If your illness or life circumstances prevent you from attending meditation classes it can be very helpful to have a good book or CD course to guide your practice.
Below are some resources that might be useful. They’re divided into two groups – the first is specifically aimed at illness/pain, and the second is a list of general resources.
Resources specifically for people with chronic illness or pain
Darlene Cohen - a Zen teacher, who has rheumatoid arthritis. One of her books is Turning Suffering Inside Out (A Zen approach to living with physical and emotional pain). She has a website with podcasts, written talks, and more books. Darlene’s work tends to be thought-provoking, funny and wise. She’s a real straight-talker, and shares a lot of her personal experiences with pain in her books and talks.
Toni Bernhard – an ex-law professor now living with CFS. Toni has written a book called ‘How to Be Sick’, which will be released in September 2010. The book is a beautifully written Buddhist-inspired guide for the chronically ill and their carers. I’ve read a few chapters of it and found it eloquent, moving, and very down-to-earth.
Jon Kabat-Zinn - One of his books is the well-known, Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness. His website sells CD’s of his books and meditations.
Miriam Greenspan – Healing Through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair .This is a fairly intense book, and beautifully written. Miriam talks about the usefulness of feelings such as despair, and offers many different techniques for working with the ‘dark emotions’.
Pema Chodren – When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times.
Shinzen Young - books, CD’s and a website specialising in meditation for pain management. His Book/CD set Break Through Pain contains a series of guided meditations with step-by-step techniques to help with pain management. I find some of Shinzen’s guided meditations to be a little clinical and dry, but they are certainly thorough and he's developed some interesting meditation techniques.
Steven Levine - a renowned writer and meditation teacher whose work focuses on death, dying, illness and the spiritual journey. He has written many books and has a personal website which sells CD’s of his guided meditations. Steven’s books are intense, and can be heavy reading at times. They are also profound, deeply moving, and very human.
Vidyamala Burch - a UK teacher who lives with a spinal cord injury. She has a website, and a book, Living Well with Pain and Illness: The mindful way to free yourself from suffering.
General meditation resources
Bodhipaksa – meditation teacher with a very friendly and informative website with free on-line tutorials. He will answer e-mail questions about meditation and also has an excellent CD called Guided Meditation: for Calmness, Awareness, and Love. I’ve got the CD and highly recommend it for anyone looking for guided meditations.
Meditation Oasis – free meditation podcasts and a written meditation guide. The meditation podcasts are short, simple and easy to follow. The website also sells an online medition course (US$95) and CD's of meditations.
Plumline – an on-line Buddhist meditation group, conducted through Yahoo Messenger. Useful for people who want to connect with other meditators, but can’t leave their home to do it. Currently they meet on Mondays at 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM US Mountain Time Zone. (The 6pm group is 11am in Australia).
Sharon Salzberg - a down-to-earth teacher focussing on insight and Loving Kindness meditation. Has a website with books and CD’s and here is a link to a podcast of a full-day workshop with Sharon.
Sounds True – on-line store selling a wide variety of meditation and spiritual CDs and downloads. Has an excellent free weekly podcast interview series called Insights at the Edge. Many of the teacher s and writers listed in this article have been interviewed in this series.
Tara Brach - Tara is a psychologist and teacher of Buddhist insight meditation. She has a particular focus on dealing compassionately with issues such as shame and anger. Her website has books, cd's and podcasts. A very gifted teacher who combines psychology and Buddhism.
I hope this list is useful to you. Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any more resources I could add to this list.