Mindful Reading could not be more meta with this month's book choice: Wherever You Go, There You Are.
This book is about the basics of mindfulness as well as an introduction to mindfulness meditation. I enjoyed reading Jon Kabat-Zinn's perspective on the practice and look forward to sharing with anyone who is interested in developing or deepening their mindfulness meditation practice.
Wherever You Go, There You Are is instructional in nature and even has little "challenges" of sorts at the end of some chapters, encouraging readers to try various methods. I enjoyed the rudimentary, logical approach that Jon Kabat-Zinn provides.
As an avid practitioner of mindfulness and a teacher of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Kabat-Zinn gives first-hand examples of how mindfulness is in all of its states: challenging, peaceful, confrontational, spiritual, and sometimes difficult. He has a down to earth and refreshing perspective on how mindfulness is not the answer, but is a means to get to the answer.
Having an active mindfulness practice myself, I enjoyed reading about a different approach to mindfulness practices and methods. I also enjoyed tips on how to incorporate mindfulness meditation into that practice--as they are not one and the same. I found many useful suggestions that I will utilize in my own practice and offer to my clients.
"[Mindfulness] has everything to do with waking up and living in harmony with oneself and with the world. It had to do with who we are, with questioning our view of the world and our place in it, and with cultivating some appreciation for the fullness of each moment we are alive. Most of all, it has to do with being in touch." --
In the Mindfulness & series I did this month, I asked each expert to define what mindfulness means to them. This is the author's way of defining it.
"[Mindfulness practice] is a way to take charge of the direction and quality of our own lives, including our relationships within the family, our relationship to work and to the larger world and planet, and most fundamentally, with our relationship with ourself as a person." --
For anyone wondering why someone would begin the endeavor and constant practice of living in the present moment, I think this is an excellent reason. Kabat-Zinn later talks about this interconnectedness and ways that other cultures use this knowledge to help their mental well-being.
"The incessant stream of thoughts flowing through our minds leaves us very little respite for inner quiet. And we leave precious little room for ourselves anyways just to be, without having to run around doing things all the time." --
I quoted something similar in the last month's Mindful Living book review and this is a slightly different take on it with the same message. In our society it is normal to be on the go constantly, do more every day, with little room to sit, breathe and be with yourself. This is what mindfulness calls for.
"Don't just do something, sit there." --
A comical and mindful spin on the saying we see more often "don't just sit there, do something."
"A good way to stop all the doing is to shift into the "being mode" for a moment...Just watch this moment without trying to change it at all. What is happening? What do you feel? What do you see? What do you hear?" --
I always encourage clients to check in with their bodies as a counterpoint to checking in with their thoughts. Doing this quite literally slows down the maze and jumble of thoughts running through our minds moment to moment. It allows us to witness what being feels like, even if it is just for a moment.
"Meditation is the only intentional, systematic human activity which at bottom is about not trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else, but simply to realize where you already are." --
I love this definition of meditation. It clears up a big misconception that meditation aims to make you feel better or get something accomplished. On the contrary, meditation is just about slowing down enough to connect with what is happening in the moment.
"When we let go of wanting something else to happen in this moment, we are taking a profound step toward being able to encounter what is here now. If we hope to go anywhere or develop ourselves in any way, we can only step from where we are standing." --
This is the essence of the Wherever You Go, There You Are. Challenging the misconceptions about what mindfulness means, how it serves its' purpose, and how to begin creating a practice that will actually serve you rather than serving a goal.
Wrapping It Up:
I thoroughly enjoyed the refresher reading on mindfulness practices as well as the newfound tools I learned about mindfulness meditation. I will be exploring mindfulness meditation a little more in the future and I would love to know whether this book inspired you to begin your own practice!
Get involved in the conversation with me. I would love to hear your thoughts on Wherever You Go, There You Are.
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