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Title: Be the Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World

Author:  Ed and Deb Shapiro

No. Of Pages:  342

First Released:  November 2009

Synopsis (Courtesy of Amazon):  “Meditation is now enjoying a renewed surge of popularity, penetrating the public consciousness as never before. What might that mean for us all? Be the Change examines the transformations wrought by this ancient practice through the wisdom of extraordinary luminaries, interwoven with text from award-winning authors Ed and Deb Shapiro. The words of these spiritual leaders from all disciplines and walks of life will surprise, enlighten, and inspire readers to begin their own meditation practice—and perhaps create the foundation for a new and more hopeful age.”

Comments and Critique:  What to say about Be the Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World? As I already alluded to the other day , I am unabashedly a meditation fan. Even though I am a recent convert, I have seen enough changes in my own thoughts and behaviors to become completely convinced that the world would be a better place through meditation. It is not about finding nirvana or a higher plane but rather about listening to what is going on inside of you, setting aside the world for twenty or thirty minutes twice a day to just focus on you. In our hectic world, it is pure heaven to just sit and put away all worries and cares for even a little while.

Deb and Ed Shapiro do a wonderful job of making a case for meditation and how it can help you physically, mentally, and spiritually. (Granted, any practice that has lasted for more than 5,000 years really should not require people to tout its benefits, but what can you do in our highly skeptical society?) They divided their book into four different sections; each discussing one important aspect of meditation from what is it to how it can help you personally to how it can help society to how to do it. Each section includes multiple quotes and comments from current practitioners of meditation, including famous authors, actors and activists. These comments provide a very personalized account of the benefits of meditation and help enhance the lessons mentioned by Deb and Ed.

In addition to focusing on meditation, this book provides an even greater common sense approach to life. Deb and Ed’s ideas are simplistic but profound. I found myself wishing for a notebook and unfortunately dog-earring many a page because of a comment made on it that I want to remember.

On happiness:

“So much time is wasted waiting to be happy, when all we need to do is experience the magnificence of what we already have.” (pg. 195)

“If we look for happiness outside of ourselves, or look for it some time in the future when things have changed, then we will never find it, for it is not dependent on anything or anyone.” (pg. 255)

On disconnection:

“‘[i]n all this effort to try to get somewhere we overlook how to be somewhere. And in the process of trying to become someone else, someone richer, more successful, more admired, or more powerful, we overlook how to be who we are already.’” (Michael Carroll, pg. 209)

Could it really be that simple, you ask? I say, why not? Deb, Ed and Mr. Carroll are not saying to accept the status quo and never change but rather to look internally for happiness rather than outside sources.

“Perhaps one of the hardest things to accept in a relationship is that we cannot change [the other person] into the person we want them to be. The only thing we can change is our attitude toward them. Instead of seeing what is wrong, focusing on the faults and weaknesses or what is needed for them to reach what we think would be a happier place, we can hold them as they are and be there for them as they discover their own way.” (pg. 116)

Why should this be any different for our individual self? Rather than focusing on what is wrong, why not focus on what is right and embrace that instead? If the focus on negativity has not worked in recent years, isn’t it time to try something new? In actuality, that is all Ed and Deb are truly saying. How we have approached life has not worked in the past few centuries; we still have wars, famine, terrible injustices in the world, as so forth. Rather than continue trying to resolve these issues using the same methods, why not try approaching them from a different angle, using a completely different method? What do we have to lose ultimately?

The Shapiros do not have all the answers but they certainly present compelling arguments for the power of meditation. It is not something that requires an advanced degree to perform. You do not need special equipment or training. All you need is to find some time to eke out a few minutes each day for reflection.

“It is not possible to fail at meditation. Even if we sit for twenty minutes and our mind is thinking non-stop meaningless thoughts, then that is fine…Our intent is more important than what happens.” (pg. 271)

If you have ever given any thought to start your own meditation practice or just want to learn more about it, the benefits and how to actually practice it, I highly recommend Be the Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World.  Ed and Deb Shapiro present their discussion points with clarity, compassion, and an underlying faith. They are truly concerned about each person finding happiness and love within his or her own life in addition to making the world a better place for humanity. I may have been a believer in the profundity of meditation prior to reading this book, but Ed and Deb have only confirmed that belief.

Thank you to Caitlin Price from FSB Associates for the opportunity to review this book! The timing of it was perfect, given what I was going through in my own search for peace and happiness.

I am curious if anyone else practices meditation. What are your experiences? Are you a believer or do you feel it is still a New Age fad? Let’s get a discussion going!

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