Mark Van Buren: Actual Happiness
In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, host Daniel Aitken speaks with Mark Van Buren, author of A Fool’s Guide to Actual Happiness, published by Wisdom. Mark is a specialist in mindful living, yoga, and meditation, and has been promoting health and wellness for over a decade. In this episode, you’ll hear Mark share humorous, anecdotal stories from his early years as a practitioner in the Chan tradition. He speaks candidly about various pitfalls along the way—like feeling the need to impress his teacher and being preoccupied with spiritual breakthrough in his practice. You’ll also hear Mark and Daniel discuss this subtle tension between goal-driven progress in meditation and the practice of letting go, and how to think about this tension both on the cushion and in daily life. Mark also shares his experience with transformative practices in the Chan tradition, such as koan and hua tou practice, silent illumination practice, and Mark’s favorite, the practice of asking “who am I?”
Let’s face it: we all have a motivating drive to become “better.” What we have and who we are never seem to be good enough. This feeling that something is wrong or needs to be fixed causes us to continuously run around, chasing after what we feel will finally fulfill us.
But what if these very conditions that we are constantly trying to escape from could be used as a way to awaken ourselves—to connect with the peace already within us?
A Fool’s Guide to Actual Happiness offers a realistic roadmap for working toward inner peace without needing to be someone you’re not. With humor and refreshing simplicity, Van Buren shows how everything life throws at you, good and bad, can be used as a means to cultivate compassion, wisdom, and loving-kindness. This book allows you to explore who you are—warts and all—and gives you tools to love and accept what you find.
Mark Van Buren is a Mindful Living Trainer, yoga/meditation instructor, personal trainer, and musician, that has been promoting health and wellness for over a decade. He writes articles on meditation and yoga for My Yoga Online, Gaiam TV and Elephant Journal. He has run dozens of workshops and retreats all over the tri-state area, and has been asked to speak at numerous colleges including Columbia, Montclair State, and Bergen Community. A handful of yoga studios have already opened their doors to his message, allowing him to give talks and run guided meditations and retreats. Van Buren holds a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies from Montclair State University and two Associate Degrees from Bergen Community College in exercise science and music. He is currently the owner and head instructor of Live Free Yoga Studio in River Edge, NJ.