smiling blonde woman in simple yoga poseI saw this on the shelf at Village Books in Bellingham and was intrigued enough by the title that I jotted it down to check out from the library. The answer promised by the title is: Buddhist meditation.

I appreciated how short the book was. I read the whole thing in a couple of hours. The “afraid of your own life” in the title is a shorthand for all the fears that assail us, from fear of failure and fear of loss to fear of external disasters. The book proposes that the experience of fear in the face of these things is counter-productive to a happy life, and that by practicing meditation one can inoculate one’s mind against letting the emotion of fear take over. Piver is an adherent of the Shamatha school of meditation which means “peaceful abiding”. The practice she describes is keyed largely on dismissing active thought during meditation by recognizing when your mind wanders from the task of meditation and labeling the distraction as “thinking” to stop the digression and return to centered null focus.

There are a lot of other specific practices outlined in the book all aimed at performing a kind of mental judo taking negative patterns of thought and channeling that energy in a more positive direction. I haven’t taken on any of the practice in the book and that’s largely because Piver encourages a seven-day induction phase including a three-day full retreat. It’s going to take some effort to make that happen even though it sounds like a good idea in theory.