Peaceful and calm. This is what I felt while I was reading this book. It was easy to read and it came at just the right time.
It’s a good reminder to compassionately accept who we are, that we are all interconnected, that suffering is part of life and that it’s not by pushing away painful things that we can be happy.
An encouragement to see who we truly are and to observe how we react to our emotions and thoughts.
I loved it when she said: “the point is that our true nature is not some ideal that we have to live up to. It’s who we are right now, and that’s what we can make friends with and celebrate” (this message has been wonderfully covered and developed by the author of the book Ego friendly).
How do we do this?
To start with, by observing and labelling what our mind is doing. For example, if you’re angry, you label that emotion as “anger”.
Then you say that again to yourself with gentleness, with a non-judgmental attitude. When you don’t judge, whatever your mind is doing stops there, it doesn’t grow.
Then there is the final part which is letting go. This is the most difficult thing to do, so I was relieved when I read that it can happen as a result of practising the previous two steps (labelling and gentleness).
So, overall, this is a book in line with the mindfulness principles, where the goal is not to improve ourselves, not to be the “best version” of ourselves, but just to be fully present as we are right now.
I enjoyed learning about the practice of “sending and taking”, the Tonglen practice.
It didn’t make me feel excited that the chapters were transcripts of the author’s talks in one of her retreats. This meant there was no structure.
Finally, in the book, there’s lots of religion (Buddhism), and one could say this might be expected, given that the author is a Buddhist nun. However, I’ve read other books by Buddhist nuns or monks (such as “The gift of silence” or “A monk’s guide to happiness“, or even “The art of happiness“) and they were not religious books. I believe that if religion is a key element in a book, this should be clear to the reader from the beginning.
In conclusion, I liked it and I found comfort in these pages but the lack of structure and the religious element make me rate it no more than three stars.