Below is the complete post from Rick Hanson’s Just One Thing newsletter.  I highly recommend his work which you can read more about here and you can link to this particular edition of the newsletter here.


I’ve been reflecting more and more about what to me seems preposterously amazing even though it’s right in front of us: the inexplicable miracle of NOW, the infinitely thin sliver of time that somehow contains everything always. Wow.

No one – not even the greatest scientists and philosophers in the world – knows exactly what this present moment is. No one knows how its contents vanish the instant they arise, yet somehow last long enough to be the causes of the next instant. Yet we live in this mystery and take it for granted as we sip a cup of coffee, ride the bus, or put the kids to bed.

I don’t mean to be heady, merely intellectual, about this. Softening into the present, dropping regrets about the past and worries about the future, coming home to the body in this moment – this is the basis of true happiness. We restin the present, afloat in its eternally renewing gifts. And if it’s of interest, in the emerging edge of now you can find liberating insight into the nature of reality and our experience of it.

This week’s JOT – enjoy now – can get abstract, so try to keep bringing it down to earth, to sensations, sounds, and feelings. I hope it speaks to you; it’s become very important for me personally.

By the way, this week’s one minute video in the “year of practice” that follows the chapters in Just One Thing is Be Grateful, which fits well with enjoying the moment (you can see an archive of past videos here).

Speaking of videos, here are two that knocked me out:
*  How have I lived so long without a monkey?
*  One pound stronger.

Two other resources:
*  I recently had a lively hourlong conversation with Qigong master Mingtong Guabout energy and the brain, and you can watch it here.) This was a good warmup for my portion – on How to Build a Benevolent Brain – of Mingtong’s workshop on May 26th in Marin County, California. A former mathematician, he is a genuine and brilliant teacher and his workshop is worth checking out.

*  On June 2nd, I’m doing a workshop (with CEUs) on Mindfully Internalizing Positive Experiences for the California Institute for Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco as part of its groundbreaking series on mindfulness. We’ll explore the brain’s vulnerability to distress and how to internalize positive experiences.

Take care,


 #88 5/7/12   

Just One Thing

Just One Thing (JOT) is the free newsletter that suggests a simple practice each week for more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind.

A small thing repeated routinely adds up over time to produce big results.

Just one thing that could change your life.

(© Rick Hanson, 2012)

Click the button above or text JUSTONETHING to 22828 to subscribe to Just One Thing. (You can unsubscribe any time.) Go here for an archive of past JOTs.

This comes from Rick Hanson, Ph.D., neuropsychologist, Affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and invited lecturer at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard universities. See Rick’sworkshops and lectures.

My Offerings

· Just One Thing: Developing A Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time  – 52 simple practices to wire the brain for increased happiness, positive thinking, and wisdom
· Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom  – Grounded in science, it’s full of effective ways to use your mind to change your brain to benefit your whole being.
· Buddha’s Brain iPhone App  – Condenses the core methods in Buddha’s Brain into a smartphone format, with background info and new content.
· Just One Minute  – A “year of practice” following the 52 practices in Just One Thing, including one minute video clips and questions for reflection.
· The Enlightened Brain –    7 CDs on how to restore the calm, contented, and caring state that is your brain’s natural condition
· Stress-Proof Your Brain 2 CDs of information and practices to rewire neural pathways for stress relief and true happiness.
·  Meditations for Happiness– 3 CDs on gratitude, self-nurturance, and coming home to happiness
· Meditations to Change Your Brain – 3 CDs on how to tap the power of self-directed neuroplasticity

When are you? 

The Practice 

Enjoy now.


There’s a profound and miraculous mystery right under our noses: this instant of now has no duration at all, yet somehow it contains all the causes from the past that are creating the future. Everything arising to become this moment vanishes beneath our feet as the next moment wells up. Since it’s always now, now is eternal.

The nature of now is not New Age or esoteric. It is plain to see. It is apparent both in the material universe and in our own experiencing. Simply recognizing the nature of now can fill you with wonder, gratitude, and perhaps a sense of something sacred.

Further, by coming home to now, you immediately stop regretting or resenting the past and worrying about or driving toward the future. In your brain, this rumbling and grumbling – called rumination – is based in networks along the midline of the top of your head; while this helped our ancestors survive, today most of us go way overboard, and rumination is a big risk factor for mental health problems.

Additionally, through an intimacy with the present, moment after moment, you develop a growing sense – visceral, in your belly and bones – of:

  • Impermanence – you see the futility and foolishness of trying to cling to any of the ephemeral contents of this moment as a reliable basis for deep happiness.
  • Interconnectedness – you feel related to a vast network of causes that have shaped this moment, including to other people, life, nature, and the universe altogether.
  • Fullness – recognizing the incredible richness of this moment – its sights, sounds, sensations, tastes, smells, thoughts, memories, emotions, desires, and other contents in the stream of consciousness – you relax craving and drivenness since you already feel so fed.


For most people, the subjective present is an interval one or two seconds long. It contains the last second or so of the immediate past as well as the emerging present often infused with expectations about the immediate future. It’s OK, therefore, if your sense of the present usually has a kind of temporal “thickness” to it. You will probably also have flashes of intuitive recognition of the infinitely thin duration of now that boggle and sometimes stop the mind.

The present moment is continually passing away, so if you try to hold onto it in any way – such as by remembering it or forming ideas about it – you are no longer in the present. Therefore, relax. Open to this moment. Not planning, not worrying, not lost in thought.

Instead of seeing yourself moving through time, explore the sense of being an ongoing presence, an awareness, through which time moves. Let the world come to you. Recognize that sights and sounds and all other mental phenomena appear without effort. You don’t have to do anything to be here now; you’re already here now. Let go some more.

Be aware of a single inhalation. Don’t try to sense or understand it as a whole. Allow yourself to be with this moment of sensation without remembering what was or wondering what will be. The same with a single exhalation, and then with breathing altogether.

Letting go, letting go.

Be particularly aware of endings, of sounds changing and thus disappearing in the instant of hearing, of each moment of consciousness altering and thus ending to be replaced by another one. (If you get frightened or disoriented by a growing sense of the vanishingness of each appearance of reality, focus on something concretely pleasurable and reassuring, like the sensation of flannel against your cheek or the touch of someone who loves you.)

Then be particularly aware of emergings, of the arising of matter and energy in the world and the arising of appearances – perceptions, thoughts, longings, etc. – in the inner one. Let go into feeling buoyed by the uprising swelling of this moment congealing into existence, endlessly renewed by the next emerging. Open to trusting in this process, like a wave continually carrying you even as it continually breaks into foam.

Above all, open to the enjoyments available in this moment, even if it is a hard one. No matter how bad it is, it is nurturingly remarkable that it is at all. I don’t mean this in any kind of sentimental, rose-colored-glasses kind of way. Sometimes what the moment holds is awful. But thenature of the moment – its transience, its interconnectedness with moments before and to come, its simultaneous emptying out and filling up – and theawareness of it and its contents, is never awful itself, and is in fact always unsullied and beautiful.

And much of the time, the moment will be filled with rewards overlooked in preoccupations with past or future, such as a dense incoming stream of sights and sounds, tastes and touches – even a sense of beautiful qualities of heart like warmth, compassion, sweetness, friendliness, and love.

So nourished, so full with the riches of now, who would want to be anywhen else?


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