Miracles of meditation

Book Review By Naomi Rand, The Boston Globe, July 22, 2007

How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life: Opening Your Heart to Confidence, Intimacy, and Joy
Author: Susan Piver
St. Martin’s, 224 pp., $19.95

I picked up "How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life," by Susan Piver, with some trepidation. The jacket shows the author smiling serenely. I was positive this book would be yet another tedious self-help guide to finding the inner you. I couldn't have been more mistaken.

Piver's book is terrific. Written in clear, intelligent, insightful prose, this guide to meditation made me into an instant convert. I highly recommend it to anyone who has even a passing interest in the subject.

Piver talks honestly about her decision to become a Buddhist, how she began to meditate, and why she chose to deepen her commitment to this "practice." She is passionate about meditation and disarmingly straightforward. She also makes some excellent arguments for pursuing the route she's taken. Scientific studies have proven that meditation has a salutary effect. Anyone can learn how to meditate. This book can show you how. You don't need a prescription or a doctor's referral to start.

Indeed, I found myself using Piver's suggestions. I started to focus on my breathing when I was tense, or stressed out, or wanted to kill the driver in front of me who was going 20 in a 40-mile-an-hour zone. I am planning to put aside time to meditate. Well, true, I haven't yet, but I will. I swear I will. Piver has sold me. For her, becoming a Buddhist and meditating have offered a way to truly live in the moment. "I can live my life thoroughly," she writes. "I can have the confidence to fearlessly engage with everything, even though I know I'm going to die." Living a fully realized life -- it certainly sounds like a plan.