Wherever You Go There You Are as powerful a modern classic on spirituality. And given that it’s such a modern classic, to be quite honest it’s so because of its insights into the human spirit and its universal principles. It’s great and makes the whole meditation practice available to everybody.
The eight chapters cover everyday life and the importance of being present in all situations. The focus is on how being mindful meditation helps us cope with those situations in which we find ourselves. We’re invited to make a list of things happening around us that make us anxious and to then reflect upon how we might deal with those situations differently. In so doing we create space within ourselves for healing and transformation. When we practice mindfulness meditation we are able to gain insight and empowerment and make sense of the stressful events that occur in our lives.
Part one of the Wherever You Go There You Are Summary is about the need to distinguish between concepts and assumptions. A concept such as “imperfection” could potentially change our state of being, and thus hinder our true ability to be present in any situation. Because concepts are essentially assumptions, they are usually held at a higher or more subtle level than the fundamental realities that surround us. This can lead to a greater need to meditate. But this is not a requirement; as the book shows, we can choose to simply let go of concepts and their corresponding assumptions.
Chapter one focuses on four areas: mindfulness, compassion, centering your intentions, and centering your body. Mindfulness is about being fully aware of what’s going on around you right now, and how it affects you. Centering your intention is about keeping the energy of your spirit, heart, and mind focused on the present moment. And finally, centering your body is about staying entirely aware of your physical sensations right now. While there is certainly much more to these four topics than I can cover in a short review, I hope to summarize the major points as follows:
These summaries are intended as a starting point for people who are just beginning to study Buddhist teachings, or for people who wish to explore the psychological and spiritual aspects of the discipline. The first three chapters give a clear overview of the basics, and the summary of the fourth chapter focuses on concepts. In all three cases, the key benefit of the Wherever You Go There You Are Summary is to help you meditate better, using the basic concepts presented. The techniques described here are part of the extensive teaching system of the author, Ericksonian teacher, Tara Brach. Other important books on Buddhism include Why Buddhism Is True by Paul Joseph Costa and Mindsight by Dr. Helen Glauberman.
As you read Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s Wherever You Go There You Are Summary, you will gain insight into the mind-body connection and into how this relates to your practice of meditation. This book is the basis for a large part of the foundation of the famous program, Achieving Mental Freedom. And in the program, Dr. Kabat-Zinn demonstrates how the most basic concepts of Buddhism–sitting on the cushion and watching thoughts come and go, meditating correctly, and having compassion for yourself and others–can lead you to greater happiness and success in your life.
In this book, Dr. Kabat-Zinn illustrates how the choices we make in the course of our day-to-day lives have a profound effect on our experience in this present moment. He applies this insight to the mind-body connection and explains how our choices can either make us happier or more miserable. Most of us live out our lives as if these choices were neutral, and that somehow our present moment is inherently perfect. When we choose to meditate, however, Dr. Kabat-Zinn points out that our meditation practice can actually change this perspective. By changing our habitual responses to the world around us, we can actually live in the moment more productively and joyfully.
The Wherever You Go There You Are Summary is very useful for anyone who is beginning a meditative practice or who wants to refine their practices. It not only covers concepts like sitters and shavas, but it also includes many illustrations and practical applications. The book could serve as a manual for people just beginning to meditate, or it can serve as an introduction to various concepts and techniques. Whatever you use it for, however, you can benefit from reading through this quick guide.