The Happiest Man in the World

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

The Times has a profile of Tibetan monk Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, “The Happiest Man in the World.” He’s released a new book called Joyful Wisdom describing his methods.

In his book he recounts being extremely anxious as a child in Nepal, having had what a Manhattan psychiatrist would likely diagnose as panic attacks, and how he cured himself of this chronic anxiety by making his fears the focus of his meditation. He has had to earn his good cheer.

Rinpoche has studied both Western science and Tibetan Buddhist meditation in detail. He’s participated in scientific studies of meditation; since he’s spent over 10,000 hours meditating he’s considered an adept. (That’s the threshold for excellence, according to research.)

One form of meditation that seems particularly conducive to happiness, and stress reduction, is mindfulness meditation. This is generally a practice of observing the thoughts, body, etc, without trying to change anything. A clinical study of beginning meditators at a high-stress office, practicing mindfulness meditation thirty minutes a day for eight weeks, left them “saying that instead of feeling overwhelmed and hassled, they were enjoying their work.”

If you’d like some instruction in this practice, I know that Om Factory and New York Insight offer guided classes appropriate for all levels. Allyson Pimental and Michael Fayne, who teach the class at Om Factory, said that mindfulness meditation has been shown to help heart disease, multiple sclerosis, anxiety, depression, and many other ailments. My very first class at New York Insight got rid of a clenched jaw I hadn’t been able to close for two weeks. (Yes, I was a little stressed out.) I’ve also heard good things about the Dharma Punx talks at Lila Wellness. But there are many great centers around town, and many classes are by donation. So go try one on!