The other charges of satanic ritual abuse were dropped due to lack of evidence, as were the charges against his wife and two friends. At the sentencing hearing, the defendant denied ever sexually abusing his children, crimes he confessed to just one year earlier. Unfortunately, as Loftus and Ketcham state, "Confessions, unlike memories, do not fade with time. Tape recorded, signed, and sealed, they stay on the books, uncontaminated and intact, forever."16 During the Salem witch trials of 1692, nineteen people were hanged, one was pressed to death, and hundreds were jailed. We like to think that things like that can't occur today, but unbelievable things are happening. We have our own brand of witch trials in the form of repressed memory cases. Even without physical evidence of abuse or other criminal behavior, people are sitting in jail cells because of recovered false memories. Fortunately, these witch hunts typically run their course. Science eventually weighs in and lawsuits are filed. For example, the Associated Press reported that a jury ordered therapists and an insurance company to pay $5.08 million to the family of a woman for making her falsely believe she was abused by her relatives.17 After such events, movements like recovered memory typically die out, but many people are left to pick up the pieces of their destroyed lives. Mindfulness is participatory observation. The meditator is both participant and observer at one and the same time. If one watches one's emotions or physical sensations, one is feeling them at that very same moment. Mindfulness is not an intellectual awareness. It is just awareness. The mirror-thought metaphor breaks down here. Mindfulness is objective, but it is not cold or unfeeling. It is the wakeful experience of life, an alert participation in the ongoing process of living. Mindfulness is extremely difficult to define in words--not because it is complex, but because it is too simple and open. The same problem crops up in every area of human experience.

The most basic concept is always the most difficult to pin down. Look at a dictionary and you will see a clear example. Long words generally have concise definitions, but short basic words like "the" and "be," can have definitions a page long. And in physics, the most difficult functions to describe are the most basic--those that deal with the most fundamental realities of quantum mechanics. Mindfulness is a presymbolic function. You can play with word symbols all day long and you will never pin it down completely. We can never fully express what it is. However, we can say what it does. There are three fundamental activities of mindfulness. We can use these activities as functional definitions of the term: (a) mindfulness reminds us of what we are supposed to be doing, (b) it sees things as they really are, and (c) it sees the true nature of all phenomena. Let's examine these definitions in greater detail. In meditation, you put your attention on one item. When your mind wanders from this focus, it is mindfulness that reminds you that your mind is wandering and what you are supposed to be doing. It is mindfulness that brings your mind back to the object of meditation. All of this occurs instantaneously and without internal dialogue. Mindfulness is not thinking. Repeated practice in meditation establishes this function as a mental habit that then carries over into the rest of your life. A serious meditator pays bare attention to occurrences all the time, day in, day out, whether formally sitting in meditation or not. This is a very lofty ideal toward which those who meditate may be working for a period of years or even decades. Our habit of getting stuck in thought is years old, and that habit will hang on in the most tenacious manner.

The only way out is to be equally persistent in the cultivation of constant mindfulness. When mindfulness is present, you will notice when you become stuck in your thought patterns. It is that very noticing that allows you to back out of the thought process and free yourself from it. Mindfulness then returns your attention to its proper focus. If you are meditating at that moment, then your focus will be the formal object of meditation. If you are not in formal meditation, it will be just a pure application of bare attention itself, just a pure noticing of whatever comes up without getting involved--"Ah, this comes up...and now this, and now this...and now this." Though I will provide lots of practical information in the pages ahead, the essential message of this chapter is simple and straightforward: what you put in your mouth each day affects your mood and mental health directly and dramatically. When it comes to nutritional imbalance or deficiency, a high-sugar, high-fat diet is the most pervasive culprit. Evidence of this is easy to see if you consider all the medical literature focused on the addictiveness of sugar and fats. The insidious part of this particular problem is that sugar isn't just sugar. Modern food and drink manufacturers sneak sugar into nearly all processed foods as a flavor enhancer. Many foods, even foods you might not consider "sweet," have added sugar, often in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. Apple juice and cranberry juice blends, for example, beyond their natural sweetness, often have a lot of added fructose in them. I'd wager the average American is so used to sweetened foods that it's a main reason why genuinely healthy foods don't "taste good" to so many people struggling to change their eating habits. To make matters worse, most people who aren't on a low-carb diet tend to forget the sugar content in many alcoholic drinks, as well as the negative effect that alcohol in general can have on the body's blood sugar levels. And regular, responsible alcohol consumption is a fairly normal part of many cultures' diets. Using artificial sweeteners doesn't let you off the hook either, and just avoiding sugar isn't enough. That's because even a diet that is fairly balanced in terms of carbohydrates but is high in fats (even so-called "good" fats) will throw your system out of whack. As anyone who has dieted can tell you, the issue isn't as simple as just changing what you eat and drink. Habits can be very difficult to break, and some research shows there are physiological issues that pose a challenge too. A study conducted at the University of Georgia at Athens fed a population of rats two different diets: one well balanced with proteins, fats, and carbohydrates; the other with a significantly higher fat content.

Over the course of two months, the rats that ate the higher-fat diet not only ended up significantly larger than their healthier counterparts, but the balance of their gut bacteria had also been altered. Some people make facial gestures in response to a thought they're having in their head. That's a dangerous game to play. If someone sees you across the room frowning in their direction, they may think you don't want to talk to them, when in reality you may just be thinking of a TV show you saw the night before. Try to control your facial gestures as well as possible. Remember one thing about nervous twitches and tics. Not all of them are controllable. If you honestly cannot control a tic that is interfering with your social life, it may be necessary to seek professional help or consultation to discuss possible treatment. And if the tic isn't overly distracting, consider just telling someone when you meet them in a joking way that you have a nasty habit of accidentally kicking their chair. They'll find it funny and you can move on from there. I always start with a look at my body language for a good reason. It makes it so much easier to read what someone else is saying with a casual toss of their hair or crossed arms. Take everything we just talked about and apply it to a random stranger you run into at the cafeteria. What would your first response be to someone with their arms crossed and eyes down - they probably don't want to talk. Now, if they opened up and smiled in your direction, you'd take it as an invitation of sorts to at least say hi, right? As simple as it seems, reading other people is one of the hardest parts of body language. It's a complicated process, but the sooner you master your own body language, the sooner you'll be able to easily digest what other people are doing. You can easily read other people's body language and know how to immediately respond perfectly--so that you drastically reduce the tricky social blunders to a minimum--with my body motion mechanism. Your body motion mechanism technique is about tweaking the way you sit, stand and even smile, so that you can receive the kind of response you want from others. Now you may say, "I agree, if you put a person through hypnosis you can create a false memory, but that doesn't happen in our everyday lives." The fact is, we don't have to go through therapy, hypnosis, or serious interrogation to have memories implanted in our brains.

False memories can be created by simple suggestions and leading questions. For example, studies have asked adults to remember events that supposedly occurred in their childhood, some of which were true (provided by a family member), and some false (fabricated by the researcher). False events included being lost in a shopping mall or staying overnight at a hospital for a possible ear infection. In these studies, people were typically asked to think about the events for a few days or write detailed descriptions of what happened. When interviewed days later, anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent of people believed the false event actually occurred. In fact, false memories have even been created for traumatic events like serious animal attacks or accidents in about one third of people tested. And so, it's possible to implant entirely false memories in some individuals simply by asking them to remember the event, write it down, or continue to think about it. Memory reconstruction does not just apply to events that occurred in early childhood. We also reconstruct our recent experiences. To illustrate this fact, students were shown films of traffic accidents and then asked, "About how fast were the cars going when they smashed' each other?" Other students responded to the question with the verb smashed changed to either hit, collided, bumped, or contacted. <a href=''>Those</a> who saw the word smashed estimated the automobile speed to be 40.8 mph, while those who saw contacted estimated the speed at 31.8 mph.19 So the mere suggestion of a more extreme verb led to increased speed estimates. <a href=''>But</a> did that affect memory? <a href=''>In</a> a follow-up study, students again viewed a car crash and were either asked, "About how fast were the cars going when theysmashed' each other?" or "About how fast were the cars going when they `hit' each other?" One week later, they were asked whether they saw any broken glass in the accident film (in fact, there was no broken glass). When the question contained the word smashed, 32 percent said there was broken glass, while only 14 percent of those who saw the word hit remembered the glass. Thus, some students who thought the collision was more severe actually reconstructed their memory to include broken glass.20 In another study, subjects saw a film of a car stopped at a stop sign. Some subjects were then asked whether a second car passed the first car when it was stopped at the stop sign, while other subjects responded to the question with the words stop sign changed to yield sign. When the question mentioned a stop sign, 79 percent of the subjects correctly identified the sign as a stop sign when asked later. However, when the question mentioned a yield sign, only 41 percent accurately identified the sign as a stop sign. A simple change in the wording of subsequent questions can create inaccurate memories.21 Mindfulness is at one and the same time both bare attention itself and the function of reminding us to pay bare attention if we have ceased to do so. Bare attention is noticing.