Would you like to change the world in 28 days? How about something more manageable, like becoming a more relaxed, gracious, and loving person? Sean Meshorer’s The Bliss Experiment: 28 Days to Personal Transformation is designed to guide the reader through 28 bliss-enhancing practices. While the book, and especially its tone, did not earn my endorsement, I did find myself incorporating some of the exercises.
Meshorer begins by sharing his personal battle with depression, drug abuse, and chronic pain. The process he offers in Bliss is one that he claims worked to transform his own life, as well as the lives of his many clients.
The book presents that process in a logical and easy-to-follow format, with each chapter illustrating a personal account of a problem or issue. It includes stories from people whom Meshorer has either worked with through his spiritual practice or from those he has met and who have shared with him their experiences. Through these thoughtful and forthcoming personal accounts Meshorer details pervasive issues that he believes can be more effectively managed through the use of suggested exercises and techniques.
After the completion of each story, Meshorer summarizes scientific commentary related to that particular area, focusing, in particular, on recent studies that support the technique he suggests to help manage the problem. The discussions of related studies are brief, however, and offer only those relevant highlights that prepare the reader for the exercise and practice section.
Finally, an overview on spiritual enhancement as it relates to a particular topic is provided, followed by Meshorer’s recommended exercises for enhancement. He addresses an impressive range of topics: money, sex, beauty, habit, forgiveness, spiritual enhancement, and awareness of self. The end-of-chapter exercises are clear, practical, and, for the most part, can be easily incorporated into any routine.
While Meshorer makes a caveat at the outset of Bliss that readers may choose to skip the science, the spirit, or the story aspect, he deems it imperative to review and at least attempt each exercise. He says that these exercises are fundamental building blocks in attaining the bliss for which the book is titled.
“Bliss is our highest calling and potential,” he writes. “When we scrape away the false layers of sensory pleasures, worldly attainments, and the delusions of our mind, we discover it quietly dwelling inside us.” An evident theme throughout the book is that anyone can achieve a reasonable level of bliss — a state of being which the author distinguishes from happiness — with the proper focus, practice, and commitment.
While I am not typically a proponent of new-age self-help guides, I did find some value in the book. The short discussions on scientific research were particularly interesting, despite Meshorer’s habit of selecting only those studies that clearly support his agenda. The author’s intent, after all, is not to design a scientific treatise on new-age bliss-enhancing methods, but to simply offer a practical, reasonably structured step-by-step guide for those who seek enhancement through alternative methods.
However, at times the author appears preachy and even sanctimonious with a very self-centered focus, as though attending Stanford and majoring in philosophy necessarily qualified him to write about bliss. This was the most off-putting aspect of the book and I found his forthcoming discussion of personal hardships a much more plausible reason for his passion on the topic.
I also felt, at times, a sense of artificiality in Meshorer’s tone, but that is not to suggest that Bliss lacks value. As with any self-help guide there will undoubtedly be areas of value and areas that are lacking.
While this particular book did not appeal to me, it may well be the perfect step-by-step guide for those who do seek to enhance their lives through non-traditional means. And, admittedly, I will adopt several of Meshorer’s recommended practices, though will leave the rest on the curb.
The Bliss Experiment: 28 Days to Personal Transformation
Atria Books; Reprint edition, May 28, 2013
Paperback, 352 pages