I have a small (but growing) stack of wisdom books on my desk that speak to the human experience. One of them is Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book “Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation In Everyday Life.” I’ve highlighted and re-highlighted both my digital and print copies. It’s simple, yet profound.
You are here
“When it comes right down to it, wherever you go, there you are. Whatever you wind up doing, that’s what you’ve wound up doing. Whatever you are thinking about right now, that’s what’s on your mind.”
“Like it or not, this moment is all we really have to work with.”
“Give more than you think you can, trusting that you are richer than you think.”
What is meditation?
“When we speak of meditation, it is important for you to know that this is not some weird cryptic activity, as our popular culture might have it. It does not involve becoming some kind of zombie, vegetable, self-absorbed narcissist, navel gazer, “space cadet,” cultist, devotee, mystic, or Eastern philosopher. Meditation is simply about being yourself and knowing something about who that is.”
“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.”
Mindfulness is not some sort of cure-all
“I don’t know of any magical solutions and, frankly, I’m not looking for one. A full life is painted with broad brush strokes. Many paths can lead to understanding and wisdom. Each of us has different needs to address and things worth pursuing over the course of a lifetime. Each of us has to chart our own course, and it has to fit what we are ready for.”
What is mindfulness?
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. This kind of attention nurtures greater awareness, clarity, and acceptance of the present-moment reality. It wakes u up to the fact that our lives unfold only in moments If we are not fully present for many of those moments, we may not only miss what is most valuable in our lives but also fail to realize the richness and the depth of our possibilities for growth and transformation.”
“Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now.”
On being exactly where you are
“You might be tempted to avoid the messiness of daily living for the tranquility of stillness and peacefulness. This of course would be an attachment to stillness, and like any strong attachment, it leads to delusion. It arrests development and short-circuits the cultivation of wisdom.”
“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… We may only go in circles…”
And on spirituality
“Perhaps the most “spiritual” thing any of us can do is simply to look through our own eyes, see with eyes of wholeness, and act with integrity and kindness.”
“We must be willing to encounter darkness and despair when they come up and face them, over and over again if need be, without running away or numbing ourselves in the thousands of ways we conjure up to avoid the unavoidable.”
“To let go means to give up coercing, resisting, or struggling, in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome which comes out of allowing things to be as they are without getting caught up in your attraction to or rejection of them, in the intrinsic stickiness of wanting, of liking and disliking.”
“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?”
“Intelligence is the door to freedom and alert attention is the mother of intelligence.”
These are quotes from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book, Wherever You Go, There You Are. If you’d like to take a look at the rest of the book list, head over here.