Ricard: a fulfilled life?

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A fulfilled life is not made up of an uninterrupted succession of pleasant sensations but really comes from transforming the way we understand and work through the challenges of our existence.
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Training the mind not only makes it possible to cope with mental toxins like hatred, obsession, and fear that poison our existence, but also helps us acquire a better understanding of how the mind functions and gives us a more accurate perception of reality.
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This, in turn, gives us the inner resources to successfully face the highs and lows of life without being distracted or broken by them, and allows us to draw deep lessons from them.
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One of the great tragedies of our time is that we significantly underestimate our capacity for change.
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Our character traits remain the same as long as we do nothing to change them, and as long as we continue to tolerate and reinforce our habits and patterns, thought after thought.
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The truth is that the state that we call “normal” is just a starting point and not the goal we ought to set for ourselves.
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Our life is worth much more than that!
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It is possible, little by little, to arrive at an optimal way of being.
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“What is the mind? A Mirror?

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“What is the mind? It is a phenomenon that is not body, not substantial, has no form, no shape, no color, but, like a mirror, can clearly reflect objects.”
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– Lama Zopa Rinpoche
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Then being present, empty of thought, would be the clearest the mirror would ever appear, would it not?
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If we have PTSD, we see an unworthy image reflected back at us.
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It is a delusion!
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Our perception becomes reality, we become unworthy in our mind.
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What do you think?
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Ricard: Why Meditate

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A fulfilled life is not made up of an uninterrupted succession of pleasant sensations but really comes from transforming the way we understand and work through the challenges of our existence.
.
.
Training the mind not only makes it possible to cope with mental toxins like hatred, obsession, and fear that poison our existence, but also helps us acquire a better understanding of how the mind functions and gives us a more accurate perception of reality.
.
.
This, in turn, gives us the inner resources to successfully face the highs and lows of life without being distracted or broken by them, and allows us to draw deep lessons from them.
.
.
One of the great tragedies of our time is that we significantly underestimate our capacity for change.
.
.
Our character traits remain the same as long as we do nothing to change them, and as long as we continue to tolerate and reinforce our habits and patterns, thought after thought.
.
.
The truth is that the state that we call “normal” is just a starting point and not the goal we ought to set for ourselves.
.
.
Our life is worth much more than that!
.
.
It is possible, little by little, to arrive at an optimal way of being.
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Letting go

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Learning to let go
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should be learned
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before learning to get.
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Life should be touched,
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not strangled.
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You’ve got to relax,
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let it happen at times,
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and at others
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move forward with it.”
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― Ray Bradbury
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The Undefeated Mind: pain

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Frosted Tamarack Swamp
Photograph by Adam Dorn

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Though the pain of a stubbed toe or a headache may seem like a single, unified experience, it actually represents the sum of two different experiences created by two separate areas of the brain—one called the posterior insula, which registers the sensation of pain (its quality, intensity, and so on) and the other the anterior cingulate cortex, which registers pain’s unpleasant character.
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We know this is how the brain experiences pain because of imaging studies and because patients who’ve had damage to the anterior cingulate cortex feel the sensation of pain but not its unpleasantness.
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That is, they feel pain but aren’t bothered by it (interestingly, in some people, morphine has the same effect.
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When the anterior cingulate cortex isn’t functioning, pain is still experienced but seems to lose its emotional impact and thus its motivating force.
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This finding, that the sensation of pain and the unpleasantness of pain come from distinct neurological processes that occur in different locations within the brain, explains how a single pain stimulus can cause such subjectively different pain experiences.
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Even if the physical sensation of pain remains constant, our “affective reaction” to it—how much it makes us suffer—will vary tremendously depending on several factors.
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Research shows, for example, that how we interpret the meaning of pain has a dramatic impact on our ability to tolerate it.
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In one study, subjects reported pain they believed represented tissue damage to be more intense than pain they believed didn’t, possibly explaining why women rate cancer pain as more unpleasant than labor pain even when their intensities are the same.
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Not only that, but when we focus on the benefit of pain (when one exists), we’re actually able to reduce its unpleasantness.
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Matthew Ricard: Experienced Meditators

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Experienced meditators are able to generate precise targeted mental states that are enduring and powerful.
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Among other things, experiments have shown that the region of the brain associated with mental states like compassion exhibits considerably greater activity among persons who have long meditative experience than among those who do not.
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These discoveries demonstrate that certain human qualities can be deliberately cultivated through mental training.
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Such studies have led to the publication of several articles in prestigious scientific journals, establishing the credibility of research on meditation, an area which had not been taken seriously until then.
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Richard Davidson, a leading neuroscientist, acknowledges: “These studies seem to demonstrate that the brain can be trained and physically modified in a way that few people would have imagined.
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Other scientific investigations have shown that you do not have to be a highly trained meditator to benefit from the effects of meditation: even 20 minutes of daily practice can contribute significantly to the reduction of stress, whose harmful effects on health are well established.
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Why Meditate: Mathew Ricard

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Altruistic love and compassion are the foundations of genuine happiness.
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These remarks are not intended to be moralistic; they simply reflect reality.
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Seeking happiness selfishly is a sure way to make yourself, or anyone else, unhappy.
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Some people might think that the smartest way to guarantee their own well-being is to isolate themselves from others and to work hard at their own happiness, without consideration for what other people are experiencing.
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They probably assume that if everybody did that, we’d all be happy.
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But the result would be exactly the opposite: instead of being happy, they would be torn between hope and fear, make their own lives miserable, and ruin the lives of the people around them too.
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In the end, just “looking out for number one” is a losing proposition for everybody.
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