Having read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, I felt I could more than handle Conscious Breathing: The Art of Meditation by Larry Snyder, MD. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this little gem was not only a more accessible guide to meditation but also that it addressed the number one obstacle to mindful living, addiction.
My favorite chapter was entitled “Anxiety, Addiction, and Acceptance.” It begins by defining addiction and demonstrating how it contributes to anxiety. When we accept that addiction and anxiety are part of human existence, we can find ways to mediate their effects on our well-being. The author gives the example of two individuals injured in an auto accident. One seeks retaliation against the other driver through a lawsuit. The other concentrates on physical therapy and recovers sooner. What we focus on influences our future happiness.
The author isn’t judgemental, merely suggestive as he discusses meditation practices. All things are temporary, including our thoughts and emotions. Conscious breathing through meditation allows us to let it all go. The book is short enough that it can be read several times. After all, meditation isn’t something that can be mastered but rather practiced day in and day out.
On the other hand, just as substance addition is a relapsing neurobiological disease, surrendering our belief in control is something we need to do repeatedly, much like Sisyphus rolling his boulder up the mountain for eternity. Along the same lines, Sisyphus had options. It makes you wonder if he railed against his fate or enjoyed the climb. Considering he tried to outwit death several times, which resulted in his punishment, I imagine he spent eternity looking for another opportunity to control the situation, his addiction, as it were.
Anyway, just as meditation isn’t for everyone, this book might not appeal to all readers. The essays are short and separated by nice, if not exceptionally inspiring, photographs. So many things are out of our control, and not everyone is ready to accept that; thus, the act of “letting go” encouraged in the book isn’t obtainable for some yet.
I received an ARC from Reedsy Discovery. You can find my review here.