Friday, August 7, 2009

Zen Heart: Living with Mindfulness and Compassion

I had originally planned on reviewing Zen Heart: Living with Mindfulness and Compassion (Ezra Bayda) for July, but from the moment I started reading, I realized I'd be spending quite a bit of time nestled between the covers of this insightful read.

After completing the book once, I took my time the second time through allowing myself to meditate on each chapter. Bayda engages and challenges us to look deep within and find our practice not only in formal meditation, but in each and every moment of each and every day. Most notable, for me anyway, was the continual insistence that we must also reform our way of thinking about life events we would normally label "bad" - Asking ourselves, "Can I welcome this as my path?" to heated disagreements, health problems, failure, etc; turning them into instruments of learning and personal growth.
So this first question, "Can I welcome this as my path?" reminds us that our difficulties are not an obstacle on the path, but the path itself.
and later in the book:
Usually, when these difficulties arise and we get upset, we automatically believe that something is wrong. Then we jump to the belief "I have to fix this." But in doing so, we're missing a crucial point, which is seeing that these obstacles, these difficulties, can themselves be a step on the path of awakening. They are not in our way so much as they are our way.
Look, we all know the disappointment in misleading headlines (like the recent study on organic vs. conventional produce); and we all know the hard work (and sometimes failure) involved in changing local and national policy. But rather than become angry and frustrated at the slow (or stagnant) progress of the green movement in the US, can we instead accept these things as part of our path; as part of the journey; as opportunites that make us more educated, stronger, and dedicated?

I have no doubt, that to read this book a third time, it would move me in a different way, new passages catching my eye and challenging my heart. Zen Heart: Living with Mindfulness and Compassion is not a book to be quickly read, it's a book you digest slowly and mindfully; allowing time to absorb it's beautiful message.
Recommended: To anyone ready to explore an open and loving heart
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Joan said...

Interesting. I just looked it up and requested it at my library.

Kale for Sale said...

This is exactly what I needed to read today - that difficulties can be welcomed onto the path instead of considered as obstacles on the path. Thank you. Given the stack of books I have I'm going to just keep rereading your review to remember this one phrase.

Sam said...

Your previous mention of a Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart (which I got from the library) along with this one has really got me thinking. I wonder why I don't get as angry about some things anymore. Even when car drivers buzz me or when I read about that "study" b/w organics and conventional produce...why am I not getting angry like I used to? I wonder if I am becoming more mindful of my reaction to outside events and losing my temper is not any way to fix anything.

An excellent review. And thanks for the recommendation. I will be reading this soon.

Going Crunchy said...

Glad you liked it! I enjoyed it very well. Shannon