Meditations on Intention and Being by Rolf Gates is a sort of seven step how-to that guides its reader toward the process of “starting over.” Gates’ hope in writing the book is to “provide readers with an ancient set of instructions for how to live and love well” which the author claims requires and understanding of many principles that are inherent to the practice of yoga. In each chapter Gates provides one more way of reaching the above goals based on yogic, Buddhist, and Christian precepts.
Gates, a recovered addict, retired military personnel, and former addictions counselor is now a yoga teacher trainer who aims to inspire and encourage his students to access the deeper aspects of the yoga practice that often get lost in the more contemporary and mainstream styles of practicing. Gates though does not discriminate against any one type of yoga despite that fact that he himself has developed and teaches a particular style of 90 minute classes. He admits that most people come to yoga for its physical benefits and challenges, but that this can be the gateway to accessing the more personal and spiritual elements of the practice.
Themes of effortlessness, nonviolence, spirit, mindfulness, compassion, equanimity, and intention are the primary focuses for Gates. He delves into each in great detail providing not only an outline and introduction to what each of these concepts means to him, but also giving in-depth autobiographical background concerning his own experiences with these ideas. Though in some ways this autobiographical content lends legitimacy and weight to Gates’ arguments, it can at times become overbearing and tiresome. There are points where the actual intention in writing about a topic seems lost in a sea of narrative that, though related, isn’t always entirely relevant to a reader who is not intending to read an autobiography.
Above all presence and awareness are most prized by Gates and touted to be the most important elements if one wants to live life well. An essential and integral part of yoga, presence is what allows humans to actually live their lives rather than experience them from a distance, and this seems to be what Gates is getting at through his long and intricate examinations of each step toward presence. Though some of the chapters can be long and difficult to push through, the overall message of the book is one that is important for our current culture, and makes Meditations on Intention and Being a very relevant book for our times.
Published by Anchor in December 2015, Meditations on Intention and Being can be purchased at your local bookstore.
FTC Disclaimer: This book was given to me in return for a fair and honest review of the text.