| Sunday, November 11, 2012 ~ Experience vs. Interpretation
Moffitt’s teachings revolve around two central ideas:
Mindfulness and intention. He writes:
The combined skills of mindfulness and intention described in this book represent an approach to transforming life’s many challenges into opportunities for growth. This approach constitutes the foundation for a more authentic relationship with yourself and others. As you apply these life skills you will feel more grounded and oriented in your life. My purpose in writing this book is to assist you in this process of learning how to live more skillfully.
Excerpt from p. 94
: “A crucial skill for minimizing emotional chaos and sustaining clarity in your life is the ability to distinguish between your experience and your interpretation of your experience. Your experience is simply whatever is happening in the moment — a sound, a taste, a bodily sensation, an emotion, any kind of interaction, etc. Your interpretation is your mind’s reaction to that experience. One way to understand this difference to to practice that when you are directly experience a moment of life, you are within it, when you are interpreting it, you are outside it…Sometimes we feel so compelled to respond to a situation that we rush to interpretation. But do we really have to? What would happen if we didn’t give in to the drama of the situation? Maybe if you paused your spouse would take advantage of the silence to say something unexpected that could shift how you respond and therefore establish a new way of relating to each other. The next step toward breaking your habit of automatically interpreting every experience is to practice being mindful from moment to moment of the distinction between experience and interpretation. Begin to notice, ‘Is there a difference between my direct experience of what’s going on and how I’ve interpreted it?’ You’ll need to practice noticing over and over again before you really start to know the difference. The more you’re able to distinguish experience, from interpretation, the more you’ll be able to stay in the moment, the calmer you’ll be, and the more choice you’ll have for responding skillfully to whatever circumstances arise. For example, you may have a habit of collapsing into interpretation whenever you receive any form of rejection. If so, observe the thoughts that pop into your head. Then notice what you’re actually feeling, physically and emotionally, right at that moment, and ask yourself whether you can stand to be present with those sensations. Most of the time the answer will be yes. Finally examine your ego. Does it feel demolished, insecure, or angry as a result of the rejection? Is your ego doing the interpreting? Have compassion for your ego and appreciate that it just received a blow, but don’t let its compensating interpretations define you in the moment. If you don’t buy into the interpretations, they will eventually cease…You can also cultivate your ability to make this distinction by observing other people as they’re acting on their interpretations of an experience or telling you thing that happened in their life. You can tell the difference between what actually happened to them and how they’re interpreting it. I repeat: their interpretation isn’t wrong, necessarily — it’s just different from the real experience…You can really harm yourself when your interpretation of your experience overrides your intentions and priorities.”