Fifteen years ago, I would’ve thought it ridiculous someone from a pop punk band would write a book about meditation and yoga. How could someone from the punk world ever know enough about meditation and yoga to write a book about it? My understanding of the subject was very narrow. However, after decade and a half of using such practices myself, I’ve thrown off that view. In fact, it made me happy to read Miguel Chen’s book, I Wanna Be Well.
Chen, the bassist for Teenage Bottlerocket, writes (with the help of Rod Meade Sperry) a readable work about the basics of finding peace in one’s existence. The book begins with Chen sharing a brief account of his life story and how he became open to learning about meditation and Buddhism. This came about through a couple of instances, including receiving the book Dharma Punx by Noah Levine. As someone who has also read and benefited from that book about mixing punk and Buddhism, it seems a logical place for Chen to begin his journey.
I Wanna Be Well breaks down into twenty-six chapters, the majority of which follow a similar structure. Chen writes about an idea related to meditation or yoga. He then gives the reader something they can practice related to this idea. After that is a very short “tl; dr” (too long; didn’t read) that summarizes the practice in short detail. It makes reading each chapter very manageable.
The practices start simple: focusing on your breath. From there he moves on to walking meditation. He also covers many other subjects including the five remembrances of the Buddha, something I repeat to myself at least once a day. Chen writes in a very down-to-earth style that isn’t too religious and maintains a good deal of humor. He’s quick to acknowledge that some of his ideas may sound far-fetched, but he walks the reader through the concepts in an easy-to-understand manner.
If you feel as though everything sucks, and you want to make some changes in your life, I’d recommend checking out I Wanna Be Well. Meditation and yoga can do wonders in one’s life—they’ve changed me enough to respect someone from a pop punk band for the way he’s living his life and the work he’s done here. I’d highly recommend this for both beginners and old hands interested in meditation and seeking self-betterment. –Kurt Morris (Wisdom Publications, 199 Elm St., Somerville, MA 02144)