Wherever You Go, There You Are – Jon Kabat-Zinn

As I hold this book in my hand to write this review, it literally makes me smile. I can feel the crease lines along the spine from the book being opened, re-opened and re-read, it immediately reminds me of how very, very powerful it’s been in helping me stay calm in very stormy times.

What I love most about this book is that it was a gift from my friend Ginny, who I’ve had a chance to work with for years and who has always had a bit of the Jedi Master about her when it comes to mindfulness, she hasn’t just studied it and practised it for years, she LIVES it.  The gifting of this book was a very powerful ‘pay it forward’ which shifted my view significantly on what mindfulness is and how it can play a part in everyday life.

I will confess, I started the book as a total amateur and had never even heard of Jon Kabat-Zin, though to be fair he doesn’t set out to be ‘heard of’, so I’ll cut myself some slack on that one.  But in the world of mindfulness-based stress reduction, he’s the professor who studied both science and Buddhism, bringing the two worlds together in an incredibly pioneering way.

For me, this book served as my primary entry point to mindfulness.  My central ‘aha moment’ was letting go of the idea “that I’m not very good at mindfulness”; or the story I tell myself “that I’ve got too busy a mind, can’t sit still…” or whatever that story is on any given day.  My key takeaway was very much about ‘what mindfulness helped me to notice’, and there was no ‘right way’, but more about finding ‘the way that works for you’.

The book was a turning point in my understanding of mindfulness, and I now practice it pretty much daily (even if it’s in a small way).  However, what I did also find very difficult was that once things were ‘noticed’, they really can’t be ‘unnoticed’ and at times that was very painful and difficult – but also necessary.  I think the hardest ‘aha moment’ for me was noticing how much avoidance and running away from vulnerability, fear and pain I had done.  Most painfully, that I’d “taught” that behaviour,  without realising, to my daughter – that broke my heart.

When I was supporting my daughter through her scariest and most challenging times and her learned behaviour of ‘avoiding’ kicked in – I leaned on the mantra ‘Wherever You Go, There You Are‘ many, many times.  I’m sure her temptation to throw the book at me was real, but pulling her into that truth again and again did help.

This book is a wonderful way to enter the understanding and practice of mindfulness.  I personally found it very practical and even had a joy of seeing him ‘live’ at the 2018 Wisdom 2.0 Conference in San Francisco (a 50th birthday gift to myself).  http://www.wisdom2conference.com/Videos/myriad_single_element/3304