BOOKS | Meditation for the Rest of Us


James Baltzell’s book is a straight-forward beginner’s starter kit: all you would need to develop a practice of daily meditation.  It is easy to doubt the importance of meditation because it can be done in the privacy of your home, alone, with little expense, and appears easy to do.

James Baltzell, MD, retired assistant professor at the University of Minnesota and a medical practitioner who combined alternative therapies and traditional medicine, has written a book with CD, Meditation for the Rest of Us.  He has taught meditation for more than 30 years. 

In his small book (115 pages), he devotes 30 pages to the research studies supporting the benefits of meditation.  He makes a convincing case to practice meditation.

According to Baltzell there is a part of the brain that is active during everyday living and a part that is little used daily but can be active during meditation.  “Thoughts (positive or negative) affect the nerves, hormones, and then the immune systems …leading either to increased resistance or susceptibility to disease.” states Baltzell in his book.  “More that 60 percent of visits to the physicians in the United Sates are due to stress-related problems, many of which are poorly treated by drugs, surgery or other medical procedures.”

“The crucial importance of meditation is that it can reduce the effects of stress.” continues Baltzell.  “It can be effective in the treatment of chronic disease.”

The CD has five different meditations: breath, light, lake/ocean, garden and still pool.  The book does not suggest places for meditation in the Twin Cities, but does offer tips on how to do meditation and offers samples of kinds of meditation.  There is a generous list of recommended further book readings plus a chapter of frequent asked questions and answers.

I read the book from cover to cover and found myself falling asleep from boredom.  I’d recommend the book for someone who has strong leanings toward traditional medicine but knows little about alternative practices!


Jeanette Fordyce (email: contributes regularly to the Daily Planet

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