SSU professor brings the art of meditation into an instruction manual format
Books on meditation and how it can influence our lives are common these days. They can either be hard to read, laden with scholarly quotes from Asian mystics who have amassed meditative techniques for centuries, or, more recent volumes easily sliding into the “pop psychology” category.
Psychology professor Victor Daniels at Sonoma State University and his wife, Kooch Daniels (she’s of Lebanese descent), have co-authored “Matrix Meditations,” which falls in the middle of these two extremes.
Basically, it’s a 16-week program for developing what they call “the mind-heart connection.”
It’s easily accessible. It’s the kind of “manual” that can be dipped into for brief periods. Or as Daniels puts it, “A truck driver can take it on long trips and absorb a chapter at a time.”
Both Victor and Kooch hold graduate degrees and have done much traveling in India and other Asian countries studying with teachers, healers and shamans. Together, they wrote “Tarot d’Amour.”
Sitting at a table in the shaded patio of North Light Books & Café, Daniels said the meditation techniques in his book “help train your powers of attention you’re doing that you hadn’t previously noticed... they’re like a new lens that increases your awareness of your own thinking process, rather than being completely identified with your thoughts.”
Daniels cited Socrates and his quest for wisdom. He said, “Admitting how little we know is a necessary starting point in this quest. Or as Mark Twain said more recently, ‘It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.’”
After an introductory section, Matrix Meditations is divided into “cells,” 65 in all, covering situations where meditations can be of use. The “cells” are short, usually three or four pages, eminently readable, instructions are concise and easily absorbed “Every ‘cell’ we checked out is at the 12th grade level,” said Daniels. “We really tried hard to keep psychological jargon out of it.”
Curious to find out what he meant, I checked out a cell called “Listening.” After all, a reporter’s function is mainly listening to what others have to say.
Right away I discovered my own thoughts get in the way by framing a response or another question while the other person is talking. This clouds the responses you want to hear. “Most people like to think they’re good listeners,” says Daniels. “In reality, most of us are not.” Through his lessons on meditation, this “listening” fault can be eliminated.
Daniels is now in what could be called semi-retirement, teaching only a few classes at SSU. He’s a 40-year veteran of the campus facility, a rare event these days. “I was appointed in 1968 when the new campus was only two years old. It had only two buildings and just the beginnings of its landscaping.”
“Matrix Meditations” is a 6x9-inch paperback, 400 pages and priced $19.95. It’s available at North Light Books & Café in Cotati.
“Both Kooch and I are working on new books, centered on conflicts and relationships and the role meditation plays,” said Daniels, 67. “I like to quote Albert Einstein, who said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”