The Joy of Living

by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
First sentence: “When you’re trained as a Buddhist, you don’t think of Buddhism as a religion.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: It’s pretty complex, and somewhat dull, so it’d probably appeal to those who have the patience for it. It’d be in the religion section of the bookstore.

This was for another bingo square. I initially picked it up to cover “a religion you don’t know about” (hard for me, actually) but ended up using it as “popular psychology” because this was less about Buddhism and more about the scientific benefits of meditation.

And there are many: Rinpoche draws upon Western studies proving that the brain is calmer and that people are healthier when you meditate. And he explores some of the Western preconceptions about meditation: how we’re often intimidated by it because it seems so, well, unattainable.

He gives some practical advice for meditating: shorter times, more frequently during the day. And I’ve tried to take some of what he said to heart. During my last “down” time (I suffer from intermittent depression; it’s not chronic, but it is there and it is real), I worked on being attentive to my feelings and breathing through the sadness. I won’t say it worked well (or even much at all), but I did manage to come out of the funk faster than in the past. I need to get into the habit (again; I used to meditate more often) of stopping and unplugging and just Be longer.

I did find that a lot of this was familiar to me through my experiences with yoga over the years. A truly mindful yoga practice (of which I am not doing right now; I still go to yoga, but it’s more about the physical movement rather than a mindful practice) will incorporate elements of Buddhist meditation, I think.

It has made me curious about Buddhism, though. I think I’m going to hunt down and read more.

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