Wherever You Go, There You Are (1994) explains how to fully enjoy the present moment without worrying about the past or the future. By providing step-by-step meditation practices, both formal and informal, that can easily be incorporated into everyday life, Kabat-Zinn steers us toward the peace and tranquility that we’re yearning for.
Mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword in recent times. But what, exactly, is it? You have perhaps heard that mindfulness is an ancient Buddhist practice. In fact, mindfulness is for everyone, and you needn’t forswear your earthly possessions and become a Buddhist to enjoy its rewards.
Mindfulness is about overriding our automatic approach to life. From a Buddhist perspective, our ordinary state of consciousness is quite limited: we often do things unconsciously, without being fully present in the moment.
The simple fact that we’re always doing something, while thoughts race through our heads without cease, leaves very little room for us to just be. So, to truly embrace the present, we need to systematically observe who we are and examine our view of the world. This, essentially, is mindfulness.
So why be mindful? Well, mindfulness is a tool that helps us realize the richness and possibility of our own growth and transformation. Cultivating it reunites us with aspects of ourselves that we often overlook, opening us to new ways of existing both in our own skin and in the world.
For example, it can lead us to richer experiences of joy, peacefulness and happiness, and also to better understandings of difficult emotions, like grief, sadness and fear – that is, those emotions of which we’re often unaware or only express unconsciously.
Because mindfulness is so illuminating in this way, it’s also empowering. As we become more mindful, we become more aware of who we are, which unleashes our creativity and intelligence and gives us clarity.
The cultivation of mindfulness and meditation are often confused with things like relaxation, stress relief or self-development. However, mindfulness isn’t about aiming for a particular feeling, nor is it about getting somewhere or becoming a particular kind of person. Rather, it’s about emptying the mind, becoming still and allowing ourselves to realize who and where we already are.
Your practice starts with the next blink.