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Publisher's Note: Welcome to the Department of Meditation, where you are treated to the ageless wisdom and inimitable wit of our very own meditation guru, Constance Wilkinson, psychotherapist and card-carrying Buddhist.

Constance welcomes your feedback and questions about meditation at

The Department of Meditation, Etc.

And a Holiday Partridge in a Holiday Pear Tree

by Constance Wilkinson, LMHC, MFA

It's the CWO Holiday Edition once again. Several celebrations manifest in this season, most involving food, and some involving the giving of gifts. So here goes. My first gift to you via this column is the gift of Review.

So, let's take a look at what we've accomplished so far. First, we've promoted the notion that meditation is good for you. We've also explored the idea that meditation can produce good results with a relatively small investment of time and effort, making it impressively life-economical.

We've also stressed that, in order to achieve these useful, life-improving results, one must learn and practice the technique. We've said that this is completely possible, and that the positive habit of daily meditation can become part of one's life regardless of circumstances.

That this positive habit can be nurtured and developed even under conditions that seem non-conducive, such as when leading our normal crazy busy lives at home, and during even crazier busier times, like this very season we're now in, with the holidays once again heading our way.

Just make it your habit on a regular basis to follow the technique, and follow the breath. A snap.

So, that's the first gift, the gift of review, with my many thanks to the great gift of hyperlinks, without which things would never be so smoothly resonant, would they?

Gifts two through ten are gifts of insight, presented in the holiday list tradition of partridges, pear trees, turtle doves, ladies dancing, swans-a-swimming, etc.

These gifts of insight appear outwardly as books on meditation, books sorta about meditation, books about how to look at things a little differently. Some of these books are by people I know, and the rest are by people I don't know, but whose work I admire.

You don't need to buy them to gain from them: many are available at local Cape libraries; all of them should be available through CLAMs.

If you like what they say enough to want to keep them around you, they are all still in print, and can be found online and offline, new and used and/or Kindled; at your local bookstore and at holiday book sales (sometimes), if you keep your eyes peeled, so seek and ye shall find.

Let's start with a trio of wonders by Matthieu Ricard.

Matthieu is a monk, a scientist, a philanthropist, a photographer, and an old friend. He earned a Ph.D. in molecular genetics shortly before life-shifting to become a fully-ordained Tibetan Buddhist monk.

He is the son of the late Jean-Francois Revel, the renowned French philosopher, and of Yahne Le Toumelin, the lyric abstractionist painter who has been a nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for the past 45 years.

The foremost Western disciple of Kangyur Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, he has won the French National Order of Merit for the humanitarian work he has done in the East.

He is on the board of the Mind and Life Institute, which promotes cross-discipline research, like that of Richard Davidson, between neuroscientists and Buddhist practitioners and scholars.

  1. Happiness – A Guide to developing life's most important skill (Little, Brown, & Company, 2006) This is arguably my favorite. I never have it, because I am always giving it away.
  2. Why Meditate? Working With Thoughts and Emotions. (Hay House, 2010) Useful, direct, insightful.
  3. On the Path to Enlightenment (Shambhala Publications, 2013) A book featuring a selection of rather more advanced teachings.

Next is a quartet of books by Pema Chodron, a Tibetan Buddhist nun and teacher.

Born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown, she attended Miss Porter's School in Connecticut and Sarah Lawrence College. She left Sarah Lawrence in 1957 in order to marry. She had two children and moved with her husband and family to California.

Pema graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a bachelor's degree in English literature and a master's in elementary education. She taught elementary school for many years; she divorced, remarried and divorced again—and then took vows as a Tibetan Buddhist nun.

She began to teach and to write about what she taught, and is now the resident teacher at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia and the grandmother of three.

  1. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times (Shambhala, 2000) One can tell just from her life-story that she's been through that difficult times.
  2. Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living (Shambhala, 2001)
  3. The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times, (Shambhala 2001)
  4. Living Beautifully With Uncertainty And Change (Shambhala, 2012)
Department of Meditation

The Center for Change

Constance Wilkinson, LMHC, MFA

mindfulness-based, solution-focused
expressive arts--EMDR--clinical hypnosis

Brewster, MA

The last two books are by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology from MIT in 1971.

He is the founder of Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, as well as the founder of its renowned Stress Reduction Clinic. He developed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in 1979.

  1. Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness (Delta, 1991).
  2. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life (Hyperion, 1994)

These are very grounded, very helpful books. Great for the holidays, great as gifts to others, great as gifts to oneself.

Give them a try. They might be helpful.

Happy Holidays

Constance Wilkinson, LMHC, MFA is a licensed psychotherapist who uses a mindfulness-based, solution-focused approach to help reduce symptoms of dysregulation, as well as to develop clients' personal goals and strategies to achieve them. She is trained in EMDR, clinical hypnosis, EFT, and expressive arts.

She has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College in creative writing and an MA in clinical mental health counseling psychology from Lesley University. Since 1978, Ms Wilkinson has been practicing meditation and studying with distinguished Tibetan Buddhist refugee teachers in the United States, India, Nepal, and Tibet.

Constance Wilkinson can be reached at 508-648-8105

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