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Happiness

The Art of Meditation

L'art de la méditation - Matthieu Ricard

 

The Art of Meditation

One Sentence Summary: Meditation, apart from numerous proven beneficial effects, allows us to develop our comprehension of the way our mind works, to better comprehend reality, to be less of a prisoner to our emotions and to be freer, thus attaining an abundance of true happiness; this book takes us by the hand to teach us in a simple way different methods for learning how to meditate and progressively arrive at becoming better versions of ourselves.

By Matthieu Ricard, 2008, 150 pages.

This book has not yet been translated into English, but like all of Matthieu Ricard’s books have been up to now (see for exemple The Monk and the Philosopher or Happiness), it is just a question of time before it is available in English. Here you are getting a fore-taste before it premieres 🙂

Note: I have just finished the 10 books in the Productivity & Effectiveness category of my crazy personal MBA challenge and I have learned several concepts and several techniques, methods and tricks for developing my productivity, my creativity, my ability to manage complex projects, etc, and integrated several concepts which I have not stopped thinking about, and which are changing my view of many things in the world (I am going to write an article next summarizing these concepts). However, as one reader pointed out – a little clumsily – in a comment about my article 10 Pearls of wisdom taken from my reading and my experience as an entrepreneur, being highly productive without seeking to be happier and finding real meaning in your life is obviously not a solution. It seems to me, actually, necessary to accompany research on performance and efficiency with finding your way and the significance that it brings to your life: “Science without conscience only ruins the soul.” If not we will become as absurd as the eating machine in Modern Times; we will be at the center of a system that is performing but has no soul, turning round and round, and exploding one day because it’s out of balance.

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Les Temps Modernes - Machine à manger automatique

It seems to me then that the need for spirituality, whether religious or not, is a fundamental need with us humans – and it astounds me therefore that it does not feature in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, since it must eventually be used in personal accomplishment. There are several ways to seek and find meaning in your life, trying to be happier and feeling like a greater being on the inside. Meditation is one. I have chosen to experience this path because:

 

  • It can be practiced independently of any religion – I am 150% atheist – alternatively, it can be completely integrated – all religions practice forms of meditation.
  • It can be practiced for about 15 to 30 minutes a day, without requiring any special considerations or costly equipment – all you need is a quiet place and a little time. This allows us to integrate it completely within the constraints of our lives and makes it accessible to everyone.
  • You can practice it to fulfill many objectives; to relax, to improve your self confidence, to find meaning in your life, to communicate with your god, the universe, etc. Therefore each of us can try to find what we are looking for.
  • Many scientific studies, like this one (Harvard University), this one (University of Montreal) or this one (see also the conferences of the Mind & Life Institute or all these other studies) – have discovered or proven the many benefits of practicing meditation, such as:
    • Considerable reduction in stress
    • Reduction in anxiety, tendency towards anger and tendencies towards depression
    • Noticeable reinforcement of the immune system
    • Reinforcement of positive emotions and powers of attention
    • A reduction in artery pressure among those with high blood pressure
    • Etc.

Meditation is however a subject about which I know nothing, and which I have never practiced. How do I find my way through the jungle of books on the subject? By doing research on Amazon, I discovered this book by Matthieu Ricard. Matthieu Ricard is well known to the Buddhist community – he is a Buddhist monk and the French interpreter for the Dalaï-lama – he has the added advantage of being educated in the sciences – he has a doctorate in cellular genetics – and of writing in a very simple, accessible and measured way in his books. I have had occasion to look through his book , The Quantum and the Lotus and found it to be very relevant and interesting. I therefore ordered The Art of Meditation, which I am reviewing for you today, as well as Meditation for Dummies because the “For Dummies” collection is good for getting started in a subject – and this one is no exception, it’s excellent 😉

Summary and Book Review:

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