If you have reaped the profound benefits mindfulness offers, chances are you have Jon Kabat-Zinn (JKZ) to thank. He is the father of mindfulness in America. Because this article focuses on the wisdom behind these four quotes, I’ll hold off on a lengthy description of his life and work for a future piece.
With that, here are four things Jon Kabat-Zinn has said that can help to anchor your meditation and mindfulness practices.
1. “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”
The waves of life come at us all the time. Large waves, in the form of the death of loved ones, the painful ending of relationships, being fired from a job; and small waves, like your teenager swearing at you then charging into her room and slamming her door, spilling an entire bowl of cereal on the floor and a driver honking you the riot act because you didn’t signal when you changed into their lane. …
My last article focused on the fact that while people think they pursue happiness, they really don’t. They pursue things they think will make them happy. Like being successful in a career, getting married and having kids or trying to end world poverty.
None of these endeavors brings lasting peace and happiness. What does? Eliminating our emotional, psychic baggage.
What is baggage?
Before diving into how to do that, let’s first describe what this baggage is so we know what we’re trying to get rid of. I think most people get it. It’s our stuff. …
If you ask most people if they’re trying to be happy in their lives they’ll say yes. Most will say they’re not fully there, i.e. truly happy, but they will say that they’re giving it their best shot. In almost every case, this isn’t true. They’re not pursuing happiness.
Why? Because when asked a separate question: “What do you want from life?”, people offer a multitude of answers:
“I want to kick butt in my career so I can make a lot of money and have a nice life.”
“I want to get into Yale.”
“I want to get married and have kids.” …
Ten years ago my sister told me about a German spiritual teacher named Eckhart Tolle that I had to check out. After watching one of his talks on Youtube I was hooked.
I subscribed to his website and have been listening to him regularly ever since. In fact, for many years I have listened to fifteen minutes of his talks as preparation for my daily meditation practice.
Why? Why did Eckhart have such a strong influence on me? And on so many millions of others around the globe?
It’s not only his teachings
I submit that it is only partially because of the spiritual concepts he espouses. Yes, I love his articulation of how and why we are not our thoughts and as such should not identify with them. And yes, I love his emphasis on the power humans can gain from accessing and living in the present moment. …
Do you ever feel like you’re going about your business when the world invariably pulls you in and pumps you full of stress? You didn’t ask for it. It just happens. When it does, what we’re doing is allowing ourselves to become of the world, not in it.
What’s the difference? Being in the world means you have a life like anybody else — a job, family (or not), interests, etc. But you don’t allow any of those things to pull you away from your center. …
When we get a tickly throat, runny nose or a cough we assume we have a cold coming on. So what do we do? We drink fluids, down some Nyquil and take it easy. And we don’t go on that five mile run in thirty degree weather we’d planned on.
We can use this same construct for personal, spiritual growth. How so?
Vesuvius on the road
Let’s take an example. You’re driving along and somebody suddenly cuts into your lane. You react by leaning on your horn and screaming at the top of your lungs, at nobody in particular because nobody can hear you, “Way to go you F&^%ING A*&HOLE!!!” Then you drive on. …
From chapter 30 of the Tao te Ching:
“The Master understands that the universe is forever out of control, and that trying to dominate events goes against the current of the Tao.”
Though Lao Tzu wrote those wise words 2,500 years ago, I’m certain they ring truer today than they did in ancient China. Why is that?
How many of us spend our days wrestling with the world/universe to conform to the way we want it to be? It’s impossible. Yet we keep trying.
A bat shuts the world down
How about this for an example of the pointlessness of trying to outmaneuver and outsmart the universe: Somewhere in Wuhan, China, a bat bit an exotic animal which was then ingested by a human shopping at the Huanan Market. The result? The entire planet has been shut down for seven months. …
Chopping wood and carrying water. For me these are the most powerful words in all of Ram Dass’s iconic, groundbreaking book Be Here Now. It’s an apt metaphor for how best to travel the spiritual path. Why?
First, what does Ram Dass mean by chopping wood and carrying water? In older, more primitive societies these would be two of the most basic, daily activities. Essential tasks done every day. Wood for fire. Fire for warmth, cooking and smithing. Water to drink, wash clothes and bathe in.
It’s the little things
How does that translate to the spiritual path? Because growth comes from doing the little things that are no less essential, in a spiritual sense, than food and water. And we do them over and over again. …
With one month to go before the election, America is more divided than it has been since the late 1960’s when Vietnam, racial unrest and generational hostility roiled our country. Today’s strife is complicated, but for the sake of ease can be boiled down to those who support Donald Trump and those who oppose him.
These six quotes from George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. can serve as a roadmap for a way out of the fiery cauldron of bitterness America finds itself in.
“Citizens by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of AMERICAN, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.” …
So much of history is random. Take World War I, which was caused by the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo. On that fateful day in 1914, a group of young Serbian nationalists tried to execute Ferdinand by throwing a bomb at his car. The attempt failed and the would-be assassins dispersed to avoid capture.
Later that day, Ferdinand was leaving Sarajevo when his driver took a wrong turn. Upon being told he’d taken a wrong turn, the driver began backing up. While doing so the car stalled. As fate would have it, one of the would-be assassins, Gavrilo Princip, was at a deli on the street the driver had turned onto. Princip saw the stalled car, walked out of the deli, and shot Ferdinand from close range. One month later, the world was at war, the bloodiest in human history. …