Insight meditation is not a form of hypnosis. You are not trying to black out your mind so as to become unconscious, or trying to turn yourself into an emotionless vegetable. If anything, the reverse is true: you will become more and more attuned to your own emotional changes. You will learn to know yourself with ever greater clarity and precision. In learning this technique, certain states do occur that may appear trancelike to the observer. But they are really quite the opposite. In hypnotic trance, the subject is susceptible to control by another party, whereas in deep concentration, the meditator remains very much under his or her own control. The similarity is superficial, and in any case, the occurrence of these phenomena is not the point of vipassana. As we have said, the deep concentration of jhana is simply a tool or stepping stone on the route to heightened awareness. Vipassana, by definition, is the cultivation of mindfulness or awareness. If you find that you are becoming unconscious in meditation, then you aren't meditating, according to the definition of that word as used in the vipassana system. My concern arises when people suffering from depression rely only on prayer, at the exclusion of other resources available to assist in their healing. Prayer without appropriate attention to other obvious avenues for wellness runs the same risks as other single-focus approaches. If you believe prayer by itself is all you need to heal, you may be less likely to explore your diet, sleep habits, possible addictions, toxic chemicals lurking in your home, harmful emotions that hold you captive, and so on. Spiritual resources are meant to empower you in confronting and changing all those kinds of things, not to distract you from the need to deal with them. I encourage my clients (and myself) to pray especially for wisdom and guidance in dealing with life's many challenges, including depression. But the most important reason why prayer as a solitary healing strategy can disappoint you in the end is that it runs the risk of deepening your sense of unworthiness and failure--emotions that are key contributors to depression. The inner dialogue goes something like this: If I were a better Christian (or a more spiritual person), I wouldn't be depressed in the first place. So to turn this thing around, I will double down and be the best child of God I can possibly be. Or maybe this: God, I know I have failed miserably to be joyful and thankful for your many blessings.

Please forgive me and help me to heal. If these prayers are not accompanied by a commitment to do the work of improving lifestyle choices--for example, examining eating habits and possible addictions and letting go of old fears and wounds--then healing is likely to be inhibited, just as with other singular approaches. Then what happens? Your sense of guilt and Clearly, there's no need to list the obvious limitations of this way of dealing with depression. If this has been your approach in the past, please keep reading! I hope to convince you that healing is not only possible but it's also probable if you're willing to look deeply at all the puzzle pieces that may be currently out of place in your life. Ask yourself, what stigma can there be in gaining control of your diet or your sleep habits, in confronting your fear, anger, and guilt? Why not examine how a lack of forgiveness is making you ill? What have you got to lose? Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be popular no matter where they go, as if they born that way? It's like they have a magnetizing kind of energy that draws people of both sexes to them on. The secret isn't in the clothes they wear, or the size of the waistline. In fact, it's in something called the secret auto-magnetism. Auto-magnetism encompasses many different traits--traits you may already possess but fail to show off to others--even though it exists. Secret auto-magnetism is a set of traits (see below) that naturally, organically and positively bring people to you. Think about your supervisor that never seems to notice your work, no matter how hard you work. Or, that guy or girl you've had your eye on or months now, but who continually passes you up for somebody else--and you can't seem to figure out why. The secret is you're not flipping the auto-magnetism switch - a switch that when activated, will allow others to be drawn to you like a moth to a flame. Slack's corporate culture is an example of a work environment that hasn't succumbed to the maddening cycle of responsiveness endemic to so many organizations today. To facilitate focus, Slack's culture goes even deeper than its slogans.

Slack management leads by example to encourage employees to take time to disconnect. In an interview with OpenView Labs, Bill Macaitis, who served as Slack's chief revenue officer and chief marketing officer, states, "You need to have uninterrupted work time . This is why--whether I'm dealing with Slack or email--I always block off time to go in and check messages and then return to uninterrupted work." The fact that someone as senior as Macaitis makes uninterrupted work a priority and goes as far as scheduling time for email and Slack sends a profound message that exemplifies the principle of "making time for traction" we covered in part two. Shevat echoes Macaitis's sentiment. At Slack, he said, "It's okay to be offline." He is religious about giving his coworkers his complete attention when meeting in person. "When I give someone my time, I'm focused 100 percent and never open a phone during a meeting. That is super important for me." By taking steps to remove the buzzes and rings typical of modern meetings, he practices the idea of "hacking back external triggers" we discussed in part three. Shevat also revealed how Slack employees use a precommitment pact, the kind we discussed in part four, to help them stay offline outside office hours. Slack has a Do Not Disturb feature built into the service that users can turn on whenever they want to focus on what they really want to do, like doing focused work or being with family or friends. Shevat told me that if an employee tries to send a message when they shouldn't, "you will get hit by the Do Not Disturb feature. If it's after hours, it turns on automatically so you don't get direct messages until you get back to work." Most important, the culture at Slack ensures employees have a place to discuss their concerns. As Leslie Perlow discovered at BCG, regular meetings were critical in airing employee concerns. Companies that make time to discuss their issues are more likely to foster psychological safety and hear the looming problems employees would otherwise keep to themselves. When thinking about coincidences such as these we shouldn't think in terms of the likelihood of these specific events happening. If we focus on the odds of my two professors meeting in London during their respective vacations, we'll likely conclude it's too low to be just a chance occurrence. But we shouldn't think about the meeting in that way. Yes, the odds of meeting that person, at that time, on the streets of London five thousand miles away from home, are extremely low. However, the odds that we meet someone we know, at some distant location, at some time in our life, are much greater. In fact, when you look at the millions and millions of people who travel every year, it's very likely that some of them will have chance meetings with someone they know. (Within one month, I saw, by coincidence, the same professor from our school at the Orlando, Florida, airport and again in a toy store in New York City.) When thinking about the George D.

Bryson coincidence, we shouldn't focus on the likelihood that the prior occupant of the room was another George D. Bryson. Instead, we should ask ourselves how likely it is that two successive occupants in some room in some hotel in some city at some point will have the same name.16 When thinking about my roulette winnings, don't focus on that one case. Think about the millions of people who place millions of bets on the roulette table. Given the sheer numbers, it's likely that some will win a few times in a row, even with their "lucky" numbers. It seems incredible that such coincidences occur, and so we want to attribute them to otherworldly explanations. But given the billions and billions of events that occur every day, there are bound to be many such coincidences. In fact, it would actually be incomprehensible if coincidences didn't occur. For example, if we flipped five quarters, there's only a 3 percent chance of getting all heads. However, if we flipped these coins one hundred times, there's a 96 percent chance that one of those trials would give us all heads. As you can see, when we consider the vast number of events occurring, it's very likely that coincidences will occur. As Penn Jillette says, "Million to one odds happen eight times a day in New York."17 However, many people still want to attribute mysterious causes to coincidences. A woman came up to Michael Shermer and said, "How do you explain coincidences like when I go to the phone to call my friend and she calls me? Isn't that an example of psychic communication?" Shermer replied, "No...it is an example of statistical coincidence. Let me ask you this: How many times did you go to the phone to call your friend and she did not call?" The woman later said she figured it out, she only remembers when it happens and forgets all the times it doesn't. Shermer said "You got it. It's just selective perception." She replied, "No, this just proves that psychic power works sometimes but not others." As James Randi said, believers in the paranormal are like "unsinkable rubber ducks."18 Here again, this is almost true, but not quite. Meditation deals with levels of consciousness that lie deeper than conceptual thought. Therefore, some of the experiences of meditation just won't fit into words. That does not mean, however, that meditation cannot be understood.

There are deeper ways to understand things than by the use of words. You understand how to walk. You probably can't describe the exact order in which your nerve fibers and your muscles contract during that process. But you know how to do it. Meditation needs to be understood that same way--by doing it. It is not something that you can learn in abstract terms, or something to be talked about. It is something to be experienced. Meditation is not a mindless formula that gives automatic and predictable results; you can never really predict exactly what will come up during any particular session. It is an investigation and an experiment, an adventure every time. In fact, this is so true that when you do reach a feeling of predictability and sameness in your practice, you can read that as an indication that you have gotten off track and are headed for stagnation. Learning to look at each second as if it were the first and only second in the universe is essential in vipassana meditation. The purpose of meditation is to develop awareness. Learning to read minds is not the point. Levitation is not the goal. The goal is liberation. There is a link between psychic phenomena and meditation, but the relationship is complex. During early stages of the meditator's career, such phenomena may or may not arise. Some people may experience some intuitive understanding or memories from past lives; others do not. In any case, these phenomena are not regarded as well-developed and reliable psychic abilities, and they should not be given undue importance. Such phenomena are in fact fairly dangerous to new meditators in that they are quite seductive.