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For the past five years, meditation teacher Light Watkins has been sending his followers daily messages of mindful encouragement—a parable here, an anecdote there, a pick-me-up, a kick in the pants. The short, inspirational messages were both warm and thought provoking. Little bits of, well, Light.
Now he’s curated those messages into a new book called Knowing Where to Look: 108 Doses of Inspiration. This collection offers small bits of inspiration for finding your path and following your dreams, with a healthy splash of “get out of your own way.” It’s written from the perspective of someone who has been teaching meditation for almost 20 years, but it’s not unapproachable. He keeps it, um, light. “You don’t need to look like you’re meditating,” he told an interviewer. “You need to look like you’re about to watch Netflix.”
“My ultimate goal with this book is to help you find and tap into that same source that I’ve been tapping into for years, and to help you turn up the volume on that source so you can enjoy the same feeling of living your purpose, if you’re not already,” he writes.
What Watkins has been “tapping into” has lead to two previous books (The Inner Gym and Bliss More) and a podcast called At the End of the Tunnel (because he’s clearly not above a pun, either.) He’s a fixture on the wellness festival circuit, traveling the world with only a backpack and a passionate message about the benefits of meditation.
A Read with a “Look”
Let’s be honest: When authors cobble books together from material they’ve already shared, it can be a little bit of a let down for their faithful followers. I’ve bought a book on more than one occasion and been disappointed that it was a collection of information I’d already read.
But Watkins has side-stepped that critique by crafting a book that makes you see his words in a new way—literally. Knowing Where to Look turns his words into visual puns and textual art. Some pages are “painted” black. A piece called “Wiggle Room” shimmies down the page. You have to literally turn the book in your hands to follow a spiraling message on “The Work.” The essay called “Shaped Like Trees” is… you guessed it. On one page all the O’s are missing from the message; you find them scattered on the facing page like so many unbridled Cheerios.
The mini essays are short, but not so skim-able because you have to make a little more effort to read them. I found that this makes you think about the messages in a different way—and remember them more vividly. There must have been a method to turning the words into art. The design team (Yuliia Adriichuk, Lisa Kerans, and Watkins himself) likely knew that looking at visual art gives the brain a boost.
See also: The Big Brain Benefits of Meditation
A method to the message
The clever design shouldn’t distract you from the messages, though. Watkins offers reminders we all need:
- “Even when it looks like the worst has happened, trust that it’s always happening for you—not to you.”
- “You have to constantly override that part of the mind that wants to excuse you from doing what you said you would do.”
- “Ultimate freedom is less about having lots of options, and more about having the courage to adapt to whatever’s happening in the moment.”
He gets personal, too. In “Before You Feel Ready” (pictured above), he writes, “I can’t remember doing anything in life that I’ve felt fully prepared to do before I attempted it—not writing books, not teaching meditation classes, not running retreats, not asking someone out on a date, nothing. The confidence doesn’t usually come until much later—after trying the thing a few times, and maybe falling down once or twice.”
The book is not designed to be read cover to cover, but to dip in and out of when you need it.
“My intent is to provide you with a little dose of inspiration whenever needed,” his introduction says. “Use this book as a helpful resource for setting the tone for your day, or for gaining perspective while grappling with challenging times.”
If that’s what you’re looking for, now you know where to look.
Illustrations by Yuliia Adriichuk. Imagery from the book Knowing Where to Look: 108 Daily Doses of Inspiration by Light Watkins © 2021 Light Watkins, excerpted with permission of the author and the publisher, Sounds True, Inc.