Similar to our last book club post, this will be one of our longer letters. If you are reading the book too, please feel free to join our conversation in the comment section at the end of the letter.
For 2017 we will be reading a two more books together on the topic of mindfulness which we will reveal early in the year. We enjoyed studying and discussing this topic together so we are going to keep it going.
What is a chapter from Part Three that resonated with you?
TINA: Chapter: Some Pitfalls Along the Path “Meditation really is the one human activity in which you are not trying to get anywhere else but simply allowing yourself to be where and as you already are.” (page 262). This is a lesson that has taken me way too long to learn as an adult. For so long I was always wishing that life was different rather than living and accepting the life I had. It is an easy trap as a young person finding one’s way- always looking to the future and just getting through the present. I like these questions under the TRY on page 261: Whenever you find yourself thinking you are getting somewhere or that you’re not getting where you are supposed to be it can be helpful to ask:
“Where am I supposed to get?”
“Who is supposed to get somewhere?”
“Am I inviting mindfulness into each moment?”
“This question can help you cut through those moments when self-involved feeling states, mindless habits, and strong emotions dominate your practice. They can quickly bring you back to the freshness and beauty of each moment as it is.” (page 262)
LAURA: I really liked the Chapter: What is my job on the Planet with a Capital J? (pg. 206) I have always been a seeker, introspective and curious about the deeper meaning in most things. I have relaxed into JKZ’s big question which I have pondered most of my life,
“What is my job is on this planet with a capital J?”
I believe there is a natural flow and harmony to life. I love the idea of allowing the Universe/God/Source/the Divine (whatever you may call it) to “act as my employer”. In order to do my job well I have to allow time to listen, question and follow the insights I am given. I believe there is an underlying unity and order of the universe, that I am a part of. We each have a unique part to play.
“For the honey bee, it is the honey that is important. But the bee is at the same time nature’s vehicle for carrying out cross-pollination of the flowers. Interconnectedness is a fundamental principle of nature. Nothing is isolated. Each event connects the others. Things are constantly unfolding on different levels.” (pg. 208)
There is so much beauty and wisdom in paying attention and following your intuition. This is how connections are made. We don’t have to have the answers or even know where we are going. We just need to appreciate and find joy in the journey and learn from each moment. This is what makes us feel alive! Maybe our job is simply to be present, awakening to the gifts, serendipity and magic found in each moment, no matter what phase of your life you are in.
Is mindfulness spiritual?
TINA: There is so much in this short chapter to think about in fact it kept Laura and I talking for a good hour). Spiritual life touches all of us whether it is a church, temple, outside watching a breathtaking sunset, or listening to a child’s deepest thoughts. So many times we argue over who’s spiritual practice is the right way, but does that even matter? If it is right for you, that is enough. To me, spiritualness is that thing that tugs at our heart and helps us through turbulent times. I was reminded of Joseph Campbell’s teachings about the “hero” when I read what Jon Kabat Zinn writes:
“In persevering, we ultimately come in touch with our own goldenness as we emerge from the darkness”. (page 268)
There are so many spiritual and meditative traditions that speak to this very thing. How can we lose as a species if we are all seeking our own “goldenness”.
LAURA: I do think of mindfulness as spiritual, but not in a religious or dogmatic way. To me spirituality is a deeply personal connection to the Divine which I believe is the joyful, peaceful place of unconditional love found within. Meditation along with painting is one of the ways I connect to this inner, mysterious place.
I love this quote,
“Perhaps the most “spiritual” thing any of us can do is simply to look through our own eyes, see with the eyes of wholeness, and act with integrity and kindness.” (page 270)
Here are a few quick quotes about what we have learned from Part Three and the experience of sharing this book together….
- I read the book three times and gained more insight having done so with Laura. The first time through was to simply enjoy the content. The second time was to concentrate on what was speaking to me. The third was organize my thoughts for these book club posts. What a great way to delve deeper into a topic!
- “Parenting and family life can be a perfect field for mindfulness practice, but it’s not for the weak hearted, the selfish or lazy, or the hopelessly romantic. Parenting is a mirror that forces you to look at yourself” pg. 25
- I enjoyed the chapter Selfing and what he wrote about “stop taking yourself so damn seriously!”
- “The spirit of inquiry is fundamental to living mindfully. Inquiry is not just a way to solve problems. It is a way to make sure you are staying in touch with the basic mystery of life itself and of our presence here” (pg. 233)
- I too read this book three times! It has tabs throughout and so much of it is underlined with notes in the sides. This will be a book I will go back to ponder as it it is rich with knowledge and everything time I read it I understand something new about myself.
- The visual JKZ made of the hundreds of geese in formation made an impression on me. He writes,”Everything is in motion. Their lines dip and ascend with grace and harmony, like a cloth waving in the air. It is clear that they are communicating. Each one of them somehow knows where it is, has a place in this complex and constantly changing pattern, belongs.” pg.176 I love the idea of perceiving harmony and communicating so effortlessly. Maybe life is meant to be this easy?
- “…you must be willing to let life itself be your teacher.” pg.198
- “By recognizing and letting go for the selfing impulses, we accord the universe a little more room to make things happen.” pg. 240
- “Observe the ways in which your feelings are creations of your mind’s view of things, and that maybe that view is not complete.” pg. 244
One last quote to wrap up our thinking and appreciation for this book Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote:
“Meditation really is the one human activity in which you are not trying to get anywhere else but simply allowing yourself to be where and as you already are” (pg. 262)
What was your favorite part of this book? Are there any quotes that resonated with you? Do you have comments or additional thoughts? We are interested to hear your voice in the comments below.
If you enjoyed this topic please feel free to share with a friend.