For millennia, Buddhists have enjoyed the limitless benefits of meditation. But how does it work? And why? The principles behind this ancient practice have long eluded some of the best minds in modern science.
In this groundbreaking work, world-renowned Buddhist teacher Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche invites us to join him in unlocking the secrets behind the practice of meditation. Working with neuroscientists at the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, Yongey Mingyur provides clear insights into modern research indicating that systematic training in meditation can enhance activity in areas of the brain associated with happiness and compassion. He has also worked with physicists across the country to develop a fresh, scientifically based interpretation of the Buddhist understanding of the nature of reality.
With an infectious joy and insatiable curiosity, Yongey Mingyur weaves together the principles of Tibetan Buddhism, neuroscience, and quantum physics in a way that will forever change the way we understand the human experience. Using the basic meditation practices he provides, we can discover paths through everyday problems, transforming obstacles into opportunities to recognize the unlimited potential of our
With a foreword by bestselling author Daniel Goleman, The Joy of Living is a stunning breakthrough, an illuminating vision of the science of Buddhism and a handbook for transforming our minds, bodies, and lives.
This refreshing book is yet another sign that the next generation of Buddhism is creative, cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary. Born in 1975 in Nepal, the author is among the generation of Tibetan lamas trained outside of Tibet, and he's also a gifted meditator. His brain activity has been measured during meditation, earning him the enviable sobriquet of "happiest man on earth." He fuses scientific and spiritual considerations, explaining meditation as a physical as well as a spiritual process. Mingyur Rinpoche knows from experience that meditation can change the brain. He experienced panic attacks as a child that he was able to overcome through intensive meditation. If diligently practiced, meditation can affect the "neuronal gossip"--his imaginative rendering of brain cell communication--that keeps us stuck in unhappy behaviors. The meditation master offers a wide variety of techniques, counseling ease in practice to avoid boredom or aversion. Less is more; practice shorter periods more often, he says. His approach will be especially welcome for anyone frustrated by meditation or convinced they're "not doing it right." This book is a fresh breath from the meditation room, written with kindness, energy and wit. Three cheers for a cheerful contemplative. (Mar. 6) Copyright (c) Reed Business Information -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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March 06, 2007
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Excerpt from The Joy of Living by Mingyur Rinpoche
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism.
When you're trained as a Buddhist, you don't think of Buddhism as a religion. You think of it as a type of science, a method of exploring your own experience through techniques that enable you to examine your actions and reactions in a nonjudgmental way, with the view toward recognizing, "Oh, this is how my mind works. This is what I need to do to experience happiness. This is what I should avoid to avoid unhappiness."
At its heart, Buddhism is very practical. It's about doing things that foster serenity, happiness, and confidence, and avoiding things that provoke anxiety, hopelessness, and fear. The essence of Buddhist practice is not so much an effort at changing your thoughts or your behavior so that you can become a better person, but in realizing that no matter what you might think about the circumstances that define your life, you're already good, whole, and complete. It's about recognizing the inherent potential of your mind. In other words, Buddhism is not so much concerned with getting well as with recognizing that you are, right here, right now, as whole, as good, as essentially well as you could ever hope to be.
You don't believe that, do you?
Well, for a long time, neither did I.
I would like to begin by making a confession, which may sound strange coming from someone regarded as a reincarnate lama who is supposed to have done all sorts of wonderful things in previous lifetimes. From earliest childhood, I was haunted by feelings of fear and anxiety. My heart raced and I often broke out in a sweat whenever I was around people I didn't know. There wasn't any reason for the discomfort I experienced. I lived in a beautiful valley, surrounded by a loving family and scores of monks, nuns, and others who were deeply engaged in learning how to awaken inner peace and happiness. Nevertheless, anxiety accompanied me like a shadow.
I was probably about six years old when I first began to experience some relief. Inspired mostly by a child's curiosity, I began climbing into the hills around the valley where I grew up to explore the caves where generations of Buddhist practitioners had spent their lives in meditation. Sometimes I'd go into a cave and pretend to meditate. Of course, I really had no idea how to meditate. I'd just sit there mentally repeating Om Mani Peme Hung, a mantra, or repetition of special combinations of ancient syllables, familiar to almost every Tibetan, Buddhist or not. Sometimes I'd sit for hours, mentally reciting the mantra without understanding what I was doing. Nevertheless, I started to feel a sense of calm stealing over me.
Yet even after three years of sitting in caves trying to figure out how to meditate, my anxiety increased until it became what would probably be diagnosed in the West as a full-blown panic disorder. For a while I received some informal instructions from my grandfather, a great meditation master who preferred to keep his accomplishments quiet; but finally I summoned the courage to ask my mother to approach my father, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, with my request to study formally with him. My father agreed, and for the next three years he instructed me in various methods of meditation.