I Wanna Be Well by Miguel Chen (with Rod Meade Sperry) has the subtitle How a Punk Found Peace and You Can Too, and that pretty much sums up exactly what you can expect to learn from this book. Born in Mexico and living in the USA since the age of three, Miguel plays bass in a punk band called Teenage Bottlerocket, and he also teaches at his Blossom Yoga Studio in Wyoming. Those two occupations might initially sound like unlikely bedfellows, but Miguel travels the middle path and both sides of his experience have given him plenty of useful ideas to share here.
As the title suggests, this book does two distinct things. First, it tells how Miguel managed to find peace in his life through the cultivation of kindness and compassion, first toward himself and then toward others. This description of personal experience serves as a great encouragement to readers who would like to find peace in their own lives, and Miguel therefore follows up by ending many of the chapters with an instructional Practice section.
The practices which Miguel teaches are many and varied, and include basic meditation, walking, various yogic postures, letting go, gratitude, yogic breathing, metta, mindfulness, the five remembrances, yogic gaze, tonglen, making amends, forgiving, right speech and many more. In all cases, the instructions provided assume no previous knowledge, and will allow readers to start experiencing some real-life benefits from the outset.
Both aspects of this title are incredibly valuable. Miguel comes across as a down-to-earth guy who has faced many of the same problems that anyone else might be facing, and perhaps a few more. The reader is therefore likely to pay more attention to the practices that Miguel presents, knowing that he is teaching them only because he has found them useful in his own experience. This makes I Wanna Be Well a particularly good book to share with anyone who is looking for answers but has not yet discovered the path of Buddhism or Yoga.
Punk rock is all about challenging convention and speaking directly, with no punches pulled. Miguel writes in a similarly honest manner, and because the message of this book is directed at people seeking real-world solutions to real-word suffering, he doesn’t shy away from sharing his story and advice in a straightforward manner. In other words, when you come to this book, don’t be surprised if you encounter the occasional expletive, or if certain experiences of the author are described in gritty detail, rather than being glossed over.
As you might have guessed, we loved this title, and we can warmly recommend it to anyone who wants to ease the suffering in their life. If you are also a fan of punk rock culture, so much the better.