Book: Joy on Demand by Chade-Meng Tan
The idea of meditation and mindfulness being a way of improving the fitness of your mind was what got me interested in selecting and reading this book for round 2 of the Yoga Book Club. I like fitness. I like building the strength of my muscles and improving my cardiovascular fitness. So, it makes sense to me that practicing mindfulness and meditation is a way to increase your mental fitness. But how does it happen? What techniques bring the greatest results? The answer is it takes practice and there are so many techniques that it really comes down to what works best for you (maybe not the answers you were hoping for).
What I learned from this book is that joy and mindfulness, can happen with just one simple breath in and out. Yes, just one breath! It's really that easy. Focus on one breath joyfully and relax into it and you will start to feel calmer. Try it! Breathe in slowly... breathe out slowly. Feel the breath moving in and out of your body. Enjoy the moment of feeling your breath and being totally aware of it. What a miracle it is to be able to breathe! That's pretty damn awesome isn't it?
Of course, there are many other techniques described in the book that can be practiced too, but I'm not going to write about all of them here. You'll just have to read the book. However, I would like to share a few things that stood out for me in the book:
1. Wishing for random people to be happy
Identify someone walking past or working in your vicinity and secretly wish for them to be happy. To take it the next level, smile at them as they go past. The kindness of a smile will change their day and will make you feel amazing too!
2. Awareness of mortality
OK, so it's a bit confronting to think of our death, but knowing that we are mortal creatures can actually help us think more positively about our lives and be grateful that every moment we have is precious and to find joy in knowing that.
3. Loving kindness
Imagine as you breathe in that you are bringing the energy of love into your being. As you hold the breath in for a moment, bring to mind someone you would like to send loving kindness to. As you exhale, send loving kindness to that person with a smile on your lips.
These three practices are an example of some different ways that we can access joy on demand in our lives. Give them a try and see what happens.