Life in Balance
Life in Balance is an easy-to-follow, practical guide to meditation that provides everything you need to know about meditation practice from the very beginning to the advanced stages. It is the companion book to our Learn to Meditatecourse.
Written in direct, engaging language by the Centre's principal teacher, Dr Graham Williams, Life in Balance contains detailed instructions for beginning and developing a meditation practice. It is the perfect handbook to enable you to relax, relieve stress and stay calm, clear and balanced.
Lifeflow price only: $25.00
Postage & Handling: $10.00 flat fee per order
Part One explains how to meditate to calm yourself quickly and easily, with practical instructions for formal, informal and spot meditations. You will discover which meditations suit you best and how to use them in your life.
Parts Two and Three are for more experienced meditators. Part Two outlines how to develop your practice, including how deep you can go, using meditation to make decisions and instructions for retreat. Part Three reveals the rich tradition behind meditation and the profound psychological insights it can provide.
What others have said about this book
A gift to read
Professor Ross Kalucy AM, Director, Emergency Mental Health
Head, Department of Psychiatry
Graham’s authoritative text leaps out with exquisite clarity and elegance – everything you ever wanted to know about the possibilities of meditation experience.
Liana Taylor, Clinical Psychologist
Meditation Teacher, MBCT Teacher, Mindfulness Centre.
[This is] probably the most practical book [on meditation] I've ever come across and provides such a beautiful framework for applying the teaching of meditation. It answers lots of questions I've always wanted to clarify.
Adrian, GP, Melbourne
This is the book that I wish I had when I started to meditate!
Most meditation books in the Buddhist tradition either cause me to think that I will never have the time, resources or disposition to fully master the techniques, or ask me to believe in things that I find completely alien as a westerner. This book, which is true to traditional meditation teachings has stripped away all that is unnecessary and culture-laden and gives me the confidence that the highest results of meditation are easily achievable.
Dr Ian K. Nuberg
Discipline of Agricultural and Animal Sciences, Roseworthy Campus
The University of Adelaide
Part One: Getting started
Chapter 1: Setting the scene: what is meditation?
Chapter 2: Beginning to meditate
Chapter 3: Developing calm and concentration
Chapter 4: The seven categories of meditation
Chapter 5: The deepening stages of meditation
Chapter 6: Spot Meditations
Chapter 7: The Three C Technique
Chapter 8: Letting go of emotions
Chapter 9: The weather patterns of the mind
Chapter 10: Informal meditations
Chapter 11: Retreat
Part Two: Developing a meditation practice
Chapter 12: The levels of absorption – the transpersonal states
Chapter 13: Working with emotions
Chapter 14: Making decisions using the Three C Technique
Chapter 15: Meditating on space
Chapter 16: Advanced retreat
Chapter 17: Observing and letting go of emotions in retreat
Chapter 18: Fine-tuning your meditation
Part Three: The theory behind the practice
Chapter 19: Balancing mind and body – the monkey and the elephant
Chapter 20: A map of the mind
Chapter 21: The three personality types – moving forward, stepping back and staying still
Chapter 22: The different meditation objects
Chapter 23: The different paths of meditation
Chapter 24: The four streams of meditation
How to use the book – an overview of the contents
The aim of this book is to provide you with all the material necessary to develop your own meditation practice, from the very beginning right through to the advanced stages. It outlines the basic principles of meditation, what happens when you meditate and the stages you go through, what you can expect as you build a practice and the theory behind it all. It also contains practical instructions for preliminary exercises and the different kinds of meditations, which are clearly marked in boxes so you can easily refer to them.
The book is divided into three parts which are outlined in detail below. Part One contains all the material taught in the Learn to Meditate course of the Lifeflow Meditation Centre; Parts Two and Three contain the material taught in Levels 2, 3 and 4. The meditations outlined in the book are taught in those meditation courses or in the retreats run by the Centre.
Please take what you find useful for your meditation practice at the moment and leave the rest for later, when it becomes more relevant or you are interested in exploring further.
Part One: Getting started
If you are a newcomer to meditation or wish to revise the basics for your practice, Part One provides everything you need to know. It explains how to relax your body and calm your mind quickly and easily in your daily life, how meditation works and the steps of the meditation technique. The deepening stages of meditation are laid out in a simple way so you can recognise them as you meditate.
Part One also introduces all the different kinds of meditations and there are detailed practical instructions for these, and for how to meditate when you are sitting, standing, walking and lying down.
Spot Meditations are also introduced: these short meditations can be done in twenty seconds or less to quickly regain your emotional balance, wherever you are and whatever you are doing.
A chapter is devoted to the Three C Technique, a speciality of the Lifeflow Meditation Centre. This simple technique enables you to apply the awareness gained from meditation to your habits and the situations and aspects of life everyone finds difficult. You will learn how to use this technique to let go of unhealthy and unpleasant emotions, and be introduced to a quick, powerful way of discharging them.
Knowing how your mind and emotions work can take a lot of the mystery and angst out of many emotional states and so this is also explained, demonstrating how meditation can be used as a tool for opening up your intuition and inner world. You will also find many examples of how to use meditation informally in your everyday life.
Finally, there are guidelines for what to expect in a meditation retreat and how to make the most of your retreat experience.
Part Two: Developing a meditation practice
If you are a more experienced meditator who wants to explore the discipline of meditation in detail, you will find in Part Two the material you need to develop your practice.
You will be introduced to the kinds of states that open up as you go deeper into meditation, so you can begin to recognise them and learn to contact them at will. These are commonly called alternate states, altered states of consciousness or transpersonal states and they are explained in detail.
Meditation provides the tools to discover how your mind and consciousness actually work, so that you can free yourself from emotional conflict. You can then begin to understand how to use your instinctual energies skillfully and joyfully, which gives you freedom to ride the waves of emotions. In Part Two you will be shown how to develop this skill.
You will also learn how to use the Three C Technique to make decisions – this can be particularly useful when you are faced with making important, potentially life-changing choices.
Using meditation to develop awareness is explained further in Part Two and you will be introduced to meditating on space.
Also included in Part Two are instructions for doing advanced retreats. You will learn how to use retreat to observe how your emotions work and how to free yourself from emotional conflicts. Finally, there are detailed instructions on how to fine-tune your meditation practice.
Part Three: The theory behind the practice
Part Three is for readers who have already developed a meditation practice and who would like to discover what makes meditation tick – the theory supporting the practice. It explores the philosophy and psychology of meditation, from both Western and Eastern cultural perspectives.
Knowledge from both cultures about the brain, mind and meditation is integrated to give you a clear understanding of how meditation can be applied. In Part Three you will discover how to harmonise the way you live with the way your brain and body operate, so that you can work with them rather than fighting against them.
Because it’s as easy to get lost in the inner life as it is in the Australian outback, maps are very important. With the correct maps, the journey can be exhilarating and liberating. Part Three provides both Western and Eastern maps of the mind to help you orient yourself and understand how your consciousness works.
You will learn how people tend to orient themselves differently according to personality type, which meditations suit these personality types and how far the different kinds of meditation will take you. You will also be introduced to the different meditation paths that can be followed.
The different streams of the meditation tradition are also explained. You will discover the different skills these streams develop, why they exist in the first place and how to integrate what you have learned into your everyday life.
From the introduction:
Being still and open is the blissful state in which we feel totally at peace with ourselves and the world.
Meditation is something we could all do naturally and easily as children – we just didn’t know what we were doing. If you observe a child watching something, completely absorbed, you see how still they become, how totally open and receptive they are, how concentrated their mind is and how comfortable they are in their body. The price of learning to think is that we lose this ability; in fact, it is often actively discouraged. I remember being told off as a child for daydreaming when I became completely absorbed in something. My parents were always telling me that I’d lose my head if it wasn’t screwed on!
The reason for losing this ability is that we can’t think and be in touch with our bodies at the same time. In fact, we spend surprisingly little of our waking lives in touch with our senses. Yet resting in the senses, receptive and aware, just taking in everything around us, is the natural state of our minds and bodies. Being still and open is a blissful state in which we feel completely at peace with ourselves and the world.
Meditation provides the means to consciously reintegrate the ability to become absorbed, while maintaining the skills of thinking.
The four streams of meditation
The meditation tradition has developed four distinct streams: Calm and Concentration, Insight, Tantra and Ethics. These have been developed because meditation is a tool that can be used in different ways to achieve different purposes. However, no matter what you are aiming for in meditation, everything rests on the calm, concentration and balance of the absorbed state, so this is where all meditation begins.
The stream of Calm and Concentration develops the skills of meditating, relaxing the body and calming the mind. It outlines how to deal with thoughts, keeping them in perspective so they do not drive us, and opens up the deep peace you experience when your mind and body are balanced and still.
The stream of Insight is a body of knowledge and practice for learning how to see clearly what is happening in our lives, how our consciousness and thought processes actually work, and how to avoid being caught in our emotions.
The stream of Tantra provides exercises for learning how to keep our emotions in a healthy state, so we can create good feelings for ourselves and learn to sustain them. This stream also allows us to come to know the naturally blissful state of our bodies, to understand our raw instincts and learn how to integrate and use them skillfully rather than being driven by them.
Finally, the stream of Ethics provides a way to apply the calm, clarity and emotional skill of meditation to our everyday actions. It opens up the possibility of basing what we do in our lives, and how we move our bodies through the world, on seeing clearly and responding directly to what happens, free from emotional conflict and ingrained habits. (These four streams are explained in more detail in Chapter 24.)
This book focuses on the stream of Calm and Concentration and is the first in a series of books dedicated to each stream of the meditation tradition. It explains how to balance your mind and emotions and maintain them in a healthy state. It also explores the advanced stages in Calm and Concentration and how to apply those skills to everyday life, to making major decisions and to studying and understanding emotions.BUY NOW
Cover artwork depicts a detail from Time – courtesy of Garry Duncan: www.garryduncan.com.au
Special Offer - Lifeflow Starter Kit
Life in Balance is available together with the 4-CD set Joy of Being at a discounted price.Find out more
Learn to meditate
Learn simple, effective techniques for bringing calm and balance into your everyday life. Provides practical experience to support Life in Balance.Find out more
Rest, restore your energies and let go of deadlines and busyness ... No prior meditation or retreat experience is required.Find out more