. Secular Mediation is a guide to spirituality without religion, one that will help anyone integrate a non-supernatural contemplative practice into their lives.

The blurb pages of the book read like a who’s who of the worlds of mindfulness and nondogmatic Buddhism, including Stephen Batchelor, Sharon Salzberg, Rick Hanson, Tara Brach, and other luminaries, and it’s not difficult to understand why. Rick does not neglect the theoretical aspects of the philosophy of humanism and how it relates to Buddhism and other philosophical systems, such as stoicism. He also shares neurological, psychological and social research that sheds light on human behavior and the effects of meditation. But the emphasis here is thoroughly on practice, and the result is a compendium of meditation and mindfulness techniques that extend from simple seated practice to integrating present moment awareness in the thick of daily life. Included are a rich bibliography and resource list.

I think my favorite aspect of Rick’s book, besides its comprehensiveness, is its emphasis on loving kindness. In fact, this is the only book on meditation for beginners that I’m aware of that actually starts, not with body or breath contemplations, but with loving kindness and compassion practice. It’s an unusual choice because heart cultivation practices can be quite challenging for many people, experienced meditators as well as beginners. But I believe that these techniques are a powerful source of inspiration and motivation that help us reap the fruits of our practice.

Rick brings this heartful attitude to every imaginable kind of contemplative practice: cultivating all four brahmaviharas; awareness of the breath, sound, and body; working with mantras; walking and other movement practices; noting of thoughts and emotions; mindful eating; and even mindful reading, contemplative photography, and just watching TV. If you think you can’t meditate, I think you will find some practice here that you can do.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nicely referenced "how to" manual! Jan. 24 2016
By Alton Mitchell - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While I don't consider myself a very meditative person (and still don’t really), I found this book a nice read on several levels. Initially, I found the book somewhat direct, not a naturally soothing read which I think I expected a meditation book to be. However, by the end of the second chapter, I had experienced my “cloud clearing” which made me enjoy the book much more. It was then that I first saw it as a “how to” book… an instruction manual for how to do the specific practices which are detailed rather thoroughly. Once I had that enlightenment, everything fit together much more nicely for me… the content, the tone, the directness, the repetition, etc.. As a reference for how to do a specific meditation for a specific result, the practices are easy to find without requiring a lengthy search through block text. Given that I tend to automatically equate meditation with a religious exercise and experience, I was somewhat apprehensive of the book’s ability to convince me otherwise, but it did. The book gave references to where the meditation and practices originated, which I liked from a historic perspective, and openly described the components selected to end up with secular results. The bottom line is the book accomplished what I think the author set out to do. Many of the books I read get passed on to someone else; this one ended up on my shelf.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable book Nov. 30 2015
By Lee McIntyre - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book. For years I've been reading literature on happiness and it all seems to come down to the same conclusion: stop trying to control things that are out of your control, live in the present moment, and practice gratitude. But it's one thing to say these things, it's another to find a way to make it come true in practice. I finally feel like I have my hands on something that can make a difference. This book is so well written it's a joy just to read it. But the real value is in the practice it teaches. As a naturally skeptical person, it's easy to scoff that something as simple as meditation can make a difference, but the evidence is there. I also enjoyed the fact that this book was pitched to everyone....not just Buddhists or practitioners of other religions, but humanists and other secular folks who also have stress and anxiety and need to learn how to find joy and meaning in life without a deity. Yes, it is possible. Rick Heller shows the way.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If You Take God Out of The Equation Jan. 9 2016
By Marc Zegans - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rick Heller's searching investigation of the art of secular meditation is a complex and earnest exploration of how to meditate when you take god out of the equation, and in that aspiritual context, what meditation becomes. Heller a long-time member of the Humanist Community at Harvard offers something unique in this volume, a considered and tested collection of meditative practices that neither presume, nor appeal to spirit. In doing this, he makes meditation available and practical for those of a secular and scientific bent. Without preconditions, we can meditate, see how it affects us and evolve our meditative practices in service of peace, compassion and joy through empirical investigation and direct observation.

Heller's prose is clear, lucid and earnest. He has a stake in the game and speaks from both his research and experience, introducing us to the perplexities he has encountered, resolved and still struggles with in developing his own practice. He's. It's a book that invites conversation and lays a cornerstone for further research. In this Heller's volume is a contribution to both the secular and spiritual communities.

Some of the secular meditation practices that Heller introduces, such at the Metta practice he describes early in the book, are derived from spiritual practice, but modified in language and organization to fit the secular model, and at a deeper level depart from different intent. The book's unstated premise is that such variations in the design and motivation of the practice will have the same or equally beneficial effect as the sources from which they draw. While there may be and most likely are physiological, social and psychological benefits from focused attention, tuning in to and offering compassion and deliberate entry into and expansion of joy when approached from a purely secular perspective, the question does arise, is there something powerful lost when we locate our meditations exclusively in the physical self, rather than reaching beyond ourselves into the mysteries? This guide to secular meditation presumes not, but the question is worth exploring as a matter of science, as a matter of practice and as a basis for dialogue. In raising the question, Heller's book offers us not only useful practices, but the foundation for a rich and rewarding conversation that can extend for many years to come.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! If you'd like to take up some ... Nov. 17 2015
By Jennifer V. - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book! If you'd like to take up some sort of meditation or mindfulness practice but aren't sure where to start, start here. You do not need to be affiliated with a particular religion or spiritual tradition to cultivate equanimity, joy and even love in your inner life.

I love the organization of the 32 practices. A chapter is devoted to each, with explanations, examples, stories, guidelines. The writing style is conversational and easy, but with thoughtful and substantial bases for each practice. The book is a library, a resource; you don't need to read it straight through. Each chapter is pretty self-contained, and the readers can experiment with which practices work best for themselves. Secular Meditation is accessible to folks of any background and meditation experience level.