It takes a tremendous amount of effort to uphold a fixed identity. We have to keep doing things that a "person like us" would do. We have to keep making sure that nothing happens that threatens our identity or who we have decided "we are."
Once you become established in the technique, you can practice being the master of your own life -- you get to choose how to react to your body sensations. And this has a benefit not only when you are sitting calmly on the beach, but also when you are in a stressful situation.
The problem is not so much that we are hearing different things in the same words, but the fact that we believe that we are meaning the same thing. This misunderstanding causes many of the problems that we run into in our relationships and indeed every form of human interaction.
Let's say that at this moment you are having a thought about a friend, something specific that she did, and what you want to say to her in response. That friend who you are thinking about is not experiencing your thought. If you don't engage with that thought, it will literally not exist.
Normally we are looking through the lens of our prejudices and needs, through past regrets or future hopes, but without these we find each moment is infused with uniqueness, that everything is constantly fresh, new and unknown.
Every now and then I fault others, or my circumstances, for how I feel and lose my way. But, thankfully, most of the time I remember that it won't help to blame my past, my environment, or someone else. Why? Because the only creator of my feelings is me.
Each new insight allows me to enjoy my life a little bit more and appreciate the beauty of being exactly where I am. And while being awake to the fact that I am dreaming is not the same as being fully awakened, for me, for now, it is more than enough.
The loaded goal is that goal that seems to be your most important and longest-standing one -- it's the one that "for some reason, I don't seem to be able to make any real progress on," and "this year, I'm finally going to handle."
What follows is not a trick question: Would you rather feel exhilarated, grateful, humble, inspired, resolute, compassionate, and content -- or fearful, sad, worthless, jealous, angry, overwhelmed, and bored?
The future will change one person at a time and one thought at a time. You can't bring back a child, but you can bring back the hope in one. You can show love to those that have been raised in hate and you can be an oasis of kindness in a desert of cruelty.
Every day, my Twitter feed and my Facebook ticker are littered with pithy soundbites that purport to unlock the secret of personal fulfillment -- and I find myself wincing. When a soundbite is presented without context, it might sound profound, but it is often meaningless or misconstrued.