“Do Less, Get More” by Shaa Wasmund

  1. When we take a closer look we begin to see and understand the true consequences of our constant ‘busyness’. Are we genuinely enjoying our lives, doing what we love and being with the people who matter? Or are we rushing from one task to the next, trying to be all things to all people, and not feeling like we have the time or energy to give anything or anyone the attention they deserve?
  2. Most people seem to believe they need to do more, when they just need to do what matters.
  3. Our happiest times are when our lives are simplest, and the pressures of expectation from work and family commitments are at their lowest. That leaves forty years in between—the period when we are considered to be in our mental and physical prime, but during which too many of us settle for being ‘crazy busy’ and just moderately happy.
  4. Don’t dismiss ideas because they seem to simple; that’s exactly why they will work.
  5. I used to think that ‘mindfulness’ was something people used as an excuse to be lazy until I realized that appearing productive—filling every moment of the day with tasks and activities—is not the same as being ‘Presenteeism’ isn’t the same as being present and fully focused.
  6. What can you say no to more often, so that you have more time to say yes to the things that matter?
  7. The truth is that we can’t ever be 100 percent ready. The perfect conditions don’t exist and we can’t control the outcome: we can only control our intentions and our efforts.
  8. “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” ~Socrates
  9. If you really want to do something, don’t give yourself any alternative. If life depends on it, Plan A has to work. You might need to tweak or pivot, but stay in the game.
  10. The key to making decisions is not to hold on too tightly once they’ve been made.
  11. You can’t be in control of everything, but you can choose what’s important to you.
  12. “Three Rules of Work: out of clutter find simplicity; from discord find harmony; in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” ~Albert Einstein
  13. If you want to use your time better—to be more fulfilled, more productive, connected—then you need to work out the value of your time and how you are spending it.
  14. Learning how to schedule your life around the people and things that have true value is one of the most important changes you can make.
  15. Too many meetings are a waste of time. We sit through an hour of people justifying why things haven’t got done, or talking about things that aren’t really relevant to you. We convince ourselves they are an invaluable way for everyone to catch up, and yet we already know most things on the agenda from talking to colleagues across our desks or over a cup of coffee.
  16. How to make a tough call:
    1. What do your instincts tell you?
    2. Are you still motivated?
    3. Are you happy?
    4. Are you moving forward or treading water?
    5. Is your effort getting you anywhere?
    6. Why are you doing it?
    7. Is it useful?
    8. Are you adding value?
    9. Could there be an easier way?
    10. Could you enlist the help of others?
    11. If you weren’t dong this, what would you be doing?
  17. Nothing in life is black and white, completely right or wrong; once you have a plan, don’t hold on to it too tightly.
Posted in Books, Non-Fiction | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

“Train Your Brain to Get Rich” by Teresa Aubele

  1. You can’t know what form of wealth you want until you know what you want.
  2. Your brain is a whiz at certain things: recognizing simple patterns or generating emotional responses in nanoseconds but lags behind on other tasks: recognizing and evaluating long-term financial or business trends, recognizing when patterns are truly random, or focusing on many things at one time.
  3. Psychologists and researchers have consistently proven that being positively energized (happy) leads to better performance, increased creativity, self-confidence, energy, and brainpower.
  4. When your brain is feeling optimistic and energized, it will function far more effectively than when you are feeling negative or depressed.
  5. Three of the more well-known neuromodulators are dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine. Dopamine and serotonin, in particular, are known to be key neurotransmitters in the regulation of pleasure, happiness, rewarding situations, and mood. Acetylcholine in the brain has been shown to be important in shifting from sleep to wakefulness and helps in sustaining attention and forming memories, especially in the hippocampus.
  6. What you think, do, and say matters—and that it affects who you become on the outside, on the inside, and in your brain.
  7. If you routinely dwell on your past financial failures, unsuccessful ventures, lack of self-confidence, feelings of insecurity, and other negative patterns, the neurons involved in that particular mental activity will fire busily at the same time and automatically start wiring together as well. This process will add one more bit of neural structure to feeling uninspired, lazy, or inadequate.
  8. Our anticipation circuitry forces us to pay attention to the possibility of incoming rewards, but also leads us to expect that our future will feel better than it actually does when it finally occurs, which creates an emotional vacuum and explains why money does not really buy happiness.
  9. Your brain interprets the world through three basic patterns of thinking: automatic thoughts, assumptions, and core beliefs.
  10. Mindfulness—focusing on what is happening in the present rather than what happened or might happen—is a useful tool for replacing negative automatic thoughts with more positive ones.
  11. Core beliefs wire your brain to respond to new experiences in the same old way—and often it happens so quickly that you don’t question it—unless and until something goes terribly wrong in your life, or you have an experience that calls your core beliefs into question.
  12. Optimists attribute good events to themselves in terms of permanence, citing their traits and abilities as the cause, and bad events as transient (using terms such as “sometime” or “lately” to describe negative events.)
  13. Identifying problems, taking actions to correct them, and identifying the rewards that comes from the actions turns negatives into positives and engage your left prefrontal cortex (PFC), quieting the parts of your brain that heighten fear and negativity.
  14. Loosen up on being judgmental—of yourself and others.
  15. Success usually results from digging deep within yourself to identify what matters most to you, what you want to do with this precious life you have been given, and how much time and energy you are willing to invest to make your dreams come true.
  16. Having a clear, well-defined intention adds tremendous heft to purpose, meaning, and motivation.
  17. Emotions and motivation lead to intention and intention precedes action. Nothing happens without intention. All things are first created in the mind and then created in the environment.
  18. The wealthiest people are those who know themselves and their values very well and who feel fulfilled in their work.
  19. Bad news makes you hypersensitive to anything that even reminds you of risk, even if the risk is nonsensical or remote.
  20. What you focus on becomes what your brain focuses on. You can train your brain to think creatively, expand, and grow, or you can train it to be focused on fear and avoiding risk, which is likely to lead to lost opportunities and stagnation.
  21. To make smart financial decisions, you want to use your reflective brain to counteract emotional rushes to judgment incited by oversimplified instinctual responses.
  22. Use these questions to engage your reflective brain:
    1. Do I understand this type of business and its particular challenges and opportunities?
    2. Would I want to own this type of business?
    3. How does it measure up to other companies in its field?
    4. How strong are its competitors?
    5. What are its strengths… and its weaknesses?
    6. Does it have opportunities for growth and expansion?
    7. Are there negative business trends likely to affect this company?
    8. Have I read and understood the financial statements, including what isn’t directly stated?
    9. Are its goals and values in alignment with mine?
    10. How much do I know about the CEO or financial manager?
  23. The truth is that your brain simply cannot focus on more than one task at a time. When you ask it to do so, it doesn’t. it switches off between tasks.
  24. Urgency Effect: paying a lot of attention to the most recent information, and discounting what came earlier. Your brain leans to overvaluing immediacy and quantity of thought more than quality of thought.
  25. Learning to harness the idea of mindfulness—that is, living in the present moment—will help you filter out streams of thought in your brain that have nothing to do with the situation at hand and dedicate your brain space to the “here and now.”
  26. Allow thoughts to come and go, without allowing your mind to latch onto one or the other and lapse into your usual obsessive or reactive tendencies.
  27. Instead of experiencing events with an open mind, people tend to react to them in a habitual way of perceiving and responding, especially if a new event is similar to an event previously experienced. In other words, how you felt about the original event affects how you think about, experience, and react to similar events—or events that feel similar.
  28. Surrender judgment. The goal in mindfulness meditation is to refrain from labeling thoughts, feelings, or sensations as good or bad, right or wrong, fair or unfair, but only to take note of the reality of what is. A nonjudgmental attitude helps you objectively observe your though processes and emotions.
  29. Surrender striving. Striving involves being focused on the need to get or be anywhere other than where you are. Mindfulness is all about being very much in the present. Right here, right now.
  30. Living mindfully involves paying attention to everything that happens within your body and around you in the present moment—without judgment.
  31. The point of meditation is not to stop you from having an emotional response to what’s happening in your life, but to avoid responding purely out of habit.
  32. Know which activities energize and motivate your brain—and which activities put your brain to sleep or, even worse damage it.
  33. Avoid toxic environments, whether it’s the people you hang out with or your workplace.
Posted in Books, Non-Fiction | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart” by Dr. Mark Epstein

  1. Afflicted as we are with a kind of psychological materialism, we are concerned primarily with beefing ourselves up. Self-development, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-expression, self-awareness, and self-control are our most sought after attributes. But Buddhism teaches us that happiness does not come from any kind of acquisitiveness, be it material or psychological. Happiness comes from letting go. In Buddhism, the impenetrable, separate, and individuated self is more of the problem than the solution.
  2. The happiness that we seek depends on our ability to balance the ego’s need to do with our inherent capacity to be.
  3. From the beginning, the mother’s task is greater than just satisfying her baby’s physical needs, greater even than mirroring. She must also be able to leaver her child alone. This leaving alone does not mean ignoring, nor does it necessarily mean physically, or literally, looking away. An infant, after all, has to be attended to almost constantly. Leaving alone means allowing a child to have her own experience, whether alone or when feeding, bathing, or being held. When suspended in the matrix of the parent-child relationship, a child is free to explore, to venture into new territory, both within herself and without. This freedom to explore while held within the safety net of the parent’s benign presence develops into the capacity to be alone.
  4. In Western theories, the hope is always that emptiness can be healed, that if the character is developed o the trauma resolved that the background feelings will diminish. If we an make the ego stronger, the expectation is that emptiness will go away. In Buddhism, the approach is reversed. Focus on the emptiness, the dissatisfaction, and the feelings of imperfection, and the character will get stronger. Learn how to tolerate nothing and your mind will be at rest.
  5. Most of us have to free ourselves from overlearned responses that become habitual and restrictive.
  6. In the Tibetan tradition of Buddhism, those moments of unknowing when the mind is naturally loosed from its moorings are said to be special opportunities for realization. During orgasm, at the moment of death, or while falling asleep or ending a dream are times when the veils of knowing are spontaneously lifted and the underlying luminosity of the mind shines through.
  7. But we have a powerful resistance to experiencing this mind in all of its brilliance. We are afraid to let ourselves go all the way. To set ourselves adrift requires a trust that for most of us was lost in childhood.
  8. “Be patient, do nothing, cease striving. We find this advice disheartening and therefore unfeasible because we forget it is our own inflexible activity that is structuring the reality. We think that if we do not hustle, nothing will happen and we will pine away. But the reality is probably in motion and after a while we might take part in that motion. But no one can know.” ~Paul Goodman
  9. If we feel empty, taught the Buddha, we must not let that emptiness paralyze us. If we are reaching for intimacy, we must let ourselves get out of the way. If we want peace, we must first learn how to quiet our own minds. If we want release, we must learn how to cease our own craving.
  10. The thinking mind remembers itself constantly, not wanting to forget or to be forgotten. It must always have something to do. Like an ever-vigilant, overly intrusive chaperone, it interrupts any possibility of connection.
  11. We are used to thinking of thinking as a good thing, as that which makes us human. It can be quite a revelation to discover that so much of our thinking appears to be boring, repetitive, and pointless while keeping us isolated and cut off from the feelings of connection that we most value.
  12. In the heart of the Buddha’s teaching: that it is possible to cultivate a mind that neither clings nor rejects, and that in so doing we can alter the way in which we experience both time and our selves.
  13. To one degree or another, we are all, like his friends, in a state of abbreviated, or interrupted mourning. Acutely aware of our own transience, we alternate between an aching despondency and a rebellion against the facts. We cling to our loved ones, or remove ourselves from them, rather than loving them in all of their vulnerability. In so doing we distance ourselves from a grief that is an inevitable component of affection.
  14. Opening oneself to one emotion deepens the experience of the other. The heart can open in sadness as much as it does in joy.
  15. In the Buddha’s teaching on transience, his point is that everything is always When we take loved objects into our egos with the hope or expectation of having them forever, we are deluding ourselves and postponing an inevitable grief. The solution is not to deny attachment but to become less controlling in how we love.
  16. “The antidote to hatred in the heart, the source of violence, is tolerance. Tolerance is an important virtue of bodhisattvas (enlightened heroes and heroines)—it enables you to refrain from reacting angrily to the harm inflicted on you by others. You could call this practice “inner disarmament,” in that a well-developed tolerance makes you free from the compulsion to counterattack. For the same reason, we also call tolerance the “best armor,” since it protects you from being conquered by hatred itself.” ~The Dalai Lama
  17. Mindfulness allows us to explore those aspects of our experience, like our day-to-day thoughts, that we usually take for granted.
  18. We do not get lots of realizations in our lives as much as we get the same ones over and over.
  19. Delusion is the mind’s tendency to seek premature closure about something. It is the quality of mind that imposes a definition on things and then mistakes the definition for the actual experience.
  20. We must learn to respond rather than react.
  21. It is the holding on to pleasure and the pushing away of pain that is the problem (not pleasure and pain themselves), we start to see how it is possible to practice in the midst of our daily lives.
  22. Putting down our burdens does not mean forsaking the conventional world in which our compensatory selves and thinking minds are necessary, but it means being in that world with the consciousness of one who is not deceived by appearances.
Posted in Books, Non-Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Always Leave the Office on Time” by Dr. Abdul Kalam


Resources control our lives. Money is the most tangible of these resources but so often we forget that we trade our most valuable resource for money, and that is our time. Much like real estate, there is a finite amount of it, and God isn’t making any more of it. However, unlike real estate, we can’t measure how much we have and more importantly, how much we have left. In a way this makes the value we put on our time invaluable or at least it should. The following seven steps are hopefully a brief reminder that at work, we trade our time for money. That time should therefore be spent in the most efficient manner possible. Are you spending it in a manner that makes you happy? Does this trade add value to your life? It was not until after I started a family that I truly realized the value of time spent with family versus time spent at work. It’s sad that the exchange rate at home and at work aren’t equal. 1. Work is a never-ending process. It can never be completed. 

2. Interest of a client is important, so is your family. 

3. If you fall in your life, neither your boss nor client will offer you a helping hand; your family and friends will. 

4. Life is not only about work, office, and client. There is more to life. You need time to socialize, entertain, relax, and exercise. Don’t let life be meaningless. 

5. A person who stays late at the office is not a hardworking person. Instead he/she is a fool who does not know how to manage work within the stipulated time. He/She is inefficient and incompetent in his work. 

6. You did not study hard and struggle in life to become a machine. 

7. If your boss forces you to work late, he/she may be ineffective and have a meaningless life too. 

Leaving the office on time means that you are efficient, have a good social life, and a quality family life. 
Leaving the office late means that you are either inefficient or incompetent, have no social life, and have less time for family.

Posted in Lifestyle | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“God and Stephen Hawking” by John C. Lennox

  1. One their own, the theories and laws cannot even cause anything, let alone create it.
  2. Wittgenstein’s statement that the “deception of modernism” is the idea that the laws of nature explain the world to us, when all they do is describe structural regularities.
  3. The aspect of epistemology at issue here is perception. Philosophers seek to understand the actual process that is going on when we perceive something in the external world; and even at this primary level there is already an difference of opinion. At one extreme in the debate stand Naïve, or Direct, Realism. It asserts that, under normal conditions, we have direct perception of the external world. I see a tree, for instance, and I perceive its existence and its qualities simply by looking directly at it, touching it, smelling it even.
    At the other extreme in the debate stands the Representative Theory of Perception (RTP). It asserts that we never perceive a tree, or anything else, directly. When we look at a tree, what happens is that our minds receive certain subjective impressions or representations of the tree; and it is these subjective representations—called sense-data—that we directly and most immediately perceive, not the objective tree itself. And it is on these sense-data that we depend for our knowledge of the tree.
  4. You cannot recognize something as abnormal if you do not know what is normal.
    This was actually well appreciated long ago.
Posted in Books, Non-Fiction | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Real Happiness” by Sharon Salzberg: Part Two

  1. Not paying attention keeps us in an endless cycle of wanting. We move on to the next thing because we aren’t really taking in what we already have; inattention creates an escalating need for stimulation.
  2. Everything goes away. Every sensation, every emotion, is changing all of the time. Each experience, however intense, is ephemeral. All life is transitory.
  3. It’s natural to perceive everything we think, feel, or take in with our five senses as being pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Whether we’re enjoying the sun on our face, hearing an insult, listening to music, smelling our dinner cooking, or feeling a wave of anger, the experience gets sorted into one of these three slots. It’s just what human do.
  4. When the experience is pleasant, our conditioned tendency is to hang on to it and keep it from leaving. That, however, is impossible. “Nothing endures but change,” said the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. We long for permanence, but everything in the known universe—thoughts, weather, people, galaxies—is transient. That’s a face, but one we fight.
  5. We’re often so preoccupied with trying to make a pleasurable experience stay that we’re unable to enjoy it while it lasts.
  6. Mindfulness can allow us to experience fully the moment in front of us—what Thoreau calls “the bloom of the present”—and to wake up from neutral so we don’t miss the small, rich moments that add up to a dimensional life.
  7. For most of us, mindfulness is fleeting. We manage it for a moment, and then we’re gone again for a long period of time, preoccupied with the past, the future, our worries; we see the world through the goggles of long-held assumptions.
  8. Four crucial steps in dealing with emotions mindfully:
    1. Recognize what I was feeling. You can’t figure out how to deal with an emotion until you acknowledge that you’re experiencing it.
    2. Acceptance: we tend to resist or deny certain feelings, particularly if they’re unpleasant.
    3. Investigate the emotion: Instead of running away from it, we move closer, observing it with an unbiased interest.
    4. Not identifying with the emotion: The embarrassment or disappointment you’re feeling today isn’t your whole resume, the final word on who you are and who you’re going to be. Instead of confusing a temporary state with your total self, you come to see that your emotions arise, last a while, then disappear.
  9. Mindfulness allows us to watch our thoughts, see how one thought leads to the next, decide if we’re heading down an unhealthy path, and, if so, let go and change directions. It allows us to see that who we are is much more than a fearful or envious or angry thought.
  10. Wise observers of human behavior have pinpointed over and over again a core group of unhealthy human tendencies that are obstacles to happiness.
    They are: desire, aversion, sloth, restlessness, and doubt.

    1. Desire includes grasping, clinging, wanting or attachment.
    2. Aversion can appear as hatred, anger, fear, or impatience.
    3. Sloth is not just laziness, but also numbing out, switching off, disconnecting, and the sluggishness that comes with denial or feeling overwhelmed.
    4. Restlessness shows itself as anxiety, worry, fretfulness, or agitation.
    5. Doubt keeps us feeling stuck; we don’t know what to do next.
  11. “When you look into a pool of water,” writes Jon J. Muth in his children’s book Zen Shorts, distilling ancient wisdom, “if the water is still, you can see the moon reflected. If the water is agitated, the moon is fragmented and scattered. It is harder to see the true moon. Our minds are like that. When our minds are agitated, we cannot see the true world.”
  12. ~Pablo Neruda “Keeping Quiet”
    …If we were not so single-minded
    about keeping our lives moving,
    and for once could do nothing,
    perhaps a huge silence
    might interrupt this sadness
    of never understanding ourselves
    …Perhaps the earth can teach us
    as when everything seems dead and later proves to
    be alive.
  13. “The best way out is always through.” ~Robert Frost
  14. Lovingkindness is a power of the heart that honors this connection. When we practice it, we acknowledge that every one of us shares the same wish to be happy, and the same vulnerability to change and suffering.
  15. The happiness of others doesn’t take anything away from us.
  16. All human beings want to be a part of something fulfilling or meaningful; that we’re all vulnerable to change and loss; that our lives can turn on a dime—in an instant we could lose a loved one, our life savings, a job. We go up, and we go down, all of us. Vulnerability in the face of constant change is what we share, whatever our present condition.
  17. May I Be Safe.
    May I Be Happy.
    May I Be Healthy.
    May I Live With Ease
  18. Reflection on the fact that all beings want to be happy—you, your friends, the person who’s giving you trouble. All beings want to be happy, may they be happy.
  19. Think of kindness as a strength, not as a weakness. Kindness isn’t an ally of foolishness or gullibility, but rather an ally of wisdom and courage.
  20. Remember that everyone wants to be happy. If we look deeply into any kind of behavior, we will see an urge to feel a part of something greater than our own limited sense of self, a desire to feel at home in this body and mind. This urge toward happiness is often twisted and distorted by ignorance, by not knowing where happiness is actually to be found.
  21. Recollect those who have helped or inspired us. Sometimes even a small act of kindness on someone’s part makes an essential difference for us. Cultivating gratitude is a way of honoring these people.
  22. “The problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” ~Albert Einstein
    Breaking away from our habitual ways of looking at thing, thinking at a new level, and responding differently take a good deal of courage.
  23. The practice of meditation is about having an immensity of vision as vast as the sky. It allows us greater perspective. We might not be able to change the circumstances of our lives, but we can change our relationship to those circumstances.
    Meditation allows us to stop looking for happiness in the wrong places. Real, abiding happiness, we discover, isn’t the result of getting our needs met temporarily. That often leads to an endless cycle of disappointment and escalating desire: The things we pin our hopes on don’t prove to be enough; the bar is continually being raised, and then we’re on the lookout for something more.
  24. Conventional happiness—the consolation of momentary distraction—is not only transitory, it can be isolating, shot through with an undercurrent of fear. Even when things are going well, we have the nagging feeling—in the midst of our pleasure—that our well-being is fragile, unstable, in need of protection.
Posted in Books, Non-Fiction | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Real Happiness” by Sharon Salzberg: Part One

“Just get out and do it.” That’s usually what I have to tell myself to take even 20 minutes of time to practice meditating. Like this book says, it can and will change your life. If you want another look at how it can change you, look at “10% Happier”. For me, the most powerful concept with meditation is that life marches on to its own drumbeat and there are many things we cannot control. Just having awareness of things, or people, or feelings that we experience help us come to the realization that lots of times all we can do is acknowledge those things and they will continue to be out of our control.

  1. Meditation has taught me how to cope with the profound truth that everything changes all the time.
  2. Attention: what we allow ourselves to notice—literally determines how we experience and navigate the world.
  3. “I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is vengeful, fearful, envious, resentful, deceitful. The other wolf is loving, compassionate, generous, truthful, and serene.”
    The grandson asks which wolf will win the fight.
    The grandfather answers, “The one I feed.”
    Whatever gets our attention flourishes, so if we lavish attention on the negative and inconsequential, they can overwhelm the positive and the meaningful. But if we do the opposite, refusing to deal with or acknowledge what’s difficult and painful, pretending it doesn’t exist, then our world is out of whack. Whatever doesn’t get our attention withers—or retreats below conscious awareness, where it may still affect our lives. In a perverse way, ignoring the painful and difficult is just another way of feeding the wolf. Meditation teaches us to open our attention to all of human experience and all parts of ourselves.
  4. Skills to practice: Concentration, Mindfulness, and Compassion or Lovingkindness
    1. Concentration steadies and focues our attention so we can let go of distractions.
    2. Mindfulness refines our attention so that we can connect fully and directly with whatever life brings.
  5. This pause for nonjudgmental acknowledgement creates a bit of peaceful space within which we can make new, different choices about how to respond to something like anger.
  6. Mindfulness helps us get better at seeing the difference between what’s happening and the stories we tell ourselves about what’s happening, stories that get in the way of direct experience.
  7. Meditation is a way to recognize our thoughts, to observe and understand them, and to relate to them more skillfully. (I like the Buddhist tradition of replacing the modifiers “good” and “bad” to describe human behavior with “skillful” and “unskillful.” Unskillful actions are those that lead to pain and suffering; skillful actions are those that lead to insight and balance.)
  8. Lovingkindness is a compassionate awareness that opens our attention and makes it more inclusive. It transforms the way we treat ourselves, our family, and our friends. Spending time paying careful attention to our thoughts, feelings, and actions (positive and negative) and understanding them opens our hearts to loving ourselves genuinely for who we are, with all our imperfections.
  9. Our assumptions keep us from appreciating what’s right in front of us—a stranger who’s a potential friend, a perceived adversary who might actually be a source of help. Assumptions block direct experience and prevent us from gathering information that could bring us comfort and relief, or information that, though saddening and painful, will allow us to make better decisions.
  10. Assumptions bind us to the past, obscure the present, limit our sense of what’s possible, and elbow out joy. Until we detect and examine our assumptions, they short-circuit our ability to observe objectively; we think we already know what’s what.
  11. Though we can affect our physical and emotional experiences, we can’t ultimately determine them; we can’t decree what emotions will arise within us. But we can learn through meditation to change our responses to them.
  12. Trying to avoid change is exhausting and stressful. Everything is impermanent: happiness, sorrow, a great meal, a powerful empire, what we’re feeling, the people around us, ourselves. Meditation helps us comprehend this fact—perhaps the basic truth of human existence, and the one we humans are most likely to balk at or be oblivious to, especially when it comes to the biggest change of all: Mortality happens, whether we like it or not.
  13. Daily meditation will remind us that if we look closely at a painful emotion or difficult situation, it’s bound to change; it’s not as solid and unmanageable as it might have seemed. The fear we feel in the morning may be gone by the afternoon. Hopelessness may be replaced by a glimmer of optimism. Even while a challenging situation is unfolding, it is shifting from moment to moment, varied, alive.
  14. There are moments when we sense that tomorrow doesn’t have to look like today—that the feeling of defeat that’s been flattening us for what seems like forever can lift, that our anxiety needn’t define us, that the delight we’ve been postponing and the love we long for could be nearer at hand than we’d thought.
  15. Sometimes a flash of inspiration kicks open that door: we hear a piece of music, see a work of art, read just the right poem.
    Sometimes pain kicks open that door: We lose our job, or lose a friend; feel betrayed or deeply misunderstood. In our distress, we suddenly feel an urgent need to look more deeply for understanding and an abiding sense of well-being.
  16. Concentration is a steadying and focusing of attention that allows us to let go of distractions. When our attention is stabilized in this way energy is restored to us—and we feel restored to our lives.
  17. Sometimes distractions are internal – the continuous replaying of old mistakes and regrets. (Why didn’t I listen to my dad? Or If only I’d married so and so?) or the nursing of past injustices we focus on things we can’t undo. Or we throw energy into obsessively fantasizing about a future that may never happen and then get terribly agitated about it, as if the woes we’re imagining had already come to pass.
    “I’ve been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” ~Mark Twain
    Or we live in a state of perpetual postponement that blinds us to the potentially fulfilling moment in front of us.
  18. We often try to buy our way out of pain, regarding material possessions as talismans against change, against loss and death.
  19. To sit still and think, without succumbing to an anxious reach for a machine, has become almost impossible.
  20. Simple multitasking—it seems almost quaint—was motivated by the desire to be more productive and to create free time for friends, family, and fun. But Continuous Partial Attention is motivated b a desire not to miss anything. We’re talking on the phone and driving; carrying on a conversation at dinner and texting under the table… Continuous Partial Attention involves an artificial sense of constant crisis, of living in a 24/7, always-on world. It contributes to feeling stressed, overwhelmed, over stimulated, and unfulfilled; it compromises our ability to reflect, to make decisions, and to think creatively.
  21. “Distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes.” ~Henry David Thoreau
  22. Breathe naturally and focus on the sensations of each breath. If you have a thought or a feeling, notice it and then gently return to following your breath.
  23. You don’t have to evaluate your feelings content: just acknowledge it. You’re not elaborating on the thought or feeling; you’re not judging it. You’re neither struggling against it nor falling into its embrace and getting swept away by it. When you notice that your mind is not on your breath, notice what is on your mind. And then, no matter what it is, let it go.
  24. Straining to attain calm makes no sense, yet that’s often what we do.
Posted in Books, Non-Fiction | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment