Friday, April 13, 2012

Arriving at Your Own Door

All thoughts are events they arise and pass away in the field of awareness itself, without our effort, without our intention, just as waves on the ocean rise up for a moment, then fall back into the ocean itself, losing their identity, their momentary relative self-hood, returning to their undifferentiated water nature.

Awareness does all the work. We have done nothing, other than desist from feeding the thought in any way, which would only make it proliferate into another thought, another wave, another bubble. - Jon Kabat-Zinn in Arriving at Your Own Door

Book review by John Chancellor

Arriving at Your Own Door is a collection of very short lessons in mindfulness. There are 108 lessons and it is easy to read the entire book in less than an hour. However that will be doing yourself and the book a disservice.

Mindfulness is not our normal way of thinking and acting. Therefore the lessons and their potential impact on our lives is not obvious in many of the lessons. You need to give the lessons some thought. I have read the book three times and each time I gain a little more insight into the value of the lessons.

Mindfulness is about becoming aware. The most common route to mindfulness is through meditation. However, you do not need to be involved in meditation to benefit from this book. You will need an open mind. You must be willing to look at things from a different perspective.

There is one quote in the book that goes to the heart of mindfulness. "We take care of the future best by taking care of the present now." As Jon Kabat-Zinn points out, we are often trying to live in the future. There is no future. There is only now and trying to live in the future robs us of the present. "Arriving someplace more desirable at some future time is an illusion. This is it."

Do not expect long explanations of the lessons. The lessons are extremely brief. If you have not read or studied mindfulness, this might not be a good start because the ideas or thoughts might need further explanation. However if you are a student of meditation, of how the mind works, of mindfulness, then this is a very handy little reminder that will give you guidance in right thinking with lots of ideas to contemplate.

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