This book was sent to me by Yellow Kite (Hodder) in exchange for an honest review.
13.06.19 / Yellow Kite / Non-Fiction / Hardback / 256pp / 978-1473696679
Target Audience: Readers who want to use meditation to improve their outlook on life, reduce stress while increasing happiness and break through the misconceptions surrounding the practice. Meditation and Mindfulness can change the way we perceive and react to many different elements of life and Gelong Thubten shows us how.
About A Monk’s Guide To Happiness
What is the secret to being happy? Does happiness come from outside us or do we need to look within? Can meditation help?
Gelong Thubten has worked with everyone from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to Ruby Wax and Benedict Cumberbatch. In his warm and engaging debut book he explores the nature of happiness and explains how to bring meditation into our busy 21st-century lives with simple yet effective exercises.
Gelong Thubten, Buddhist monk, meditation teacher and author, has always been fascinated by the question of happiness. In his youth he tried to find it through living a wild and extreme lifestyle as an actor in New York. This only led to more unhappiness. Desperate for solutions, he found himself at a Buddhist monastery where he became a monk. After training his mind in intensive retreats he now helps many thousands of people worldwide, showing them how to find inner happiness and a greater sense of freedom.
His book can help you:
– Learn practical methods that help you to choose happiness
– Develop greater compassion for yourself and others
– Learn how to meditate in micro-moments during a busy day
– Discover that you are naturally ‘hard-wired’ for happiness
In this profound and inspiring book, Gelong Thubten presents a practical and sustainable approach to happiness, and how meditation and mindfulness can help us get there.
Thubten helps to bust the myth that our lives and minds are too busy for meditation. Reading this book could revolutionise your relationship with your thoughts and emotions.
The moment I picked up Gelong Thubten’s A Monk’s Guide To Happiness, with its calming blue cover embossed with golden clouds representing our many thoughts, I knew I was in for captivating and alleviating read. A Monk’s Guide To Happiness is a cooling salve on the anxious and overheated minds of the technologically saturated 21st century. Gelong Thubten is shining a light on the positive and ameliorating effects of meditation whilst also debunking and explaining the classic misinterpretation of the practice. Choosing to focus on the practical benefits and not the religious affiliations of meditation.
The human race have proved time and again (biologically speaking) that they are an innately happy species. But as we evolve we give ourselves more opportunity and excuses to be distracted, anxious, threatened and angry with the various thoughts and actions that accompany such feelings. How we chase the next ‘high’ whether it be shopping or social media or some other unobtainable venture that gives us the illusion of happiness. Meditation gives us a choice to stop these these reactions and behaviours in their tracks and instead see each situation from new perspectives, interrupting learned responses.
A Monk’s Guide To Happiness is exactly what it says on the tin. Within is a guide that is pragmatic and realistic in nature that offers beneficial and satisfying advice about both meditation and mindfulness (not the same thing) that can be brought into our lives in many different ways. Thubten has 25 years experience with meditation, using it as an advantage to see the world and its many interactions in new and interesting ways. Bringing together all of his knowledge and behaviour over the years as a monk, a speaker, a teacher and at the same time openly recognising his past choices and mistakes.
Thubten showed me how simple it is to bring meditation into my life, clearing up the many misunderstandings and misleading information, and the endless possibilities for peace of mind and happiness that I would otherwise miss out on due to being the uptight worrier that I currently am. Taking away all the bell and whistles, breaking down the fundamental and important aspects of mediation and guiding me in steps about how to introduce such behaviour steadily into my daily routine. Yes you could argue that this is a self help book but upon finishing it, it is simpler than that and much more informative.
There very few steps and bullet points, which are used to emphasise structure approaching meditation. The writing is calm, calculated and brilliantly inspiring. The lessons don’t jump out of the page, saying do this! They don’t promise a better life in 10 easy steps. Gelong Thubten is sharing his wisdom and encourages the reader to consider a more open, more relaxed mind that may improve mental health and maybe even affect your health in general for the better. One aspect of Thubten’s writing that I especially appreciated was his use of analogies and metaphors (though some became repetitive i.e working out). There are so many that stuck with me as I read along. About oceans and skies, waves and clouds. His observations are actually frustrating at times as they are so simple that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t considered them before.
Thubten manages to explain his points perfectly with a combination of nature, technology, psychology and science which surprised me for a monk. Thubten’s incorporation of neurological and psychological issues made me respect him so much more. It made the weight of his words feel more considered, unbiased and genuine. Words are nice but action provides better results and Thubten sees happiness not as something to be bought or searched for externally but to be found within our minds. Allowing us the chance to change our perspective on what happiness truly is. Training our minds like a muscle to be more resilient to negative and unhelpful thoughts and learning to keep the mind from wandering resulting in lost focus and harmful distraction. To help us be more present and less influenced by the past, the future and the unknown. Allowing us to maintain a more substantial state of happiness and stopping unnecessary surges of adrenaline and cortisol from ruining our life experiences. I loved Thubten’s view on waiting for example. How waiting for something doesn’t have to be a stress inducing inconvenience but instead a moment to pause, time to just be until it is time to re-engage with your day and hurry off.
The points that are being made in A Monk’s Guide To Happiness are familiar if you have ever read books on meditation but GT is more comprehensive, more tuned in to all avenues of life whether it be literal, spiritual, physical or emotional. Exploring mindfulness in plenty of areas of life from food to illness, children to work. Another point in GT’s favour is that he acknowledges that meditation can also be harmful if done too much or incorrectly. Warning readers to tread with caution and take steps to engineer the right timing environment for meditation.
Thubten talks about the absolute importance of Interdependence (depending on each instead of ourselves). How working as one improves the flow of Oxycontin. How empathy only gets you so far so practising compassionate behaviour is vital to improving all of our daily interactions. What you will be able to achieve if you learn to forgive yourself and others. Increasing your self confidence and your confidence in others too. Pulling all of these aspects into short (10-15 min) meditation sessions that will lower stress and give you more time to be happy. GT writing is genuine, with heart and understanding, and is a far departure from some of the condescending and basic run-throughs of meditation I have experienced in the past.
A Monk’s Guide To Happiness is the perfect continuation of what Gelong Thubten achieved in How To Be Human alongside Ruby Wax. I was excited to read his book and it hasn’t disappointed in any way. It comes highly recommended from me as a great opportunity to reduce stress, to find new ways to look at life and understand ourselves better.
About Gelong Thubten
Gelong Thubten is a Buddhist monk, meditation trainer and author from the UK. In 1993, at the age of 21, he ordained as a monk at Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Scotland. He has spent over six years in intensive meditation retreats, the longest of which was 4 years long. Thubten is a world pioneer in mindfulness meditation teaching, with over 20 years experience working with businesses, hospitals, schools, universities, prisons and addiction counselling centres. He teaches at major companies such as Google and LinkedIn and he trains medical students in mindfulness. He has lectured at Oxford University and for the United Nations. In 2018 Thubten and Yale neuroscientist Ash Ranpura collaborated with Ruby Wax on the book ‘How to be Human’. A Monk’s Guide to Happiness is Gelong Thubten’s debut solo book.