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Semantic Memory

your general world knowledge, for facts, ideas, concepts—is similarly selective. What you remember is based on what else you’ve previously learned.




published ideas from this book:


6. As a sense of this person recedes from your focus, next bring to mind an image of someone with whom things are challenging at this time in your life. This is often called a “difficult person” . Remember, you are not endorsing their view and are not necessarily even forgiving their actions in t...

Get ready . . . This time, stand up! You can always sit if you prefer, in the same way as with the previous practices. But I usually recommend doing this practice in what is commonly known as Mountain Pose. Stand comfortably, your feet shoulder-distance apart. Let your arms relax...

1. Repeat the previous steps. We begin the same way we did with the basic Find Your Flashlight (find where your thoughts focus on), by sitting in a chair, comfortable but upright, resting your hands in your lap, and closing or lowering your eyes (to limit visual distraction). Again, select promin...

4. Make this a quick process. Notice if you begin going down a rabbit hole of elaborating on the distraction, or asking why you are thinking about this particular topic, or defaulting to unsupportive habits like chastising yourself for getting distracted in the first place. It is...

(2) Drop the story—your assessment of this situation is merely one story. Not the only one.

2. Notice where it goes. This is a new step! In the first exercise, I asked you to notice if attention wandered away, and if so to immediately move your flashlight back to your breath. This time, I want you to pause for a moment and observe where the flashlight is now directed.

7. Now move on to everyone in your home, community, state or province, and country, and continue to expand outward until you include all beings everywhere. Spend a few moments visualizing each place (your home, your community), and then offer the phrases to everyone there.

(1) Stop the inner war against the actual circumstances—just accept them. It is what it is. Let me be clear: this does not mean that you are “all good” with the situation. It has nothing to do with your judgement about the actual event. It just means that you are accepting the actuality of what h...

(3) Roll with it—keep going, keep moving, get curious about what the next moment will bring.

  1. Begin this practice as you have the others, sitting comfortably yet alert. Anchor on your breath and focus on breath-related sensations.
  2. Now shift to bringing a sense of yourself into your mind, at this very moment in your life.

9. When you’re ready, spend a few moments anchoring on your breath to end the practice.

5. Now, letting your sense of this person recede, bring to mind the image of someone with whom you have no real connection and for whom your feelings are neutral. It could be someone you see now and again but don’t have strong feelings for, one way or another. Perhaps it’s a neighbor you pass whi...

Any tasks you do over a period of time:

  • Performance declines
  • Errors goes up
  • Response becomes slower and more variable

The juggler keeps your current goals active on the whiteboard, and updates these goals as circumstances change.

— Key vulnerability: Ball Drop

Overload, blanking, and distraction in working memory all derail the central executive’s juggler, leading to lost goals and ...

  • When we try to do two things at once that both require our attention, it’s really hard to do either of them well
  • Think of it this way: You only have one flashlight. Not two. Not three. And your one flashlight can only ever be shining at one thing at a time
  • When you’re trying ...

4. Next, while allowing this sense of yourself to recede from your focus, call to mind someone who has been very good to you in this life, very kind and supportive, someone you might describe as a benefactor. Silently repeat the phrases below, offering them to this person:

May you be happy...

3. Silently repeat the following phrases to offer yourself well-wishes (three min). Remember: the point is to offer yourself well-wishes, not make requests or demands for them. Saying these phrases supports that:

May I be happy

May I be healthy

May I be safe

May I live wi...

8. Throughout this practice, notice when your mind wanders away from the chosen focus, and gently guide your attention back.

6. Repeat. Each time you notice yourself mind-wandering, tag the content of your mind-wandering (as thought, emotion, or sensation) and then come back to your breath.

  • Attention simultaneously highlights what’s important and dims distractions so we can think deeply, problem-solve, plan, prioritize, and innovate
  • It threads together the moment-by-moment colors, flavors, textures, insights, memories, emotions, decisions, and actions that create the fa...

The flashlight encodes information and maintains it in working memory, “retracing” it on the whiteboard to keep it there for longer.

— Key vulnerability: Bait and Switch

When your attention is automatically “captured” or yanked by something salient, ...

  • Working memory is where you hold the micro-intentions and deliberate aim of having a desired outcome for each and every task you engage in
  • All the decisions, planning, thinking, actions, and behaviors you do over the course of a day: anything you set out to do
  • You lean on you...

Troubleshooting. If you have difficulty letting things pass you by, come back to your breath. Imagine your breath sensations as a boulder in the middle of all that flowing water. Rest your attention on that stable, steady object; when you feel ready, broaden your attention again ...

Go! Now broaden your awareness so that you are not selecting any target object. Instead, use the metaphor of your mind being like a river. You’re standing on the riverbank, watching the water flow by. Imagine your thoughts, memories, sensations, emotions—whatever arises—as if the...

  • attention biases brain activity. It gives a competitive advantage to the information it selects. Whatever it is you pay attention to will have more neural activity associated with it. Your attention, quite literally, alters the functioning of your brain at the cellular level. It truly is a s...

Keep going. You’re not going to be actively “labeling” the stuff that you notice on your whiteboard, nor returning to your breath once you do. Your job right now is not to be making distinctions between which content is useful or relevant, and what’s mind wandering. You’re not ev...

To get a sense of what this means for your cognition, imagine a studio apartment. There is only one room. Every time you want to use the room, you have to completely change out the furniture. Want to sleep? Set up a bed and nightstand. Want to host a party? Take down the bedroom and set up couche...

Working memory is the essential partner to attention: it’s what allows you to actually do something with the information your flashlight focuses on. But if attention keeps piping in salient and distracting content, that will become a big problem for goal maintenance, let alone go...

The Flashlight

  • Where you focus to, that point become clearer. Other than that point, become suppressed. Like a flashlight
  • Called orienting system

The Floodlight

  • Opposite of flashlight, this subsystem is broad and open. Your attention is ready for any inpu...

3. Give it a label. Identify what type of distraction has appeared on your whiteboard. Is it a thought, an emotion, or a sensation? A thought could be a worry, a reminder, a memory, an idea, an item on ...

Get set . . . Find your flashlight and direct it toward prominent breath-related sensations for several breaths. This is always where we’ll start with any practice. And at any point in this exercise if you feel yourself getting drawn away (for example, getting caught in a ruminat...

The floodlight gains access to the whiteboard to accomplish an urgent goal. Under acute threat or stress, your alerting system temporarily blocks access to working memory to ensure that your brain’s action systems prioritize basic survival behaviors (fight, flight, freeze) over any other goals or...

  • Attention never vanishes, even though it might feel as if it does when you’re struggling to focus and simply can’t
  • The amount of attention you have remains constant. It just gets used differently, and maybe not how you want it to be used
  • You always use 100 pe...

5. Move on. Come back to the present moment, back to your breath, after every instance of labeling. If it’s a strong experience, it might pop up repeatedly—then just label it again.

Do these three critical things:

1. Rehearsal

when you studied with flashcards, that was rehearsal

2. Elaboration

relating new experiences or facts to knowledge or memories you already have

3. Consolidation


During a difficult interaction, take a moment to pause. It can be the length of one breath. Or, before a difficult interaction, take a moment and picture this person. Then, remind yourself: “This person has experienced pain, just like me. This person has experienced loss, just like me. Joy, just ...

your memory for experiences, involves selective encoding of only those aspects of experience that were most attended to and held in working memory. Translation: you’ll only remember what you focused on and “wrote” on your whiteboard—not everything that occurred. And further, your...

  1. Get ready, sit in an upright alerted posture, shoulder back chest open and be comfortable.
  2. Tune in to the breath related sensation, imagine the air entering your lung as you breathe in slowly, and exit your lung as you breathe out
  3. Not...

Your attention determines:

  • what you perceive, learn, and remember;
  • how steady or how reactive you feel;
  • which decisions you make and actions you take;
  • how you interact with others
  • your sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.

No matter how m...

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Albert Einstein

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”





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  • Procrastination and running to distractions.

  • Social media, messaging & online reading.

  • Video games.

  • TV & watching videos.

  • Busyness.

  • Porn & sex.

  • Addictions.