Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Fabulous Book, Part 2

     Last week we were discussing a wonderful book on meditation written by the Tibetan Buddhist monk, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche entitled The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness.  I found the author's explanations and suggestions very accessible and easy to incorporate into a busy life.  

     But there was one part that reduced me to tears.  In the chapter on how to develop compassion, I read that there are basically three steps, each of which might take months to master before being ready to continue to the next step.  The first step was to develop compassion towards oneself.  When I sat down to do that, I repeated the words:  "May I have happiness and the sources of happiness, may I be free of suffering and the sources of suffering, may I be free of attachment and aversion and dwell in perfect equanimity, may I have joy and the sources of joy," and I stared to cry.  After years of pushing myself to do more and more (Why?  To prove myself?  To whom?), this simple phrase gave me permission to be who I am right now.  I think the tears were tears of relief and acceptance.  Even now, when I repeat those words, I find my eyes getting misty and my soul just melts into . . . relaxation. 

     Be compassionate to yourself.  Get this book.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Fabulous Book

    I think we have a theme this month -- the last two weeks we talked about how Western science has finally adopted and validated Buddhist mindfulness practices and this week we'll talk about how a Tibetan Buddhist finds validation of his practice in Western science.  Whew, trippy.

     The book is The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche.  As a child, Yongey was afflicted with serious panic attacks, but finally found complete relief from them in his meditation practices.  Later, as he met Westerners and became familiar with Western scientific principles, he found many parallels between his practices and science.  For example, he learned that meditation practices can actually change the structure of the brain, as shown in his own brain scans as well as those of other serious meditators.

     What I liked best about this book is that he stresses repeatedly that you don't have to give up everything and retreat into a cave in order to be a successful meditator.  He gives easy hints on how to incorporate meditation practice throughout the day and how to deal with the stresses of everyday life.  I found his pointers most useful.  Perhaps you would, too.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Listen and Learn, Part 2

     Last week I was reviewing an audio course called The Science of Mindfulness:  A Research-Based Path to Well-Being, offered by The Great Courses.  The presenter, Ronald D. Siegel, is a clinical psychologist who has used mindfulness practices with his clients and has studied their benefits as a professor at Harvard.  From the sound of his voice, he seems like a really nice guy.

     Filled with anecdotes from his own life and some examples from some clients, Siegel's lectures go through how our brains are wired for survival in a caveman sense, and poorly equipped to withstand today's relentless pressures and stress.  He talks about why we tend to remember the negative more than the positive (it's called a negativity bias), and then recommends several mindfulness practices to deal with those tendencies. 

    For me, it was fascinating to learn that the mindfulness practices developed by the Buddha some 2500 years ago have finally been verified and adopted by modern science.  And if these practices can help you find more peace and contentment in your life, they are definitely worth the time and effort.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Listen and Learn

     A while ago I finished listening to a lecture series about meditation.  Actually, I had a double purpose in listening to it -- I listen to things in the car in hopes that it would lessen my tendency to scream at, uh, focus on the idiot, uh, other drivers on the road.  Second, I sometimes learn things.

    This lecture series comes from The Great Courses, a rather eclectic company that offers lectures about all sorts of subjects.  Some might think this company appeals to egg-heads only, but I think the lectures are designed to appeal to most people with an ounce of curiosity.  Curious?  Check out their website here

     The lecture I recently finished was The Science of Mindfulness:  A Research-Based Path to Well-Being.  The presenter, Ronald D. Siegel, shows how meditation practices such as mindfulness practices have all sorts of practical benefits aside from calming the crazy monkey inside our head.  More on this next week.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

Wishing you peace,
Wishing you health,
Wishing you a year full of exciting possibilities.
Happy New Year.
(photo courtesy of