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Wherever You Go, There You Are Paperback – March 1, 2005
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In his follow-up to Full Catastrophe Living--a book in which he presented basic meditation techniques as a way of reducing stress and healing from illness--here Jon Kabat-Zinn goes much more deeply into the practice of meditation for its own sake. To Kabat-Zinn, meditation is important because it brings about a state of "mindfulness," a condition of "being" rather than "doing" during which you pay attention to the moment rather than the past, the future, or the multitudinous distractions of modern life. In brief, rather poetic chapters, he describes different meditative practices and what they can do for the practitioner. The idea that meditation is "spiritual" is often confusing to people, Kabat-Zinn writes; he prefers to think of it as what you might call a workout for your consciousness. This book makes learning meditation remarkably easy (although practicing it is not). But it also makes it seem infinitely appealing. --Ben Kallen --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Kabat-Zinn ( Full Catastrophe Living ), founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, here urges readers to practice "mindfulness," a more than 2000-year-old Buddhist method of living fully in the present, observing ourselves, our feeling, others and our surroundings without judging them. Free of trendiness, the book presents meditation as a natural activity that can be practiced anytime and anywhere, without props or trappings. Kabat-Zinn explains how to live in the moment by taking up such techniques as "non-doing," trust and concentration. He shows readers meditation postures and ways to meditate, including visualizing mountains and lakes, and concentrating on walking or standing. Amusing anecdotes illustrate applications of mindfulness in everyday life, including "Cleaning the Stove While Listening to Bobby McFerrin," "Cat Food Lessons" and two chapters on parenting as a form of meditation (children as "live-in Zen masters"). This warm, witty and wise guide should bring relaxation to stressed-out people. Author tour.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Take any given moment your in. I take it that you're sitting down somewhere right now reading this review. Focus on your breath. Notice how unaware of your own breathing you were before. Now, while reading this, expand the focus from your breath to the sensation of your body, your bottom against your seat perhaps, or the way the tip of your nose might feel cold or hot. Further expand the field of awareness to the sounds around you. Maybe you hear noise from other people. Maybe you hear nothing except the sound of your own breathing.
Project this mode of being aware into another setting. Perhaps you're at work, and someone is telling you how to do something. You might feel seeds of resentment growing inside you, asking the question in your mind how it is this person has the gall to tell you how do so something. You might feel personally attacked, a little nervous, your breath unsteady. Be aware of these sensations. Don't fight against them. But also listen to what the person says, as much as possible, without judgment. Is what this person is saying really a personal attack? Probably not. And if it is, does it really matter? Does he or she have control of your mind such that he could actually make you feel one way or another? Not if you choose to respond to it in a peaceful, proactive way and just take it for what it is, without judgment.
Maybe the above two paragraphs don't do it for you. Or maybe they do. The important thing is that mindfulness is about being aware and awake, and about choosing to make peace with the way you feel and the way you interact with the world. If you want to, you can always feel swept around by the winds of desire, or pulled around by anger or intense emotion as though there were a brass ring in your nose. Those are always options. But it's also another option to choose to practice inner tranquility. This is what this book is about.
This book is a place to start, but I wouldn't classify it merely as a beginner's beginning. It is useful and helpful for anyone in the early part of their journey into Eastern ideas.
The book is in three main parts with several short chapters in each part. It works well to read a chapter and then ponder it. At the end of a few chapters, Kabat-Zinn suggests exercises, though that is a poor name for them. He labels them "Try." Much better. And indicative of the care with which the book is written.
There are podcasts and videos of Kabat-Zinn speaking around the 'net. Check them out. He comes across with the same gentleness, and absolute brilliance, as he does in this book.