Eddison Books Ltd., 2019
Reviewed by Alan Whear
Ian Wright has been practising and teaching osteopathy and paediatrics for over 25 years. This book is based on a course he has been teaching for 10 years, and incorporates mindfulness and meditation as well as Taoism and Aboriginal cultural influences, blending holistic traditions as well as modern osteopathic approaches.
The beautifully produced book is in three main sections, covering 31 chapters, each with an explanation, a practice and a conclusion. The practices are developmental, starting with basic skills and progressing to more advanced techniques as the process deepens.
The first section, ‘The State of Neutral’, takes us through basic mindfulness techniques, which will be familiar to most meditators. I particularly liked the suggestion to notice the softness and delicacy of the breath. This section takes us up to ‘Our Fluid Body’, introducing us at this point to the wisdom of osteopathy and its focus on flow within the body.
Section two is called ‘Place and Being’ and is more difficult to summarise, encompassing as it does the Story on the Wind of the bushmen of the Kalahari, Taoist Alchemy, and the concepts of ‘fulcrums’ of body energy. This brings to mind the difficulty of expressing felt subtle experiences in everyday language. More familiar to GreenSpirit members are the chapters on the senses, connection with Nature, and connecting heaven and Earth.
The last section, ‘Healing and Sensing’ brings together the practices we are assumed to have mastered so far, deepening and expanding our felt sense to ‘meet our health’ and learn a practice of self-healing.
The book is a visual delight, beautifully laid out, with numerous artworks mainly on natural themes – leaf, rock, stone, wood – which evoke a calming mood throughout the work.
A question that arises is whether there are many people who would work through all the practices in this book as suggested in order to develop the skills and experience needed for later meditations. Learning meditation from a book has an inherent contradiction, in that the ‘thinking’ function needed to remember the directions can be a barrier to sinking into deeper states of stillness. For people who have been on Ian’s courses, this would not be a difficulty. And for others, perhaps choosing a chapter or chapters which resonate at that time would be a rich experience. I feel this book works best as an invitation to explore Ian’s work, rather than as a stand-alone manual. His website, www.dynamicsofstillness.com, has many useful resources, including recorded podcasts and meditations, which would be a useful support to readers.
The focus on our embodied relationship with the natural world will resonate with anyone following a path of Earth-based spirituality, and I think many GreenSpirit members would enjoy this book.