Wherever You Go, There You Are
Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life
By Jon Kabat Zinn
The book that started it all.
I picked this book up on a business trip over a year ago when I was killing time roaming the bookstore at the airport before my flight home. I saw it on the bestsellers table and felt gravity pulling me towards it, something about it was calling my name. The letters on the cover enticed me, and the reviews on the back reeled me in. I knew I needed to buy it.
I opened the book once the plane took off. I read the first chapter, and closed it right back up.
I wasn’t ready.
The reading material I really wanted to buy in that bookstore was Cosmopolitan or People magazine, but I was actively trying to break my smut/celebrity gossip reading habits.
I had just wrapped up a very long and stressful weekend working and I needed to wind down. I didn’t think I was in the right state of mind to soak in the message of this book.
I had really gotten caught up in the “I’m too busy” whirlwind that so many of us find ourselves in. We get wrapped up in everything around us and not really taking time to break for yourselves, and when we do its to zombie out-not do anything productive.
I’m too busy to read. I’m too busy to meditate. I’m too busy to take time for myself. I’m too busy to pause.
Oh if I had only known then what I know now!
A year later I decided to bring the book with me on my flight to Bali. It was now that it was really calling my name. With a twelve hour flight–> twelve hour layover–>and then a five hour flight ahead of me as well as ten days planned in Bali-I had more than enough time to compete the 275 pages and become ‘more enlightened’ by the time I came home.
This book was absolutely everything I needed at the time, and so much more.
Since that day I took that book with me almost everywhere in my tote bag my entire 6 1/2 month journey-referring to it constantly as a mini reminder for myself or whipping it out for a fellow traveler in need of advice.
The cover is completely torn and tattered after joining me on numerous adventures. It was coated in sand and sea water on a daily basis.
On the inside pages there are many sentences that have been underlined intently in so many different colors.
Some of those lines are neat and straight.
Others are more like crooked slashes or squiggly lines.
And then there are the lines that can’t even be considered ‘underlines’ because I was so excited (or moving on some type of bus or train) they are just scratched through all the letters.
Blue pen, black pen, red pen, stars, boxed paragraphs…it is the definition of a hot mess. My insightful mess.
The premise of the book is all about being present in the present. I have made this is my mission.
The concept is so simple and natural, yet it takes so much practice to truly achieve being in the moment. Our society has unfortunately lost this skill. We are so on the go, so in our own heads, constantly busy distracting ourselves with thinking and planning.
When was the last time you were 100% immersed in the moment, with no expectations for an outcome?
Just enjoying what is. Being rather than doing. Not thinking about the past, not concerned with the future-living completely in the now.
This is how we should be living. And the truth is-we all need constant reminders of this.
Wherever You Go, There You Are is full of quotes that are easy daily reminders. Here is a small taste of some favorites from the first couple of chapters:
1. “Watch this moment without trying to change it at all.”
It is so simple. Why is there always the “well it would be better if….”?
Why are we always needed more? This moment is a gift and we should always be grateful rather than wishing for more.
2. “Remember over and over again to be awake and be aware.”
We really do need to constantly remind ourselves of this, and that’s OK! We have been trained to be robots in this matrix of a life we are living. We need to re ground ourselves to our roots, and this is going to take daily work!
3. “Look at other people and ask yourself if you are really seeing them or just your thoughts about them.”
I absolutely love this one. Our intentions should be to understand rather than judge. We are all different and have something beautiful to bring to the table. We don’t all have to get along-but it is amazing how far a little compassion can go.
Wherever You Go, There You Are is also a guidebook into meditation. It offers user friendly steps to implementing your own meditation practice. Jon Kabat Zinn included multiple techniques and allows the reader to dabble and then assess what works best for them. His relate-able examples make the reader feel at ease with their own ‘trial and error.’ I have personally found his quotes throughout the book double as fantastic mantras while mediating.
The themes in this book were constantly reoccurring for me. I met so many beautiful souls on my travels that were practicing the same thing.
From the party crew in Koh Phi Phi that said, “We love Blancos Beach Bar SO much that we are going to get ‘Blancos for Life'” tattoos!
To my buds on Koh Tao that said, “I’m going to dress all out in a crazy theme today, because I can!”
Along with the many I joined at Wat Kow Tham that decided, “We are going to take a vow of silence for one whole week!”
To some of my favorite times at Haad Chow Pao when we all sat in a circle and played “truth”, really truly getting to know the deep inner working of the people sitting next to us.
Wherever You Go, There You Are was the theme of my journey. This book reminded me what is most important, and that is living in the moment to always ensure you are living the most fulfilling life possible. When you enjoy every moment, you cannot help but be happy!
I feel so blessed to have found this book and highly recommend it to anyone looking to further enrich their lives and striving to be present in the moment. Let’s face it, we can all use a reminder!