Happiness Is an Inside Job
Practicing for a Joyful Life
By Sylvia Boorstein
Ballantine Books, $13.00
“I feel delighted to have been born into what the Buddha called ‘this realm of 10,000 joys and 10,000 woes,’” says Sylvia Boorstein, “with mind and heart primed to respond, out of wisdom, and out of natural benevolence, with kindness.” Yet Dr. Boorstein — a practicing psychotherapist, author, and cofounding teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California — is fully aware that the mind easily forgets what it knows, becomes confused, and loses its sense of connection. She knows how easy it is to get angry, worried, impatient, or frightened. Even though she has been practicing mindfulness since 1977, she has the wisdom to be able to say, “I’ve gotten over being surprised that my internal life isn’t more smooth and peaceful than it is.”
Boorstein emphasizes that “practicing 100 percent of the time does not require any time. I do not spend my life noticing my breath or reciting blessings. I simply try to stay unconfused, and when I am confused, I try to do something about it.” Peace of mind, says the author, is natural and normal, even though everything changes and life can be turbulent. Life requires a compass — something that tells us when we are not going in the right direction; Boorstein says, “I know whether or not I am confused most readily by noticing — being mindful of — my capacity for feeling caring concern.” This compass enables us to adjust our course and settle within our own sacred beings, calmly and comfortably, with love and compassion for the weakness and ignorance we see both around us and within, with peace and acceptance of what is.