Identify your main trigger areas.

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There are myriad strategies for traveling the spiritual path. We can focus on nonattachment. Or impermanence. On not clinging or resisting. On not wanting or fearing. We can emphasize letting go. Or being present. And others, I’m sure.

But whatever they are, they all seek to achieve the same thing: Shedding our conditioned, egoic, mind-dominating selves. The more we shed, the more awakened and conscious we become. This manifests as an inward feeling of peace and an outward flow of love and compassion toward others.

Mickey Singer gets it right

My favorite among the above is Mickey Singer’s focus on…

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A few months after we got married, my wife and I moved to Paris for two months. She had just left a stressful job, and I was writing a screenplay about Teddy Roosevelt so we figured, I can write anywhere so why not Paris? And off we went.

We rented a tiny one-bedroom apartment in the Latin Quarter, about two hundred yards down from the Pantheon where Voltaire, Victor Hugo (Les Miserables), and Alexandre Dumas (The Three Musketeers) are buried, among other French luminaries.

Our life was idyllic. I’d wake up early, get an espresso and a croissant, then come…

Outside and inside.

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Be present. Be in the moment. It’s what so many spiritual traditions offer up as the most important endeavor we humans can pursue. But entering the present moment is much easier said than done.

Why? Because it’s hard. Really hard. Why is it so hard? Because our minds, aka our egoic selves, constantly wrest our attention away from the present and into Thoughtlandia.

Eckhart’s solution to this conundrum offers two options for entering the moment: Going outside or inside.

Looking out the window

Outside means using our sense perceptions. For example, if you’re driving through brutal traffic, feeling uptight and…

One activity is especially beneficial.

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My last article explained why we humans think so many useless, involuntary thoughts that cause us so much misery. I laid the blame mostly on our obsolete brains, which aren’t much different than they were 200,000 years ago. Bottom line: We have hunter-gatherer brains that are poorly designed to handle the frenzied nature of the high-tech, busy-body world we live in.

I ended by stating that while it would take evolution a long time to correct this problem, there was some good news for humanity. Here it is.

Remember in the movie The Graduate when that boring corporate tool dad…

Quiet down and listen.

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What’s the purpose of my life? It’s the most vexing question we earthlings face. Unfortunately, most people go from womb to grave never coming close to finding an answer. In fact, most of us just punt altogether, eventually saying to ourselves, “Look, there’s no way you can know your true purpose in life so stop whining about it and just make your way as best you can.”

To all of you out there still searching for your path in life, the purpose of this piece is to persuade you to NEVER punt on this question. Why? …

Hint: our brains are obsolete.

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Most of us spend the vast majority of our time adrift in injurious, involuntary thinking. Constantly churning. Wandering in our heads.

Example: You’re stopped at a red light. Are you actually in your car at that red light or are you in your head stewing over, for the umpteenth time, the cheap shot your mother-in-law leveled at you at dinner the previous night? You get home ten minutes later and it occurs to you that you can’t even remember driving home. Sound familiar?

Not all thinking is bad

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that all thinking is bad…

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Eckhart Tolle has said and written many things that resonate with me for different reasons. One in particular puts me in a state of ease when I let the words wash through me. It is this:

“Here’s a spiritual practice for you: Don’t take your thoughts too seriously.”

Aaaaaahhhh. I can just feel the “heaviness of life muck” just melt away from my stomach as I read that.

Why is this? Why do I, and probably many of you, feel better and lighter when we take our thoughts less seriously? …

Want less.

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Happiness has its own cottage industry these days with numerous books written on the subject and prestigious universities like Yale, Stanford and even Harvard Business School offering courses in it. From my examination the same few things crop up in the literature on the essentials of happiness: invest in personal relationships, do work that feels meaningful and don’t get hung up on power and money.

I agree with most all of the recommendations coming out of the happiness industry, but I feel like the Buddhists come closest to getting to the crux of living a contented life. …

The most impactful words I’ve ever read.

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Up until age 18 my life was pretty darn great. No major tragedies or divorces, fun playing sports and chasing girls, which for me meant obsessive crushes that the objects of my affection never even knew about because I was too mortified of being rejected to ever make anything remotely resembling a move. But that’s another story for another time.

Then senior year brought my first true-blue relationship and the inner tumult that threw me into my first existential tizzy. …

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For the life of me I can’t figure out why more people don’t meditate. It’s not that hard, doesn’t take much time and has several life-transforming benefits like helping relieve anxiety, depression and chronic pain, improving focus and boosting our immune systems. So much benefit for so little cost. That’s why I’m spending the vast majority of my professional life on spreading this fantastic practice as far and wide as I can.

Telomeres and gray matter

The focus of this piece is a less well-known benefit of meditation: The slowing of the aging process. This manifests mainly in on how…

David Gerken

Meditation and Mindfulness teacher. Dad of three precious kids. Former writer for THE WEST WING. Follow me at

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