Journey to the Center: A Meditation Workbook

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9780861711413: Journey to the Center: A Meditation Workbook

Using hands-on exercises, journal entries, guided meditations, and stories, Matthew Flickstein combines Eastern meditation techniques and methods of Western psychotherapy to offer this practical workbook for realizing one's greatest potential. Whether the goal is to reduce stress or to gain deeper insight and mastery over your inner life, this simple, straightforward guidebook is the tool to use for learning why and how to meditate. Through its unique workbook-style presentation, Journey to the Center leads the reader to discover a starting point, teaches how to gain mental clarity and remove the obstacles that are inevitably encountered, and helps identify the insights that are appropriate to each stage of the journey to spiritual and psychological maturity.

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About the Author:

: Matthew Flickstein is a psychotherapist, meditation teacher, and the founder of The Forest Way Insight Meditation Center in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. In twenty years of leading personal development workshops, he ha strained almost 15,000 people across the U.S., including other teachers, using the techniques in this book.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction

What would it be like if you had always been the only person in the world? Would you know if you were a man or a woman, whether you were rich or poor, caring or insensitive? If there had never been anyone else but you, none of these categories would exist.

If we reflect deeply, we will discover that every way we have defined ourselves has always been in relation to something or someone else. If this is true, who are we beyond our self- definitions?

The "journey to the center" is the quest to answer this question for ourselves. The goal of this journey is to move beyond the externals in order to reach the very essence of our lives. It is to become authentic and to realize and express our true vision in the world. It is to come home to a place of unconditional love, inner peace, and clarity of mind.

Our work together will be intense, the views along the way will be extraordinary, and the overall experience will be transformative. I am delighted that you have chosen to join this expedition.

Before we take to the road, there are certain preparations to be made in order to insure that we will arrive safely at our destination. These include: understanding the goal of our journey, examining the map we will be following, and learning a technique that will enable us to effectively navigate the obstacles we are bound to encounter along the way.

The goal of the journey

There are two characteristics of the human mind that are essential to recognize if we are to fully understand the goal of our journey. The first characteristic is that virtually everyone's mind-to some degree-is confused. If we describe mental health in terms of a continuum, at one extreme are individuals whom we refer to as "psychotic." These are people who have lost touch with consensual reality and live in a world of their own. At the other end of the continuum are individuals whom we refer to as "enlightened" (figure 1).

Fully enlightened beings have perfect mental health and experience a profound sense of well-being. They have resolved all the issues from their past, have no fears regarding the future, and are able to live fully in the present moment. Their minds are no longer riddled with doubts, troubled by obsessions, or motivated by hatred and greed. They are loving, compassionate, and exhibit an infinite amount of patience in the face of adversity.

You may have noticed the break in the continuum shown in figure 1. This break, prior to the point of enlightenment, illustrates that enlightenment requires a synaptic jump (rather than a gradual unfolding) to a transcendent level of awareness. The jump represents a shift from dealing with the content of the mind to being able to see the mind as a conditioned process. This phenomenon will be explained in greater detail later.

The distribution of mental health is similar to a bell-shaped curve, with the middle and greatest portion representing what society considers "normal" (figure 2). Although we may be quite normal, the degree to which we have not achieved full enlightenment is the degree to which confusion is still present in our minds.

A second characteristic of the human mind is that we have an innate drive to keep moving toward the enlightenment end of the mental health continuum. Most of us, however, do not acknowledge or even realize that we are striving to become enlightened. This inward pull is usually described as the quest to achieve greater happiness, contentment, psychological freedom, or meaning in one's life.

Taking these two mental characteristics into account (that virtually everyone's mind is confused to some degree and that we are naturally inclined to keep moving toward enlightenment), the specific goal of our journey is to reach the center of our being, the source of the enlightenment we seek.

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