Dr. Ron Siegel: “The Science of Mindfulness” | Talks at Google


MATT: Hello, everybody, and
welcome to this talk at Google sponsored by [INAUDIBLE]. I’m delighted and very grateful
to have Dr. Ronald Siegel here to talk to us today
about mindfulneess and how mindfulness
practice can help us cope with everyday problems. So before he gets up here,
let me give you a little bit of background on him. He is an assistant
professor of psychology part-time at Harvard
Medical School, where he’s taught
for over 30 years. He is a longtime student
of mindfulness meditation and serves on the board
of directors and faculty of the Institute for
Meditation and Psychotherapy. He teaches internationally
about the application of mindfulness practice in
psychotherapy and other fields and maintains a private
clinical practice in Lincoln, Massachusetts. He is the co-editor of the
critically acclaimed text, “Mindfulness and
Psychotherapy, Second Edition,” the co-editor of “Wisdom and
Compassion in Psychotherapy– Deepening Mindfulness
in Clinical Practice,” which contains a foreword by
His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is the author of a book
for a more general audience, “The Mindfulness Solution–
Everyday Practice for Everyday Problems,” which I believe
will be on sale in here at a discounted
rate to Googlers. He recently created a
comprehensive new course for the general public, which
is part of the Great Courses series named The
Science of Mindfulness– A Research-Based
Path to Well-Being, which gets my personal
recommendation. I’ve recently completed
that, and it’s fantastic. And he is also a
regular contributor to other professional
publications and is the co-director of the
Annual Harvard Medical School Conference on meditation
and psychotherapy. So without further
ado, please join me in welcoming Dr. Siegel on set. [APPLAUSE] RON SIEGEL: Welcome, everybody. Thank you, Matt, for inviting
me and for everybody else at Google for inviting me. Thank you for coming
here in person and those of you who have come virtually. Usually, we don’t choose
to attend a talk like this when we’ve just fallen
in love, won the lottery, and gotten a promotion. Rather, we get interested
in these topics either when we’ve had some kind
of a downturn in our lives, or maybe our lights are
going OK on the outside, but for whatever
reason, we’re feeling some degree of emotional
distress or difficulty. And it turns out
that in recent years, neurobiologists, clinical
researchers, and mental health professionals have
discovered that a number of ancient practices,
mindfulness practice that have been refined over the
last 2,500 years or so, turned out to be extremely
useful for helping us to work with all sorts of everyday
emotional difficulties, everything from
anxiety and depression to serious difficulties
like chronic pain or, perhaps,
relational conflict. And in a few minutes, I’m
going to teach you about some of those practices
and show you how you can use them in your own life. But in order to use
those effectively, it’s very, very helpful
to have a sense of, how come life is so
difficult for all of us in the first place? Well, it turns out
that we didn’t actually evolve to be happy. Our brains developed
primarily as organs of survival, the same
way the other organs in the body developed. And to understand this,
it’s helpful to look back at our past, and let’s
start by looking at Lucy. This is an artist’s conception
of our great great great great great great great great great
great et cetera grandmother. And she was hanging around
on the African Savannah somewhere between three and 1/2
and four and 1/2 million years ago. There may be an earlier
common ancestor. We’re not sure. And we know that she survived,
because we’ve got her DNA. But how did she possibly
survive out there competing with the other wildlife? Imagine here coming face
to face with a lion? What could she do? Well, she could grit her
teeth and bear her claws, [GROWLING NOISE]
but that probably wouldn’t be too effective. She might try to rely on
her hide for protection, but that’s pretty limited. Her fur was sillier still. She wasn’t very fast. One of the first
things that you learn, if you ever go on a
walking safari in Africa, and there’s a couple
of guides usually, and they’ve got big guns. And they say to the tourists,
please, please, please, no matter what happens,
just don’t run. Why? Because everything scary out
there is faster than you are. You see that half
blind hippopotamus– I mean that half blind
rhinoceros behind those trees? 38 miles an hour. That big lumbering
hippopotamus in the mud puddle– 42 miles an hour. And furthermore, if you run,
everything that’s a predator is going to think you’re prey,
and it’ll make matters worse. So she couldn’t escape. She had reasonable
sight– not as good as an eagle or a giraffe,
but better than the rhino. Reasonable hearing. A lousy sense of smell. Just ask your dog. How does she possibly make it? Well, she basically had a
few things going for her. She had a fight or
flight system that was capable of
emergency response, and this was inherited
first from reptiles and refined more by mammals. And she also had, on top of
that, a prehensile thumb, an opposable thumb
that could pick up objects, which was really,
really good for using tools. And if you’ve ever seen
your dog try to use a tool, you understand how useful
it is to have a thumb. And the other thing
that she had was she had a capacity for thinking–
for thinking about the past, analyzing what had happened, and
projecting it into the future. And it’s this third capacity
that helped her enormously and also gets us into
a lot of trouble, because it turns out
with this ability to analyze the past
for pleasure and pain, and try to maximize
future pleasure, and avoid future pain, isn’t
some kind of neutral computing apparatus. It’s actually
subject to something called the negativity bias. This is how cognitive
scientists refer to it. If you think of Lucy’s
predicament out there, she could’ve made one
of two kinds of errors, and we could think
of these as a type 1 and a type 2 error, kind of
analogous to the same kind of errors that we use
in scientific research. She could’ve looked at a bush
with a beige shape behind it, and think, oh, my god, it’s
a lion, when it was really just a beige rock. Or she could’ve looked
at the same shape and said, eh, it’s a beige
rock, when it was really a lion. Now Lucy could have made
thousands of type 1 errors and still lived to
propagate her DNA, but if she made just
one type 2 error, that’s the end of her DNA line. So we developed minds and
brains that are really, really good at these type 1 errors. Our minds, as my friend
Rick Hansen puts it, are like Velcro
for bad experiences and Teflon for good ones. Anything bad that happens
in our life sticks. The good ones slide
right off the pan. If you meet with your
boss for a review, and you hear about nine things
that you’re doing great, and your boss tells you about
one area of insufficiency, what are you going to think
about at 3:00 in the morning? It’s not the nine things
that you’re doing so well. And there are countless
examples of this. Even other animals do it. If you run a rat through a
maze, and at the end of a given pathway, give it some food, it’s
got to go through that trial several times to
learn the pathway. If at the end, you give it
an electric shock, one trial learning, that’s all it
needs, and it remembers this. Even in couples,
there are people– there’s a couple
of psychologists by the last name of Gottman
in the Seattle area, and they study couples. And they find that
on average, we need five warm and fuzzy
interactions with a partner to undo the loss of trust
that comes from one fight. So the mind has this very
strong negativity bias. We can try a little experiment
here just to test this out. It may– we’ll see
how this works given the current political climate. But I’m going to
say two words, and I want you to notice the
very first words that come to your mind after
I say those two words. Ready? Here are the two
words– Bill Clinton. What do you get? What came to mind? Don’t be shy. What? AUDIENCE: Scandal. RON SIEGEL: Scandal. Anybody get Monica, for example? Yes. Blue dress. Scandal. Something like that. That’s still what comes
to many of our minds, even though, obviously,
his wife is running for office at the moment. Now whatever you think of
his presidency or politics, I mean, he helped resolve the
conflicts in Northern Ireland. It was a period of prosperity. The fact that what we remember
from this is Monica Lewinsky shows you how easy it is
for the negativity bias to grab hold of something. Scandals stick. Loss of trust sticks. Bad experiences stick. It gets worse. It turns out that life is
difficult for everybody, in part, because we have
trouble with change. This starts very, very early. I don’t want to
give up my diapers and start to use the potty. The current arrangement
suits me just fine. Are you kidding? School with all those strange
people and that weird person called the teacher? I’m not going there. I want to stay home
with mom and dad. Now maybe there’s some
excitement about these things, but there’s often a
lot of reluctance. I remember, I have
twin daughters. They’re actually my strongest
meditation teachers. And I remember when
they were born, and we thought, well, we’ve
got to do something practical. I’d better give up my Toyota
Corolla and get a minivan. I didn’t think it was so cool. I wasn’t embracing the change. 18 years later, they’re
ready to go off to college, and I went into mourning. I thought, now after
18 years of trying to form a good
relationship with them and be a caring,
loving dad, they’re going to abandon me like
other girls did when I was 18? Who wrote this script? My wife, luckily, has a
little bit more wisdom about these matters than
I did, and she points out, had they been so impaired
that they couldn’t go off, I’d even more upset. But change is hard. And as I projected forward, I’m
getting to be an old guy now, and imagined entering
assisted living, even if they’re
playing the Stones for my entire
generation, I don’t think I’m going to
embrace the change. How about you? Has anybody noticed any
changes in their body since you were 20? Have you welcomed and
embraced them all? This is a hard road. There’s another problem. One of the other things we see
when we go to an African game park, and it actually gets
a little bit repetitive, because in species after
species, the story is the same. There’s the dominant
male hanging around with the reproductively
promising females, and then there’s
another group of males who are younger doing the
species equivalent of playing basketball, honing
their skills and tools, getting ready to be able to try
to topple the dominant male. And we see this in species
after species after species. In humans, this concern
for position in the tribe or in the pack is expressed
as a concern for self-esteem. If you examine
your minds, and we get to do this with
mindfulness practices, we start to see that
our minds are constantly comparing ourselves to others. And we choose many,
many different domains and dimensions for this. For one person, it’s
who’s wealthier. For someone else,
it’s who’s smarter. For another person, who’s
got the higher rank position. For someone else, it’s who’s
got the better physique or is better athletically. Who’s thinner? Who’s more attractive? Who’s more creative? Who has more friends? Who is more loved? The list goes on and on and on. If you hang out with
meditators the way I do, it gets really funny. Who makes fewer comparisons? Who’s less self-focused? Who sees the bigger
picture better? But it’s all the
same kind of thing. Now assuming you
guys are like me, and your minds make these kinds
of comparisons, any of you always win? I once asked a
group that question, and a guy raised his hand, and
I thought, avoid him at lunch. Bad sign, right? Of course. We win some and we lose some. And the problem is unless
we live in Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong,
the men are good-looking, and every child
is above average, we’re always going to be
going up and then with this. We’re constantly, constantly
faced with disappointment and sense of failure
and sense of inadequacy, because it’s
absolutely impossible to stay on top all the time. Even if you’re a gold
medalist in the Olympics, four years later, you’re
probably dethroned, and if not then, eight
years later for sure. Now to make matters even worse,
who here is going to die? That’s about 20% of
the hands went up. That’s a pretty
aware group, right? So we have this really
bad predicament. We’re very, very focused
on who we are, how we seem, how we’re doing. There’s all this change
going on, and in the end, we fall apart and die. It’s no wonder that we have a
lot of psychological distress. So what I’d like to
do is focus in on some of these particular
psychological disorders and the most common
ones, and I want to do this by discussing a
little bit of a battle that went on in the American
Psychiatric Association when they were
formulating the DSM-5. The DSM is the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of the American
Psychiatric Association. It’s basically the code
book for classifying different kinds of psychological
and psychiatric problems. And there was this battle when
they were designing the newest copy between what we might call
the lumpers and the splitters. The splitters said, what was
wrong with the old system was we just didn’t yet have
a sufficient number of diagnostic categories. We were still inadvertently
combining apples and oranges. The lumpers said, you
know, that’s crazy. It doesn’t really
fit my experience. In fact, as a clinician,
for example, I rarely see a person with
a single diagnosis. Almost everybody’s
got a little bit of this, a little bit of that,
something of a third diagnosis, and in fact, it changes
from week to week. They said, you know, I think
if you create more categories, you’re going to miss the
forest for the trees. The splitters, at this point,
naturally said, what forest? The lumper said,
well, for example, you’re not going to see
any of the universals in human psychological
difficulties. You’ll not see the
kinds of problems that cut across these
different categories. They said universals? These are separate diseases. They’re like syphilis
and a broken bone. What’s the universals there? Well, the lumpers say, for
example, one really powerful universal is what we might
call emotional or experiential avoidance. And let me give you an
idea of how this works. Have any of you
ever drunk alcohol? Come on. 20% again? Thank you. That’s a little
bit more realistic. Now I know I’m in
California, so some of you are going to claim
this, but who does it exclusively for the taste? Nobody. Very honest group. Most of us, when
we drink alcohol, we do it because we’d like
to change one state of mind into a somewhat different state. Let’s say we’ve had
a hard day at work, and we’re feeling
a little tense, and muscularly we’re
kind of like this. And we think, you know, a
beer or a glass of wine– that would help. I’d feel a little
bit more mellow. Or we’re going to go
to a party, and there are going to be some people
there we don’t know, or worse, there are going to be some
people there who we do know. And we think, you know,
a drink would just make this go a little
bit more smoothly. So generally, we
drink because we want to change one state
into a different state, a tense or anxious or unpleasant
state into a more pleasant one. And of course, if we do that
from time to time, no problem. But if we do that compulsively
and a lot, and in fact, can’t face life situations
without doing it, well, then we have a
substance abuse problem. Let’s take another
common problem. Let’s take anxiety. If I get nervous before
speaking at Google, or I get nervous before
flying in airplanes, but I fly in airplanes,
and I speak at Google, I don’t have an
anxiety disorder. I’m just a kind of nervous guy. If however, I avoid
public speaking, or I won’t fly in
a plane, because I want to not feel anxious,
that’s the pathway to an anxiety disorder. And that can spread
to all sorts of things that we wind up
avoiding, because we’re trying not to feel the anxiety. There was an astronaut, one
of the early space-goers who was being
interviewed by an actor, because the actor was going
to play him in a movie, and he wanted to do a
faithful job of this. And the actor said,
I don’t get it. How do you possibly
have the courage to go up in those
untested rockets? I would’ve been terrified. And the actor said, I think
you’re misunderstanding. Courage isn’t about
not being terrified. We were terrified. We had no idea if the things
were going to hold together. Courage is about doing
what it makes sense to do, even as you feel the fear. So we see that emotional
or experiential avoidance, trying not to feel
anxious is actually at the heart of
anxiety disorders. Let’s take one more. Let’s look at
depression a little bit. Now all of us, even
if you’ve never been to a therapist
or anything like that, have sometimes been sad, and
sometimes we felt depressed. What in your experience
is the difference? How does it feel
differently, qualitatively to be sad or depressed? Don’t be shy about this. Everybody knows we’ve all
experienced these things. Anybody want to offer a
difference between sadness and how that feels
and depression? AUDIENCE: Depression
has more hopelessness. RON SIEGEL: Depression
has more hopelessness. Absolutely. It’s got this thought that
it’s never going to end. Absolutely. AUDIENCE: Unenthusiastic. RON SIEGEL: Unenthusiastic
in depression, and there’s a kind of we’re cut off
from life engagement, from interests, right? What else? AUDIENCE: Maybe like
a localized to one experience versus
pervading the rest of– RON SIEGEL: Yeah, often
sadness is poignant. It’s kind of localized. We’re sad about something,
and often depression is much broader than that. And it’s kind of our whole life
feels sort of empty or dead. Anybody, one more? So one way you could think of
this, and one of the features that to my mind cuts to the
chase of it, is in depression, we feel kind of dead
and kind of shut down, whereas in sadness, it’s
about a given object. We’re kind of alive. We’re kind of still
engaged in life. When Shakespeare wrote,
parting is such sweet sorrow, we get it. Had he written, parting is such
sweet depression, we’d think, this guy doesn’t
know how to write. That wouldn’t speak to us. So we can see that even in
something like depression, there’s a kind of shutting
down of the organism. There’s a kind of closing
down and avoiding experience, which is part of this. So there’s a very nice little
video that is, to my mind, a wonderful visual
metaphor for this, which I’d like to show to you. It’s very brief,
but it gives you a sense of how this
plays out and, frankly, how experiential avoidance
winds up multiplying our misery. [GONG] [BUZZING] [SNIFFS] [BLOWS] [BUZZING] [SWORD SWINGING] [GRUNT] [BUZZING] [MUSIC PLAYING] RON SIEGEL: The way in which
mindfulness practices are going to help us with this wide
variety of different kinds of psychological
difficulties is pretty much the way the samurai warrior
learned to deal with his fly. Mindfulness practices
develop cross-culturally in order to deal with everyday
psychological distress. They’ve been refined
probably most intensively in Buddhist cultures,
where we have about 2,500 years of a written
record of monks and nuns doing these
practices intensively and talking about various
variations of them. But they exist in
one form or another in virtually every culture. So let’s talk about
what mindfulness is, and then we’ll talk
about how we can use it for these different kinds
of everyday psychological problems. As we’re using it in Western
psychotherapies these days, mindfulness is a
translation of a Pali term, and Pali was the
vernacular language in which the teachings
of the historical Buddha were first written down. And the word in Pali is sati. And it connotes awareness,
attention, and remembering. And the awareness
and attention part is pretty much the way
we use them in English– to be aware, to pay attention. But the remembering
is different. It’s not about
remembering what you had for breakfast
or, for that matter, even remembering
childhood trauma. It’s about remembering to
be aware and pay attention at each moment of our day. Now there’s a scholar of
the ancient text named John Dunne at Emory
University, and he raised the following criticism. He said, if you could
imagine a sniper poised on top of a building
getting ready to take out an innocent victim,
that sniper would be very aware, very
attentive, and every time his mind wandered
from the task at hand, he’d be zeroing right in on it. And John said, I don’t
think that’s exactly the attitude you’re trying
to develop in yourselves as psychotherapists,
nor the attitude you’re trying to cultivate in
your patients or clients. Something’s missing here. And what’s missing is a sense
of non-judgment, acceptance, kindness, and friendliness. Now there’s some scholars who
say that’s included in sati, but the important point is that
this non-judgment or acceptance is a scale unto itself, which
takes some work to cultivate. Let me show you what I mean. Join me in looking
at this fellow. And just take in
the picture of him, and see what emotion
arises as you look at him. And raise your hand
if what you feel is a sense of harsh
and critical judgment. We can talk afterwards, if so. But most of us look at him
and feel something like, aw. Now even if he pees and
poops at the wrong time in the wrong place, even if he
doesn’t listen to instructions, we can understand. He’s young. He’s a puppy. He needs training. Now when you take up mindfulness
practices, most of us, one of the first things we see
is that our mind does actually pee and poop at the wrong
time in the wrong place, and it doesn’t listen
to instructions at all, that it’s quite, quite unruly. And the same kind
of loving attitude that we would cultivate
toward that puppy, that’s what we’re going to try to
cultivate toward whatever arises in our
consciousness, including depressive feelings, anxious
feelings, physical pain, and the like. So putting this
together, we might say that therapeutic mindfulness
has three components. It’s awareness of present
experience with acceptance. And nowadays, mindfulness is
very hot in psychotherapy, and it’s very hot in the
most scientifically-oriented psychotherapies. So people are interested
in measuring mindfulness, and they’ve developed
about half a dozen scales to do this, because if they set
up a treatment, and it works, they want to know whether people
actually became more mindful and whether that was
the active ingredient, or whether there were other
elements in the treatment that had made them feel better. And an interesting
thing about measuring mindfulness is
mindfulness is highly subject to what’s called
the Dunning Kruger effect. Now Dunning and Kruger were a
pair of social psychologists at Cornell University,
and they observed that across all sorts
of human activities, actual competence is inversely
proportional to perceived competence. Get that? Actual competence is inversely
proportional to perceived competence. You can think of this as
the Homer Simpson effect. Homer is supremely
confident when he goes out on one of his misadventures. It’s just us in the audience
thinking, I don’t know. Looks pretty bad, right? Well, people who really
think they know what they’re doing often don’t, and
this is no more clear than in mindfulness. What happens is if you give
one of these mindfulness scales to somebody who’s been,
oh, practicing meditation for 20 or 30 years,
they’ll say, oh, yeah, I was aware of my
present experience once. It was on top of a mountain
for about five minutes about eight years ago. When you tell people who
haven’t done the practice much, they say, oh, sure, I’m living
in the present all the time. And kind of the
take-home point here is don’t be surprised when can
take up mindfulness practice if you find a lot of
moments of mindlessness, if you find a lot of
moments of mind wandering, of operating on automatic,
of being lost in the thought stream and the
constant narrative that goes through our minds. And mindfulness is a lot
swimming, eating a gourmet meal, or making love. Talking about it isn’t the
same as experiencing it, so let’s, even though I’m
mostly giving this as a talk, let’s spend a few minutes
doing some mindfulness practice together. And I invite you to put down
whatever is in your hands, and find a comfortable posture. I’m not sitting in those
chairs, but look for a posture, and we’ll do this
with the eyes closed. And please do this,
those of you who are listening to this on
YouTube or are streaming it through the Google system. Just allow your eyes to close,
and find a comfortable posture in which your spine
is more or less erect. And one way to find that
posture is to imagine a string tied to the top of the head,
pulling toward the sky, gently elongating the spine. And in almost all
mindfulness practices, what we do is we begin with a
sensory object of awareness, some sensation that we
can pay attention to. And arbitrarily, we’re going
to choose the breath right now, so just begin to notice the
sensations of your breath. And notice all the feelings that
are happening as you breathe in and as you breathe out. And see for a few
moments, if it’s possible, to follow the breath
through its full cycles from the beginning
of the inhalation to the end of an exhalation
and onto the next. So we’re just going
to practice being aware of present
experience with acceptance, focusing on the breath as
an object of awareness. Now it would not be unusual
for thoughts to enter the mind. That’s OK. They’re our friends. We’re not trying
to chase them away. But instead of following
a thought the way we normally would,
we’re just going to let it arise and pass,
kind of like a cloud showing up and leaving the sky. Gently, returning our
attention to the breath. This is a lot like
puppy training. The mind scampers off. We gently bring it
back to the breath. It’s scampers again. We gently bring it back again. And all of the other judgments–
I like this, I don’t like this, I can concentrate, I can’t,
I’m a good meditator, I’m a bad meditator– those
are just other thoughts that we allow to arise and pass. Just gently training the
mind for a few moments to step out of the thought
stream and come to our senses. Gently bring the attention from
the thoughts to the sensations here and now. And to bring this little
period of practice to a close, I’m going to ring
a bell, and just listen to the bell from
the beginning of the ring until it trails off, and
you can no longer hear it. [RINGS BELL] And you can open your eyes
again, and check out the room, and maybe stretch a tiny
bit to feel your body. And perhaps, you’ll notice
that just a very few minutes of beginning to train the mind
and train the brain to come out of the thought stream
and into sensory reality helps us to connect a little
bit to what’s happening here and now on a sensory level. And you may wonder,
well, how is that– how is breath awareness or
doing something like that, how is that possibly going
to help us to deal with all of life’s difficulties
and to deal with these different
emotional states? And that’s what I’d like
to explain to you now, and then we’ll talk
about how to use these practices to work with
some of the difficult states that arise. And to understand this,
I’d like you to imagine two very different days. On the first day, you
haven’t been sleeping well, because you’ve had a bad cold. And to try to take
care of yourself, you’ve been eating a lot of junk
food and other comfort food, so you’re not feeling
terribly healthy. You haven’t really
been working out. You certainly haven’t
been meditating. You’ve been staying up kind
of too late watching TV, just trying to feel a
little bit better. You wake up in the morning
after another fitful night, and you look out the window, and
well, if you lived where I do, it’s 33 degrees and raining. And you feel kind of crummy,
and if you live with somebody, you go into the kitchen, and you
have one of those five minute interactions with
another person that can just ruin your whole day. You know what these are like. They just start off bad
and quickly escalate. And then you look at
your appointment book, and you’re meeting with
many, many too many people, and a lot of them
aren’t your favorites. And it’s with this as a backdrop
that you get into your car, and you start driving to
work, and at first, it’s barely perceptible,
but you think you maybe hear, thump, thump, thump. But as the miles go
by, it gets louder, and now it’s definitely
thump, thump, and then you feel it in the
body, and it’s thump, thump, and you’ve got a flat tire. And you’ve just had the
sense of, oh, no, not today. I can’t possibly bear this. Now imagine a wholly
different day. You haven’t had a
cold or a virus. You’ve been sleeping well. You’ve been working out. Heck, you’ve been doing
mindfulness meditation. You decide to take
good care of yourself, so you go to bed nice and early. You wake up naturally
without the alarm clock. You look out the window. It’s 68 degrees, and
the sun is shining. And you go into the
kitchen, and you have one of those
five-minute interactions with another human
being that makes you so glad to live in the
world of fellow humans, to be with other people, to have
relationship and connection. And you look at your
appointment book, and it’s a kind
of Goldilocks day for whatever your profession is. Not so much work that you’re
going to be burnt out. Not so little that you
going to starve or be fired. And you look at some of the
people you’re meeting with, and you realize, if I weren’t
working with these folks professionally, I’d
like to have them as my close personal friends. And it’s with that as a backdrop
that you get into your car, you’re driving to work,
you’re seeing the sky, you’re noticing the trees,
and you’re at a red light, and suddenly bam. You get hit from behind. And you’re startled, of course,
but you realize, well, I’m OK. And you pull your car over. The other car, the other
driver pulls their car over. And by some miracle,
the other driver doesn’t have character problems. They’re like a reasonable
balanced person, and they say, oh, I’m sorry. And you exchange
papers, and you just have this feeling that, oh, it
could’ve been so much worse. I’m glad it’s just going to
be some money and some hassle. Now on the first day, the
intensity of the experience was a moderate challenge. It was a flat tire
on a rainy day. But your capacity to bear
it was way lower than that, so you really felt
quite overwhelmed. On the second day, the
intensity of the challenge was considerably greater. You got in an
automobile accident. But your capacity
to bear adversity, your sense of resilience
was much higher than that, so you took it in stride. Many of the things we do
to try to feel happier, and in fact, many
psychiatric interventions are designed to
decrease the intensity of painful or
uncomfortable experience. Mindfulness practices,
the way they’re going to help us with these
things is quite different. They’re going to help us
by increasing our capacity to bear or be with discomfort. They’re going to help us to
be more like that samurai guy with the fly who
instead of fighting the discomfort of the fly,
found a way to accept and be with the discomfort of the fly. And mindfulness practices
can be very, very powerful in the way they do this. There’s a well-known
zen teaching story about a horrible, sadistic
general, who had come to town. This was in medieval Japan. And they were burning
crops and burning buildings and killing the
able-bodied boys and men, and they were raping women. It was horrible. And this general really want
to vanquish the townsfolk, and he caught wind that they
respected their zen master. So he took his horse, and
he rode up the hillside into the main hall
of the zen temple, and there sitting on
the meditation cushion is this little old
man, the zen master. And the general takes
his bloody sword, and he holds it
over the zen master. He says, don’t you realize I can
run you through with this sword without blinking an eye? And the little man looks
up, and he says, yes, and I, sir, can be run
through with a sword without blinking an eye. And it’s said that
at that moment, the general becomes
disoriented and leaves town. Now it’s not always
going to work as a military
intervention, but it speaks to how these practices
develop our capacity to be with discomfort and
not to have to escape it. And the way they help us be
with the marginal discomfort is particularly interesting,
because let’s say I’m not a mindfulness
guy, and something happens with a friend of mine. And he’s a good
friend, and I’ve done all sorts of things for him. And he does something
selfish, treats me dirty. And I start to think,
I can’t believe you did that to me after all the
good stuff I’ve done for you. And every time I have
one of those thoughts, my body gets all tense,
and I get all upset, and then that brings
more of those thoughts. And we just get
stuck in this loop. Once we’ve practice
mindfulness for awhile, we start to experience
emotions differently. We start to experience them
the way cognitive scientists actually describe emotions. A continent of
scientists would tell us an emotion consists of
a few simple things. Take a moment to feel,
for example, a little bit of sadness yourself. Just imagine something maybe
that makes you a little sad. You notice that that starts
off with a body sensation. Maybe it’s a pressure here
or here or in the eyes, so an emotion starts
with a body sensation, and it includes a thought,
the sad thought or the memory or something, and it also
includes a visual image. And that’s all there is to it. Once we’ve practiced
mindfulness for awhile and spent time dropping
out of the thought stream and staying at
the sensory level, let’s say the anger
comes up, and all I experience is the
body tensing up, heart rate increasing,
respiration increasing, blood pressure–
well, you don’t feel blood pressure– but body
temperature increasing. And perhaps the thought coming
and passing like a cloud in the sky, perhaps the image
of decapitating my former friend dancing through the
mind’s eye, but it’s all seen as a kind of impersonal
process of mental contents arising and passing. And when we can
experience it that way, we get much less caught in
it, and it’s much easier to let it come and go. So putting this together,
mindfulness practice, the way it’s going to
work for us is it’s going to support
experiential approach instead of experiential
avoidance, because when something uncomfortable comes
up in mindfulness practice, instead of quick, how do I
change it, how do I fix it, how do I make myself
more comfortable, we learn to be with it. This starts at the
very sensory level of simply when an
ache or an itch arises, when we’re doing
meditation practice, you simply sit with
the ache or the itch, and maybe turn your attention
to the ache or the itch instead of to the breath. And that develops this
muscle, if you will, of being able to stay with
or be with discomfort. It helps us to step out
of the thought stream. Instead of believing in
our thoughts so much, we start to see them
as mental contents, as thoughts coming and going. So we don’t get so
trapped in them. In the process,
interestingly, we become much less self-focused. So all of the nightmares
about falling behind and not being good enough and not
getting the best review at work and all of that–
not that I don’t want you to try hard in your
work at Google– but all of the self-esteem
concerns start to settle down, because we’re
not always comparing ourselves with others. We’re not so centered
on ourselves anymore. By watching things
change constantly in mindfulness
practice, we start to get it that everything
is in constant flux. Everything’s
constantly changing. So we’re not as freaked
out by our kids going off to college or some health
problem or some other change. And finally, these help us to
live in the present moment. And living in the present
moment is enormously useful. One of my favorite
studies in this area was done by a guy named
Matthew Killingsworth, and he was a grad
student at Harvard. He was in the lab
of Dan Gilbert. Dan Gilbert wrote a book called
“Stumbling on Happiness.” He’s guy who’s done
a lot of research in basically the
things we do to try to be happy that don’t work. So here was Gilbert’s study. He developed a smartphone
app, and this app would randomly page
people throughout the day. And it would ask
them three things. What are you doing? What are you feeling? And where was your
tension at the moment that the phone paged you? And what he found
was it didn’t really matter what people were doing
in terms of what they were doing did not predict how they’d feel. What predicted how
they would feel was where their attention was
at the moment the phone rang. So to use a rather
stark example, if somebody were
washing the dishes and were attending to
the experience of washing the dishes, they reported
more enhanced well-being than somebody who’s eating the
gourmet meal or making love but thinking about other things. So simply training the attention
to be in the present moment starts to increase our
level of well-being. Another very
interesting study was done in the early days of
the neurobiological research on this by Richard Davidson at
the Laboratory for Affective Neurobiology at the University
of Wisconsin in Madison. And he had studied
ordinary people and had found that when people
are experiencing states that are either happy, enthusiastic,
energized, engaged, there’s a lot of left
prefrontal cortical activity in the brain, a lot of
activity behind this area. And when people
are hypervigilant, meaning scanning the
environment for danger, doing Lucy’s type 1 error,
or they’re depressed or they’re anxious,
there’s a lot of right prefrontal activation. And this had been studied in
ordinary individuals, otherwise known as college sophomores. But they actually studied
it in grownups also, and it held true. Then Richie invited a Tibetan
monk who had tens of thousands of hours of meditation practice
under his belt into the lab. And this guy was
simply off the charts in terms of the
degree to which he had left prefrontal activity but
not right prefrontal activity. He was lateralized
in a way that would make him unbelievably happy. Rich is a good scientist,
so he has to question, well, maybe people who become monks in
Tibet are predisposed this way. Maybe it had nothing to do
with the meditation practice. Maybe that’s just kind of
how he grew up or who he was. So he and Jon
Kabat-Zinn got together, and they did a
wonderful little study. They took a bunch of
stressed out biotech workers, and they randomly assigned
them to two groups. And one group they put through
an eight-week mindfulness training course,
and the other group was just doing
business as usual. And everybody before the
study was leaning right. There was a lot of right
prefrontal activation, because it was a stressed
out group of biotech workers. Not like a Google, where
they take good care of you. After the eight
weeks, the group who’d been through the
mindfulness training, they had shifted much more
toward left prefrontal activity compared to their peers. They also gave everybody
a flu shot at that point, and it turned out that the
people who had been through the mindfulness training had a
more robust response to the flu vaccine than the
people who hadn’t. And then the second group
was put though the course, and they caught up to
the first, and they were leaning left also. So it was pretty clear
that it’s actually the practice that does
this is, not simply being born as somebody who
becomes a monk in Tibet. Now since these practices are
going to help us emotionally by helping us to be with
emotional discomfort, rather than trying to
escape it, the studies on pain and mindfulness become
very, very relevant here. And there have been
a number of studies on experimentally induced
pain, and these are studies in which they take people. They put them in
functional MRI machines, which are like video
machines taking an MRI. And their feet are sticking
out, so they do terrible things to their feet. They shock them, or they
shoot a laser at them. Nothing damaging, but
things that are painful. And what they found doing that
was that compared to novices, experienced meditators
found the same stimulus to be much less unpleasant. They could observe their
pain much less reactively. They found that open
monitoring, which is kind of mindfulness practice
in which instead of focusing on one object like the
breath, once you develop a certain level
of concentration, you open up to
whatever predominates in the field of awareness–
that open monitoring made people feel that the pain
was less unpleasant, and they also had a lot less
anticipatory pain anxiety. One of the things you
see in these studies is that just waiting
for the next shock causes a great
deal of discomfort. Not so much in the meditators. And then they went
in to look, what’s going on neurobiologically? And to understand
this, I need to just describe a couple of
brain structures to you. The first structure
is the insula, and that’s where
it is on the brain. And that’s associated
with interoception, with noticing
sensations in the body. It’s about visceral
and gut feelings, and it processes transient
sensory perceptions, things that are coming
and going in the body. And it’s very activated
during meditation practice, and in fact, it
grows in meditators. It gets bigger in
meditators over time, which is no
surprise, because you can imagine that tuning into
what’s going on in the body would sensitize
you to this, and we know that neurons that fire
together wire together. So any part of the
brain that you activate will get bigger in this way. The other area we
want to discuss here is the prefrontal
cortex, and that evaluates our
emotional responses and regulates emotion. That’s the part of
the brain that’s involved– to go back to
Lucy’s experience– and saying, yes, it looks like a lion, but
lions aren’t generally found in this part of the savanna,
so it’s probably a beige rock. It’s basically our
thinking capacity that helps to modulate our emotions. So what do we find
neurobiologically? So meditators practicing
open monitoring, this kind of mindfulness in
which you take in whatever arises, when they’re
exposed to pain, they had decreased activity in
the lateral prefrontal cortex, so the part of the brain
that’s thinking about it and evaluating it
was relatively quiet. But they had
increased activation in a part in the
posterior insula, so they’re actually
feeling it more vividly. So what we’ve seen
neurobiologically is exactly the same thing
the monks have reported for 2,500 years and anybody who
takes up these practices can see for themselves. You feel pleasure and
pain more vividly, but you get less upset by it
and less freaked out about it, and the reason you become
less upset and less freaked out about it is because
you’re no longer resisting it. You make the transition
that the samurai warrior made from hating the fly
to being with the fly. So in our last
little while, I want to give you an
idea of how you can use these skills to work with
everyday kinds of problems. Anybody here ever feel anxious? Yeah. We all do, and it
happens quite a bit. So when cognitive scientists
and clinical scientists study anxiety, they say it
has three components to it. And anxiety disorders have three
components to them as well. The first is
physiological arousal. That’s the activation of
the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous
system and of what’s called the hypothalamic
pituitary adrenal axis, which is basically a hormonal
system that dovetails with the sympathetic
nervous system to secrete adrenaline
and create that wound up, roused up feeling that
we’re all too familiar with. There’s a cognitive
part of it, and that’s all the negative fantasies
about the future. This is imagining
terrible things happening, which we all
do quite readily when we’re feeling anxious. And then there’s a
behavioral part of it, and these are typically
our avoidance strategies, and these are what are
most critical in developing an actual anxiety
disorder, because it’s, as I mentioned before,
it’s not feeling nervous that’s the problem. It’s avoiding things in order
to try to not feel nervous that becomes our problem. To tell you the truth,
even when I’m in the water, I don’t feel that comfortable. One of the things we notice when
we take up mindfulness practice is just how often we’re anxious. And it takes a lot of forms. Who among you
practices mindfulness with some regularity? I’m just curious. I know Google’s got all these
wonderful supports for it. You ever feel restless? You ever feel like, I kind
of want to get up now? You ever feel
tension in your body? These are all signs of anxiety. It’s very, very pervasive,
and when we first start taking up these
mindfulness practices, we start to notice
it quite a bit. Now take a moment to
think about something that makes you anxious. Just think of something. This shouldn’t take long. You got it? OK. Is that thing in the past, in
the future, or in the present? What is it? What? AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]. RON SIEGEL: All in the future. Right, indeed. We find it’s in the future. Sometimes people
will say, well, no, I’m really anxious about this
thing that I did this morning. But on closer
analysis, we realized, I’m really anxious
that I’m going to be incarcerated this evening
for what I did this morning. The fact that it
happened in the problem, it’s anticipating what
the result is going to be. So it turns out that all
anxiety is anticipatory, and even people that are in
terrible present situations worry about the future. When EMTs extract people from
like an automobile crash, people say, will
I be able to walk? Will I survive? Will my loved ones be OK? When we’re frightened, we’re
frightened of the future. Now this will give
you one hint about one of the ways in which
mindfulness practice can help us work with this,
because mindfulness practice is training the mind to come
back into the present, back into the present,
back in the present. And it’s also training
us to step out of the thought stream,
because I mean, yes, occasionally we
step out into the street, and a bus is
barreling down on us, and we’re frightened of
some physical reality. And Lucy certainly had
lions to worry about. But for most of us, what makes
us anxious is our thoughts, isn’t it? It’s some imagined future
going through our minds, going through the
thought stream. So you can see how by
bringing the attention out of the thought stream, and
in addition to that, bringing the attention to the present
moment, that in itself would help us to work with this. Interestingly, the
Buddha had something to say about this
2,500 years ago when he was teaching monks
mindfulness practice. He said, “Why do I dwell always
expecting fear and dread? What if I subdue that fear and
dread keeping the same posture that I’m in when
it comes upon me? While I walked, the fear
and dread came upon me. I neither stood nor
sat nor laid down until I had subdued
that fear and dread.” Now these mindfulness
practices are classically practiced in four
different postures– sitting, lying down,
walking, and standing. So what he’s saying is, I just
stayed with the experience rather than fleeing,
rather than doing something to try to escape it. And when he says subdued, what
we’re really talking about is riding it out, just trusting
that all phenomena are going to change, including this, and
I don’t have to do something compulsively to fix it. This is a modern example
of the same thing. This is Professor Gallagher
and his controversial technique of simultaneously confronting
the fear of heights, snakes, and the dark. You don’t need a crane to do it. All you need is a
meditation cushion. All you’ve got to do is it’s
necessary to be with fear and not escape it. All we need to do to do
this in mindfulness practice is to simply stay with
it, stay with the breath, and start to see
the goal not as how do I get the anxiety to
stop, but how do I increase my capacity to be with it. And as we do that over
time, anxiety disorders tend to lessen in
their intensity. Now there’s a lot of
neurobiological evidence that there are
changes that happen in the brain with
mindfulness practice that are associated with
getting better at this. The amygdala is
another structure. It’s a little almond-shaped
part of the limbic system, and this helps us to
evaluate threats, to decide, is it a lion, or
is it a beige rock? It turns out that among
meditators, the amygdala tends to shrink. We know from
neurobiological research that in rats, if you place
them in a stressful environment in some form of rat hell,
their amygdala will grow. Well, it turns out if you place
humans in a meditation course where they learn
mindfulness practice, their amygdala actually shrinks,
because it becomes less active, and it atrophies a little bit. And there have been a number
of studies showing this. In one of them, there is an
eight-week mindfulness training for anxious patients, and
in the mindfulness group, the amygdala activation
decreased more. They reported more of
a decrease of anxiety than the other people who were
in a general stress reduction group. They had more activation
of the prefrontal cortex. This was being able to evaluate
whether the thing is actually dangerous or not, and
come to the conclusion that it isn’t, and
more connections between the prefrontal
cortex and the amygdala. Now finally, if you’re
feeling particularly anxious, it can be difficult
to sit and do meditation and
follow the breath, because we’re just too antsy. We’re too restless. But there are many
other different kinds of meditation practices. There’s walking meditation,
eating meditation, nature meditation. The sensory object
we attend to doesn’t have to be sitting still
and being with the breath. And I’ll mention a
resource at the end, but I’ll mention it now as well. They have a website. It’s mindfulness-solution.com,
and they have a lot of different medications. They’re there just
to download for free that you can use to try
different modalities to find one that’s relatively
easy to work with. So let’s talk about another
very common problem, which is depression. And now I’m not
talking necessarily about a serious clinical
depression, but all of us get depressed from time to time. In fact, a lot of times
when we get depressed, it’s because our rank in the
primate troop has fallen. There’s some way we’ve had
some disappointment, some sense of failure– either
somebody’s rejected us, or we didn’t get the job or
the promotion or something like this– and we start
to kind of give up and feel despondent about that. Who here’s an engineer? How’d I guess, right? Now when you look
at a sine wave, if you alter this so that the
bottom half of the sine wave doesn’t dip as low, what’s
going to happen to the top half? It’s not going to go
to as high, right? The whole thing’s
going to compress, because it’s symmetrical
around the neutral. This is kind of what
happens to us in depression. As the mind and the brain try
to automatically– because it really is quite an automatic
process– shut down on painful
experience, we wind up compressing the entire
range of emotion so that we don’t
feel joy, we don’t feel engagement is what we
were talking about earlier. So we could think of depression,
and here, by the way, just to make this clear– I
should’ve said this earlier– I’m not saying
that, for example, the propensity for
anxiety or depression doesn’t have genetic
roots, that there aren’t all sorts of causes for this
as serious pathology in terms of childhood abuse,
problems growing up, genetic
predispositions, all of what we know in psychology
and psychiatry as true. I’m just discussing
the mechanisms by which the actual
feeling of these things and the experience
of these things and the behavioral
components of this play out and how mindfulness
can help us with this. So depression involves– well,
there’s all this genetic stuff and all that. It also involves a turning
away from experience, turning away from pain. And because mindfulness turns
toward the experience at hand, it winds up challenging
the depressive stance. This is what Bhante
Guanarantana– he’s a Buddhist monk–
wrote a nice book called “Mindfulness” in plain English. He says, “You become sensitive
to the actual experience of living to how
things actually feel. You do not sit around developing
sublime thoughts about living. You live.” And this comes from
simply connecting to sensory experience
over and over, and not fearing painful
emotions brings us back alive. So when we’re using
mindfulness practice to work with depression,
we’re actually interested in what painful
thing the depression may be masking, covering
up, or blocking out. And we discovered this by seeing
what’s going on in the body right now. If I’m feeling
depressed, what exactly is happening in the body? What emotions may be
manifesting there? We also look at our
relationship to the pain. Am I fighting it? Am I resisting it? Am I being like the
samurai guy with the sword? Or am I to able to
simply hang out with it? And then to see if we can be
compassionate toward ourselves, if we can stay with it. And as one of you
mentioned, there’s a lot of hopelessness
involved in depression, and there’s an interesting
cognitive model for that developed by the people
who developed something called mindfulness-based cognitive
therapy, in which they said that when we just
get sad, we just feel sad. But when we get
depressed, there’s a whole matrix of thoughts
that go around that. It’s hopeless. I’m a failure. I’m worthless. I’m unloved. All these kinds of
thoughts happen. And if we have a propensity
toward depression, then every time that we get
discouraged in some way, this whole collection
of thoughts comes and visits us again
and causes us grief again. So if we can begin to see these
thoughts as coming and going like an itch or an ache,
or like the clouds passing through the sky, we’re going
to have a much easier time with the depression. So what we do with
mindfulness practice is see the thoughts
aren’t facts. I’m not my thoughts. Refuting them often falls flat. If you try to talk your way
out of the depressive stance– you’ve done that, I’m sure. It doesn’t tend to work. But if you change your
relationship to thinking, and you start to see all thought
as changing and unreliable, it becomes much easier. There have been
studies of this using mindfulness-based
cognitive therapy, and just to say briefly, what
they found was after a year, this was treating people who
had had serious depressive episodes, and they put them
through this mindfulness program when they
weren’t depressed to see who would relapse. And they found that
after a year, 66% or 2/3 of the people that had
mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, MBCT, had managed
not to relapse, while only 1/3 with TAU, which is
Treatment as Usual, had managed not to relapse. So it cut the
relapse rate in half. It cut in half the rate
by which people fell back into serious depression. And this– by the way,
this was back in 2000– was the first big study
that really got mindfulness on the map in terms of funding
to do research in this, because that was a very,
very powerful outcome. One other thing you
can do is to practice what we might call affective
or emotional meteorology, which is simply to notice that
emotions and thoughts change. And when feeling depressed, to
simply ask the question, when in the past did you
not feel depressed, and how were your thought
patterns different? And usually what we
notice is that, oh, yeah, well, back then, I
actually had some hope. I thought I was OK. I felt good about myself. But when we’re
depressed, we think, I was just fooling myself. That was an illusion. Now I know that I’m doomed. The opposite’s true too. When we pull out
of the depression, we remember the
depressed thoughts, and we think, oh, yeah, well,
that was just the depression talking. What we start to notice
through mindfulness practice is these thought patterns
change like the weather, and they’re all really,
really, very, very unreliable. So to summarize the
kind of attitude that we might take toward
our experience of mindful attitude toward
experience in dealing with depression, anxiety,
and other things, I want to quote Rumi. He’s a 13th century
Islamic mystical poet and there’s a very
well-known poem he wrote called “The Guest
House,” and here’s how it goes. “This being human
is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival, a
joy, a depression, a meanness. Some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain
them all, even if they’re proud of sorrows who
violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still
treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you
out for some new delight. The dark thought, the
shame, the malice– meet them at the door
laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever
comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” So I think that’s
about it for our time. In terms of resources, this
was the website I mentioned, mindfulness-solution.com, and
there’s a Download Meditation section to that. And you can download–
there’s probably about 20 of them– different
meditations that you can use. Also within the
Google system, there’s a whole list of references
from the various studies that I alluded to today. You can check that out. If you’re interested in
learning more about this, there’s a book that goes
with the website called “The Mindfulness
Solution,” which I wrote for general audiences,
which talks about how to develop a mindfulness
practice in a step-by-step way in the course of a busy
life, and then how to use it. There are separate
chapters on using it to work with anxiety,
with depression, with interpersonal
challenges, with chronic pain, difficulties with aging,
with really a wide variety of everyday practice,
everyday problems, and you’re welcome to
check that out as well. So thank you for coming. Thank you for your attention. [APPLAUSE] AUDIENCE: I’ll ask,
how long do you think the average Googler
would need to start practicing mindfulness before they start to
see a difference in themselves? RON SIEGEL: Well,
it’s interesting. When Jon Kabat-Zinn
set up a program called mindfulness-based
stress reduction, which was one of the first programs
to package mindfulness practice and disseminate it
to secular audiences and to use it in
the medical world, he, in that eight-week
training program, asked people to do
about 45 minutes a day. So fairly intense
commitment, and if you do that over the
course of eight weeks, you get these profound changes
in brain function, brain structure, you really feel it. Now some people aren’t going
to be willing to do that. I find that,
personally, I notice I’m doing better if I can
devote 20 minutes a day compared to not
doing the practice. And there have been a
number of studies showing that relatively small doses
over relatively short periods of time still have
effects, but this stuff does tend to be dose-related,
and the more time, the more profound the effects tend to be. AUDIENCE: So I’ve done a little
bit of this sort of meditation and kind of trying to be with
the thoughts but not interact, and what I find is that either
I’m completely carried away with it, or I go
back to this reflex where I just disengage
and disconnect. And I’m interested
in if you have advice on how to sort of be with
it, but not get carried in and not run. RON SIEGEL: Yeah. Well, you know, in
the various systems of mindfulness
meditation, there are different objects of
meditation that are suggested. Most of the systems start
with just sensory experiences like the breath, like sounds,
like the sights of nature, like the sensation of the
body sitting in the chair, but one can also then
expand out to mindfulness of feeling and mindfulness
of thought, even. But it’s much harder
to do those until you have a pretty strong
base in concentration, exactly what you’re describing,
because unless the mind is accustomed to staying with
a given mental object, as soon as it moves into the realm of
thought, it tends to take off. So we feel like we’ve
got two options. One is to sort of
ignore thought, or just get into thinking. So for me, personally,
it’s really only when I’ve been
meditating more, and I’ve got a fair bit of
momentum of concentration that I pay much attention to
the mindfulness of thought. Most the time I stay
at the sensory level, but the sensory level
includes emotions in the sense that
at the sensory level comes fear or anger or joy or
sexual interest or sadness, because all of these things
begin as bodily events. So I can stay at
the sensory level and still explore a
lot of experience, but I usually choose when
I’m doing the practice to not try mindfulness
of thought, unless I’m in a retreat setting
where I’m really developing a lot of concentration,
because I’m sort of meditating for hours at
a time in one form or another. And then there’s sufficient
awareness and attention to be able to see a thought
without getting caught in it. But exactly what
you’re describing is what’s described
historically over thousands of years of people
experimenting with this. OK. So thank you so much
for coming, everybody. [APPLAUSE]