Wendy Shinyo Haylett’s Everyday Buddhism

I “met” Wendy Shinyo Haylett via Facebook a number of years ago.  Haylett is a Buddhist teacher and lay Buddhist minister, and has recently had published her book Everyday Buddhism: Real-Life Teachings & Practices for Real Change.  Proceeding from the premise that Buddhism is both practical and experiential, her goal in the book is to explain Buddhism in simple, everyday language, encouraging its practice in every aspect of life.  Given my past practice of Buddhism and my continued interest in incorporating, where helpful, practices drawn from the Buddhist tradition, Haylett sent me a copy of her book.

Haylett provides an accessible introduction to basic Buddhist principles, while at the same time weaving in aspects of her own personal journey and meditation experience.  While there are instances where her phrasing does not necessarily accord with how I would do so, she manages to present often difficult concepts (such as sunyata) in way that readers will easily be able to relate to.  More experienced practitioners may find the book somewhat repetitive in certain spots, but my own view is that repetition can be very helpful for beginners.

Given my own emphasis on prayer/meditation experience, I think particularly helpful are the practice exercises Haylett includes at the end of each chapter, as well as the inclusion of some of her own poetry for further reflection.   Whatever faith tradition one follows, it is not enough to talk about ideas and principles; what changes us is experiential knowledge, not just what we say we believe and think.

My own book, Growing in Love and Wisdom, is based on the belief that Buddhist practices can easily and helpfully be adapted by persons who do not call themselves Buddhist. (In my case, the meditations are adapted for Christians.)  In a similar fashion, both the meditation practices Haylett presents, and her gentle suggestions for things that can easily be incorporated into one’s ordinary days, can be enormously beneficial to anyone motivated (in her words) “by a big story, something bigger than yourself and your own little ego-driven perceived wants and needs.”