mark van buren meditation book

How I Discovered Actual Happiness Through Meditation

Over a decade ago, I began practicing meditation. I am still unsure what exactly drew me to it, and to be honest, if you knew me back then, you would’ve been scratching your head wondering, “Why in the world is this wild, crazy, wanna-be rockstar sitting still and silent with himself so much?” Even ten years later I still ponder why… Regardless, meditation is something that resonated with me on a very deep level, and for some reason, day after day, I kept showing up to my zafu (that’s a fancy word for a meditation cushion).

In November of 2008, I took my practice to the next level and went on my first silent retreat. It was in the Chan tradition (basically the Chinese version of Zen), and was located deep in the woods of Pine Bush, NY. Funny thing about retreats is when you finish one you swear you’ll never do it again. Of course months later, something from the depth of your being calls you back, and indeed, for me, it did. Since then I’ve gone on dozens of retreats ranging from one to ten days. I even lived with the monks and nuns at the retreat center for a month-long work-study program. To summarize, I’ve spent quite a bit of time sitting on a cushion in meditation.

I realized quickly how transformational the practice could be, and ever since I first began, all I’ve wanted to do was share what I’ve learned. I also realized it’s pretty difficult to get people excited about sitting around and doing nothing! But I felt I had to at least try. As the years went on, and my understanding deepened (don’t let me fool you, I haven’t gone that deep!), I started noticing people really connected with my radical message of accepting life – warts and all – just the way it is; and that this acceptance was in fact a practical path to freedom (or what I’ve coined as actual happiness).

My hope for my book is that people take this practice seriously enough to free themselves from the unnecessary, added suffering in their lives; basically from all the extra bullshit that gets thrown on top of the direct experience of this moment. I want everyone to realize we all are free from the prisons we’ve created in our minds, although we may not currently realize it. We sure as hell don’t need to be fixed, and what we are looking for is right here…where else could it be? Why not take this journey with me down the aged path of meditation?


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Mark Van Buren
Mark Van Buren is a yoga instructor, mindful living trainer and owner of Live Free Yoga Studio in Northern NJ. He has his bachelor's degree in Religious Studies from Montclair State University and has been practicing and teaching meditation for nearly a decade. Mark has done dozens of silent meditation retreats, ranging from 1-10 days, and even lived with monks and nuns for one whole month at a Chan Buddhist Center in NY. More recently he has become a best-selling author, publishing two books on meditation and mindful living - A Fool's Guide To Actual Happiness and Your Life IS Meditation: Buddhist-Inspired Stories and Reflections.

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