“If you can learn how to ride a bike you can learn how to be happy” says Matthieu Ricard; who according to scientists and Google, is the world’s happiest man. Matthieu Ricard is a Nepalese French writer and Buddhist monk. The 71-year-old monk’s; happy label came about after he took part in a 12-year brain study centered around meditation and compassion. The study was led by a neuroscientist from the University of Wisconsin, Richard Davidson. Davidson hooked up Ricard’s head to 256 sensors. He found, when meditating on compassion, his mind was extremely light, happy and conscious.
Mattieu Ricard has spoken about The Art of Meditation in a video hosted by the RSA. Here are some of his sayings.
A healthy mind should act like a mirror – faces can be reflected in a glass but none of them stick. Use the same technique with thoughts – let them pass through your mind but don’t dwell.
It’s impossible to stop thoughts from coming but focusing on a particular sound or the breath going in and out calms the mind, giving greater clarity. Controlling the mind is not about reducing your freedom, it’s about not being a slave to your thoughts. Think of it as directing your mind like a boat rather than drifting.
If you notice your mind wandering, bring it back to focusing on your breath. Pay attention to the sensations of your breath going in and out. You can apply other sensations like heat, cold, pain or comfort, and sounds that you hear. Your mind being at the present moment – This is known as mindfulness.
Once you’ve achieved some skill in this you can use that to cultivate qualities such as love and kindness, or dealing with disturbing emotions. We all have feelings from time to time of unconditional love, but usually lasts for about 10, 15 seconds. You can hold on to this feeling by focusing on it in meditation. If you feel it becoming vague you can revive it.
Like when playing the piano for 20 minutes is different than playing it for 1 minute. Regular practice can make a change.
You can look at your experience like someone who watches a fire that burns. If you are aware of anger you are not angry you are aware. Being aware of anxiety is not being anxious it is being aware. By being aware of these emotions you are no longer adding fuel to their fire and they will burn down. It is like you stop adding wood to a fire, it will burn but not for very long.
Those who say they don’t have enough time to meditate should look at the benefits: If something like 20 minutes a day it gives you the resources to deal with everything else (ups and downs of life) during the other 23 hours and 30 minutes, it seems a worthy way of spending 20 minutes.