Over winter break, so close to the holidays, the Lewis University community lost one of its fellow students, Steven Seum, who had just graduated after completing the fall semester. Steve was a fellow peer, as we shared numerous English classes together, which grew our friendship as he became a dear friend of mine. I want to dedicate this blog post to Steve and all that he has taught me, in such a short amount of time, about being someone who is patient, kind, and loving.
John Kabat-Zinn, in his mindfulness meditation book, Wherever You Go There You Are, (which I also wrote about in my previous piece) attributes a section to this idea of “loving kindness meditation.” Kabat-Zinn suggests that we resonate with one another’s sorrows because we are all interconnected. Being whole and simultaneously part of a larger whole, we can change the world simply by changing ourselves. If I become a center of love and kindness in this moment then in a perhaps small but hardly insignificant way, the world now has a nucleolus of love and kindness it lacked the moment before. This benefits me and it benefits others (Kabat-Zinn 162).
Understanding and practicing mindfulness can be tricky, but luckily there are many experts who offer their guidance and advice on how to be successful at being mindful. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. is one of these experts, but he also plays the role as a researcher, scientist, writer, and meditation teacher. Kabat-Zinn is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he founded its world-renowned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic in 1979, as well as the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society in 1995.
Kabat-Zinn is the author of two best-selling books, one of these being, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. In his book, Kabat-Zinn guides the reader on a simple path for cultivating mindfulness. The book is broken up into smaller fragments, with brief synopses followed by a “Try” section. These “try” sections give how-to instructions on practicing mindfulness in a non-complex way.
Many of these try sections are worth examining and sharing in order for others to attain a more positive life. In the first part of the book, Kabat-Zinn suggests that, “If we hope to go anywhere or develop ourselves in any way, we can only step from where we are standing. If we don’t really know where we are standing—a knowing that comes directly from the cultivation mindfulness—we may only go in circles, for all our efforts and expectations,” (pgs. 15-16).