FAQ Meares' method of Meditation

How many types of meditation did Ainslie Meares' teach?

Only one. However, this evolved and became further refined over time.

The method Meares' taught after he transitioned from hypnosis to meditation is explained in his book Relief Without Drugs. Click here for some more information about the Relief Without Drugs period.

His later method is referred to as Stillness Meditation. Click here for some more information about the Stillness Meditation period.

Relief Without Drugs is included in the first book. Stillness meditation is also explained in the first book. The two methods are explained in sequence to help the reader understand what is actually involved to help their own practice of Meares' method.

What are diferences between Stillness and mindfulness?

In short - Stillness lies beyond mindfulness. For a bit more information see here.

Did Meares use visualisation?

Meares used visualisation (and many other methods) during his early work in medical hypnosis but he abandoned its use around the time he began to teach patients to meditate instead of using conventional hypnosis. On the internet it is commonly stated that Meares used visualisation to help cancer patients. This is incorrect. For some reason, people have got Meares' recommendation backwards. In fact, he used the simplicity of stillness and did not teach visualisation to his cancer or other patients. He also wrote a paper raising concerns that visualisation might not be beneficial under some circumstances. The first book has some more about this topic.

What meditation posture did Ainslie Meares teach or recommend?

In class, sitting is used. Other postures can be used as well. These are discussed in the first book. The role of posture in meditation is also discussed in the first book.

How did Ainslie Meares develop his method of meditation?

A reading of Ainslie Meares work reveals that his method was derived from his study of hypnosis. He invented and developed his method in which the meditator themselves learns to voluntarily relax into a deep mentally relaxing experience. His travels to meet, as Meares put it, "strange people in strange places" helped him to fine tune his method. He did not, as some still do, spend endless amounts of time poring over ancient documents written in a foreign language spoken thousands of years ago by an ancient culture that no longer exists. Instead, he learnt from the best expert yogis and mystics and brought back that which could be used in his consulting rooms on his western patients. He expressed this as extracting the essence of eastern mysticism. He always acknowledged that his ability to help his patients was facilitated by what he learnt in the far east and in particular from one yogi. This story is discussed in detail in the biography in the first book which combines Meares' own account with that of another who was also there.

What can be said about Meares' poetry?

A quick look will tell you that Meares wrote 11 poetry books during the Stillness Meditation period. The poetry formed part of his method as is explained in the first book. In addition, the first book has a couple of poems from each of the 11 poetry books to a total of 33. These samples will give you some poems to read in the way Meares intended. You will likely decide that the poetry is helpful. The samples will also help you to decide which of Meares' poetry books to get.

The second book has a first line index of each of Meares' poetry books. Again, the idea is for the reader to be able to form an impression about the various poetry books and then choose one or two they like the sound of. Of course, the second book does not have samples of complete poems - it only lists first lines. From point of view of the poetry, you would be better off getting the first book and then getting the second book if you can't decide which of Meares' poetry books to get.

What are all the elements of Meares' method?

Stillness Meditation and reading poetry were two elements. Learning to let the calm and ease flow on through daily life was another important element. Meares' whole system is explained in the first book. The first book provides instructions in how to learn and practice Meares' method.

Why don't more people mention Ainslie Meares work?

Unaware. Not very good at literature searching. A few are biased. Take your pick.

The simple facts are that much of the modern literature on hypnosis and meditation fails to mention the contribution made by Ainslie Meares. Many modern meditation (and hypnosis) researchers and teachers do not mention Ainslie Meares' work. This is a pity as a reading of his work shows that he had already drawn conclusions of great clarity regarding various topics still under discussion today.

Meares' work is outlined in 35 books, journal articles and conference papers. Some examples that might be expected to be included in literature reviews are provided below:

1. Visualisation* - see earlier.

2. Research undertaken at the Indian Medical Research Institute on yogi's is often cited as "trail blazing". However, Meares' joint paper* with some of these researchers comparing the effect of hypnosis and meditation on pain control is not mentioned! Incidentally, this work was done in India as part of Meares' field studies in the far east. It was while in India that Meares' heard about the worlds most exceptional yogi's who were alive at that time*. Then he went to visit the best as discussed in the first book.

3. Meares' mental atavistic regression theory of mental homeostasis* repeatedly published in the peer review medical literature at the start of the Relief Without Drugs period and during the Stillness Meditation period is not mentioned!

4. Meares' work including his transition from hypnosis to meditation and his best selling book Relief Without Drugs is usually omitted. Relief Without Drugs was one of the first DIY style books that had huge take up. In Australia, Ainslie Meares became a household name after Relief Without Drugs was published. Front covers from several of the different versions of Relief Without Drugs are at the top of the page here. These versions are available from second hand book suppliers and Relief Without Drugs is included in the first book.

5. During the Stillness Meditation period, Meares helped patients with cancer. Over 40 years ago, Meares' believed that Stillness Meditation could help with pain management and by reducing anxiety\stress and the levels of cortisol. Further, he hypothesised that immunosurveillance might by reduced by high cortisol levels in anxious cancer patients and would work better if anxiety was able to be substantially reduced. These ideas are written about widely in the health sciences today. Meares' published quite a few articles on his work with cancer patients in the peer reviewed literature including case studies, theoretical papers, a case series of 100 patients etc*. Meares' complete method is explained in the first book.

6. Meares categorised the types of meditation and explained why Stillness lies beyond mindfulness*. Click here for more on that.

*Refer first book for references.

Next: FAQ Books by Ainslie Meares