Wherever You Go, There You Are a time tested classic first published in 1994, is a gentle introduction to mindfulness. Jon Kabat-Zinn celebrates simplicity, as a guiding principle to a meaningful life, to be cultivated daily. He explains what mindfulness is, the benefits of meditation and how anyone can start savouring the present moment today.
My key Takeaways from “Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life":
Takeaway #1 How To Fully Enjoy The Moment
How many times have you found your mind wandering to other things whilst being in the middle of a really enjoyable moment such as enjoying a romantic meal on a lavish vacation when you suddenly think about a project waiting for you at work. Mindfulness is what it takes to stay in the present moment but this is something that requires constant practise.
Takeaway #2 What Is Mindfulness?
Being mindful means you appreciate the present moment and live your life consciously. It means you put a stop to living on autopilot, stopping those thoughts from racing through your head every second of the day, and just be. With those thoughts on pause and moments of slowness you can observe who you are and your view of the world resulting in a feeling of empowerment.
Takeaway #3 Developing Mindfulness
By incorporating a few practises into your daily routine you can experience mindfulness.
1. Stop Doing, Start Being – Sit or lay down and think of yourself as being timeless. Observe the now without trying to change anything. Notice what you see, feel, hear, touch, and smell. Embrace and accept this moment fully. If your mind strays, focus on the sensation of your breath.
2. Concentrate – Commit to fully experiencing one thing or one moment at a time. When you do this the other thoughts and the outer world will fall away.
3. Voluntary Simplicity – Engage in one activity or one thought at a time. This means deliberately ignoring some things to keep in the moment. For example, if you're talking to your partner about a plan and the phone rings, let it ring whilst you carry on your discussion.
4. Practice Patience - Anger and annoyance are pointless negative emotions and should be replaced with patience, generosity, and compassion instead. When you have successfully mastered this you'll have mastered a key component of mindfulness so stay in the moment when anger raises its head.
Takeaway #4 Formal or Informal Mindfulness
Mindfulness can be practised formally or informally through meditation, this giving you the time to pay attention to your body, the moment, and experience a heart-centered presence. Formal mindfulness means you have scheduled time for meditation each day. Meanwhile, informal meditation can be done walking or standing, the aim not to walk to a destination so walking in circles around your garden would suffice.
Takeaway #5 Question Yourself
Being mindful isn't something that happens as soon as you've decided you want it, you have to check in with yourself, asking yourself questions throughout the day to stay connected and present. When you get upset, pause and ask yourself 'what is upsetting me?'. You can also ask yourself 'what is my purpose right now?' and 'what is my purpose in life?' You can also practise mindfulness in your day by concentrating on your body – Notice how your body moves as you walk up a flight of stairs at work.
Takeaway #6 Overcoming Difficulties
Your ego and your thoughts are the biggest obstacles to overcome when practising mindfulness. Be wary of congratulating yourself when you have a great meditation session as your ego could be lulling you into a false sense of achievement - meditation does not have an end destination so consider what your ego thinks the end goal is. Selfing is another common problem which means making every thought and moment about yourself. You don't want to get rid of selfing, just balance it by remembering that every moment is interrelated and that there is no independent you – You are not an island, you exist in harmony with the people, places, and events around you.
Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life Chapters
Chapter One - What Is Mindfulness
Chapter Two - Simple but Not Easy
Chapter Three - Stopping
Chapter Four - This Is It
Chapter Five - Capturing Your Moments
Chapter Six - Keeping the Breath in Mind
Chapter Seven - Practice Does Not Mean Rehearsal
Chapter Eight - You Don't Have to Go Out of Your Way to Practice
Chapter Nine - Waking Up
Chapter Ten - Keeping It Simple
Chapter Eleven - You Can't Stop the Waves but You Can Learn to Surf
Chapter Twelve - Can Anybody Meditate
Chapter Thirteen - In Praise of Non-Doing
Chapter Fourteen - The Non-Doing Paradox
Chapter Fifteen - Non-Doing in Action
Chapter Sixteen - Doing Non-Doing
Chapter Seventeen - Patience
Chapter Eighteen - Letting Go
Chapter Nineteen - Non-Judging
Chapter Twenty - Trust
Chapter Twenty-One - Generosity
Chapter Twenty-Two - You Have to Be Strong Enough to Be Weak
Chapter Twenty-Three - Voluntary Simplicity
Chapter Twenty-Four - Concentration
Chapter Twenty-Five - Vision
Chapter Twenty-Six - Meditation: Not to Be Confused with Positive Thinking
Chapter Twenty-Seven - Going Inside
Chapter Twenty-Eight - Sitting Meditation
Chapter Twenty-Nine - Taking Your Seat
Chapter Thirty - Dignity
Chapter Thirty-One - Posture
Chapter Thirty-Two - What to Do with Your Hands
Chapter Thirty-Three - Coming Out of Meditation
Chapter Thirty-Four - How Long to Practice
Chapter Thirty-Five - No Right Way
Chapter Thirty-Six - A What-Is-My-Way? Meditation
Chapter Thirty-Seven - The Mountain Meditation
Chapter Thirty-Eight - The Lake Meditation
Chapter Thirty-Nine – Walking Meditation
Chapter Forty - Standing Meditation
Chapter Forty-One - Lying-Down Meditation
Chapter Forty-Two - Getting Your Body Down on the Floor at Least Once a Day
Chapter Forty-Three - Not Practicing Is Practicing
Chapter Forty-Four - Loving Kindness Meditation
Chapter Forty-Five - Sitting by Fire
Chapter Forty-Six - Harmony
Chapter Forty-Seven - Early Morning
Chapter Forty-Eight - Direct Contact
Chapter Forty-Nine - Is There Anything Else You Would Like to Tell Me?
Chapter Fifty - Your Own Authority
Chapter Fifty-One - Wherever You Go, There You Are
Chapter Fifty-Two - Going Upstairs
Chapter Fifty-Three - Cleaning the Stove While Listening to Bobby McFerrin
Chapter Fifty-Four - What Is My Job on the Planet with a Capital J?
Chapter Fifty-Five - Mount Analogue
Chapter Fifty-Six - Interconnectedness
Chapter Fifty-Seven - Non-Harming-Ahimsa
Chapter Fifty-Eight - Karma
Chapter Fifty-Nine - Wholeness and Oneness
Chapter Sixty - Eachness and Suchness
Chapter Sixty-One - What Is This?
Chapter Sixty-Two - Selfing
Chapter Sixty-Three - Anger
Chapter Sixty -Four - Cat-Food Lessons
Chapter Sixty -Five - Parenting as Practice
Chapter Sixty -Six - Parenting Two
Chapter Sixty -Seven - Some Pitfalls Along the Path
Chapter Sixty -Eight - Is Mindfulness Spiritual?
Best Quotes from Wherever You Go There 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 the development and short-circuits the cultivation of wisdom.”
“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.”
“Meditation is the only intentional, systematic human activity which at the bottom is about not trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else, but simply to realize where you already are.”
“Life on earth is a whole, yet it expresses itself in unique time-bound bodies, microscopic or visible, plant or animal, extinct or living. So there can be no one place to be. There can be no one way to be, no one way to practice, no one way to learn, no one way to love, no one way to grow or to heal, no one way to live, no one way to feel, no one thing to know or be known. The particulars count.”
“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.”
“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.”
“look at other people and ask yourself if you are really seeing them or just your thoughts about them.... Without knowing it, we are coloring everything, putting our spin on it all.”
“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention to. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.”
“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...”
“Breathe and let be.”
“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?”
“Practice sharing the fullness of your being, your best self, your enthusiasm, your vitality, your spirit, your trust, your openness, above all, your presence. Share it with yourself, with your family, with the world.”
― Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life
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Editor and Founder
Tal Gur is a location independent entrepreneur, author, and impact investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has set the stage for his new mission: elevating the next generation of leaders to their true potential.