Praise for Secular Meditation
“Meditation is as important for the mind as exercise is for the body — and Rick Heller offers many simple, powerful ways to get the benefits of this profoundly useful practice. Grounded in solid research on the brain and physical and mental health — and full of practical ideas and methods — this friendly, down-to-earth guide is a wonderful resource for both beginners and longtime meditators.”
— Rick Hanson, PhD, author of Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence
“I love that this book begins with kindness practice! Everyone, regardless of views or beliefs, can develop happiness and wisdom. In Secular Meditation, Rick Heller and the Humanist Community at Harvard offer a straightforward way for nonreligious people to connect with their inner capabilities for compassion and clarity.”
— Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Happiness
“This straightforward yet comprehensive guide to meditation is an ideal introduction for those new to the practice as well as a valuable compendium that will offer fresh perspectives for seasoned meditators. In lucid, jargon-free language, Rick Heller offers a compelling case for a humanistic and secular spirituality that has its origins in Buddhism but speaks directly to the conditions of a post-creedal age.”
— Stephen Batchelor, author of Buddhism Without Beliefs and After Buddhism
“In simple, accessible language, Secular Meditation introduces practices that profoundly transform our hearts and consciousness. Through a rich weave of stories, teachings, meditations, and inquiry, this book offers trustworthy guidance on the journey of awakening.”
— Tara Brach, PhD, author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge
“This book — at once simple and profound — is a joy to read. Rick Heller manages to capture the essence of traditional Buddhist practices and translate them into a no-nonsense secular format. His suggestions for practice are straightforward and can be easily incorporated into daily life.”
— Kristin Neff, PhD, associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Self-Compassion
“This book has the potential to benefit many people. Rick has a light and yet substantial style that makes his writing lovely and approachable. He is clearly practicing what he is writing about, which makes for an authentic and sincere offering to this world. ”
— Narayan Helen Liebenson, guiding teacher at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center and the Insight Meditation Society
“Secular Meditation is a clear and generous adaptation of Buddhist and other practices for the humanist community. It is a great book for people who believe that the human mind can be trained just as the body can but who are uncomfortable with any supernatural claims. It is simple and accessible, opening doors to generosity, clarity, and joyfulness in this life.”
— James Ishmael Ford, author of If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break
“Secular Meditation provides a beautiful sampling of many meditative approaches— this book is easy to read and provides a thoughtful blend of science and practice, I highly recommend it!”
—David Creswell, Associate Professor in Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University
“Rick Heller combines his secular humanist worldview with his expertise in guiding weekly meditation sessions, producing a unique reference work that’s approachable, practical, and based firmly in the natural world. This book fills a gap in the current literature: a workable guide to meditation in theory and practice for a secular audience.”
— Ted Meissner, founder of the Secular Buddhist Association and host of the Secular Buddhist podcast
“Rick Heller’s book represents a milestone in the emergence of a truly naturalistic form of contemplative practice. It will do much to help more people find happiness in life.”
— Daniel Strain, executive director of the Spiritual Naturalist Society
“I can’t say for sure, but we may be seeing the beginning of a major revolution. This revolution is in some ways a natural next step from the Scientific Revolution that occurred about five hundred years ago and the Neolithic Revolution that occurred many millennia before that. Ever since the Neolithic, human spirituality has tended to center on a literal interpretation of organized myth. The Scientific Revolution decentered those myths. So is humanity now left without a source of deep meaning and moral compass? Perhaps not. The Mindfulness Revolution offers a totally new direction: industrial-strength psycho-spiritual growth based on industrial-strength attentional skills — concentration power, sensory clarity, and equanimity. This book offers a rich banquet, inviting you to taste many flavors of mindfulness.”
— Shinzen Young, director of Vipassana Support International
“Secular Meditation is a wonderfully practical book grounded in the latest neuroscience. Rick Heller shows readers how one can mindfully learn to love others and be loved by others. It provides a step-by-step guide for anyone who wants to live a happy life.”
— Paul J. Zak, PhD, author of The Moral Molecule
“Secular Meditation by Rick Heller is a wonderful door-opener for people who are interested in the benefits and how-to of meditation and mindfulness practices but who are skeptical about the religious sources. Heller, the meditation teacher for the Humanist Community at Harvard, has collected thirty-two practices that will have something for every curious reader. His style is warm and engaging, with great stories sprinkled in, and he pulls the reader into trying out attention and kindness practices from all different angles to find their right fit.”
— Christiane Wolf, MD, PhD, coauthor of A Clinician’s Guide to Teaching Mindfulness
Reviews of Secular Meditation
Review by Greta Christina in The Humanist
Starred review in Library Journal
Description of Secular Meditation
Secular Meditation is a practical guide for people who want to learn meditation without any of the trappings of religion. The author, Rick Heller, has been leading secular meditations at the Humanist Community at Harvard for more than five years. The goal of these meditations is to help find joy and relieve stress. A major emphasis is loving-kindness practice, which helps people experience love and joy in their personal lives, and has the potential of nurturing a more caring society.
Secular Meditation is published by New World Library and will be available in November 2015 in both print and electronic editions. It may be purchased at independent bookstores, Barnes & Noble and Amazon
Part One presents practices that cultivate feelings of love and compassion. In addition to formal sitting meditations, it presents informal practices to help cultivate love toward people one encounters in daily life. Also included are personal stories from a variety of people and brief discussion of scientific research on meditation.
Part Two presents meditations that bring inner peace. This section includes mindfulness of breath meditation, ambient sound meditation, the body scan meditation and other practices. These practices contribute to inner peace by calming the mind and reducing agitated thoughts.
Part Three presents practices that can help a person cultivate joy. These include walking meditation, mindful hiking, mindful eating and contemplative photography. By raising awareness of the rich sensations around us, one can experience everyday life as delicious.
Part Four presents additional practices such as awareness of emotions and envisioning practices. This section will also touch on larger issues such as whether the concept of “enlightenment” is meaningful in a secular context.