The Joy of Living……

‘If you truly want to discover lasting peace and contentment you need to learn to rest your mind.’  (Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche)

I came across this wonderful book thanks to a chance conversation with someone at my choir (thanks Ian!).  Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche is a Tibetan Buddhist Master and his book offers a fascinating fusion of western and eastern thought. He brings neuroscientific understandings of the brain within a framework of Buddhist philosophy and shows that there is great deal of convergence.

For the past 20 years he has collaborated in a research project with neuroscientists at University of Wisconsin at Maddison to explore the effect of mindfulness and meditation practices on the brain. During meditation neural activity in the brain area associated with empathy and positive emotion increased 700-800 per cent for Yongey Mingyur.  For a control group, who were all new to meditation, the average increase was only 10%.  The research work is underpinned by mutual respect and a genuine dialogue between eastern philosophy and western medicine.  Neuroscientist Francisco Valera, co-founder of the Wisconsin’s Mind and Life Institute was a student of Buddhist practice under Yongey Mingur’s father.

In the book Yogey Mingyur Rinpoche shares his own story of the debilitating anxiety he suffered as a child and how he learned to overcome this anxiety through techniques of mindfulness and meditation.  He dispels many of the myths around meditation with a great deal of warmth and humour

The book offers a compassionate understanding of how the mind operates when stressed and in fear-based, survival mode. The author shares a powerful insights and techniques from Buddhist practice on how to relax the ego, reduce the fear response and foster compassion towards self and others.

I found this book fascinating and incredibly hopeful.  There are wonderful metaphors which I have incorporated into my practice as a therapist.  It shows how these fear-based responses can be over-ridden through focused attention and contemplation and the positive impact this can have at a physical level.