10 min. Quick Read
Poetic musing of the mindfulness teacher. Any curious mind can benefit. Any Meditator can deepen his practice with these ruminations. It is sparkling, fresh, and a tingling journey in the mind of MBSR founder (MBSR: Mindfulness-based stress reduction).
The author says it’s a brief account of mindfulness and its application. It’s for anyone who practices any form of meditation or mindfulness. Book doesn’t have detailed instructions. It’s for curious minds and for those who wish to deepen their meditation practice.
My take on Book:
Go back and read the title “Wherever you go, there you are”. It’s poetic, isn’t it?
That’s how reading this book feels, like a poem, smooth, free-flowing from the writer’s mind to readers.
This is a 1994 published book, republished in 2005 as the 10th-anniversary edition. It is a best-seller, translated into more than 22 languages, and sold millions of copies. This doesn’t require any more persuasion to read. I found it to be a witty, warm, wise guide. A book we can carry with us, keep on the table, or bed-side and read anytime. It’s inspirational. Short, concise, and to the point. It has small chapters, some as small as half-page. Each focusing on one aspect of mindfulness. You can start from the first page and go on till last, or you can open the book at any point and read. Or go over topics, pick that interests you, and read. It will serve your needs. You can sense from the words – what mindfulness practice of life does to one.
One more beauty of the book is sections labeled as “Try”. A small action points at the end of small chapters. A reader can try them to see its effects.
The book is divided into three parts, following the introduction.
Part-I: Present Moment. The section is on deepening one’s practice.
Part-II: Practice: It covers various aspects of formal practice.
Part-III: Spirit of mindfulness: Here writer traces its application and his perspectives.
Mindfulness is defined. It’s paying attention, with purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally. Jon selects each word carefully. You can’t omit, you can’t add. It’s complete. Period.
Mindfulness is a key to look at life which unfolds in moments. He pays his respect to Buddhism from where the practice draws, but clarifies immediately, that it has nothing to do with religion. And anyone can practice irrespective of belief or faith. Jon firmly conveys mindfulness is about “non-doing” but a pathway to mastery. If you can breathe, you can practice. It’s so simple, but not easy. It’s practice, practice, and more practice. But this practice is not repetition or rehearsal. It is just being present in the moment. No performance, just awareness of the moment. Jon highlights his points with quotes from Nisargdatta Maharaj, Kabir, Thoreau, and many others.
Then he goes on listing & clarifying qualities that strengthen mindfulness practice. And again highlights – one needs to cultivate these qualities. He talks about patience, non-judging, trust, generosity, voluntary simplicity, concentration, and vision. Each a pearl in itself, looped around mindfulness.
Mindfulness sprouted. Now Jon delves into the specific aspects of practice. He starts with a simple practice of sitting. And tells what a “dignity” in sitting is. How posture changes. He answers very mundane but common questions on how long one should meditate. He tells the practicality of 45 minutes. And immediately clarifying that even 5 minutes is good. Sincerity matters, not the length. He explains various facets of practice like mountain meditation, walking meditation, lake meditation, laying down, and even loving kindness.
Jon concludes in this section. He shows the spirit of mindfulness. He reflects on his personal experience as a parent, as a doctor, his relationship with patients. He talks of routine (and clarifies -there is no routine when one is mindful!) like waking early, cleaning the kitchen, sitting by the fire, And asking everyone to question regularly – what is my job on this earth. He soars the sky with enlightening topics like Ahimsa (non-violence), Karma Yoga, Wholeness, Oneness, Interconnectedness. And ruminates on “is mindfulness spiritual”. These nuggets are worth reading again-n-again.
Finally, it is a book worth your time. You will love it, cherish it. And will pass it on to others. If you are a meditator – it will deepen your practice. If you aren’t, it will inspire you to try out. This book is going to have a permanent place in my bookshelf.
But waking up is ultimately something that each one of us can only do for ourselves. When it comes down to it, wherever you go, there you are.
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.
Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to being present. There is no “performance.” There is just this moment. We are not trying to improve or to get anywhere else. We are not even running after special insights or visions
You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf. (Swami Satchitananda cited in the book)
Thinking you are unable to meditate is a little like thinking you are unable to breathe or to concentrate or relax. Pretty much everybody can breathe easily. And under the right circumstances, pretty much anybody can concentrate, anybody can relax.
Voluntary simplicity means going fewer places in one day rather than more, seeing less so I can see more, doing less so I can do more, acquiring less so I can have more. It all ties in.
Making a commitment to yourself to get up earlier than you otherwise might. Just doing it changes your life. Let that time, whatever its length, be a time of being, a time for intentional wakefulness. You don’t want to fill this time with anything other than awareness.
Mindfulness practice is simply the ongoing discovery of the thread of interconnectedness. ….. It’s more like we become conscious of a connectedness that has been here all the time.