A crucial skill for minimizing emotional chaos and sustaining clarity in your life is the ability to distinguish between your experience and your interpretation of your experience. Your experience is simply whatever is happening in the moment — a sound, a taste, a bodily sensation, an emotion, any kind of interaction, etc. Your interpretation is your mind’s reaction to that experience. One way to understand this difference to to practice that when you are directly experience a moment of life, you are within it, when you are interpreting it, you are outside it……. The next step toward breaking your habit of automatically interpreting every experience is to practice being mindful from moment to moment of the distinction between experience and interpretation. Begin to notice, ‘Is there a difference between my direct experience of what’s going on and how I’ve interpreted it?’ You’ll need to practice noticing over and over again before you really start to know the difference. The more you’re able to distinguish experience, from interpretation, the more you’ll be able to stay in the moment, the calmer you’ll be, and the more choice you’ll have for responding skillfully to whatever circumstances arise.
Phillip Moffitt, From Emotional Chaos to Clarity
The ability to drop into the present is sometimes referred to as child-mind, because children, little ones, look at things that openly, from that degree of relaxation, from that degree of nowness. Can you remember what it was like as a child, sitting under a bush and how it smelled, going to grandmothers and how her house or garden smelled, and how her perfume smelled? Think of a child going to a museum and not having a clue that what they are seeing is a Picasso or a Renoir. Children just look with this kind of open awareness.
Pema Chodron, How to Meditate
Being able to focus on the other person rather than the text you just received has become the new fundamental requirement for having a relationship with that person. If you go to a restaurant these days, for instance, you see people sitting together, at the same table, staring at their video screens, their phone, their iPad, or whatever it may be — and not talking to each other. That’s become the new norm. And what it means is that the connection is being damaged to some extent — threatened by the fact that we’re together, but we’re not together. We’re alone together.
Daniel Goldman, Is Attention the Secret to Emotional Intelligence
Drink your tea slowly and reverently,
as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves
– slowly, evenly –
without rushing toward the future
Thich Nhat Hahn
All of us know how difficult it is for us to be inside the present moment, to not be asleep to the real riches inside our own lives. The distractions and worries of daily life tend to so consume us that we habitually take for granted what’s most precious to us, our health, the miracle of our senses, the love and friendships that surround us, and the gift of life itself. We go through our daily lives not only with a lack of reflectiveness and lack of gratitude but with a habitual touch of resentment as well, a chronic, grey depression, Robert Moore calls it. We are very much asleep, both to God and to our own lives.
In a way, nobody sees a flower, really,
it is so small, we haven’t the time
— and to see takes time,
like to have a friend takes time.