Wherever You Go There You Are
Jon Kabat-Zinn
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Get *Wherever You Go There You Are* delivered to your door! Whever You Go There You Are:
Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life

Jon Kabat-Zinn
September 1995
278 pages
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

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Wherever You Go There You Are, a self help book with meditation as its focus to unlocking the calming powers of the mind, intends to heal the gap between the mind and heart. It espouses simplicity and enjoying more of the simple things in life. It contains practical advice on slowing down, smelling the roses, and finding ones center as a touchstone to greater personal achievement. Short chapters of effective learning length are followed by small easily followed practical suggestions. It squarely addresses the challenge of introducing and integrating Eastern concepts to the Western -- particularly the American -- mind.

Curled Up With a Good BookWhich is why, overall, the book is tiring rather than enlightening. In attempting to interpret and demystify meditation, author Jon Kabat-Zinn (founder and director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center) spends an inordinate amount of time explaining what meditation is not, as well as what it is. Buddhism is simultaneously drawn on, referred to, quoted, and yet oddly unnecessary. Notice this disclaimer on page 3:

This relevance has nothing to do with Buddhism per se or with becoming a Buddhist, but it has…
Following this, Buddhism is heavily referred to. A student is quoted:
"When I was a Buddhist, I drove my parents and friends crazy, but when I am a Buddha, nobody is upset at all."
The reader's initial reaction to that quote is to identify with the former part, and hope throughout the subsequent pages to understand the latter. It doesn't happen. Although an effort is made to identify Buddhist principles and concepts to the works of Thoreau, readers may still find themselves confused, even irritated. Perhaps stubborn Western-mindedness makes American readers feel that they are being subtly converted rather than enlightened.

A better title for this book would have been Buddhism for Americans. If that's what you're interested in, go for it. If not, there are any of a number of books to improve yourself that would be a better use of time, and far more enjoyable.

© 2001 by David Puopolo for Curled Up With a Good Book

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