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The Mental Fountain

I first got involved in meditation because my brain hurt. As a teenage Monty Python fan, that’s how I described it at the time. What I meant was that the experience of thinking was actually a kind of torment for me. Either my thoughts were unpleasant, which I didn’t like, or my thoughts would just keep repeating, over and over, …

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Escaping the Observer Trap: Free Yourself by Observing the Observer

re you feeling stuck in your mindfulness practice? Did meditation lead to big, positive life changes early on, but now years later you’re just sort of treading water with no sense of making progress? Mindfulness meditation is an extremely helpful and useful practice, but that doesn’t mean that it’s perfect, or that it has no pitfalls. In fact, it’s not …

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Concentration and Love

by Michael W. Taft I remember the first time I fell in love. I wrote her name in my notebook over and over, repeating the name as if the sound itself were savory. I pictured her face in my mind, and imagined the things we would do together. My lover was so easy to concentrate on that it became difficult to …

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Undoing Distraction, Technology Edition

by Michael W. Taft Does anyone you know not have a problem with too many distractions? Here in the Bay Area at least, it seems to be an epidemic—many people report feeling frazzled from the pressures of too much technology. In Part One of Undoing Distraction, we looked at a few of the basics of reclaiming a hold on your …

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One Thing at a Time

All of us have had the experience of doing too many things at once. Of driving while listening to the radio, eating a burrito, and talking to a friend all at once. While it’s amazing that human beings can juggle so many things at once—a testament to our versatility—it’s also a fantastic way to end up with salsa in your …

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Breathe and Relax for Better Concentration

by Michael W. Taft As meditation experts the world around have noticed over the millennia, relaxing makes concentration much easier. If you are too amped up, your system will be full of stress hormones such as glucocorticoids, which stimulate you to scan the environment for threats, get ready to run, and so forth. Your attention will be in high gear, …

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The Ego as a Function

In this short video, Michael W. Taft discusses the ego—something which feels as if it is an eternal entity, but which actually is nothing more than a brain-generated function.  

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Thinking about Thinking

  As far as we know, human beings are the only animal capable of introspection—the ability to examine our own mental processes. We not only think, but can observe ourselves in the act of thinking, a function also called metacognition. While philosophers and theologians have long trumpeted the importance of our introspective powers, until now scientists have known little about the …

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Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime

  by Ferris Jabr Every now and then during the workweek—usually around three in the afternoon—a familiar ache begins to saturate my forehead and pool in my temples. The glare of my computer screen appears to suddenly intensify. My eyes trace the contour of the same sentence two or three times, yet I fail to extract its meaning. Even if …

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Emotions Are Physical Events: Video

Michael Taft – “The Physicality of Emotions” from Ego the Book In this short video, Michael W. Taft discusses the difference between the embodied sensation of emotions, and the conceptual understanding of emotions.

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Create a System of Rewards to Increase Your Concentration

by Michael W. Taft “Yeah when you call my name I salivate like a Pavlov dog…” — Rolling Stones Concentration is natural, but many of us struggle to concentrate better at work, in school, in relationships, and in life. There are ways to make concentration much easier, that don’t involve simply getting better at concentrating. One is learning to remove …

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Take Your Body with You

by Michael W. Taft When I was 33 years old, I became celibate. I had always been extremely open to sex, the senses, and my body. The more I studied meditation, however, and the more I learned about karma, purity, and withdrawal of the senses, the more it seemed as if the only way to go truly deeply into spiritual …

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Meditation on No-self

by Michael W. Taft Why do you meditate? There are lots of possible reasons. I started because I couldn’t stand my own mind, and realized that it was not only the source of most of my problems, but might actually be the source of my own salvation. That was more true than I could have realized at the time, and …