Fully Engaged, Thomas Sterner – Book Notes

Posted: October 4, 2017 by Todd in Books
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  • Everything in life comes from practice – “the deliberate repetition of an action with an awareness of what we want to achieve.” (1)
  • “Learning to center your attention on the process of what you are doing instead of what you are trying to achieve, using the goal as a rudder instead of a  reminder of what is left to be done…” (1)
  • Book is a result of insights from conversations with readers of The Practicing Mind
Chapter 1: Thought Awareness Training
  • “Present Moment Functioning” = growing your connection to the observer within you.
  • “Some thoughts you create intentionally, but most of us most of the time are the victims of the thoughts our mind creates without our permission.” (12)
  • Meditation is the practice that helps us identify with the inner observer. (14)
  • See sleep and thought on pg 15.
  • “The mind doesn’t like the present moment – or at least it doesn’t like being instructed to be in the present moment.” (15)
  • Three general mediation systems: 1) guided meditation, 2) breath-based meditation, 3) mantra-based meditation
  • Sterner: guided meditation isn’t useful for our purposes as it requires you to think
  • Meditation is “the repetitive action of catching the mind as it runs off with the intention of bringing it back to the task of watching your breath or repeating your phrase.” (24)
  • Many feel they are not good at meditation.  “What they are missing, and this is very significant, is that they wouldn’t be chasing their mind and bringing it back to task if they weren’t noticing that their mind was running off!” (24-25)
  • “The real juice of meditating is the raising of your thought awareness in that microsecond when you wake up and catch your mind.  This is when you are expanding.” (25)
Chapter 2: Defining This Moment
  • DOC = Do, Observe, Correct (from The Practicing Mind)
  • Judgements happen outside the process of full engagement.
  • Walking a 12inch x 20ft board on the ground is the same task as when it is 20ft high, but our interpretation of it makes it seem harder, introducing stress and anxiety in to the situation.  Practice can help us turn off the chatter
Chapter 3: Set Your Goals Using Accurate Data
  • Be as realistic as possible about the time it will take to get to your goal
  • Goal as rudder, not reminder of what you haven’t done.
Chapter 4: Premeditated Procedures
  • Premeditated procedures tailored to your personality can help during stressful situations.
  • The procedure should help you continue to identify with your inner observer.
  • “‘Like’ frequencies strengthen each other, feeding into the overall volume.” (64)
  • “When on person is visibly calm, the anger has nowhere to go, no way of justifying its existence, and it begins to feel draining and pointless to the angry person.” (64)
Chapter 5: And Then What?
  • When you find yourself longing for some greener grass in the future, stop and ask yourself, “And then what?”  Helps to put your energy back into the process.
  • With practice, the feeling of incompleteness can trigger the question, “And then what?” (77)
  • “If you watch advertisements, you will notice that they start at the goal, meaning that no one is in the process of achieving the goal.” (77)
Chapter 6: The “Perfect” Life
  • Even in going through negative situations (i.e., a mother who has cancer), the experience can expand you and the change can be growth
  • “The perfect life is  constant change because the opposite of change is stagnation, lack of growth.” (91)
Chapter 7: You Have to Be There
  • Our desire to “complete things” “comes from a toxic level of things that need to be accomplished in a day.” (94)
  • “We have a tremendous yearning for closure of any kind.  We want that report finished.  We want the trip to the grocery store completed.  We want the kids picked up from the sporting event.  Indeed, we want this day to be over.  Yet being fully engaged in your life, cultivating a practicing mind as a natural way of processing your life, has a beginning, but it does not have an end.” (94)
  • Mistakes do not exist.  “They are just points of learning flowing past us.” (95)
  • When things are falling apart, it is an opportunity to “be there” and see how you do under difficult conditions. (98)
  • “When I’m feeling a sense of struggle, I know something is askew and I’m not fully engaged in the process of what I’m trying to accomplish.”

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