Meditation is an ancient practice that not only introduces bodily awareness, but also clears the mind and relieves anxiety. Could it also be fun? In his most recent book Bliss More, meditation expert Light Watkins breaks away from other, conventional, and often convoluted, methods of teaching meditation by employing a streamlined practice: Embrace, Accept, Surrender, Yield, E.A.S.Y. or short. His casual writing style introduces meditation is inviting and appeals to those who’ve struggled with it in the past.
Light Watkins first began practicing the art of meditation in 1998 and has since then become a teacher of the practice himself. Along the way, he has received distinctions such as being named as one of the Top 20 Wellness Warriors to watch for 2017 by MindBodyGreen, as well as being recognized by The New York Times for his work with The Shine Movement, a project he created with the intentions to inspire people and cultivate a social community to better the world. Bliss More is loaded with encouragement and real-life examples of how meditation fits into one’s daily routines.
We were able to chat with Light himself about the evolving nature of meditation, online resources for learning how to meditate, as well as his personal resolutions and goals for 2018.
BookTrib: Your writing style manages to be both smart and informative without being condescending nor presumptuous; it almost feels like having a conversation with a close friend, which is a very refreshing experience as a reader! It is very easy to understand your approach to teaching meditative techniques, since you narrow your focus to only include those that have worked for you and your clients. However, do you still feel that your understanding of meditation continues to evolve?
Light Watkins: The big secret is that meditation is very much an art, in addition to being a science. And like all other arts, the process refines from consistent practice of the fundamentals. That’s why I’m not a huge fan of the do-what-feels-right-in-the-moment approach to meditation. When your practice is all over the place, it’s harder to experience the fundamentals as habits—and like any other art, when the process becomes habitual, that’s when it gets good. That’s where discovery happens, because the artist is no longer preoccupied with wondering whether or not the process is working. She has engaged in it enough times to feel confident in the process, and instead she is free to explore the nuances of the process.
BookTrib: Do you continue to learn about the practice of meditation, even though you are an oft-sought expert in the field?
LW: Absolutely. The practice becomes more refine. You catch little subtlties that you missed in your first few years of practice. But more importantly, you learn more about yourself. And that’s what makes daily meditation valuable. Self-realization benefits every area of life.
BookTrib: Meditation and mindfulness are ideas that are challenging for most people to practice, let alone write about. What was the most difficult part of writing Bliss More?
LW: Great question. The biggest challenge was presenting this practice-oriented information in a way that best compliments how readers traditionally experience books—which is to read from straight through without necessarily stopping to practice. My live meditation courses include lots of practice, so my first draft was full of stop-and-start practice exercises, because I wanted the reader to experience what my clients experience before moving on to the next instruction. But the publisher warned me that once the reader puts the book down to practice, they may never pick it back up, and that this should be a book that someone can read straight through on a flight from New York to LA. So I went back and rewrote it as a story-driven exploration of meditation, with enough practical advice and suggestions that someone who was motivated enough could implement in real time if they wanted to get the direct experience of whatever point I was making, but they could also continue on in the book if they chose.
BookTrib: After reading Bliss More, I am really excited to learn how to meditate. While the book was an amazing introduction to the techniques of meditation, it was also mentioned how the meditative experience is understood differently when done so in a real-life setting. However, as a college student with very limited time and finances, enrolling in meditation classes is not a viable option for me at the time. Do you have an opinion on YouTube videos that offer meditation sessions for free?
LW: My general position is that any meditation is better than no meditation. But I encourage everyone to look at their investment in meditation with the same investment we make in glasses. If you wear glasses, you may have to spend $500 between going to the opthamologist, and the frames and subscription, etc. But it allows you to see things a lot clearer, which is an invaluable experience in school. Meditation isn’t much different, in that it allows you to see and feel things much easier when out in the world, so it’s well worth the expense of personal instruction if you can swing it.
BookTrib: Would you say they can be almost as effective as an actual meditation class?
LW: No. There’s nothing that replaces taking an actual live meditation training. But again it’s a good start and if it’s between learning meditation online, and not meditating at all, I’d rather you learn online.
BookTrib: Do you have any recommendations for online sources?
LW: I think that some of the apps are great, like 1 Giant Mind and Insight Timer.
BookTrib: Being more mindful and developing a greater sense of one’s body is a popular new year’s resolution for many people. Do you have any other resolutions for 2018, literary, spiritual, personal, or others?
LW: I am planning to get better at Spanish this year, leading up to my New Year’s Eve meditation retreat in Mexico this upcoming December 2018.
Bliss More: How to Succeed in Meditation Without Really Trying will be available for purchase on January 23rd. For more information on the author, please visit his website at lightwatkins.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Light Watkins has been practicing and teaching in the meditation space since 1998. He travels the world giving talks on happiness, mindfulness, and meditation, as well as leading trainings and retreats. To date, Light has shared his knowledge with thousands through his live courses, books, and online trainings. He contributes to wellness blogs and writes a popular email newsletter called Light’s Daily Dose of Inspiration. Light’s TEDx talk has garnered hundreds of thousands of views, and he is the founder of The Shine Movement, a global movement with a mission to inspire.
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