The Five-Minute Buddhist Books

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Book: Quiet Mind, Open Heart by Laura Wright

Book: Quiet Mind, Open Heart: Finding Inner Peace Through Reflection, Journaling, and Meditation.
By Laura Wright
Reviewed by Brian Schell
Bristlecone, 2008. 256 Pages, ISBN 978-0-9787757-6-6
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The subtitle of the book is ‚ÄúFinding Inner Peace Through Reflection, Journaling, and Meditation.‚Äù That combination of ideas is really an excellent summary of the point of the book. Reflection and meditation are subjects we’ve covered quite a bit here, as well as in most other Buddhist books; the interesting facet of this book is the emphasis on personal journaling. There are many meditation exercises and stories, but it is the journaling portion of the book that I am going to focus on.

Personal journaling, as most writers will know, is essentially a form of diary-writing or personal essays that you write to yourself. The point of this is that if you take the time to write out and organize your thoughts, it will assist in the ‚Äúreflection‚Äù part of it all and aid meditation. From my own experience, I can attest to the idea; one of the main reasons I like writing for Daily Buddhism is that by explaining things to my readers, it helps increase my own understanding. Even if it’s a topic I already know all about, just the act if writing about it helps focus my ideas.

The author explains that the book was written “so that sincere practitioners would have a method for going from a busy mind to a quiet mind. It weaves stories with reflective journaling exercises to give the reader excellent tools for unloading thoughts onto paper, and thereby emptying the mind and setting the tone for meditation.”

For example, here are the reflective journaling questions that follow a section on Existential Depression:

From “Difficult Emotions” Page 193-194:
• How is existential depression a function of wisdom?
• What pragmatic views do you uphold and how might softening your attitude allow for more beauty in life?
• How have you experienced impermanence?
• How do you see suffering in your own consciousness?
• What is selfishness, and what is selflessness?
• Can you accept that there is a knowing beyond logic?

There are no right or wrong answers, no one is there to grade you, it’s just a way for you to explore your own thoughts and ideas on a huge variety of themes. I like the idea. By exploring ideas and putting your own thoughts down on paper, you can organize your own thoughts, which makes meditation less haphazard. I will say that it’s not for everyone, if you don’t enjoy writing, there isn’t that much here for you. If you do enjoy writing, give this one a try. If you are already familiar with the ideas of journaling, or if you are already doing it, then absolutely pick this one up.

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