A Monks Guide to Happiness
Given today is World Mental Health Day, it seemed appropriate to share with you this month’s read: ‘A Monks Guide to Happiness: Meditation in the 21st Century’ by Gelong Thubten.
I absolutely loved reading this book. A Monks Guide to Happiness is full of inspiration, positivity, honesty and practical ways of incorporating meditation and mindfulness into daily life in the 21st Century. The crux of the book is to open our minds to the idea that happiness is within us all, and that we can access it whenever we choose.
Thubten provides an insight into his personal experience of finding happiness, meditation and Buddhism. He reminds us that we are hard-wired for happiness and presents meditation as a tool for tapping into that innate happiness feeling. The book shines light on the accessibility of meditation and drums home how rewarding a practice it is; one that we can fit into any part of our daily life. It isn't just about sitting down with legs crossed, palms in lap, om-ing; it's about finding those quiet moments where we can reflect on our daily life, slow our thoughts, and pay attention to how we're feeling.
‘Our happiness and our problems both depend upon our state of mind, yet most of us go through life with very little insight into the mind and it’s true potential...Meditation and mindfulness are powerful tools for a complete internal revolution.’
It is so easy to become wrapped up in the stresses of day-to-day life, that we forget that happiness lies within us and not within material goods, possessions, or at the end of our fingers on Instagram. Thubten teaches us to step back from our thoughts and see them for what they are, reminding us that all that really matters is the present moment and all the joy that each moment can bring. Meditation helps us learn to let go of feelings of guilt for past events and worries about what is going to happen in the future, because that's largely out of our control; we can't predict what is going to happen but we can help shape it through being present and enjoying the moment.
I started meditating a few years ago when I was going through some personal changes, and needed a way of switching off and dealing with all the emotions and thoughts going through my mind and body. Meditation changed my life. It's become an integral part of my way of life and I truly don't think I could live now without mindfulness and meditation practice in my life. Despite this, I’m still learning each day and a great benefit of A Monks Guide to Happiness is the insight Thubten provides to a range of different ways of meditating to deal with and overcome certain thought patterns, which enable you to apply gratitude and compassion to daily life, appropriate to the 21st Century.
Thubten highlights one of meditation's deeper benefits as unlocking creativity. He writes that stress is a factor in impeding our creativity; we get so wrapped up in our thoughts that we limit the room available for ideas. Meditation can help clear our mind, making space for spontaneity and innovative ideas. He also suggests we could benefit from fully-tasking, rather than multi-tasking; being mindful of what we are doing and living more in the present. Multi-tasking has been shown to slow our brain and kill productivity, and, if you're anything like me, this is definitely an area that would benefit from improving.
Thubten provides a number of suggested meditation practices aimed at helping ease various obstacles to happiness, including compassion and forgiveness. Meditation and mindfulness are tools to help us reflect and take a step back. To remind us that we are in control of our thoughts, that they haven't the power over us that we think they have. We can choose our thoughts and how we react to situations. Ultimately, we can choose to be happy.
We are built for happiness.
x Happy World Mental Health day x
I'd love to hear your thoughts on meditation. Do you practice meditation? Let me know. I honestly believe that we could all benefit from being more mindful and aware of our thoughts. Surely the world would be a fairer, happier place if we all realised that happiness, compassion and love are within us, all the time.