May 102021

Being raised by a Presbyterian minister and his wife, religion was a part of our upbringing and, at the very least, weekly schedule. Going to church every Sunday was a routine I was a part of but didn’t feel involved in despite always being intrigued by religion of any kind.

Admittedly ignorant to much of Buddhism, growing up in a Christian home where I, too, was quite ignorant to that religion, this book did wonders for me! Yes, I would recognize a Buddha, the concept of Zen and the idea of Yoga but that only scratches the surface of what Nova Scotia author, Andrea Miller, touches on.

Struggling immensely through this last year (or is it two weeks), especially the last few months, grasping for peace, love and acceptance has been exhausting. When my son William, of Wild Willie’s Book Reviews, connected with Andrea Miller with plans to interview her, I was interested in other books she wrote. She wrote My First Book of Canadian Birds as well as The Day Buddha Woke Up, two books for children, but also this book – Awakening My Heart: Essays, Articles and Interviews on the Buddhist Life and I was immediately hooked.

In this easy to read but powerfully written collection of essays, articles and interviews, including one with the beloved Canadian icon Raffi, this book is a breath of fresh air, especially now. With lock downs happening around the world and the idea of staying home to remain healthy, finding peace with that and embracing the slower pace is vital to our mental health. I adored Baby Beluga and Down By The Bay as a kid, reciting the songs over and over again! To learn he is still producing music makes me want to listen!

The Buddhist life is not about constant peace and acceptance, there is suffering involved as well and movement, both politically and spiritually and physically. Miller takes a deep dive into Buddhist Masters, the acceptance of females into traditionally male areas of the practice and simple, life changing ideas that are subtle but oh so effective.

There were many times I had to pause, let the concept sink in, look at the birds and hear them, and then read the passage again. Especially now, the section titled “Loneliness is Fatal” screams to be read and read again and then lived. It is written that one in five Americans reported feeling lonely and this was written in 2019 before all of this imposed isolation so now, more than ever, we do need to embrace our community, love our enemies and make friends with all who are doing their very best to be happy. Please trust me when I say, that all of us are doing our best at this very moment and life is worth living, love is worth giving.

I highly recommend this book, especially now, as I trust it will bring you the same light, love and peace it has brought me.

Look at life differently – through acceptance.

Thanks for reading,
Sarah Butland

Thank you for reading,

Sarah Butland

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