I still remember many years back, over a decade ago, standing in a bookstore in New York, and picking up Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. I stood still and for about 30 minutes to read the book, that I then bought after being captivated. He explained that wherever we go, we take ourselves with us, so we better get really comfortable with ourselves, know ourselves and sort that out before tending to the exterior situations. Instead of controlling where we live and work, and who we date, and blaming them for our own unhappiness, we must sort our own lives out first, from the inside out. We are still us on a holiday in Paris, us at work, us everywhere.
Kabat-Zinn created Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and in the process brought mindfulness to the masses. What he created has shifted so dramatically I do ponder what he would think of the current trends in mindfulness. The key thing to note is that mindfulness is the product of meditation, it’s the output. You meditate consistently and then you become more present to the moment, more aware, more mindful. It’s been turned a little on its head and now people ‘practice mindfulness’ but don’t even meditate.
The thing about all of these ancient practices that are translated and frequently diluted for modern Western lives is that they essentially help you understand the true essence of who you are. ‘The Path’ is one whereby we realise our true selves, beyond our egos and thoughts about ourselves and belief systems and ingrained habits. Which for many people sounds rather unappetising. My oesteopath David says he explains to people that Vedic meditation will make them really normal, in fact, the most normal version of themselves. He explained frequently people are disappointed by this prospect. These days, so many want to be some super normal version of themselves, and are all puffed up from listening to the likes of Tim Ferriss and Tony Robbins – where they are convinced their true potential involves acquiring a whole new personality and lifestyle, and they live in a realm of being perpetually frustrated and striving for something in the near future. It’s a whirlwind of adopting every new thing. Every smoothie having 100 ingredients. Trying every type of productivity in a frenzy, every spiritual fad, and being constantly dissatisfied as the new trend is gnawing at the heels before the last one even implemented fully.
A meditation practice that works for us daily, will mean that we are content and happy inside, and not so dependant on what’s happening in the world around us to make us feel good, to justify our position in society and make us feel secure. It doesn’t mean ‘becoming more normal’ means becoming lazy and unambitious. In fact, the opposite happens. Because when we are really grounded within ourselves, and we truly realise that life is flowing around us in a way and only a small portion of it we can control, the whole thing becomes far more enjoyable. When we are aligned with our true selves and our values and nature, from this place we can experiment and enjoy different teachings and be curious as to how we could live our best selves. From this place, then our true potential really begins to shine through, and we have the energy and the wisdom to know what to do with it. This is where life truly begins.
Sent with love,