Christina Feldman has been teaching meditation internationally for 28 years. She is co-founder of Gaia House in Devon, England, and a senior teacher at the Insight Meditation Society in Massacusetts, and the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California. In this wonderful collection of 58 guided meditations, she makes a good case for the spiritual practice of attention as the foundation for a fulfilling life of meaning and service. Feldman states: "Meditation is not a journey of self-improvement — it is dedicated to the relief of anguish and struggle wherever they appear. Meditation is greater and vaster than just a technique or formula for living — it is the cultivation of a heart of wisdom and mind of calm." Without attention, we miss the magic that is going on all around us. Without attention, we have no access to inner peace and awareness. Without attention, we are poor and without any resources.
"Attention is the common thread that runs through every meditative discipline and art," Feldman continues. "It enables us to cut through the habits of entanglement and speculative thought and the reactions that trigger agitation. Through calm and gentle attention we learn to cultivate the clarity and sensitivity that allow understanding and stillness to deepen. Wise attention is a gesture of kindness to ourselves, freeing us from the chaos and abrasiveness of a mind that is too easily scattered and divided." The concentrated mind is the key to developing sensitivity to others and to our inner selves.
Since attention is the "A" in our Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy, we were very pleased to see this spiritual practice given such in-depth coverage by Feldman. Other practices in the alphabet are the subjects of guided meditations — listening, inner peace, peacemaking, loving kindness, compassion, altruistic joy (see the excerpt), forgiveness, and being present. Given the speed and the complications of our lives today, Feldman's comments on dealing with stress, anger, fear, letting go, and doing one thing at a time are salutary. This is a spiritual resource that you will use again and again as you face the challenges of everyday life.