The Restful Mind by His Eminence Gyalwa Dokhampa is a very practical book that will be of great value to new Buddhists and seasoned practitioners alike. It teaches that living in the modern world doesn’t have to mean living with a mind that is restless, fearful and endlessly busy, but that we can transform the mind into one that is calm, confident and alert.
This book is divided into three sections:
The first section discusses The Nature of the Mind, and explains how our habit of labelling everything that we encounter (as good or bad, attractive or ugly, and so on) creates a tension in our lives that has no basis in reality.
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The restless mind, motivated by a mistaken belief that peace and happiness are things that we need to obtain from outside – via our job, relationships or achievements – sends us on a course that can never succeed. We might experience moments of joy now and again, but those moments pass, and so the restless mind continues seeking more and more, but never finds the kind of happiness that it seeks.
‘Man – because he sacrifices his health in order to make money, then sacrifices his money to recuperate his health, then is so anxious about the future that he doesn’t enjoy the present and, as a result, he doesn’t live in the present or future – lives as if he’s never going to die and then dies having never really lived.’
The solution to this problem is to transform the restless mind into one that is restful, and that is the focus of the second part of this book, which is referred to as The Mind Retreat. In this section, the author provides plenty of practical instruction and a wide range of tools that you can use to discover the restful mind. We say discover because, when you learn to let go of the crud that has built up around it, you will find that your true nature was restful all along. As the author says:
‘It is like a hidden treasure that is under the bed and which, for many people, goes unnoticed. But if you can begin to peel back the layers of the ego mind, to allow yourself to look at it from different angles, you will develop an understanding of what lies beneath – not only a mind that is restful, but one that is full of wisdom and compassion, and that seems to know the way.’
When you have worked your way through The Mind Retreat you will be ready for the final part of this book, which discusses Everyday Mindfulness. Here you will learn how to bring the restful mind into your day to day life so that you can learn to be as calm and composed at work, at home and when stuck in traffic as you are on the cushion. This isn’t something that you will achieve instantly, of course, but if you follow the instructions provided then you will certainly start noticing a marked improvement from the outset.
In summary, The Restful Mind is a superb book that should be viewed as required reading for anyone who wants to calm both body and mind and live life in a genuinely effective manner.