Clarity

Really Know Yourself

Really Know Yourself

“The enemies of liberal democracy, they have a method: They hack our feelings. Not our emails, not our bank accounts—they hack our feelings of fear and hate and vanity, and then use these feelings to polarize and destroy democracy from within.” 

~ Yuval Noah Harari

Short Circuit Your Reflexive Tendency to React

Short Circuit Your Reflexive Tendency to React

“If we don't become aware of our own reactions so that we can short-circuit precisely the kind of addictive and reflexive response that we have to these things, and if we're unwilling to turn them off, we will participate in the continuing debasement of our democracy.”

~ Brooke Gladstone

Practicing Factfulness

Practicing Factfulness

"Stories about gradual improvements rarely make the front page even when they occur on a dramatic scale and affect millions of people. And thanks to increasing press freedom and improving technology, we hear about more disasters than ever before. This improved reporting is itself a sign of human progress, but it creates the impression of the exact opposite." 

~ Hans Rosling

Feeling Better

Feeling Better

It wasn’t until I stumbled clumsily toward a daily mindfulness practice in my mid-thirties that I discovered that there were ways I could get better at feeling my feelings.

Before intentionally working on my attentional skills, I had no idea how often I escalated my unpleasant feelings and zipped past the pleasant and subtler ones.

The kind of self-awareness that mindfulness exercise develops has helped me become more objective about my subjective experiences.

If These Clouds Could Talk

If These Clouds Could Talk

What does it mean to let our thoughts drift by like clouds?

Shifting our awareness from what our thoughts mean to how they fluctuate is an attentional exercise that develops liberating abilities over time. 

Observing the movement of clouds can provide a glimpse into how we can relate to mental activity more objectively, but it oversimplifies things when the analogy is taken too literally.

Total Eclipse of Internal Interference

Total Eclipse of Internal Interference

The real magic happens when we become intimately familiar with the moment-by-moment experience of being alive. Instead of trying to force complete experiences to happen. I focus on setting the stage for them to happen by exercising my attention. 

When remembering to notice that we're alive becomes a habit, we begin to erode the internal friction that obscures our view of the richness we're swimming in every day.

Naked and Aware: Bare Attention in the Shower

Naked and Aware: Bare Attention in the Shower

There are many obstacles to establishing a consistent mindfulness routine. Three big ones are finding time to practice, being distracted by thoughts, and feeling bored.

I discovered an exercise that obliterates all three simultaneously, but I’m pretty sure you’re going to hate the idea of it.

As with any good attention exercise, it leverages an ordinary activity as an opportunity to build capacities that for responding more effectively to the challenges of ordinary life.

You are Not Your Thoughts

You are Not Your Thoughts

"You are the awareness of your thoughts. You are not your thoughts. You can let your thoughts happen. Just know that the real you is the awareness."

~ RuPaul

Anxious and Uncomfortable Has Really Been My Home Base

Anxious and Uncomfortable Has Really Been My Home Base

"I have a very hard time with things, you know, just being quiet. Like, if I sit alone, you know, for ten minutes with nothing happening, you know, which I guess some people would call meditating, I just lose my mind. I'm, like — how does anyone deal with this horrible silence and awareness that everything's almost over?"

~ Marc Maron

Getting Better at Noticing Directly

Getting Better at Noticing Directly

When you begin a walking or running program, there are several details you can track as evidence of improvement. Your step count. The length of your stride. Your pace. The amount of time it takes your heart to return to its recover its baseline resting rate.

But how will you know when you’re getting better at noticing perceptions? 

Watching the Clock

Watching the Clock

"As conscious human beings, we know we die, and we therefore know our clock ends on, some level. So time just seems foundational. And I think a lot of the gymnastics that we do as human beings has to do with our relationship to the clock, or lack of a relationship to the clock. We squander time until it’s too late, et cetera. I love looking at the building blocks, the raw material, the irreducibles."

~ B.J. Miller

Cinematic Attention for a High-Def Life

Cinematic Attention for a High-Def Life

Any perception you can observe directly in real time can be used to train a variety of attention-related skills.

I like to make a game out of turning ordinary activities into opportunities for practice.

There are a number of exercises I use when watching a film — whether it’s one I enjoy, dislike, or have seen before.