I re-read Siddhartha after more than 15 years. While High School Me appreciated it to some extent, I think I got much more out of it as an adult. By now, I've had the chance to make some life choices the way Siddhartha did, and I've been able to see some of their results. During high school, I was still at the stage he was right before he joined the aesthetics. Now, I'm probably somewhere closer to his time as a wealthy merchant. I really enjoyed watching Siddhartha's choices, understanding his arrogance, and being at some points just a little closer than him to knowing what makes life worth living.
I pulled this off my shelf somewhat randomly, knowing I had a couple long plane trips coming up and looking for something smallish to carry around with me. How different travel can be when your head is still floating around Siddhartha's world! I think I smiled like a fool at everyone I saw.
Hesse's writing here is quiet and gorgeous. He's not following any of the rules we know about how to write engaging fiction. It begins with a montage of Siddhartha's happy childhood, being loved by everyone--not exactly the action hook we expect these days. And it proceeds in a soft, explanatory voice, interrupting a narrative that spans years with a few specific anecdotes here and there. When we think back on our own lives, doesn't it replay in much the same way?
By the end, I found myself reading more closely, wanting to really understand what Siddhartha is saying and doing, even as he was explaining the inherent shortcomings of communicating and teaching. You have to discover it for yourself through your own experience, not seek it from others. Not even from Siddhartha himself.
This audiobook wouldn't work as a print book; it's specifically audio. The author does a great job at explaining the meditations and then walking you through them with enough time to breathe through it and enjoy it.
After listening to this, I brought it into my Meditation Group at work. I worried that the idea of chakras would turn people off, but we talked about considering it like a body scan meditation, and everyone seemed to really like it.
After several voice-only meditations, which you can do seated or lying down, the author introduces you to a standing/walking meditation (we just walked in place). She starts with a steady and consistent drum beat that's easy to step to. Then she adds a 4-count breath in and a 4-count breath out. And there's something wonderful that happens when a group of people is all moving and breathing as one. When you've had time to get comfortable with that, she walks you through all the chakras, up and down, focusing differently with each pass. By the end, the energy level is high and joyful. I think everyone in the room felt like we had experienced something wonderful together.
After that, there's another drum piece, but without words, so you can sit or lie down again and enjoy a more personal practice. It's a nice sort of "cool down" after the high-energy standing meditation.
If you're new to meditation, I recommend trying this CD. Take maybe 30 minutes at a time, and over three sessions you can get the whole disc. Or spend longer, enjoy it from beginning to end. I really like the way she explains things to make it feel less foreign, less "weird," less scary.
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