Just One Thing

Rick Hanson's essay "Notice That You Are Alright Right Now" was so gentle-sweet (cf. It's Not So Bad, 2012-03-13) that I couldn't resist buying his wee book with the lowercase title just one thing. Its similarly subtle subtitle is "developing a buddha brain one simple practice at a time". J1T comprises 52 short musings, #47 of which is the aforementioned essay — but with "Alright" corrected (O Thank You, Nameless Editor!) to "All Right".

Though I'm a notorious list-lover I will strive mightily to refrain from tabulating Hanson's chapter titles, fine though they are. The book's spirit — neuroanatomy, meet mindfulness — is better illustrated via thoughtful tidbits. The first to catch my inner eye appears in the Introduction ("Using Your Mind to Change Your Brain"):

Basically, practice pulls weeds and plants flowers in the garden of your mind—and thus in your brain. That improves your garden, plus it makes you a better gardener: you get more skillful at directing your attention, thinking clearly, managing your feelings, motivating yourself, getting more resilient, and riding life's roller-coaser.

Practice also has built-in benefits that go beyond the value of the particular practice you're doing. For example, doing any practice is an act of kindness toward yourself; you're treating yourself like you matter—which is especially important and healing if you have felt as a child or an adult that others haven't respected or cared about you. Further, you're being active rather than passive—which increases optimism, resilience, and happiness, and reduces the risk of depression. At a time when people often feel pushed by external forces—such as financial pressures, the actions of others, or world events—and by their reactions to these, it's great to have at least some part of your life where you feel like a hammer instead of a nail.

What wonderful metaphors! More clips and commentary to follow ...

(cf. EngineeringEnlightenment (1999-10-09), Coming to Our Senses (2009-01-01), Fully Present (2011-02-14), Great Peace of Mind (2011-02-20), Core Buddhism (2011-10-17), ...) - ^z - 2012-12-02