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by Mark Thornton
Sounds True, 2006
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Jul 11th 2006

Meditation in a New York Minute

Meditation in a New York Minute comes in two formats, a book and a 2 CD audiobook.  Yet the audiobook is not a reading of the book: rather, the author Mark Thornton explains his methods of meditation for calming in a spontaneous fashion.  Of course, the information given in both versions is the same, but each is presented in a way that especially suits the format.

In the book, Thornton explains how he will provide a very practical guide to meditation and will not say much about the theories or philosophical ideas behind meditation.  He emphasizes that meditation does not need to be a matter of sitting cross-legged on the floor repeating a mantra to yourself.  You can meditate anywhere, and even people who are extremely busy have plenty of opportunity to meditate: in the shower, in the elevator, while walking down the street, eating a meal, or sitting at your desk.  It can be done in many different ways, using breath control, consciousness of your breath and body, and thought.  So this guide is very introductory and intensely practical.  The book is short (140 pages) and easy to read.  It is full of explanations of different ways of meditating as a way to self-calming, and Thornton also highlights the way that this can make you more efficient and more productive as a worker.  He adds plenty of lists, boxes with information, and summaries of what has gone before.  He has plenty of diagrams showing the relation between mind, brain, emotions and self, but these seem rather confusing.  He gives many tips aimed at business people for how to integrate meditation into their daily lives, such as putting reminders to be calm on their cell phones or Blackberrys.  He also emphasizes how to overcome obstacles to meditating, which may be especially useful to the many people who have tried it in the past and have not found it useful previously. 

The audiobook, which lasts about two and a half hours, does not bother with all the information about the harms caused by stress, but leaps straight into methods for meditating.  He cleverly takes advantage of the audio format by doing the breathing techniques himself, so it is possible to copy him. Thornton is Australian, so his accent is quite distinctive, but his voice is pleasant.  He has the relaxed assurance that one would hope for in a meditation coach.  The meditation audiobook is a good deal more helpful than the many "relaxation tapes" and CDs of new age music that are supposedly meant to help you relax, but which are more often than not just annoying.  Personally, I prefer the audiobook to the written book because Thornton seems a better speaker than a writer.  The lists and tips in the book are a little overwhelming and some of it seems formulaic, while on the audiobook, Thornton's voice is itself calm and steady, so it seems more appropriate to the message he is promoting.  On the other hand, the book is easier to browse and with the hardcopy, it is possible to leave a book mark at a favorite place.  So people determined to take full advantage of Thornton's lessons may want to use both formats. 

Thornton says there is scientific evidence for the effectiveness of his methods, but even if they work for some, not every person will find each method equally useful.  So those who want to try meditation will need to try a few methods and see which work best for them.  The advantage of these methods over other more medical approaches is that they carry no risk, and even if they do not do much to help make you calmer, you may still benefit from the greater self-awareness that they promote. 

 

 

Link: Sounds True

 

© 2006 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

 

 Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island, and editor of Metapsychology Online Reviews.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.