Jon Kabat-Zinn: You Can’t Stop The Waves, But You Can Learn To Surf

Here’s a great picture I’ve seen floating around the internet for a while, it sets a deep blue curl of the ocean behind a Jon Kabat-Zinn quote. A picture of a surf wave with white text saying 'You can't stop the waves but you can learn to surf.'

This quote is most well known for being mentioned in the book he wrote called Wherever You Go, There You Are.

In the book he shows how the average person can bring mindfulness into their own lives through meditation practice, and what kind of benefits such practice can usher in.

In it he also talks about where he first encountered this saying and why it illustrates the practice of mindfullness, meditation, etc so well:

“People who don’t understand meditation think that it is some kind of special inner manipulation which will magially shut off these waves so that the mind’s surface will be flat, peaceful, and tranquil.

But just as you can’t put a glass plate on the water to calm these waves, so you can’t artificially suppress the waves of your mind, and it is not too smart to try.

A picture of the book cover for Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn.It will only create more tension and inner struggle, not calmess. That doesn’t mean that calmness is unattainable. It’s just that it cannot be attained by misguided attempts to suppress the mind’s natural activity.

It is possible through meditation to find shelter from much of the wind that agitates the mind. Over time, a good deal of the turbulence may die down from lack of continuous feeding. But ultimately the winds of life and of the mind will blow, do what we may. Meditation is about knwing something about this how how to work with it.

The spirit of mindfulness practice was nicely captured in a poster of a seventy-ish yogi, Swami Satchitananda, in full white bear and flowing robes atop a surfboard riding the waves off a Hawaiian beach.

The caption read: “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”









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2 Responses to Jon Kabat-Zinn: You Can’t Stop The Waves, But You Can Learn To Surf

  1. William Campbell says:

    Hi, I have seen the poster of Swami Satchidananda surfing standing in the “tree pose” wearing a loin cloth but cant remember the book I saw this in! Any ideas!!!

    Kind Regards

    Will Campbell

    • Hi Will,

      No idea what book it could be but that poster of Swami Satchidananda sounds awesome. If you can remember anything else about the book that could help, maybe it can be tracked down with more clues.

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