Wow, what an amazing evening we had at the September Yoga Book Club meeting. We were lucky enough to have the wonderful Dr Legumes restaurant all to ourselves, and the guys there served us the most delicious vegetable tagine, with home made humous and picked vegetables. All washed down with either a glass of organic, vegan wine or a home made lemon and lime kefir water. The food that they serve is like a work of art, the presentation is beautiful.
We were meeting to discuss I Met A Monk by Rose Elliot, our second Yoga Book Club book. If you didn't get a chance to make it along this time here are some of the questions we discussed and my thoughts on the book. It would be great to hear what you think? Have you read the book, or do you think you might, or perhaps it sounds like your idea of hell? I'd love to know :)
What did you like best / least about the book?
For me one of the really interesting things the book brought up was the similarities and parallels between the principles of Buddhism and the teachings of Yoga. The knowledge and teachings of Buddha were spoken and passed down over the ages, just like the Yoga sutras of Patanjali. Both schools of thought come from the ancient teachings of Vedic India.
I am also interested in the cross over between hypnotherapy and meditation. The book mentions that Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree and went into a deep trance that lasted the whole night and the body scan meditation and intention setting brings to mind the yoga nidra practice that is used in Yoga.
There were as couple of things that I was uncomfortable with. As suffering is understood we are advised to give up opinions, criticism, comparison and judgements and practice acceptance. This makes sense to me on a personal level, but how about politically, wouldn’t it be dangerous to never question or have an opinion on the bigger issues in society?
There were also a couple of mentions of psychics and angels which I was uncomfortable with. I wonder if this is due to the author’s biais as she was brought up in a spiritual back ground – her grandmother was a famous spiritualist and she was taught to believe in angels.
Did it remind you of any other books?
Eastern philosophy packaged up for the mass market - It’s basically the same format as The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, but I found it more palatable. Way more authentic and believable. The techniques are layed out and described in a very simple, and user friendly way.
Why do we like books like this?
Its like an instruction manual for life.
Did any quotes stand out for you?
I’m always suspicious and wary of religion and so this quote really stood out for me -
“Buddhism does not have many of the things that normally constitute religion . There is no deity to be worshipped – the buddha always insisted that he was just a teacher you listen to and follow if his words make sense to you. But you don’t worship him. He was very clear about this. He wanted people to test his teaching, to try it out for themselves. He told his followers not to believe anothing that was told to them, no written in holy scripture or handed down by previous generations; only believe in the things that seem right and are helpful to you and those around you.”
Would you read another book by this author, why?
Not sure that I would. Although I’m really pleased I read this one.
What feelings did the book bring up for you?
I have used the principles to guide me, and even read pages out allowed to my son about how we can simply observe anger and then let it go. The parables are particularly useful when talking to kids. Imagine anger like a hot coal, it only hurts you!
Why are we as a society so obviously fascinated by these eastern philosophies such as Buddhism and Yoga?
I think that in our current society we crave the peace that Buddhism and Yoga offer.
Would you explore more about Buddhism after ready this book?
Buddhism seems to me to be accepting of human nature. I am very interested in exploring the concepts further.
What was the authors purpose in writing this book? What ideas is she trying to get across?
Rose is trying to share her experience of learning about the principles of Buddhism and how that has helped her in her own life. It’s common when we find something that helps us personally that we want to share that with others. That’s certainly what got me into teaching yoga.
Did the book seem realistic?
Yes, and way more so than The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, which we read last time, with its magical secret monks living in the mountains in houses made of roses.
How well do you think the author built the world in the book?
As it’s an autobiographical book, the world is very believable and relatable.
What does meditation mean to you?
Like a refreshing glass of water, like a deep pool.
Ajahn Chah calls it a holiday for the heart
“Scientists have found that after you have been meditating for 20 mins or so you start to function in the right brain rather than the left brain mode, or to use plain language, you stop being so active and goal driven and become more peaceful, more grounded, less full of thoughts and at the same time ore open to your intuition, your feelings, your creativity, your natural joy – more in touch with the deeper parts of your being.
Did you try any of the practical techniques?
I found the techniques really useful and plan to use them in my own practice :
Mindfulness – aware of the present moment, use the breath, watch your self talk, all is well
Meditation – reflection, focus
Walking and standing meditations (I love practicing standing meditations in my classes), and body scan (reminded me of yoga nidra).
Metta – Loving Kindness – May you be well, may you be happy, may you be safe and at ease. Start with ourselves and then it spreads
The 4 noble truths: - there is no path to happiness, happiness is the path
The book goes onto explain the eight fold path. We felt that this wasn't covered in enough depth and seems a bit rushed. As a result we found it hard to stay engaged to the end of the book. It would have been great to have this explained in more detail, or left out altogether.
So thats what I thought, but more importantly, what did you think? Feel free to comment below or head over to the Yoga Book Club Facebook Group to join up and get involved.
The next meeting will be on Wednesday 5th December and we will be reading Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl.
Frances Robertson-Ritchie, Yoga teacher and hypnotherapist