Sunday, May 10, 2015

Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo

Stretching the Mind and Body... (Enlightenment)

Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo is about a man who takes an unexpected cross-country road trip with a spiritual guru.  As Otto reluctantly chauffeurs a monk from New Jersey to North Dakota he stops to show him slices of American life while the monk slowly gets Otto to open his mind about reincarnation, meditation and the meaning of life.  The Rinpoche (rin-po-shay, a title of respect) even tricks Otto into taking a yoga class.

This book was a gentle and enjoyable tour through the U.S. and the beginning of a teacher/student relationship. Both Otto and the Rinpoche were easy to like and the book was thought-provoking without being too preachy. In fact, I felt a little refreshed after I finished the book.  It offered a positive light on spirituality, not religion.  No doom or gloom, just little encouragements to self-betterment.

I give it an uplifting, thought-provoking, amusing thumbs-up.

Although this book made me contemplate the benefits of meditation, it did not necessarily make me want to run out and do yoga—been there done that.  My own yoga experience about twenty years ago taught me four things:
Still nimble a decade after yoga.

    1.  Yoga is a serious workout.  They make it look easy, but you’re stretching dormant muscles that will feel like they're going to explode the day after working out.

    2.  Yoga stretches the intestines.  When intestines are stretched they may at times release pent-up gases.  Thank God this didn’t happen to me, but it was a frightening lesson that it COULD happen to anyone.  One poor, middle-aged man in his sweats and t-shirt was dragged to the class by his wife.  While he was doing a downward-facing dog, a boisterous upward fart ripped through the silence and the entire class heard it. Talk about embarrassing!

     3.  Yoga instructors may have reached higher levels of enlightenment, but they are still human, and can inadvertently humiliate the humblest of their students.  One time in class, as I was trying to do my poses, the teacher ran up to me excitedly and grabbed my belly congratulating me (loudly) on my pregnancy in front of the entire class.  One problem:  I wasn’t pregnant.  I had my son a year prior and was still trying to deflate that baby bump. (A baby bump doesn’t quite dissipate as easily with the second child.)  My teacher apologized profusely for her error; in the end she was probably more embarrassed than I was (or, maybe not).

     4.  Sometimes it’s okay to skip a yoga class.  Although
my sister and I had worked diligently to try and learn yoga, on the last day of the class, we decided to play hooky.  We went to the movies and saw “Up Close & Personal” with Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert Redford, and to this day, while I cannot think of how to do one single yoga pose, I still remember getting all choked up when I saw the shot of Robert Redford’s boots.  You’ll have to see it. It was a good movie.

Happy Reading, Happy Enlightenment,


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