You spend ninety minutes in what should have been a forty-five-minute meeting and leave with your energy flagging and frustrated. The next time you attend a staff or committee meeting, request the opportunity to lead an exercise aimed at making meetings more productive and less draining. Tell the group you would like to discuss some guidelines and protocols about meetings. Standing in front of a flip chart, ask the group, "If you were king or queen of the world, what rules would you make about meetings, to make them as productive as possible? What makes you crazy about our meetings? How do we waste time?" and list the statements people make. Type these up, title it "Code of Conduct," put it on a piece of 81/2 x 11-inch paper, and take it to a print shop to be blown up into a poster-sized piece of paper. Frame it and hang it in the meeting rooms to remind people about proper behavior in a meeting. If the leader or key decision maker no-shows, attendees may leave after ten minutes. Use a timekeeper (appointed by the leader) to keep the meeting on target and follow the agenda. Appoint a scribe for the meeting. When something comes up that's not on the agenda, the scribe records it on the flip chart. If there is time at the end of the meeting, those items can be addressed. If time runs out, they roll over to the next meeting agenda. Action items are recorded as "who/what/when" on a flip chart. The scribe types these up after the meeting and distributes them within forty-eight hours. Meetings will start and stop on time, unless all in attendance agree to extend the time. Try to finish early if possible; don't stretch the meeting. Attendees may get up and leave at the stated end time. Eliminate any discussion that involves only two people.

Don't stop meetings to bring latecomers up-to-date. The spread object has its own quirks--namely, the relative, casual, and temporal location and duration, the recurring nature, and the causal dependence on the body of the observer. Crucially, the spread object does not conflict in any way with empirical evidence. Whether the object I experience exists when I do not experience it--like the fridge light when the door is shut--is immaterial. We cannot experience what the world would be if our bodies were not there. Likewise, what we experience is what the world is when our body is there. It is of course possible to draw indirect inferences about the stuff that is not part of our experience--science does that and does it well. However, such stuff is not the object we experience. The authority of science is subordinate to that of experience. Luckily, science does not conflict with experience once one adopts the theory of active mind. Experience is the cause of a process that builds what is physically there when one perceives it. Opening one's eyes changes the surrounding world because it allows certain objects to produce effects and thus to exist. Touching will allow other objects. And so forth. Perception is experience, which is, in turn, causal existence. Perception entails a change. Experience is the object causing that change. The spread object is physically carved out from the physical continuum. The spread object is compatible both with one's experience and with scientific findings. Conversely, the Galilean object runs afoul of one's experience and requires that one does violence to the senses.

The spread object is so close to one's experience that identity comes as a natural option. The spread object does not require any violence to one's senses. Additional entities--such as phenomenal experience, phenomenal character, modes of presentations, and sensory modalities--are no longer required. This is the end of the gap between the mental and the physical. In the active mind account, the picture is different. Objects and their associated experiences are no longer two separate domains. Of course, an object does not necessarily belong to one's experience. Each experience is an object, while not all objects are part of a mind. Minds are sets of objects we regard with particular affection because they are we and we are they. Under the theory of active mind, the mismatch between experience and objects does not occur, since appearance and reality are one and the same. The identity between experience and reality must always hold. Such an identity is the key prediction of the theory. When having a conversation with someone, spend more time listening rather than speaking. Let go of your initial urge to speak, and listen more. Listening can take tremendous effort, and is excellent patience training. Each time you practise, you train your brain to become slightly more patient. Seeing afresh is normally referred to as the beginner's mind, a term that was first used by the Zen master Suzuki Roshi. He once said: 'In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few.' What does that mean? Consider a young child. Children, if they're fortunate enough to be brought up lovingly, are the greatest mindfulness teachers in the world!

They're amazed by the simplest thing. Give babies a set of keys, and they stare at them, notice the wide range of colours reflected in them, shake them and listen to the sound - and probably giggle too. Then, of course, they taste the keys! Children epitomise the beginner's mind. They see things as if for the first time, because they're not filled with ideas, concepts, beliefs, names or thoughts about the right or wrong thing to do. Babies don't intellectualise. They connect with the raw sensory data entering their minds and they love it. Young children are naturally mindful, and that mindfulness is a true joy for them. Sit or lie down in a relaxed and comfortable posture and close your eyes. Now imagine you've been blind from birth. You've never experienced colour before. You've heard people talking about it, but you can't even imagine colour. Spend at least five minutes doing this. When you find your mind wandering off into thoughts, gently guide it back to this exercise. When you're ready, gently open your eyes as if you're seeing for the first time. See with the beginner's mind. Enjoy the range of colours and forms in front of you. Notice how your mind automatically names different objects. Bring your attention back to the awareness of the variety of colours, shadows and reflections. You may even begin to notice things you've never noticed before; that's a sign that you're engaging with the beginner's mind and seeing things anew.

Continue with this beginner's mind attitude as you go about your activities today, and be with each experience as if for the first time. What are you really truly afraid of? Seriously, what makes you scared? What are your hopes? What gives you inspiration? What makes you stop doing things? What is it about a girl that makes you like her? Be honest with yourself! If you like video games, why do you play them? What is it about them that you like? If you like hip-hop and rap, what is it about them that you like? Deep down, who do you really look up to? (Don't give me the answer that you think is the correct answer, but for real, who do you look up to?) What is it about that person that makes you look up to them? Are there elements in you that you see similar to the person you look up to? Does the life of the person you look up to look like the life you want to have? Take a break from rationalizing change and instead examine your feelings. Get emotional and listen to what it tells you. Remember that song by Journey and "don't stop believin'." Let the fast, intuitive System 1 be the hero, and make the slower, rational System 2 the supporting character. Don't let System 2 overanalyze the benefits of the story System 1 constructs. Get the confirmation, then stop.