In 1990, mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn published Full Catastrophe Living, a guide to releasing stress in times of great challenge. A few years later, Kabat-Zinn released a follow-up to this landmark book. Named Wherever You Go, There You Are this guide was created specifically for those resistant to traditional programs. In his introduction to the book, Kabat-Zinn mentioned his desire to help “people who don’t like to be told what to do but are curious about mindfulness.”
The Big Ideas!
- People tend to go through their lives without ever truly being present.
- Mindfulness, or living in the moment can help to make a person’s life more fulfilling.
- Anybody is capable of living in a mindful manner. It just takes practice.
- Meditation is not an activity solely practiced by cults. Its positive impact is backed up by scientific evidence.
- You do not need to be a Buddhist to practice meditation.
- The practice of mindfulness may be simple, but it is never easy.
- There is no correct way to meditate. Different techniques work for different people.
- There are many roadblocks to meditation, but with a little work, these can be turned into helpful tools.
This book provides an easy way for people of all ages to test the waters of mindful living. The book’s flexible program can be especially helpful for anyone who tends to shy away from rigid structure. Kabat-Zinn provides readers with short, but meaningful anecdotes, the lessons from which can be applied to anybody’s life. Alongside these anecdotes, the author gives helpful suggestions for adding mindfulness into everyday situations. He stresses that readers can take or leave his advice, using only what best fits into their own personal circumstances.
Kabat-Zinn’s favorite practice for promoting mindfulness is meditation. He begins his introduction to meditation by quashing the many stereotypes that have followed this ancient practice through the years. Kabat-Zinn then guides readers through simple suggestions for working the practice of meditation into their lives. He provides examples of how meditation can be practiced in just about any position, including lying down, sitting, standing, and even walking.
The mindful life is not easy and it does not provide a magic cure to all of life’s ills. It does, however, allow a person to truly experience life at all times, instead of simply passing through, as is so common in this modern age. Kabat-Zinn acknowledges that everybody is going to have roadblocks to meditation. But the point is not to be a perfect meditator; it is simply to gradually increase awareness. Many roadblocks can actually be turned into helpful means of obtaining further mindfulness practice. Instead of viewing these challenges as hazardous to meditation, it is important to take them as opportunities for improvement.
Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally. This kind of attention nurtures greater awareness, clarity, and acceptance of present-moment reality.”
“When we commit ourselves to paying attention in an open way, without falling prey to our own likes and dislikes, opinions and prejudices, projections and expectations, new possibilities open up and we have a chance to free ourselves from the straitjacket of unconsciousness.”
“If we hope to go anywhere or develop ourselves in any way, we can only step from where we are standing. If we don’t really know where we are standing-a knowing that comes directly from the cultivation of mindfulness-we may only go in circles, for all our efforts and expectations.”
IMEO (In My Eudaimonian Opinion)
This is an excellent book for anyone who finds traditional meditation programs too rigid. It gives readers the freedom to practice mindfulness in whatever manner works best for them while providing helpful suggestions that convince the most reluctant readers to get started. Kabat-Zinn’s interesting anecdotes add plenty of context, while his tips and tricks help readers put these ideas into action.
The other big advantage of Wherever You Go, There You Are is that it’s a quick read. The book is accessible to those who are unwilling to spend hours and hours working their way through hundreds of pages of jargon.
The one possible disadvantage of this book lies in its biggest strength: an unstructured format. Readers who require strict structure may find the open suggestions rather frustrating. If you like having things organized and laid out in stone, you may want to read this as a supplement to a more straightforward meditation program.
Wherever You Go, There You Are is not a quick fix for life’s problems, but what it does offer is the opportunity to change the reader’s life for the better. It is a valuable read for anyone struggling to get involved in the art of meditation.
Take action, humanoid!
- Set aside a small amount of time each day for practicing meditation. Find a quiet spot where you can relax without interruption.
- Pay attention to your breathing. For some people, it helps to count breaths. If you mind begins to wander, simply guide it back to the deep breathing.
- Notice your surroundings. The aim of meditation is not to tune everything out; it is to become more aware. Use all five senses to observe the area around you.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Mindfulness is a process and you may stumble at first. With practice, you’ll find your life greatly enriched by this wonderful activity.
Where You Go, There You Are
Author: Jon Kabat-Zinn
Publication Date: 2005