Ngakma Nor’dzin’s training in meditation began three decades ago under the guidance of Tibetan teachers, culminating in her ordination into the non-monastic tradition of Nyingma Tibetan Buddhism. She is, in fact, the first Western woman to achieve such a distinction. She and her husband, Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin Tridral, have run a local meditation group for more than twenty years. And this is how she starts this book–with a meditation group. Her concern with bringing the presence of meditation to a wider audience is clear. She believes that “[i]f everyone meditated for a few minutes every day, the world would be a more peaceful and friendlier place”.
Nor’dzin begins Relaxing into Meditation with relaxation and breathing techniques specifically aimed at creating relaxation of the body and calmness of mind before embarking on a description of meditation practices which may be more demanding. As she believes that it is preferable to have obtained some relief from pain before beginning meditation, she starts the book with relaxation techniques to allow us to arrive at a starting point for meditation. She advocates using an aural guided narration to facilitate one’s progress through the various exercises that she describes.
Nor’dzin’s teaching background is clearly evident throughout the text in the systematic and logical way in which she presents her material. Each chapter starts with a description of the meditation group performing the activity which she then goes on to describe. Before explaining how to practice the technique, she discusses the importance and relevance of doing so. Nor’dzin also advises one on how to cope with any difficulties that one encounters with the exercise. Her years of experience with teaching others in small group settings, as well as individually, have enabled her to gain insight into what difficulties these might be, and she has evolved ways of dealing with any such problems, which she shares with us, her readers. Although she writes about a subject that others have been prone to mystify and deliberately, it often seems, obscure, she writes in such an accessible and approachable way that you are drawn to listen avidly to what she has to say. She is, in fact, overwhelmingly kind and gentle in her approach, so that, no matter your age or background, you are likely to be comforted and inspired by her work.
Relaxing into Meditation is well illustrated with line drawings throughout, and ends with a glossary, which expands on some of the more unusual terms to be found in the text, though such terms are relatively few, and an easy-to-read index. As someone who is only now, in her mid-fifties, starting to become more aware of how to treat herself and her own body with kindness, I can definitely recommend the timely wisdom of this book. No matter your age, do consider acquiring a copy for yourself–it should be well worth it.