I am thrilled to bring to you someone who has been an inspiration to me. Sylvia Boorstein is a wife, mother, grandmother, psychotherapist, author and founding teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in the Bay Area. Her books include It’s Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness; Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There: A Mindfulness Retreat with Sylvia Boorstein; That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Buddhist: On Being a Faithful Jew and a Passionate Buddhist;Pay Attention, for Goodness’ Sake: The Buddhist Path of Kindness; and her most recent book, Happiness Is an Inside Job: Practicing for a Joyful Life.
Today, Sylvia is going to tell us a bit about the intersection of Mindfulness and Happiness. What is mindfulness?
Sylvia: One way of defining mindfulness is as the steady and full balanced recognition of the present moment (a recognition arrived at through curiosity and benevolence) that both maintains clarity and ease in the mind as it reveals and mandates the wisest response. Paying attention leads to wise choices which are the choices that mitigate suffering and create joy.
Question: Sylvia, what makes us happy?
Sylvia: I feel happy when I feel in warm and cordial connection with my self, my kin, my associates, with what I am doing, with the world. I think happiness is the mind not in contention with anything. I think happiness is not contingent on external events (which are anyway always changing and anyway often sad) but on the minds ability to meet all situations with affection or compassion, knowing that even though things cannot be different now, they will change, and my care could be part of the change.
Question: If you were to give practical advice on what we can do in our daily lives to cultivate happiness, what would that be?
Sylvia: The Buddha told his disciple Ananda, “Noble friends are the whole of the holy life.” I try to keep my mind in …