MARINA DEL REY, CA – When William W. Blake started meditating and sharing his practices decades ago, very few people taught techniques outside of ashrams, intentional communities or temples. While he worked to blend seven different disciplines, he couldn’t locate specifically what he wanted to share.
“I began writing the book I couldn’t find: a short, simple, reader-friendly book conjoining growing up and waking up,” said Blake, the author of A Creative Toolkit of Meditations (Balboa Press), a guidebook designed to make meditation accessible to anyone. “I wanted to present a variety of easily mastered meditations with illustrative anecdotes encouraging readers to construct their own meditation practice.”
Blake will be appearing throughout Southern California for a series of bookstore signings and talks in April. He will also be signing A Creative Toolkit of Meditations at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, which takes place April 12-13 on the University of Southern California campus.
The book is available through bookstores nationwide, from major online booksellers and Balboa Press.
The beauty of Blake’s approach is a simplicity that promotes every day practice. Start with a few minutes of quiet sitting, and utilize the basic tools of concentration and observation of breath. From that, ask the silence a question. You might receive a new, fresh answer during this meditation or perhaps the following one. This mindfulness practice produces mental, physical, emotional and spiritual results.
“A Creative Toolkit of Meditations more than achieves these goals by providing a focused group of meditative reflections blending spiritual, psychological and cultural growth,” noted the Midwest Book Review. “Any seeking more than a ‘pop’ guidebook on the topic will find this title’s structure and focus is exceptional.”
Blake has found a growing audience among people of all walks and religions, including those who were frustrated by their former att
empts at meditation. In A Creative Toolkit of Meditations, he presents 20 easy-to-learn tools appealing to the American ethic of “do it yourself” by encouraging readers to mix and match the tools to build their own practice. In so doing, he has reached people who feel crowded, burned out, overly stressed or lackadaisical from the daily demands of life.
“Americans encounter several debilitating issues every work day,” he explains. “We work longer hours than employees in any other modern industrialized country.
Both parents often work, and children are farmed out to paid keepers. For most adults, their environment is not a relaxed and enjoyable one. An hour’s crowded freeway drive to work and then back isn’t fun. Many goals and payments have to be met.
“With this pressure to conform, meditation can teach us to be fully present in each moment,” he added.
Why are “right questions” important to meditation? Why is eating right and proper hydration important to a marathon runner?Blake’s everyman approach to meditation is most evident in two aspects of A Creative Toolkit of Meditations not normally discussed in traditional meditation teaching: listening and investigative dialogue. He describes the latter as “asking the right internal questions,” something that can become challenging when we’re caught up in the hubbub of fast-paced daily lives.
“Right questions are the meat and potatoes of meditation,” Blake says. “In order for mindfulness to express clarity and compassion, we must listen and ask appropriate questions.”
When he publicly discusses A Creative Toolkit of Meditations, Blake regularly points out how those interested in finding greater purpose and focus can start now — from wherever they are, in whatever job or career they’re undertaking. He reflects this “start from where you are” approach in the breakdown of the book. Chapters 1 through 3 define and illustrate “growing up,” becoming more caring, objective and functional.
“Growing up involves investigating how our culture and parents might have engrained negative beliefs in us by the age of four or five,” Blake says.
Next, we can ask ourselves, “What do I want for this lifetime, and what are the means of fulfilling this desire?” Then we listen in deep silence for the answers.
Chapter 4 describes the traits and details of waking up to What You Are (spiritual awakening or enlightenment). Chapters 5 through 8 integrate these two life journeys, growing up and waking up.