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Historically, it is informative to note how often, due to practical factors, a property has been confused with another one. By and large, all illusions could be cast in terms of metamerism. A pool of water and a heated layer of sand are visually metameric. You'll find it more comfortable to sit on a firm meditation cushion, often called a zafu. Ordinary cushions on their own are too soft. The zafu helps to raise your hips above your knees, making the sitting position more stable. Alternatively, use lots of small cushions or fold a large cushion to give yourself better support. Find a position you're happy with. The mindful sitting practise I describe here comprises several stages. To begin with, I recommend that you just do the first stage - mindfulness of breath - daily. Then, after about a week, you can expand the meditation to include mindfulness of breath and body, and so on. If you find mindfulness of breath challenging, you can begin with any of the other tracks. For example, some people enjoy starting with mindfulness of sounds or simply feeling the sensation of their feet on the follor rather than the breath, and that's fine. This article includes MP3 audio tracks that you can download for each stage of this sitting meditation. You can listen to them separately, or back to back for the full guided sitting meditation. If you find the sitting posture too uncomfortable, you can do this mindfulness exercise lying down, or in any other posture that feels right for you. Go with what you prefer rather than forcing yourself to do what I suggest. This mindfulness exercise is available as an audio track (Tracks 10 to 14): Find a comfortable upright sitting posture on the floor or in a chair. I wonder how many of us have fallen into our own personal wells where we are suspended in free fall for what seems like an eternity before landing in impossible situations that have no way out. We all have been there.

The bottom of that putrid place is terrifying; the walls are encrusted with the barbs of vines, sharp rocks, and cold, oozing water that chills us to our core and sucks out what is left of any warmth in our heart. The mud is our prison, where our feet are locked in place. We all likely have found ourselves trapped, terrified, and wondering, How did I get here? What did I do to deserve this place? How will I escape? Perhaps we trick ourselves into thinking it might be easier to stay at the bottom of the well rather than to claw, grasp, and tear our way out. How many of us feel defeated, trapped, or resigned to stay in a difficult situation, no matter what the cost to our self-esteem? It is certainly a horrific form of self-abuse when we allow ourselves to rot and suffocate out of the fear of the unknown. I have been there--terrified that the long, dark, cold shaft would fill with water, leaving me with my nose barely above the surface. How many of us lose hope and ultimately go under permanently? I have often felt trapped, stuck in a false world where I thought I should always be wanting more. After all, more is better, right? Throughout my life I have worked constantly--overworked, to be exact. Exhaustion was and continues to be for me, not a sign to slow down, but an infamous green light that tells me to go faster and faster. I have abused myself, and years of that self-inflicted abuse have kept me pinned to the floor of the prison I inadvertently constructed. In my deepest, darkest moments, voices at the bottom would whisper, "Go ahead, work a little harder and a little faster, and you will be forgiven; you will be worthy." Remember that the intention of this practise to be aware of whatever you're focusing on, in a non-judgemental, kind, accepting and curious way. This is a time set aside entirely for you, a time to be aware and awake to your experience as best you can, from moment to moment, non-judgementally. Hold a soft, gentle smile on your face. Become aware of the feeling of your breath. Allow your attention to rest wherever the sensations of your breath are most predominant.

This may be in or around the nostrils, as the cool air enters in and the warmer air leaves the nose. Or perhaps you notice it most in your chest as the rib cage rises and falls. Or maybe you feel it most easily and comfortably in the area of your belly, the lower abdomen. You may feel your belly move gently outwards as you breathe in, and back in as you let go and breathe out. As soon as you've found a place where you can feel the breath, simply rest your attention there for each in-breath and each out-breath. You don't need to change the pace or depth of your breathing, and you don't even need to think about it - you simply need to feel each breath. When people examine potential motivation for a given path prior to making a choice, Sheldon's study revealed, it improves goal selection. Do that. Look at the options and think hard about why you would choose them, then focus on the ones holding the most value for you. How does one do that? There will be additional details regarding mindful meditation in article 9, but Sheldon asserts it's less about deliberation and more about noticing. Again, it's the distraction technique. You can belabor the question for a time, then give it a rest and let the answer float by. It may take some time. Look for clues. Professor Sheldon told me the story of Anna, a lawyer who was miserable. The name of an old friend, who Anna recalled had been a budding environmentalist, popped into her head. She looked up the friend and learned they were running an environmental firm and needed legal help. It completely changed her life for the better. Thinking of that friend was a message from the unconscious.

"If you have an open attitude toward your life, you can notice these hints," Sheldon said. And they can give you the power to be self-determined and truly inspired in your future endeavors. Needless to say, I didn't slow down. No amount of working and rushing and striving for perfection was too high. It was a small price to pay for the light at the top of the well. It was a light that promised completeness. Perfect and complete I know now that from an early age, my immature mind never understood the difference between these two words. In my young mind, to be perfect meant to be complete. It did not occur to me that the very act of striving for perfection would take me down a winding road plagued with hardship and heartache. Perfection is much like the gold at the end of a rainbow; the more we chase it, the further away it gets. To confuse matters, I grew up with an alternate voice in my head suggesting that perfection was a dirty word meant only for braggarts and show-offs. It was a self-manufactured whisper radiating from a heart devoid of courage. I can hear it now--beckoning in the dark, leading me down a path lined with loneliness and self-doubt. It is all too clear today that both of those voices set me up for self-sabotage. Those voices were vindictive and mean and wielded a two-edged sword. One whispered, "Perfection is a dirty word, never to be spoken.'' The other hissed, "But to be complete, you must be perfect." Despite kind parents and a loving family, I grew up with a battlefield in my mind. From childhood into my adult years, the notion of perfection meant being whole. To be imperfect meant failure to me, and failure was not an option. I recall night after night in podiatric medical school sitting at the desk in my dorm room studying while all my friends were out partying. I could not bear the thought of getting anything less than an "A" on a test.

Success was my identity; failure meant losing a piece of my spirit, never to be seen again. Instead of admitting imperfection, I would work faster and harder--harder than anyone else. To this day, the concept of imperfection is a terrifying one, leaving me with no recourse but to strive for impossible ideals. Perceptual constancy is akin to metamerism. Once again, we have beliefs about what one expects to perceive and what one actually perceives. For instance, I look at a sheet of paper reflecting yellow light and I perceive it as though it were (almost) white. I look at Emily from a great distance and I perceive her as being as tall as myself. I observe a coin that I turn between my finger and I perceive it as being perfectly circular no matter its orientation. Very succinctly, the notion of perceptual constancy is based on that of proximal stimulus. The proximal stimulus changes while the percept and the external object are constant. In fact, in the case of perceptual constancy, the variations are not in the properties of the physical object, but in the property of the effect the physical object exerts on one's sensors, something akin to the vintage notion of proximal stimulus. Consider the white sheet, under a yellow light and then again under a white light. According to the tradition, different physical phenomena produce an identical experience thanks to clever internal computations. Such a conclusion is not necessary. Alternatively, if two situations produce the same effect inside one's body, they must have something in common. The common factor is the actual cause of one's experiences. Under different lighting conditions, the same sheet of paper produces the same effect inside one's body. The notion of perceptual constancy is required only if one assumes that the cause of one's experience is the proximal stimulus rather than the actual object. A caveat. The effect I speak of is not a phenomenal experience but a physical effect caused by the sheet of paper.