Original content by Donovan’s Literary Services for their September, 2023 issue.
Reflective Meditation: Cultivating Kindness and Curiosity in the Buddha’s Company encourages and provokes conversation and reflective meditation. This offers a different perspective and approach to not just enlightened thinking and feeling, but dialogue.
A fine prologue synthesizes the practice’s results by narrating the experience of Kim Henderson, who observed her good friend (and founder of Sati Sangha) Linda Modaro’s immersion in a practice she called ‘recollective awareness’. As Kim observed the impact and life-altering results of this meditative process, she was encouraged by her friend to pursue the practice through mentor Nelly Kaufer, a fellow recollective awareness meditation teacher and the founder of Pine Street Sangha in Portland, Oregon.
The candid story of how this initial observation and interest turned into participation in an easy, yet life-changing experience, opens with an introduction that informs spiritual seekers about the opportunities and processes of a different form of meditation.
The first unusual aspect of this approach is the authors’ collaborative focus on the meditative experience. They gather the voices and insights of others around them, sharing collective wisdom in an accessible and lively manner:
“We have ongoing conversations with meditators about their experiences. In our groups meditators get to listen to and learn from one another. Throughout this book we share these voices from our community, at times with a kind and curious response. This is how we interact when we teach.”
The dialogue portion of the practice is just as essential for understanding and success as the meditative process itself. Conversations about experience, intention, mindfulness, and more permeate insights about the bigger-picture thinking meditation can unfold in a dance of mental origami:
“It takes courage to be self-honest, but in fact that is one of the main teachings. In Pāli a sappurisa is an honest person. Someone who is true to themselves, to others, authentic, and becomes comfortable in their own skin. Many of us don’t start with these characteristics; right off the bat we’re trying too hard to improve and not acknowledging our starting points. We’re under so much pressure to look good when we put ourselves out in the world, especially these days if we’re engaged in social media. It’s hard to be aware of and value our own self-honest experience in meditation when we’re always trying to change it, or others are telling us to change it, or when conditions get in the way.”
From considerations of Buddhist concepts of vulnerability and suffering to how meditators grapple with challenging characteristics of existence and experience, Linda Modaro and Nelly Kaufer craft a dialogue of possibilities that ultimately transcends much of the average reader’s concepts of what meditative practices can reveal.
Reflective Meditation is a powerful dialogue that, in turn, deserves not just library acquisition and individual thought, but hopefully results in conversations and interactions among different types of communities as thinkers, spiritual seekers, teachers, and ordinary people come together to explore elements of growth and kindness in their lives, and its incarnation in the world.
Reflective Meditation: Cultivating Kindness and Curiosity in the Buddha’s Company
Linda Modaro and Nelly Kaufer