One of my housemates in college became a Tibetan Buddhist monk, ordained by the Dalai Lama himself, and I learned a tremendous amount from him. Buddhism is a very attractive philosophy, and I'm pleased that it somehow manages to bridge the gap between my Marxist dialectical materialism and my neo-Kabbalistic Jewish mysticism. Indeed, if I were not a Jew, I'd probably be a Buddhist.
When I have actually allowed myself to practice meditation, it has been relaxing and invigorating. But just on a cognitive level the understanding of the impermanence of all things is very comforting.
No matter how awful life may be, no matter what terrible things may have happened to us in the past or will happen to us in the future, they are only temporary. Pain, sorrow, regret, fear -- all will pass away like a wisp of smoke on a windy day. Too often I get trapped in the mindset that if things suck now, then that means they'll suck forever. Not so -- nothing lasts forever.
The insight that desire and attachment to transitory things is the root of all suffering helps one focus on what one's true needs really are.
A friend of mine has had a great deal of success over the past two years integrating Buddhist teachings into his life and especially through meditation and yoga. I did yoga once a few years ago and enjoyed it, but I don't think it's my thing yet. But meditation -- I've got plenty of books on the subject and I know what to do. It's just finding the time to do it.
Traditionally, I've used sex and books and computer games to escape to nullify my thoughts. Fun, but not necessarily healthy.
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
~ Oscar Wilde