08 August 2007


I've been reading a book that I found at Powell's in Portland. Wherever You Go, There You Are. You can probably tell by the title that it has a great deal of zen influence. Now, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of books about being more aware and practicing mindfulness, etc, but this is the first one that I would wholeheartedly recommend to just about anyone, even though I haven't finished it yet. I finished Part I this afternoon, and now I'm working on Part II.

The author, Kabatt-Zinn, does have a Buddhist background, but Buddhism is not really the point of the book, or the practice. He mentions Buddhist ideas almost in passing, as something for the reader to ponder. Mostly the first part of the book is about being aware of yourself, of your thoughts, of your body, of each moment. It is so easy to go through a day and just be trying to get through it. Then the day's gone, you're another day older, and you don't even remember what happened that day. Mindfulness is about being aware of what's happening as it happens. "Mind like a mirror," reflecting events as they are now, yet informed by the past and aware of the future. If you cannot see things as they are now, then how do you expect to adapt and deal with them?

The second part of the book is about Practice, aka Meditation. So far, it's just as good as the first part.

I've read several books in the same genre as this one, but this is by far the most accessible and informative one. Even though the nature of Buddhism is actually against dogma, a lot of the texts out there are very dogmatic. "You may disagree now, but in time you will agree with me," is a common sentiment. There's no sense of that in this book. It's just a book of ideas/exercises for exploring your own mind and experiencing your actual self. Highly recommended.

No comments: