What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. – Oliver Wendell Holmes
Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn is another of my beautiful-looking books. It’s a soft paperback with linen-looking, hand-cut pages. At least, they look hand-cut. You know the kind I mean… the edges are uneven and could almost have been torn.
At the time it was written (the early 90’s) it was profiled on the fabulous Bill Moyers’ Healing and the Mind. That was enough of a recommendation for me!
It is a book about mediation, styled like a daily devotional… with advice, quotes and personal stories.
Kabat-Zinn is an excellent writer and this book is as gentle as it is lovely.
May I make a confession?
Assuming I may…
I hate meditation.
You may be wondering… how does one hate meditation? It’s like saying you hate prayer, for goodness sakes!
Here’s the thing. I’ve tried to do it … like… a bazillion times. A bazillion and a half! The same thing happens every. single. time.
They all begin with the best intentions.
Me, in the lotus position. (Ha! Nice try, Sher. As if! No, let’s try this: Me, sitting on the floor with my legs splayed out but still somehow touching each other. Don’t ask.)
Me, sitting in a chair, with my feet on the floor, hands gently laying (laid? lain? lying? WTF? I’m pissed all over again just thinking about it) on my lap and a CD of guided meditation playing.
Me, emptying my mind, listening to a YouTube thingie of ocean sounds as I pretend I’m on a sandy beach instead of our unmade bed with cat fur and the cats who put it there with me.
Thirty seconds later, I’m like… um, no. Then I get mad at myself. Then I may start all over, or not.
As a person with ADHD, anxiety, and hypertension, meditation has been suggested to me about a dozen (or 400,000) times. It’ll be good for you, they say. It’ll calm you down, they tell me. It will help your anxiety, I’m told.
Yeah, right. I bet it’s only if you DO it. Am I right? Because honest-to-God, I’m more irked after I try than before.
Yes, I know I need to try harder. I did try harder! I did. I can’t tell you how many times I sat/ laid (oh God, that again?)/ relaxed and tried to empty my head.
Empty your head. Empty your head. Oh, what is that I’m seeing in the darkness of my eyelids? A hair? Empty your head. A floater? Empty your head. What’s wrong with my eyes? Open your eyes!
Empty your head. Am I dying? Empty your head. I’m probably dying. Empty your head. This isn’t funny. Empty your head. Think of something else. Empty your head. Did I pay the gas bill? Empty your head. Empty your head. I hate my hair. Empty your head. Shit. Empty your head. This sucks.
I even went to a therapist who specialized in self-hypnosis and meditation to help me out. She talked me through twenty minutes of the most excruciating mental floss I’ve ever encountered — and you understand I’m talking about a therapist’s office, where pretty-much everything is excruciating, right?
Before that visit was over, she had me buzzing around the petals of a daisy, like a bee, or a faerie. It was sunny, the grass was green and there was a babbling brook nearby.
Okay, I made that up. I mean, I made it up FOR HER. I tried, really, really hard, to “go there”. I couldn’t find “there”.
Wherever you go, there you are. Ah yes, we’ve come full circle. Back to the book.
Kabat-Zinn covers all this stuff, actually. All the painful tryings and failings. And, he does it beautifully.
I still hate it. Meditation, not the book. And I soooooooooooooooooooooooooo wish I didn’t.
Please don’t let me stop you from reading this book or trying meditation, if you’re not meditating already.
Psssst: If you’re successful at it, please tell me how it happened. I need all the help I can get.