“How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want To Be” by Cheri Huber

In connection with reading Being Bodies, I tracked down this book. It turns out I’d read it a long time ago and remembered many of the stories, although I’d forgotten their source.

Cheri Huber herself admits that the title is a bit of a trick. Rather than trying to move from Here to There, she advocates giving careful attention to Here, since that’s all there ever is.

She shares harrowing vignettes from her own life with a “that’s just how it is” tone. Her quest for meaning and peace led her to Zen meditation, where she encountered the simple instructions to sit in full lotus and count breaths up to 10, and then begin again.

Desperate for change, she sat in full lotus for hours, and counted breaths no matter what she was doing. After counting breaths during a 10-hour drive, she finally encountered the peace of the present moment. In time, she joined a Zen monastery, started teaching, and went on to found her own Zen center.

Woven with her own journey, she introduces gentle steps for becoming aware of social conditioning and self-hatred, and easing the grip of the resistance they cause. After each exercise, she implores “Please do not allow conditioning to use your awareness against you.

For example, she introduces meditation by suggesting: Take three full breaths. What did you notice? Do it again. There, you’re meditating! I follow these non-instructions in my own meditation practice. Fortunately, full lotus position is optional!

She summarizes the steps for true, gentle change:

  1. Choose an issue you want to work with.
  2. Sit down, stay still, and be aware of all that goes on.
  3. Notice what belief systems are held in place with this issue.
  4. Notice which subpersonalities [and/or defense mechanisms] are involved.
  5. Listen to what the [internal judging] voices have to say about the issue about who you are for having it.
  6. Become aware of the projections made onto yourself and others because of this issue.
  7. Explore the emotions that keep this issue real.
  8. Find out where the issue is held in your body – where is the epicenter?
  9. Practice disidentifying by moving your focus of attention away from the issue and returning it to the breath.
  10. Remember to do this – and everything you do – in a context of compassionate acceptance of all that is.

She shares stories from her students’ journeys as well. One man at a Zen retreat became angry about a dirty mop bucket left on the steps, and each day muttered to himself, “Someone should do something about that!” Finally he realized that he was “someone” and cleaned the bucket.

This book is full of treasures. I recommend it to anyone looking for compassionate suggestions about how to find center and self-acceptance.

Available at Powell’s Books.

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