A Monk’s Guide to Happiness

My tagline on this blog is “From Social Justice & Socialism to Mindfulness & Spirituality.” Lately with all the social and political drama in our lives I’ve focused most heavily on the Social Justice & Socialism part. I think now I want to turn my attention more to Mindfulness & Spirituality.

One of the impacts of the pandemic, lockdowns and isolation has been an erosion of happiness. People are increasingly reporting that they feel depressed and anxious, and there’s an increase suicidal thinking and deaths.

NBC News has reported on a study conducted last year through the University of Chicago.

“Folks in the U.S. are more unhappy today than they’ve been in nearly 50 years…. [The study] finds that just 14% of American adults say they’re very happy, down from 31% who said the same in 2018. That year, 23% said they’d often or sometimes felt isolated in recent weeks. Now, 50% say that.”

There are many ways of dealing with this including talk therapy, medication, diet and exercise, but one strategy that is time-tested over centuries and wide popularity today is meditation.

Misconceptions About Meditation

While the idea mediation is increasingly popular, it’s also widely misunderstood. A few common misconceptions:

  • You have to blank out your mind and be totally without thoughts.
  • You have to be religious, preferably Buddhist.
  • You’ll become so blissed out in peace and tranquility, you’ll lose all interest and drive to achieve personal advancement or work for social change.

Gelong Thubten

Gelong Thubten has been a Buddhist monk for over 25 years. He has an interesting story having started out life as actor in London and New York who ended up bedridden several months with debilitating depression, anxiety and self-hatred. A friend suggested he visit a monastery in Europe where he stayed, learned meditation and eventually took a lifetime oath to a Buddhist monk.

Thubten has become, in my opinion, one of the most effective teachers of meditation I’ve heard. He teaches from a strictly secular perspective. He is not an evangelist for Buddhism. His website lists clients including Google, LinkedIn, Deloitte, Lloyds Bank, Deutsche Bank, Siemens, Accenture and Clifford Chance. He writes as well, his latest book being A Monk’s Guide to Happiness: Meditation in the 21st Century.

For those hearing about meditation in detail for the first time, Thubten’s explanations are down-to-earth and completely relatable to our everyday lives.

Gelong Thubten Speaks

The following are three videos I hope you will enjoy. The first two a brief presentations on handling difficult circumstances and difficult emotions.

This final video is longer, running just under 90 minutes. It was recorded pre-pandemic in London in 2019. Thubten talks about meditation and the principles covered in his new book, and he takes questions for the audience.

For more videos with Gelong Thubten and other teachers of meditation, visit the Life 2.0 section of my website.

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