Just picked up this brilliant book - “Wherever you go, there you are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the follow-up to his fantastic, but complex, “Full Catastrophe Living”. I love the title, and it brings home how the jobs we get, the things we buy, and the ways we fill our days are so often an attempt to escape ourselves. And yet, even with that great new job, that new pair of shoes, that new partner – we are still fundamentally the same person inside.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t aspire to greater things for ourselves, or enjoy identifying and achieving goals. But we won’t become a different person when we get them, and life won’t suddenly be simple and happy all the time. It will still be messy, difficult, interesting, frightening, disappointing and joyful. We just get better (or we don’t) at handling our circumstances.
It’s very accessible and easy to read – and each chapter has a “try” section, with practical applications of the issue discussed. I’m going to share a few of these (quotes directly from the book) in a series of blog posts as I find them really helpful and inspiring. Try:
- Stopping, sitting down and becoming aware of your breathing once in a while throughout the day. It can be for five minutes, or even five seconds. Let go into full acceptance of the present moment, including how you are feeling and what you perceive to be happening. For those moments, don’t try to change anything at all, just breathe and let go.
- Reminding yourself from time to time, “this is it”. See if there is anything at all that it cannot be applied to. Remind yourself that acceptance of the present moment has nothing to do with resignation in the face of what is happening. It simply means a clear acknowledgement that what is happening is happening…You might try acting out of a deep understanding of “this is it”. Does it influence how you choose to proceed or respond?
- Work at allowing more things to unfold in your life without forcing them to happen and without rejecting the ones that don’t fit your idea of what “should” be happening.
- Looking into impatience and anger when they arise. See if you can adopt a different perspective, one which sees things as unfolding in their own time. This is especially useful when you are feeling under pressure and blocked or stymied into something you want or need to do.
- Recognising the ways in which you meet obstacles with harshness. Experiment with being soft when your impulse is to be hard, generous when your impulse is to be withholding, open when your impulse is to close up or shut down emotionally…Allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling.