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Interview with Robert Butera PhD

An Interview with Author Robert Butera

1. You founded the YogaLife Institute, and your previous book (The Pure Heart of Yoga) focused on yoga. Your new book, Meditation for Your Life, focuses on different styles of meditation. Why now a book on meditation?

These days, yoga has become known for its stellar fitness results. However, mind-body fitness occupies only the first few limbs of yoga’s famous 8-Fold Path. The steps of the yoga path that include yoga poses are technically steps one to five. These first five steps of yoga are highlighted in my first book, The Pure Heart of Yoga. The final three steps of yoga (please note that there are many forms of yoga, and this is the aspect that covers physical yoga postures) are named Concentration, Meditation, and Trance Consciousness. These final three points are the content of this second book, Meditation for Your Life. This second book is a continuation of the first.

2. Many people often think of meditation as a one-size-fits-all type of practice, yet Meditation for Your Life introduces six different types of meditation. From where do these six different types originate?

The short answer is: during my Yoga Therapy Ph.D. in a twenty-page term paper on Meditation. Assignments at the Ph.D. level are more open-ended so long as a compelling 20-page, footnoted essay was crafted.

What to write on Meditation that wasn’t written? Traditional Yogis believe in teaching in the one-to-one format and only practices that relate to each student’s life. With meditation, the adept yogi is to know all the methods of meditation and teach the student the one best for his/her disposition.

I figured it was time to simplify the hundreds of meditation exercises into categories that summarize the type of mental processing. After weeks of research, these six were born. The YogaLife Institute has taught this program for years now, and feel that these categories are solid (that is not just me speaking, but our instructors and students as well). The six categories are:

  1. Breathing Meditation
  2. Mantra Meditation
  3. Visualization
  4. Intentionality, Prayer/Nature
  5. Contemplative Inquiry
  6. Mindfulness

3. How does one determine what style of meditation is right for them? Is there any harm in using the "wrong" style of meditation?

After twenty years of teaching, I have yet to discover a quick and easy test to reveal the best method of meditation. Trial and error is the only way to discover the type that best suits you.

However, just knowing that there is choice helps. If you are continually failing with meditation, you may give up. It is worth it to spend some time experimenting with other methods, no longer than a few sessions each. You will quickly notice that your mind quiets more with one type over another.

So, there is no wrong meditation practice—there is just a better fit for you. Remember that as your life situations change, your optimal meditation practice may vary (but that is usually every few years).

4. Why is meditation important to our everyday lives?

Meditation is one of the top stress managers. Technology has overwhelmed our nervous systems; meditation is the polar opposite: it rests, resets, and restores nervous system balance. With the speed of modern life, meditation stops you in your tracks. Nearly all human beings quest after peace however it is named (joy, love, compassion, connection) and the experience of meditation brings a peaceful feeling of internal stability.

5. I've never before engaged in meditation. Is it easy to do? Is previous experience required?

Children can meditate. Ask the participants of the Kids Yoga Class at the YogaLife Institute what they like the most, and they say relaxation or meditation! The paradox is that meditation is so simple; it is "focusing on one thought or one point" that it is difficult. The mind moves to and fro, so the simple instruction to focus on one thought requires people to write books on the subject!

6. What do you hope readers will take away from Meditation for Your Life?

An increase in the reader’s inner peace and outer positivity explains the mission of this book. Use Meditation for Your Life to clarify what to expect from meditation and how to align your life in a fashion that brings you more fulfillment. Then, figure out the best meditation practice for yourself. From there, find a local meditation group to support you in this process—external support from a caring group and instructor is very helpful.

Meditation for Your Life
Meditation for Your Life
Creating a Plan that Suits Your Style
Trade Paperback  |  $16.99 US,  $19.50 CAN  |  9780738734149  |  September 2012
A step toward peace of mind is a step in the right direction The benefits of meditation are boundless: reduced stress and pain, peace of mind, and an improved sense of resilience. But which style of... Read more

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