Martine Batchelor works as a lecturer and meditation teacher. In this helpful volume, she presents a Buddhist guide to breaking free of habits. All us find ourselves enslaved to certain negative behaviors which dominate our mental, physical, and emotional lives. Batchelor presents meditation as a positive and constructive practice that has the power to transform these bothersome and painful habits. Through concentration and inquiry, we can discover the grasping behind them. There are illuminating chapters on mental habits, being lost in emotions, signals of the body, and recovering from addiction. Batchelor also shows how love, compassion, and ethics offer pathways of liberation from grasping and attachment.
For example, say we have feelings of boredom. The author looks at this common mood:
"Why do we dislike boredom? Is it that we find this feeling too close to death or that we find it difficult to be by ourselves with only ourselves for a companion? It could be so restful to experience that nothing is happening and that nothing has to happen. But boredom is not seen as a positive state of restfulness and non-activity. It is seen as the opposite of excitement and excitation. When we are in a low mood we feel bored, at a loose end, and everything seems tasteless. Can we cultivate being with neutral feeling tones in such a way that instead of feeling bored we feel alive?"
Our bad habits of making comparisons and being envious of others often make it impossible for us to rejoice in the success of others. Batchelor suggests a spiritual practice as an antidote:
"In order to rejoice at the happiness of others and share it with them, the Buddha suggested to practice the following phrases toward others: 'May your happiness not leave you, may your good fortune not diminish, may your joy continue.' When people practice with these phrases, over time it helps them to recognize and be grateful for their own happiness, good fortune, and joy; it also contributes to them rejoicing at the happiness of others."