Wherever you go, there you are : mindfulness meditation in everyday life

by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Paperback, 1994

Status

Available

Publication

New York, N.Y. : Hyperion, c1994.

Description

A simple path for cultivating mindfulness in one's own life.

User reviews

LibraryThing member porch_reader
I've never been a consistent meditator, but I've often thought that I am a good candidate. My mind often races, and I'm a chronic multi-tasker. Although I try, I'm not great at focusing on the present moment. But when I slow down enough to think about it, I don't want to miss a minute of the rest of my life. It sounds like a cliché to say that time flies, but that cliché has felt very real to me lately. My kids are getting older - one just finished his first year of middle school and the other will be a high school sophomore in the fall. My older son just got his first paying job - worship leader and praise band director at our church. (Yes, he's getting paid to play guitar - he's on top of the world!) My husband and I have started talking about what we'll do when we are empty nesters. Losing both of my parents recently has also made it very real that the next moment is not guaranteed. This makes me want to live in the moment, and so I picked up Kabat-Zinn's book on mindfulness meditation.

This book is made up of short chapters. There is a little bit of "how to," but even more reflection on the role of meditation and mindfulness in our lives. So, while people looking for a mediation guidebook might not find what they need here, it was quotes like this one that made this a worthwhile read for me:

"Meditation is simply about being yourself and knowing something about who that is. It is about coming to realize that you are on a path whether you like it or not, namely, the path that is your life. Meditation may help us see that this path we call our life has direction; that it is always unfolding, moment by moment, and that what happens now, in this moment, influences what happens next."
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LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
If you are reading Wherever You Go just to say you have read Wherever You Go (like I am) this will take you no time at all. Sometimes a page is as short as a paragraph or just a couple of sentences. But, if you are looking for mindfulness it is best to read this book slowly. Let each section sink in and be sure to savor each line. It is a basic introduction to Buddhist meditation without of mumbo jumbo.… (more)
LibraryThing member lisapeet
A relatively simple text about mindfulness and meditation practice, and as such wants a close and careful reading—otherwise you're just going to think you've heard all this stuff before. But why bother reading it in the first place if you don't want to actually think about it? Otherwise, y'know, just read some inspirational stuff on Facebook. But actually taking the time to read this slowly, and think about everything he says, was rewarding. He's intelligent and compassionate about the human condition in general, and stays pretty much away from dogma. It's all stuff worth thinking about. Recommended.… (more)
LibraryThing member BooksForDinner
A wonderful book. Kabat-Zinn helps to teach you don't have to sit in the lotus posture when you are meditating. Mindfulness can be every minute of the day.
LibraryThing member andersonden
I can't say this book has really changed my life because I am not easily changed, but the techniques and ideas in it have encouraged me to change some aspects of my behavior (very slowly). I'm hoping I'll eventually become more patient as a result of steady practice but that remains to be seen. An excellent guide to those wanting to ease the internal pressure of their lives.… (more)
LibraryThing member skokie
The authors ability to translate Eastern meditation concepts into the Western life is unparalled in my opinion. The book is an easy read and I highly recommend. I read it as an adjunct to Linehan's DBT manual and found it to be helpful when implementing mindfulness in the group setting.
LibraryThing member eileenmary
Excellent book, one I'll keep refering too.
LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
The introduction tells us this book "is meant to provide brief and easy access to the essence of mindfulness meditation and its applications." By "mindfulness" is meant focused awareness of the "present moment." And meditation is "the process by which we go about deepening our attention and awareness, refining them, and putting them to greater practical use in our lives." The book is divided in three parts. Part One, "The Bloom of the Present Moment" and seeks to give some background and definitions. It explains that meditation is "not about making the mind empty or still." Part Two, "The Heart of Practice" delves into the "basic aspects of formal meditation practice." Part Three, "In the Spirit of Mindfulness" "explores a range of applications and perspectives on mindfulness. "

Just before reading this book I had read The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh, a classic book on meditation and Buddhist precepts published in 1975, and which made Kabat-Zinn's book seem rather superfluous. Consisting primarily of what was originally written as a "long letter" Hanh in its 100 pages tells you almost everything (and more) than Kabat-Zinn does in over 270 pages. Hanh's book is more succinct yet more detailed in its exercises and explanation of breath and postures, more lucid and insightful, and is the kind of book that though deceptively simple, rewards repeated reading. I felt Kabat-Zinn's on the other hand was filled with boilerplate New Age filler and stuffed with a lot of quotations by others such as Whitman, Tao-te-Ching, and especially Thoreau. About the only additional material were a couple of pages on the position of the hands during meditation, a suggestion formal meditation be practiced for 45 minutes every day when you can, and that it's useful to do yoga, and that his personal daily "core routine" contains "twenty or so postures." That's it. I just don't see the use of having both books, and I can't see choosing Kabat-Zinn's over Hanh's.
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LibraryThing member kriegs
A teaspoon of usefulness buried in a pound of Eastern mysticism.
LibraryThing member dianemb
A good, easy to read introduction to mindfulness meditation - being more aware of the present moment.
LibraryThing member ganesh.kudva.groups
Contains many texts from several teachers like Krishnamurti, Dalai Lama and the book Walden. if you read such teachers you may not get much out of the book. for this reason I rate this book average. If you dont reach such teachers - this may be an interesting read.
LibraryThing member BillPilgrim
I read this book just at the time that I needed to. I was trying to address things in my life that this book helped me focus on perfectly. It got me started on mindfulness meditation, which I found to be just the thing that I needed in my life.
LibraryThing member wyvernfriend
I found this very inspirational and thought-provoking in a good way. Made me think about living instead of existing and about how I should start thinking a bit more rather than just reacting. I will probably return to this again in a few years to reinspire myself.
LibraryThing member REINADECOPIAYPEGA
I was going to give this book 5 stars initially, but at a given point I started to lose interest and then moved into the ' when is this book going to end ' mode.

I loved it until the part when he was in favor in staying in bad situations rather than ' running '. So if you have an abusive, rude, mean spirited, etc boss, boyfriend, next door neighbor who is make your life a misery, one should continue to deal with it, especially when there are options available to get away and protect yourself, your feelings, your own self-respect ? Sorry Jon, life is too short to be in a miserable situation for one extra second, when you have an option to leave.

I wanted to shoot myself when I got to the chapters on parenting, as I am not a parent, but felt if I skipped over those 2 chapters, then I would be cheating by saying I read the book, so got thru it reluctantly. The last chapter was the final straw, when discussing his views on spiritually, which he does not seem to deem very important or worthy.

So it started with 5 stars and went down to 3 by the time I got thru with it.
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LibraryThing member bccomm
Interesting exercises, and I love his examples of applying meditative practice to ordinary tasks. A little difficult to navigate: you lose the forest for the trees, because he talks more about individual trees, as it were. Still very much worth it.
LibraryThing member ajlewis2
I read this book a little bit each morning. I especially liked the simple things to try for mindfulness practice. The author uses concrete examples from his own life which were very helpful in understanding. The book seemed very practical to me and encouraged me to stay with my meditation practice, not for an outcome, but simply as part of my journey. I felt a sense of relief knowing that this is not about trying to get somewhere in order to have arrived.… (more)
LibraryThing member LauGal
Easy to read and understand. We really do need to "be in the moment". Society is so busy and supersonic as to what we need and where we need to be that we lose sight of what "is". We ar emissing "moments' we cannot get back.
LibraryThing member smallself
You can put your attention on an object without cluttering it up with lots of ideology; that’s what it’s about.
LibraryThing member DanielSTJ
Very good introduction to the subject matter. Written in a succinct and legible style that resonates through the quotes provided. Overall, a good book
LibraryThing member deldevries
Great quotes throughout. A book to nibble on.
LibraryThing member MH_at_home
I was expecting good things from Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn. He is the developer of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) therapy, and a founding director of the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. This book was a best-seller, yet it managed to fall short of my expectations.

Things started off well. I appreciated the lightheartedness of such comments as meditation "does not involve becoming some kind of zombie, vegetable, self-absorbed, narcissist, navel gazer, [or] space cadet". The book was laid out in a way that aimed to provide quick and easy access to the fundamentals of mindfulness meditation, with the message that anyone can meditate. However, for me the book didn't live up to the goal of making mindfulness meditation more accessible, and to be honest I was very tempted to give up partway through.

The book was more focused on formal meditation practice than I was expecting. The author writes about sitting to meditate not simply as the physical act of sitting but as a sort of profound capital-S Sitting. I've heard that use of the term before and it has always somehow struck me as a tad pretentious. Walking meditation was also covered, with a lot of attention given to a formal practice that involves walking back and forth focusing on the motions of walking. I was disappointed by this, as one of my favourite ways to be mindful is to go out for walks and pay attention to the many small beauties of nature. At the stress reduction clinic where the the author practices, they have clients do an introduction to lying meditation that involves a 45 minute body scan while lying down, which is fine, but I don't think that it's something that's necessarily a draw for people who aren't wanting to make a considerable commitment to formal meditation practice.

There were some very good suggestions, including trusting your own ability to reflect and grow and being generous to yourself and others. Kabat-Zinn explains that it's possible to find understanding and transformation in the present moment. He wrote "You cannot escape yourself, try as you might". A variety of metaphors were used that seemed quite intuitive, such as you can't stop the waves but you can learn to surf, and awareness is like a pot that is able to contain strong emotions. Other metaphors made less sense to me, like the idea that we are dancing mountains or that parenting is like an extended meditation retreat, with the child as the Zen master. He also likened sitting with our breathing to sitting by an open fire back in the caveman days.

At times the book tends to venture into more obscure territory, and this is where it really lost me. The author suggests contemplating "what is my Way?" as part of meditation practice, and adds that "as a human being, you are the central figure in the universal hero's mythic journey." A quirk that irritated me slightly was his apparent love-on for Henry David Thoreau's book Walden, which is quote frequently. I'm not familiar with that book, and am really not sure why I'm supposed to care about it.

I think my view on the book would have been different had I been looking for something heavily focused on formal meditation. However, that's just not the way that I'm wanting to incorporate mindfulness into my everyday life. I'm not someone who has any desire to go to a silent meditation retreat; that's not how I choose to go about my inwardly and outwardly mindful journey.

I will leave you with this sentence from the afterword, which I think really captures the book as a whole: "Can we realize that wherever we go, there we are and that this 'there' is always 'here' and so requires at least acknowledgment and perhaps a degree of acceptance of what is, however it is, because it already is?"
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LibraryThing member shanaqui
If you're looking for something about meditation and mindfulness that's devoid of spiritual interpretations and the like, this is one of the closest approaches I've seen that still focused on the meditation aspect and not just generally being "more aware". It has some helpful suggestions for visualisation, including details not just of picturing things but of feeling things, like his suggestions for standing meditation of imagining yourself as a tree, the part where he mentioned approaching the practice with dignity, etc.

Overall, I doubt it's going to convince anyone who is highly sceptical to begin with, or help anyone start a practice ex nihilo. But it's worth reading, and sitting with, and thinking about, if you can put aside scepticism and just try it.

One thing I especially liked was that Kabat-Zinn doesn't have any thou-shalts and thou-shalt-nots about this. There's recommendations, suggestions, but also reminders that any moment of mindfulness in the day, however short, is valuable.
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