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>> My name is Helen Damon Moore, and I am the director of service
and education at the Tucker Foundation,
here at Dartmouth college.
I am honored to welcome you all and to introduce John Cabotson
on behalf of the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center
Pailateive Care Service, the Tucker Foundation,
the Rubin Committee of Dartmouth College,
Alice Peck Day Hospital, Dartmouth Medical School,
the Norris Cotton Cancer Center,
and the Valley Insight Medication Society.
Special thanks to Ira Biak and Yvonne Corbet,
and the Pailateive care service for partnering on this project.
And to those at tucker who have worked so hard,
and who are this week celebrating the 60th anniversary
year Tucker Foundation, Dartmouth's center for service,
spirituality, and social justice.
We are pleased to welcome Dr. John Cabotson
to Dartmouth college today for the second time.
Cabotson first visited Dartmouth in the summer of 1984
when the college and the Connecticut river served
as the training camp for the men's Olympic rowing team.
He was the meditation trainer for the team, helping them
to optimize their mental performance.
Today he is here to help optimize our performance.
John Cabotson hold an a Ph.D. in molecular biology from MIT.
He is professor of medicine emeritus at the University
of Massachusetts Medical School and founder of the Center
For Mindfulness and Medicine, Healthcare, and Society
and its mindfulness-based stress reduction clinic.
He is the author of numerous best-selling books,
including Full Catastrophe Living,
Wherever You Go There You Are, Coming to Our Senses,
and the Mindful Way Through Depression,
co-authors with Williams, Tisdale, and Siegal.
Dr. Cabotson's research focuses on mind-body interactions
for healing, and on the clinical applications
and cost effectiveness of mindfulness training for people
with chronic pain and stress-related disorders,
including the effects
of mindfulness-based stress reduction on the brain.
His current projects include editing the Mind's Own
Physician, with Richard Davidson, and guest co-editing
with Mark Williams a special issue
of The Journal Contemporary Buddhism.
Dr. Cabotson's work has contributed hugely
to a growing movement of mindfulness
in main stream institutions such as medicine, psychology,
healthcare, schools and colleges, corporations, prisons,
and professional sports.
Courtesy of Kerry Jo Grant [Assumed spelling] here
in our health promotion department, Dr. Cabotson
and his work have even made their way to the inside
of our bathroom doors.
Featured as they are in the current edition
of the Dartmouth College Stall Street Journal.
Please join me in welcoming John Cabotson back
to Dartmouth college.
[ Applause ]
>> Thank you.
It's a delight to be here.
Do I have to have the light this bright in my eyes?
Because maybe you could tone it down a little bit
so people can still see me,
but I'd like to be able to see you too.
It's a delight to be here.
It's nice to walk into a theater
where mindfulness is on the marquee.
You know you've really made it when it's on the marquee,
along with Frankenstein.
So -- it's like, you're part of the main stream, so to speak,
however that goes from moment to moment and from day-to-day.
But it's really a delight to be here, and I am here basically
because of Helen Damon Moore and her work, which I actually got
to see at University of Iowa, when she was
at Iowa before coming here.
And also Dr. Ira Biak, who I met in --
in Ireland about two years ago, almost exactly two years ago.
And was just incredibly impressed with what he's doing
with integrative medicine and palliative care.
And so you know, it's like I don't live that far
from this place, and got in the car this morning and drove up.
And I'm really happy to be here for the next three days.
And you know, so to have this many people come out at 4:30
on a sunny afternoon after the kind of winter we had,
to a talk about mindfulness is really some kind of an indicator
that something has shifted in the society.
You all have better things to do, I'm sure,
this afternoon, than to come here.
Unless you have some kind of real intuition
about what the healing power of mindfulness might be.
And then it might actually be incredibly valuable
to spend the end of a nice sunny Thursday afternoon
So this talk is not about me or what I have
to say, it's about us.
It's about every single one of us,
and in some sense what the potential is, as the slide says,
for living your moments as if they really mattered.
And I put a little asterisk in there,
and the reason they too is
because we're only alive when we're alive.
This seems kind of a no-brainer, but you could say that a lot
of our lives we're walking around with a no-brainer,
or just basically no brain, or the brain is on auto pilot
or something like that.
And what mindfulness is really
about is bringing it back on line, so to speak.
In the present moment, because that turns
out to be the only moment that any of us ever have.
But we're so good at thinking, so incredibly good at thinking,
that we can spend enormous amounts of our time
and energy absorbed in the past.
Have you noticed that?
Just incredible preoccupations about who's to blame
about why it's like this.
Or how great it was in the good old days,
and why can't it be that way now.
So there's a tremendous attraction to the past
and tremendous aversion, but whether it's attraction
or aversion, we spend a lot of time there.
Would you agree?
Have you noticed that a lot of the time if you check
on what your mind is up to, it's up to memory.
It's up to thinking about things
that are already over, to a large degree.
The other favorite preoccupation of the mind is
in the opposite direction.
And if again you check in every once come a while just to,
you know, sometimes I like to say you know,
you can call yourself up.
You may have to, you know, because we're on 24-7,
we're just infinitely connected.
Probably every single person has one of these in their pocket,
although I hope there are some exceptions.
But -- and they're called smart phones, you know?
But they're not.
But we actually -- but they can really dumb us
down because we can be infinitely connected everywhere
And so we may need to call ourselves
up every once in a while.
John, are you actually here?
And the answer is no, I'm off in the future thinking.
And one of our favorite preoccupations --
and by the way, of course you'll get a bill from AT&T or Verizon.
But seriously, what -- what are our favorite preoccupations
in the future?
Well, one is worrying.
I don't know about the north country,
maybe you've gone beyond worrying.
The rest of the world a lot of worry about things that --
that haven't happened yet and may never happen.
In fact, Mark Twain is famous for having said,
you've probably heard this in a lot of different guises,
but he's famous for having said there's been a huge amount
of tragedy in my life, and some of it actually happened.
But -- but there is this saying that you know, we die --
he died a thousand deaths.
I mean , we drive ourselves crazy over things
that are not going to be happening
because we're not smart enough to actually forecast the future,
but that doesn't prevent us from driving ourselves crazy,
and perseverating over and over and over about what will happen.
And then something else happens because we're not that smart.
So something else happens, and we say we're blind-sided.
Now how many of you would like the future to be different
from the way -- the way we think it's going to turn out.
Anybody ever find yourself wishing the future was going
to be like, majorly different, that we'd make some kind
of change in the world?
Raise your hands, I want to just feel in the audience.
Okay, I heard social justice mentioned earlier, and you know,
this is after all a university
or I guess you call yourself a college.
You know, a campus kind of situation.
So it doesn't surprise me.
But this -- this kind
of engagement really requires thinking about, like,
what it means to make the future different.
How can we possibly apply any leverage,
could we kind an Archimedes, you know, fulcrum in which
to influence the future.
There's only one fulcrum that I know for that,
and that is the present.
Because guess what, we're living in the future
of every single moment in all of our lives
that came before this one.
Do you remember back, I mean, I see there's kind of a range
of ages, although most of you don't look
like you're college students, I've got to say.
And I'm a little disappointed.
I mean, I -- you know, not that I'm disappointed that you came,
but I'd like to see a lot more college students.
They look at -- they're going to Frankenstein probably, later.
It's an awkward time of day for the young people.
How many of you are under 25, 25 and under.
Oh, so I'm wrong.
That's really nice to be wrong.
So -- really -- so I was going to say to the older people,
but maybe you did it when you were even younger.
Do you remember before you got into college here,
and probably you got into planning what the courses were
that you were going to take when you got ahold of the catalog,
or you went on line and began planning, oh,
in the freshman year I'll take this,
and the sophomore year, and the junior year.
And maybe you planned even who you're going to meet
and who you're going to marry,
and what your children are going to look like.
Does that sound familiar, that sometimes we do
that when we're young.
And we think that it's all going to turn out in the future.
So no matter what your age is, I've got news for you.
This is it.
It already turned out.
How did it turn out?
It turned out just like this.
In any moment your life is just like this.
Not happy with it , a little bit sad or depressed
or wishing it was different -- that's not a problem.
That's not a problem.
Because we can always sort of feel like okay, how are we going
to be in relationship to this, and of course life is not easy.
And a lot of times we're faced with enormous challenges,
sometimes with enormous pain.
Sometimes with enormous threat.
And that's part of the human condition.
But the real interesting question when it concerns, say,
the future, and concerns living
as if life really mattered is can we actually be
in the present moment when things are not kind
of the way we thought they would be.
Or sometimes the shorthand for it is well,
I didn't sign up for this.
I mean, or another way to put it, sometimes,
maybe no offense meant, but how did I get born into this family,
or who are all these crazy people,
why am I the only sane person.
And you know, when you're
in a family no one else can know the kind of genetic disease
of that particular family,
that everybody suffers from except you.
So if we hope for the future to be different,
the only place we have to stand is now.
Because first of all, it's the --
it's the future of all the moments
that have come before us.
So if you want to be in the future, here you are.
This is actually non trivial, it's not just oh yeah,
tell us something interesting.
Because -- because what it invites is a kind of shift
in perception and a shift in awareness,
a shift in consciousness, that allows us
to actually live our lives as if they really mattered,
and the only moment we ever have.
And part of that means being embodied.
Because a lot of the time you know, we are lost in thought.
That's another thing you'll notice, if you start
to pay attention to your mind, is that it's all over the place.
It's all over the place.
You don't even have to meditate for that to happen.
It's just default mode.
It's default mode.
You don't even have to have a smart phone.
You don't even have to have e-mail.
You don't even have to have a computer.
It's the default mode of the mind to be all over the place.
It thinks this, and thinks that.
And it likes this and hates that.
And wants you to approach this, but really wants
to stay away from that.
And it's like, wired into our biology.
It's called approach avoidance.
And it's kind of, you know,
the hemispheres are actually somewhat divided in terms
of left hemisphere and the frontal cortical region,
is more approach-related.
And right acre vacation, more --
and that's one of the fundamental biological,
you know, features of living systems.
Move towards food, move away from danger.
But how we actually modulate those impulses
and those reflexes, and those, you know,
kinds of unconscious urges that drive us and cause us
to be reactive a lot of the time.
Is really an art form.
It's the art, if you will, of living our lives
as if they really mattered.
And when we begin to actually drop in on ourselves,
and I brought a few -- a few props.
You know, so sometimes I say when we begin to drop
in on ourselves, you know, we can actually reclaim this moment
in this body with this heart, with this mind, and shift --
begin to shift the tea fault setting
on how we live ourselves.
Begin to actually move in a direction of greater balance
of mind, greater groundedness in the body, greater clarity
of sight, greater, if you will,
recognition of what's actually unfolding moment by moment,
that's not so conditioned by whether we like it or not.
Because the world, maybe you haven't noticed this yet,
but it's not actually organized
around you being the center of the universe.
I know that's really disappointing.
Because you were, I'm guessing now, don't take offense, again,
I'm guessing you are entirely organized
around you being the center of the universe.
Every single one of us is.
It's almost unavoidable.
It's almost unavoidable.
And that has representations in the brain, it's turning out.
That there are medial -- medial networks in the frontal cortex
and -- that are -- is actually called the default mode.
And it's what we think brains, neuro scientists think,
it's what's happening when you're not doing anything.
Well, turns out when you're not doing anything,
you're very busy.
You're very, very, very busy.
And one of the things what's described is
that your mind wandering.
And now there's an entire field
in neuro science focused on mind wandering.
How many of you have noticed
that your mind sometimes just has a mind of its own.
It goes here, it goes there, it likes to be entertained.
You know, it's very entertaining.
So yeah, that's what's called the default mode.
Now another name for it is the narrative network.
So it's like we are continually constructing narratives
I mean, after all, it's the favorite topic, right?
Me. What could be more interesting than me?
The story of me, starring -- me.
And if you start to pay attention,
because what we're talking about, what mindfulness is,
it's actually weariness, okay?
And it's cultivated by paying attention.
So just to get clear about this,
that doesn't sound very Buddhist, does it, so far?
Or very Asian or mystical or very -- anything.
I mean, it's just paying attention.
How many teachers are there in the audience,
whatever level you're teaching at, raise your hand
so I can feel that --
okay, don't you want your students to pay attention?
It's non trivial to get them to pay attention.
First you might have to be interesting.
That itself is a challenge.
Second, you might have to make the subject matter interesting.
That's also a challenge.
But third, it's like, I remember as a product
of the New York product schools having teachers actually yell
at us to pay attention.
But that's not a very effective way to get people
to pay attention, because turns out that attending is something
that you need to learn.
It's a learnable skill.
But instead of being taught to pay attention,
you're just told who pay attention.
Get with the program, pay attention.
And a lot of people pay attention very differently.
Some pay attention auditorily,
they're really predominantly auditory.
Some people can't do auditory so well,
they've got to see it visually.
Other people's more intuitive, they feel it
with their bodies, in a certain way.
So this is incredibly important in education at all levels,
because you know, as they say about orchestras,
even the greatest of orchestras, with the greatest musicians
with the greatest instruments playing the greatest music,
before they perform they get together
and they tune their instruments.
First to themselves.
Then with each other.
Until there's a kind of dropping,
if you don't mind me putting it that way,
into kind of resonance, call it an A. Call it what you like,
but that kind of interconnected feeling that we are
in some space together.
You could call it relationality.
And so mindfulness is the awareness that arises
by paying attention on purpose in the present moment.
Paying attention on purpose
in the present moment and non judgmentally.
Now non judgmentally, that's the kicker, because as I said,
the default network is operating constantly ,
and the default network has got ideas about everything.
It's judging constantly.
So non judgmental doesn't mean that you won't be judging
when you actually start to pay attention to what's on your mind
or what's going on in your life.
But you'll notice how much you are judging, how much you want
to approach this and push away that.
And you'll just allow that whole thing to be there,
as if you just put out the welcome mat for it.
Okay, I'm not going to have an opinion about my opinions.
I'm just going to let it all rain down for -- for a moment.
Can you feel how radical a shift that would be in your life,
to just take one moment and allow everything to be as it is,
instead of wishing it was one way or another?
The Buddhists would call that liberation.
It's a kind of freedom that no one else can give you,
but allow us in some sense to rotate in consciousness
so that we -- for one moment we're stepping outside of time.
Because if you live in the now, well,
maybe you've had this experience.
Just check your watch and take a look right now.
What time is it?
I'll tell you what time it is, it's now.
And every time you check your watch
or your phone, it's now again.
Now what -- why am I even talking about this?
Why it I even come here?
It's always good to is it ask those questions, you know,
it's like -- I don't know, actually.
Because it's usually bigger
than whatever you think your reasons are [Inaudible]
but it has a lot to do with -- with the medical schools
and with what -- what Ira's doing there.
And with what Helen is doing in the undergraduate school.
It has to do with the fact that the society has reached a point
where we're beginning to understand
that the exponentially increasing levels of stress,
in medicine, in our professional lives, in our personal lives,
at every age, really require some kind of shift that is not
in the form of taking some pill to numb yourself
out to it or get it together.
But actually, we need to cultivate what's often spoken
of as the domain of being in order to not be so overwhelmed
by the doing and the performing.
And while it's true that with the Olympic team we were using
mindfulness to actually improve their performance,
it was kind of a Zen operation,
that you can't improve performance by trying
to improve performance, especially with the mind.
Because the kind of mind that's grasping
for an outcome is exactly the kind of mind that gets
in the way of any desirable outcome.
Have you got that, did you catch that as it went by?
Okay. So this means we're in new territory.
One example, common example.
You can't get to sleep
by forcing yourself to get to sleep.
By telling yourself how important the meeting is you
In fact, that's probably a very bad idea,
because that thought will actually secrete one more
thought, secrete one more thought or the meeting
or the stakes of it, or --
and then that will lead to something else
in this default network of mind wandering and pretty soon,
you are wide awake, desperately wanting to be asleep.
And not knowing how to get there.
So it's not trivial to actually befriend our own minds
and our own lives in such a way we can actually work
in these paradoxical ways where striving won't do it.
Striving won't do it.
That doesn't mean that I'm advocating that all of us, like,
abandon ambition or don't care about anything.
Meditation is not about becoming stupid.
Not even being non judgmental is not about becoming stupid.
It's sounds like, oh don't judge anything.
Maybe I'll just walk off the stage and break my leg,
you know, no, I'm aware the edge of the stage is here.
And if I do fall off the stage and break my leg, yeah,
that will have been a moment of mindlessness or out
of touch, if you will.
But -- walk across the street without looking because,
you know, we have to sense we're not going to judge
that that judge that truck coming at me --
there's a big difference between judgment and discernment.
So mindfulness is all about discerning
with clarity what's actually going on.
Now most of time now, how many of you would say
that you are engaged in some kind of a way
that doesn't feel all that good a lot
of the time in multitasking.
Anybody find yourself multitasking?
Confess. That when you're
on the phone you're actually sending an e-mail
to somebody else.
Anybody ever do that?
Raise your hands, I want to see.
Okay, and you know, we actually do it a lot.
Why? Part of it is really because we're so stressed.
We don't have enough moments in our day to get it all done,
so we like, start to discombobulate a little bit,
and juggle and cut corners.
And there are wonderful studies that that actually impede
or reduces or -- any kind of, you know, objective measure
of performance, that doing two things at once detracts
from the quality of either one.
Doing five things at once or being that scattered
in your mind, you don't even have to be doing anything,
but when you're at the mercy of this kind
of mind wandering all the time.
And you're trying to get things done is very, very challenging.
So the question is, is there a way to actually live
that will allow us to deal with what Zorba the Greek
in Kasantzakis in the novel says the full catastrophe
of the human condition; the good, the bad, the ugly,
the unwanted , the feared, the traumatic, the awful.
And to be able to hold each moment in its fullness
and allow our attention faculty and our awareness faculty
to actually hold it in such a way
that we can then inhabit the next moment with authenticity
and maybe even respond appropriately to this vast range
of demands that we're faced with all the time.
Now when I started the stress reduction clinic back in --
at University of Massachusetts back in 1979,
and I did bring some slides, which I don't know
if I will show you, but I'll just sort of take that moment
by moment, maybe I'll show them to you, maybe I won't --
because I'm trying to actually create more of an impression.
I don't want to just leave you with things
in your head, just facts.
Okay? Because you'll lose them immediately.
Okay? Because other facts will come in, and you know, whatever.
If you spent time and energy getting here and I've spent time
and energy getting here,
then what would make me feel most satisfied is if one,
you had some kind of inkling why you came today.
I'm sure you all do it, it's a mystery though, I'm sure.
Hoping to maybe be entertained or maybe connect
on some deeper level or maybe you practice mindfulness
or maybe you've been to a [Inaudible] program,
but if you peel back all those layers there's some is really,
really interesting reason why you're here.
And I bet you don't know what it is.
I'm not joking.
Because there's intelligences at work that are just deeper
than the thought function.
And the thought function is so smart that it sometimes
out smarts us completely, have you noticed that?
And then it's like we're stupid.
We're so smart, we're stupid.
It's very hard to see that in yourself but you can see it
in other people just really easily.
Have you -- maybe you've noticed that.
So I'm going to try to weave together a whole bunch of things
that probably none of it is going to make complete sense,
but what I'm doing here is I'm trying
to in some sense plant seeds.
I'm trying to plant seeds in the fertile ground or garden
of whatever it was that brought you here so that
when you leave here something has been touched
that will keep those seeds, that actually I'm not planting,
they are already in you, keep them being watered nurtured,
protected, privileged in a certain way, so that it --
nurtures in some profound sense some aspect of you that wants
to be as alive as you can be while you have the chance.
We say to people coming to our stress reduction clinic,
and they come with every conceivable kind of ailment,
referred by every conceivable sub specialty and specialty,
and generalist in medicine.
And we say -- and it's an eight week long course,
designed to teach you how to take better care of yourself
as a compliment to whatever the healthcare system is,
I should call that a disease care system
by the way, can do with you.
Can do for you.
And we say to them from our perspective as long
as you're breathing, there's more right with you than wrong
with you, no matter what's wrong with you.
No matter what's wrong.
And we see people you would not want to be in their body
or in their mind or in their life.
And they probably wouldn't want to be in yours either.
But you probably wouldn't want to hear that.
Because after all, you're the star of this movie, aren't you?
So -- so that there's more right with you than wrong with you,
no matter what's wrong with you.
That's radical perspective and very, very important.
Because you know, I started the stress reduction clinic in 1979.
In 1979 the surgeon general's report came
out Called Healthy People and that it was saying,
forecasting into the future, which here now,
we are in this future, that no matter how much money America
spends at throwing money at health and healthcare,
it will never be enough to have health.
Because there's a missing ingredient, and it's the humans
that healthcare is supposed to care for.
And that there's not enough money on the planet
to do all the various things that would have to be done
with us when we don't take care of ourselves,
when we don't know how to handle stress, when we do not know how
to be in wise relationship with ourselves and our lifestyle
and our diet and exercise and our bodies and aging
and everything else, that if we leave that all to the, you know,
auto mechanics model of medicine, drive your car
around till it breaks down, then you get the carburetor replaced
or the engine or whatever, the tires.
But this is not a machine.
I know a lot of people, even in biology,
love to use machine analogies and even nano machine analogies
about the body, and to a degree they're correct.
But there's another piece of it,
like no one understands the construction
of the machine that's you.
I'll give you one example.
How many of you see that slide up there,
and what's the color of the background?
Blue. Everybody agree that it's blue.
No one knows how you do that.
No one knowing how you go from the wave length
of electro magnetic radiation, the blue region, okay,
in the visible spectrum, no one knowing how you go
from this wave length, which is colorless, it's just energy,
to a subjective feeling of blue.
And we also really don't know, we have a consensus reality
that agrees that the blue that you're seeing and the blue
that I'm seeing are the same blue, but it's not always true,
and it's not true for colorblind people, the blue-green color.
Okay, so there's a lot of kind of consensus agreement here.
But there's -- the brain weighs approximately three pounds,
And it's all cells and cables that are part, you know,
made up of cells, neurons.
And then all these gluteal cells in there supporting the neurons.
And incredibly specialized.
I mean, it's really the most complex assembly of matter
in the known by us universe,
right inside your little old body.
And no one knows how senses, how consciousness, how knowing,
how even thinking arises in this three pounds
of what some neuro scientists call meat.
It's a little distasteful.
But to just kind of make it graphic,
so if you for get every once in a while walking around in --
on the Dartmouth campus or in Hanover or wherever you happen
to live that you're a miraculous being.
It's just one more mind wandering, you know?
One more default sort of not really being aware
of how amazing it is that you can see, for instance.
That you can hear.
That you can taste.
How many of us eat food and we don't bother
to taste it, we just devour it.
Or we taste the idea of the food.
Yeah, that was really good.
Yeah, but you didn't actually taste it.
Have you ever had a mindless hug from somebody
who was really trying to be friendly?
Sort of impulse to be friendly, but not in one's body.
Okay? So all of these things we take for granted.
But we can actually begin a process of re-minding --
and I put a little hyphen in there --
re-minding ourselves, re-bodying ourselves.
Because this is the only time you have.
And coming back into a certain kind of vector or alignment
with the entire life trajectory,
and it doesn't matter how old you are
when you begin this process.
The Native Americans, actually, measured your age
from when you became -- they started to measure your age
from when you became a grand parent.
Before that, it was like you were really too busy
to be human.
And the -- and in the Asian Indians, measure your age
from when you start practicing yoga.
So if you're 75 years old and you've been into yoga
for three months, you're three months old, I like that.
Isn't that nice?
What about new beginning?
Every moment a new beginning.
That's what mindfulness is about.
Every moment fresh.
Now this is not a philosophy.
It's not a good idea, it's not a concept.
It's a way of being.
It's not a technique.
It's not a technique and it's not a special state.
Oh, I think I'll trot over to the MBSR clinic, meditate.
[ Background noise ]
>> Maybe you're waiting for something else to happen.
But nothing else happens.
Nothing else happens.
This is it.
You know, good-bye.
Maybe you're hoping for something special to happen.
Some special meditative state.
Some kind of vision.
Some kind of alignment of the, you know, spheres.
Some special bolt of lightening out of the blue to wake you up.
It's a mistake.
A miss, hyphen, take, on meditation.
On mindfulness, on reality.
Let's just pretend, okay, why don't we just sit for a moment.
Ah, you're already sitting.
You don't even need to shift your posture,
although I see some people getting ready.
Okay, now we're going to get into it.
It's going to be somewhat experiential.
He could talk forever.
But you see, you know, you don't even have to shift your posture
to be awake or to be aware.
You could do it like this.
And really be aware.
And by the way, I can't see my hands.
But I know where they are.
How do I know?
A sense called proprioception.
Maybe you've heard of it, maybe you haven't.
But there are a lot more than five senses,
I just want to put that out, okay?
When we're talking about miraculous being or genius,
it's got lots of different dimensions to it.
Many. If I ask you how are you
in the elevator and you say fine.
How do you know?
Aside from the fact that you're not fine but you just don't want
to go into it in the elevator,
with somebody you don't want to tell anyway.
But when, you know, you're sort of -- someone --
a friend asks you how our and you say fine, how do you know?
That's another sense.
And you know very quickly.
And you know when you're not, too.
What is that knowing called?
It's not called well, let me think.
I don't know.
How am I. No, you know instantly.
That sense is called interoception.
There are ways that the organism has, you know, using the brain
and nervous system, which has lots of maps,
by the way the brain is loaded with maps of the body.
Loaded with maps of the body.
And not just the somatosensory cortises.
But the insula and the cerebellum and the, you know,
the hippocampus, I mean, lots and lots -- and again I stress,
we're beginning to understand something about what lights
up when, when you meditate, when you do this and do that,
when you go into depression.
All sorts of wonderful, wonderful things happening.
Brain research in neuro science nowadays.
But still, no one knowing how it comes together.
In you, in this moment, in a way
that actually you don't have to think about.
And even if there's something going on, even if you're in,
say, pain from your lower back and you've had it
for a long time, or even if you have cancer at the moment
or you're a cancer survivor or whatever it is.
Or you have, you know, heart, you know,
issues of one kind or another.
Whatever it is.
The sum total of this universe, of --
between 10 and 100 trillion cells,
the whole body now we're talking about.
Is good enough to have gotten you here today.
Hmm? It's good enough for now.
And the more energy you pour into it,
the more that robustness, whatever it is,
sometimes called homeostasis,
but it's a very dynamical process that we call health,
as opposed to disease or dis-ease.
When we start to pour attention, energy in the form of attention
into what's already right with us,
it turns out that the body has its ear to the rail,
the brain has its ear to the rail, the brain is part
of the rail, the -- the heart, every aspect
of our being is one integrated whole.
It's not like different systems.
The immune system talks to the nervous system.
And the nervous system talks right back.
And everybody else is listening in on the conversation.
And it's all cells.
And if you took your liver -- if we all took our livers
and put them out on the stage here,
that would be an interesting exercise,
and then we shuffled them around and then you were all encouraged
to just pick yours up on the way out.
You wouldn't know which was yours.
You can look at all hundred trillion of these cells
in your body, and your name isn't on any of it.
It's like, oh, here's my liver.
Here's my gal bladder.
The punctuation from the cell phones is actually really --
if that was a cell phone -- is really interesting.
But do you hear what I'm saying?
Even the question of who we are, when you start
to actually ask it with tremendous authenticity,
it might not be so feasible to just say your name
or even describe what you do, or even send in your CV.
If you've ever hired people,
you know that the CV is not the person
and you hire the CV a lot of the time.
Because you can't work with the person a lot of the time.
What you want it congruence, you want integration.
So when we take our seats, so to speak,
what we're actually engaging in, is a recognition
of how integrated we already are.
We don't need to, oh, I'm such a wreck,
I've got to get integrated.
No, from this perspective you are already as integrated
as you're going to be in this moment.
Is it enough?
Is it good enough?
So let's actually take a moment.
I've even brought another prop.
I brought some bells.
We don't need the bells.
But I'll ring them.
And when I ring them -- why don't --
just for fun, you don't have to shift your posture,
but just for fun, why don't you shift your posture and sit
in a posture that for now embodies dignity,
whatever that means for you.
Look, the entire room is moving.
Not that dignified, I guess.
All right, but actually it doesn't matter.
The posture is secondary.
What's important is the inner orientation.
The willingness to open to the present moment,
to put out the welcome mat and to get --
and to let the idea that oh, now we're going
to do something special, drop.
Because as soon as you sort of plant that seed, now we're going
to do something special
and we're going experience something special,
then you'll be on the look out for something special.
But you see, nothing special.
There's a wonderful cartoon in the New Yorker
that I actually mentioned a long time ago
in Wherever You Go There You Are, two Zen monks, you know,
one obviously elder, the other young.
And the young one's looking up quizzically at the older one.
And the caption underneath,
the old one's speaking, nothing happens next.
This is it.
I just said that to you earlier.
But the this is it, is really important.
Otherwise, you could spend 20 or 30 years or more,
and people do this, meditating, trying to get some place else.
Trying to have some special experience.
That's what it's all about.
Now I'm enlightened.
The problem is you're already enlightened.
But the personal pronoun that wants to grab it
and say I'm enlightened,
it's the personal pronoun that's the problem,
not the enlightenment.
Your eyes are already enlightened.
Your ears are already enlightened.
Your feet actually do what they're supposed
to do for the most part.
Your brain is doing what it's supposed to.
Your liver is doing what it's supposed to do.
Very famous scientist
and physician named Lewis Thomas once said he'd rather be
at the controls of a 747 trying to land
with no pilot training whatsoever than at the controls
of his own liver for 30 seconds.
So you don't need to find special.
This is good enough, okay?
So let's actually sit for a moment, if you're sitting,
or stand if you're standing, in a posture that for you
at this moment embodies wakefulness and dignity.
You don't even have to close your eyes.
But you can if you like, or let them fall unfocused on the chair
in front of you or whatever.
And as I ring the bell, seeing if you can just follow the sound
of the bells into the space of the air.
[ Bell ringing ]
[ Background noise ]
>> And allowing the space of the air to be co-extensive
with the space, you could call it, of awareness.
So that there's simply awareness.
Hearing what's here, to be heard.
The sound of the bells are past, and now there's just sound.
And you could feature hearing as a way
of anchoring our attention.
You can focus on some object like --
or field of objects, like hearing.
And just rest in being aware of sounds and the stillness,
the silence in between, inside, and underneath.
Any and all sounds, including, of course, my voice.
Alternatively, because there's more than one thing going on,
there's not just hearing going on, there's also seeing
and smelling and you know,
all the senses are actually operating.
Seeing if you can actually instead of hearing,
feature for now a feeling, a sense of the breath moving
in and out of your body.
Wherever it's most vivid in the body.
Just allowing awareness to inhabit the whole of the body
and be most vivid in the region
where the breath sensations are arising and passing away.
[ Background noise ]
>> And seeing if you can ride on the waves of the breath
with full awareness, moment by moment by moment.
And noticing any time the mind goes off and gets involved
in anything else, including judging how stupid this is.
We came for a talk and all
of a sudden we're doing this stupid exercise.