This book offers exercises, instructions, jokes, stories, pithy quotes, and—most of all—encouragement to anyone interested in exploring Zen but who may find traditional presentations severe or intimidating. Hamilton writes with an easygoing, friendly style that invites readers of all backgrounds to sit down and give meditation a try. But don’t be fooled by her puns and checklists—this is serious Zen.
Drawing on three decades of experience as a Zen practitioner and teacher, Hamilton explains how to meditate and how to maintain an ongoing practice. From there, in her clear, lighthearted, and humorous style, she moves right to the heart of Zen, showing us how we could move beyond our concepts, expectations, and emotional reactivity to touch the reality of our lived experience with openness and simplicity, thereby finding freedom.
Untrain Your Parrot includes simple instructions to clarify and elucidate the basics:
how to establish a beginning meditation practice
how to develop physical, mental, and emotional awareness
how to experience "open" awareness—observing one's practice while allowing for a sense of spaciousness with whatever occurs
"Serious Zen taught in a friendly and accessible manner with special exercises, jokes, and more; from a San Diego-based teacher of Zen with 30 years' experience."—Library Journal
"A superb teacher who has peppered meditations with stories, colorful anecdotes, exercises, and imaginative phrases. . . . Hamilton helps us examine in fresh ways the warps of the conditioned mind, and provides many practices that you will want to try as you attempt to live a life of wholeheartedness."—Spirituality & Health
"Delightful humor and deep wisdom in the key of Zen. Elizabeth Hamilton has been there, done that, and tells the truth, so her teaching is gentle, grounded, and emotionally intelligent. She makes meditation practice real and accessible, rather than a romantic idealization."—Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are
"The title tips us off that we're in for a witty read, rich with metaphor. But Untrain Your Parrot turns out to also be a brilliant reconceptualization of Zen practice as a comprehensive, do-able program for psycho-spiritual growth. The clarity of Hamilton's pedagogy makes this an uncommonly serviceable workbook for the inner (and outer!) life."—Zoketsu Norman Fischer, author of Taking Our Places
"Elizabeth Hamilton is an intrepid spiritual practitioner, meeting sorrows and hardships with a spirit that continues to open to love. With humor and unrelenting use of skillful means, Elizabeth provides sound guidance in everyday language for everyday folks who dare to live awake."—Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao, abbot of the Zen Center of Los Angeles