Review - Meditation as a Way of Life: Philosophy and Practice


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Meditation as a Way of Life

Philosophy and Practice

By Alan L. Pritz
Quest Books (August 26, 2014)

Reviewed by Dana Doerksen, Librarian

Meditation as a Way of Life: Philosophy and Practice is a guidebook intended to teach meditation and other spiritual techniques inspired by the Paramahansa Yogananda tradition as well as others. Alan Pritz has studied and practiced the teachings of the Indian Yogi Paramahansa Yogananda for over forty years, including meditation and spiritual training in an ashram in California.

Paramahansa Yogananda (1893 - 1952) was the first yoga master of India to take up permanent residence in the West, travelling and teaching throughout the United States. Pritz currently works as an interfaith minister and has a private practice that provides meditation training, spiritual guidance, corporate meditation programs, trainings and events using the ideas and techniques put forth in the book. Meditation as a Way of Life: Philosophy and Practice includes autobiographical material related to the author's own spiritual journey, which is often humorous, and exercises and practices that are actually achievable in our modern world.

Pritz uses teachings and materials from many traditions, including Christianity and Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism intended to encourage inner growth and illuminate the path to the realization of God. It is this universal perspective that I believe will appeal to many readers interested in yogic meditation and spirituality. The author's style and material will have relevance for the beginner and the more advanced student.Meditation as a Way of Life: Philosophy and Practice is well organized and flows from the first inklings of the desire for a more spiritual life through to a commitment to practice. Pritz includes real life anecdotes from the author's own spiritual journey and a discussion of the importance of spiritual practice and finding a teacher and spiritual community. Pritz continues with clearly written descriptions of the Twelve Principles of Spiritual Understanding, and two chapters on right thought and behavior.

The myriad of examples gives the reader a better understanding of some of the subtle distinctions between the physical and spiritual applications of the principles. The concluding chapters discuss energy, chakras, awareness, concentration, meditation, and creating a personal commitment to practice.

The exercises discussed concerning each of these elements of spiritual growth are easy to follow and are diagrammed with simple drawings. The concepts in each section are defined so even the beginner can understand. The author argues that development of the spirit "is the highest form of service" because through changing yourself you effect change in all those around you. Rev. Pritz says, "Through meditation we refine ourselves, and as divine light and love increasingly pervade our thoughts and deeds, we become agents of change for those in our immediate circle plus society at large."