Transform your thoughts, transform your life
By SARA ARTHURS
Findlay Courier, Posted On Wed. Nov 16th, 2016
Doing what you feel good about may be more difficult than just doing what makes you feel good, but it’s the former that is more likely to create genuine happiness.John Bruna will be sharing this message, and talking about mindfulness and recovery, in Findlay this week.
Bruna is an author, counselor, educator, and mindfulness and Dharma teacher. He was raised in a low-income environment, surrounded by drugs, alcohol and violence. Now 32 years in recovery, he will share his experiences with others who might be in recovery from addiction. He will speak on “Cultivating Genuine Happiness in Recovery” from 7-9 p.m. Saturday at the Dock at St. Marks United Methodist Church, 800 S. Main St. The talk, free and open to the public, is hosted by Century Health, Focus on Friends and Hot Yoga Findlay. A book signing will follow the talk.
Bruna said his new book, “The Wisdom of a Meaningful Life: The Essence of Mindfulness,” is ultimately a guide to finding genuine happiness and a way of living in the world that has meaning and purpose. “It really highlights some of the pitfalls that we fall into,” he said.
These include creating more suffering, fears and stress while chasing after happiness, or assuming “I’ll be happy when …” (That is, when you have the right car, the right relationship, etc.)
In 1984, at the age of 22, Bruna began a spiritual journey: “I started asking a different question 32 years ago.”That is, instead of asking what would make him feel OK, he started asking “How can I be helpful?” It transformed his life and he started developing a sense of worth and value.
His journey has involved working as a drug and alcohol abuse counselor for adolescents and families, as well as a high school teacher of low-income minority students in Long Beach, California. He was an ordained Buddhist monk, going by the name Jangchub Chophel, a period which included teaching while in monastic robes and then serving the Gaden Shartse monastery as director of its Cultural Foundation. After more than six years of monastic life, he returned to life as a layperson. He is now director of Way of Compassion Foundation and co-founder of the Mindful Life Program.
Bruna said throughout these experiences — counseling, educating and being a monk — it’s the same basic message. His childhood Little League coach spoke about how it isn’t whether you win or lose but how you play the game. Within our culture we hear these words of wisdom, Bruna said, from our grandparents, from our kindergarten teachers. But amid the “busyness and distraction in our lives,” we forget the valuable lessons, he said. “We know our answers,” he said. “But we rarely take the time to remind ourselves.”
When, he asked, was the last time you woke up and thought, “Here is a day that will never come again in my life — How would I like to live it?” Instead, we get up and think about the many tasks we have to do.
Bruna said people in recovery from addiction have an “opportunity to flourish and transform their lives” more profoundly than other people.
Once you have hit bottom, “and we know what it’s like to be filled with shame,” and hopelessness and despair, there is really a sense of being reborn. “We have an incredible resource to draw from,” he said.
When he speaks at a recovery conference or meeting, “what I’m always struck by is how the world is a much better place because we’re in that meeting,” Bruna said. That is, how many people are safer on the roads because individuals aren’t drinking and using, and “How many healed relationships happen?”
His mission is to “help people remember who they want to be.” He says the only thing that separates the person you are from who you want to be “are the actions you take.” He hopes to teach people skills that will help empower them to be the people they want to be.
Wayne Ford, executive director at Focus on Friends, said Bruna’s story and book help “to emphasize the fact that amidst great suffering or loss … we all can find moments of clarity and change our lives.” Ford said mindfulness helps people look at their lives and see this clarity, and that Bruna will help give the community a picture of recovery focused on the now, rather than the past of active addiction.
Gary Bright, fund development director/clinician at Century Health, said Bruna can speak as someone himself in recovery, as well as a teacher of mindfulness, to bring “the message of recovery to the general community.” Tree Line Center, Century Health’s residential facility, incorporates mindfulness as part of the program, Bright said.
Peggy Dillon, owner of Hot Yoga Findlay, teaches Tree Line residents yoga and meditation. She said this helps them reconnect with their body — after disconnecting from it while in crisis — and also helps them gain skills in dealing with emotions.
Dillon said she hadn’t known much about addiction before working with Tree Line, and didn’t realize how prevalent it is in the community. The Saturday talk came about after she reached out to Bright and Ford, to find a way Bruna could speak not only to Tree Line residents but the community as a whole.
Bruna will also present to the Flag City Rotary Club today, and will hold a book signing and talk at 7 p.m. today at Coffee Amici, where books will be available for purchase. He will teach a mindfulness course at Hot Yoga Findlay on Saturday and Sunday. Visit www.ameaningfullife.us for his full schedule.
Send an E-mail to Sara Arthurs