The Saron Lab

“Our work involves two broad areas of investigation. The first is related to the training of attention and emotion regulation through contemplative practice…”

Mindful Awareness Research Center

“MARC’s mission is to foster mindful awareness across the lifespan through education and research to promote well-being and a more compassionate society.”

Conscious Leadership Group

“We support leaders and their teams to build trust and create conscious cultures through coaching, consulting, forums, trainings, and speaking.”

Center for Healthy Minds

“What if our world were a kinder, wiser, more compassionate place? A place where we exercise our minds just like we exercise our bodies?”

Nonduality Institute

“The mission of the Non-duality Institute is to advance scientific understanding of non-dual awareness and its effects on well-being. Through this research we hope to further the scientific understanding of the nature of consciousness, and the brain’s functioning in optimal states of well-being.”

Mindsight Institute

“…an educational organization which offers online learning and in-person workshops that focus on how the development of mindsight in individuals, families and communities can be enhanced by examining the interface of human relationships and basic biological processes.”

The Chopra Center

“…one of the first whole health brands in the U.S. and premier provider of experiences, education, teacher certifications and products that improve the health and well-being of, mind, body, and spirit.”

Life Balance Institute

“The Life Balance Institute is a non-profit training organization dedicated to helping you develop essential life skills that will lead you to experience more clarity and choice in your life.”



Matthew Crawford Matthew B. Crawford is an American writer and research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. He is a contributing editor at The New Atlantis, and is also a motorcycle mechanic.

Andrew Newberg Andrew Newberg, M.D. is an American neuroscientist who is the Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, an Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies and an Associate Professor of Radiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Dan Siegel Daniel J. Siegel is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and executive director of the Mindsight Institute.

R J Davidson Richard J. Davidson is professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison as well as founder and chair of the Center for Healthy Minds.

Daniel Goleman Daniel Goleman is an author and science journalist. For twelve years, he wrote for The New York Times, reporting on the brain and behavioral sciences

A Lutz “Antoine’s research interests are in understanding the neural counterparts to subjective experience and, more generally, the mechanisms underlying mind-brain-body interactions.”

Clifford Saron My work centers on two broad areas. The first is focused on the training of attention and emotion regulation through contemplative practice. Our main project here is known as “The Shamatha Project” a large-scale collaborative and multimethod longitudinal study of the effects of intensive meditation training.”

Sam Harris Samuel Benjamin Harris is an American author, neuroscientist, philosopher, and podcast host. His work touches on a wide range of topics, including rationality, religion, ethics, free will, neuroscience, meditation, philosophy of mind, politics, terrorism, and artificial intelligence. 

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a psychologist, Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and New York Times best-selling author.

David Vago is the research director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine and director of the Contemplative Neuroscience and Integrative Medicine (CNIM) Laboratory at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 

Zoran Josipovic– “I am a research associate at NYU Cognitive Neurophysiology Lab, Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. I co-founded the Margam series of talks at NYU that showcase current research on meditation and consciousness. I am also a founding director of Nonduality Institute, an independent center for the science and practice of nondual meditation.”

Contemplative Leaders

Matthieu RicardMatthieu Ricard is a French writer, photographer, translator and Buddhist monk who resides at Shechen Tennyi Dargyeling Monastery in Nepal. 

Tara Brach Tara Brach is an American psychologist and proponent of Buddhist meditation. She is a guiding teacher and founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C. 

Alan WattsAlan Wilson Watts was a British writer who interpreted and popularised Eastern philosophy for a Western audience.

Eckhart Tolle Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual teacher. He is a German-born resident of Canada best known as the author of The Power of Now and A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. In 2008, The New York Times called Tolle “the most popular spiritual author in the United States”


  • Soundstrue with Loch Kelly: The Way of Effortless Mindfulness “Tami Simon speaks with Loch about “effortless mindfulness”—what it is, how it’s realized, and what it means for the next stages of human development. Loch guides listeners in practices for “unhooking” from the stream of thought and dropping into the flow state of effortless awareness.”  
  • Soundstrue with Briana Saussy: Discovering Your Personal Magic “Tami Simon speaks with Briana about the moments of magic that permeate our days, but are rarely noticed as such.They discuss how there are potential portals to magic in every instant, including seemingly mundane acts such as entering a doorway or drinking a glass of water.”
  • Soundstrue Podcast with Peter Sterios: Gravity and GracePeter comments on the psychospiritual experience of yoga practice and the immediate benefits of checking in on the state of your body.” 
  • SoundsTrue with Thich Nhat Hanh: “Meditation is for Everyone.”  In this interview with Thich Nhat Hanh, he  explains how Presence embodies all time and how it is accessible no matter what is occurring in our lives.
  • “The Importance of being” by Abraham Verghese, Professor and Vice Chair for the Theory and Practice of Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Stanford University, is a story regarding the importance of being present with patients in healthcare through his analogies of experiencing art.
  • – Mary Oliver: Listening to the World- ON BEING Podcast, Krista Tippett. Krista Tippett interviews poet Mary Oliver on her body of work, her lifestyle, and what it means to be a poet.  Oliver’s approach to art embodies elements of being Present through awe, attentiveness, and stillness. 
  • – On Being with Krista Tippett – Richard Rohr : Growing Up Men.  Krista Tippett interviews Franciscan spiritual teacher Richard Rohr, discussing a wide range of topics.  They discuss how important the art of contemplation has become and what it means to honor ‘deep time’, informed by Rohr’s Catholic upbringing.
  • SoundsTrue with John J. Prendergast: The Deep Heart – Prendergast, a retired psychologist, talks about his new book and how Presence can be accessed through the heart.
  • The Psychology Podcast, Interview with Cory Muscara – Cory Muscara discusses his journey with meditation and mindfulness, undoing our conditioning, our experience of vulnerability and relationships through the lens of Presence.


Presence Explored in Philosophy and Art
Against Busyness and Surfaces: Emerson on Living with Presence and Authenticity An article from BrainPickings on Emerson’s thoughts on the meaning of life.  Emerson explains how nature and spirit fulfill us beyond what the typical trappings of society promise to offer us. 
Emerson on Small Mercies, the True Measure of Wisdom, and How to Live with Maximum Aliveness In another delightful BrainPickings article, Emerson muses about the shortness of life and how we can experience as much aliveness as possible during our brief stint on the earth.  He admonishes us to move beyond the superficiality of convention and connect to people and experiences with gratitude and groundedness.
A Stoic’s Key to Peace of Mind: Seneca on the Antidote to Anxiety Brainpickings surveys the philosopher Seneca’s commentary on how anxiety lives in our thoughts and imaginations, and how it can serve us to understand what concerns are reasonable to entertain. 
How We Spend Our Days is How We Spend Our Lives: Annie Dillard on Choosing Presence Over Productivity – An article from BrainPickings that surveys author Annie Dillard’s writings on the value of Presence in our lives, and how small moments of richness add up to a life well lived.
The Mystical Experience of Driving A personal story on the experience of Presence while driving.
How Thoughts Impact Presence and Wellbeing
Your Life Circumstances May Have a Lot Less To Do With Your Happiness An Article from that explores how a wandering mind impacts your dissatisfaction in life. “Your happiness is not dependent on where you live, what you can afford, a better career or relationship but from your cultivating a healthy and balanced state of mind.”
Does Mind-Wandering Make You Unhappy? Matt Killingsworth summarizes his research on the impact of a wandering mind on happiness for Greater Good Berkeley.  
What is Your Most Important Relationship? An article from the Conscious Leadership Group that explores our relationship with our thoughts.  It posits that leaders are in tune with their thoughts, questions them, enjoy them, and learn to appreciate their absence. 
The Key to Lasting Change? Get Creative Mindful interview Phillip Moffitt, resulting in an interesting discussion about the impacts of Mindfulness on creating positive change in your life.  
Presence Explored in Science
Unified Mindfulness Resources – A bevy of scholastic and accessible articles on the impact and practice of mindfulness in a wide variety topics.
Neuroscience Reveals the Secrets of Meditation’s Benefits Matthieu Ricard, Antoine Lutz, Richard J. Davidson write for Scientific American on the recent revelations of Neuroscientific studies on Meditation.
The Science of Meditation gives and excellent and thorough survey of modern Neuroscientific research on Meditation.  The articles discusses states of consciousness, the nature of the self, as well as the impacts and future implications of this work.
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche: Science Shows Meditation Can Improve Our Quality of Life This article discusses how recent research on Meditative states can increase your baseline level of happiness by changing your brain. 
Other Interesting Articles related to Presence
What is nirvana?  Author Robert Wright discusses tenets of Buddhism (such as Nirvana and mindfulness practices) and argues that pursuing them has a practical, profoundly positive impact on your well-being.
Can a Psychedelic Experience Improve Your Life? This article from Greater Good Berkeley details recent research on psychedelics and their implications for improving your wellbeing in the same way that mindfulness practices can. 
How to Pay Attention – An article from Medium that reviews twenty exercises for honing attention in novel ways.
Why We Should Seek Happiness Even in Hard Times  Greater Good Berkeley interviews Buddhist Psychologist Jack Kornfield.  Through the lens of living a mindful and Present life, Kornfield expands on why cultivating wellbeing is so important. 
How to Eat Mindfully by Listening to Your Body Article from Greater Good Berkeley on being present with eating
You’re Not Paying Attention But You Really Should Be NYT interviews Rob Walker, author of “The Art of Noticing.”  They discuss the value of paying attention to each moment and disconnecting from the distractions of modern life.
In the Flow: How to Master Your Brain’s Peak Productivity An article on the Flow state, a peak experience similar to Presence.

Scientific Articles

  • Hadash, Yuval & Plonsker, Reut & Vago, David & Bernstein, Amit. (2016). Experiential Self-Referential and Selfless Processing in Mindfulness and Mental Health: Conceptual Model and Implicit Measurement Methodology. Psychological Assessment. 28. 856-869. 10.1037/pas0000300. 
  • Desbordes, G., Gard, T., Hoge, E. A., Hölzel, B. K., Kerr, C., Lazar, S. W., Olendzki, A., & Vago, D. R. (2014). Moving beyond Mindfulness: Defining Equanimity as an Outcome Measure in Meditation and Contemplative Research. Mindfulness, 2014(January), 356–372.
  • Davis, J. H., & Vago, D. R. (2013). Can enlightenment be traced to specific neural correlates, cognition, or behavior? No, and (a qualified) Yes. Frontiers in psychology, 4, 870.
  • Lindsay, E.K., Young, S., Smyth, J.M., Brown, K.W., & Creswell, J.D. (2018). Acceptance lowers stress reactivity: dismantling mindfulness training in a randomized controlled trial. Psychoneuroendocrinology. (87) 63-73.
  • Brewer, J. A., Worhunksy, P. D., Gray, Jeremy R., Tang, Y., Weber, J., and Kober, H. (2011) Meditation experience is associated with differences in default mode network activity and connectivity. PNAS 108 (50) 20254-20259; 
  • Killingsworth MA, Gilbert DT  (2010) A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science 330:932
  • Manna, A., Raffone, A., Perrucci, M. G., Nardo, D., Ferretti, A., Tartaro, A., Londei, A., Del Gratta, C., Olivetti Belardinelli, M., Romani, G. L. Neural correlates of focused attention and cognitive monitoring in meditation. (2010). Brain Research Bulletin 82:1–2. 45-56.
  • Josipovic, Z. (2014), Neural correlates of nondual awareness in meditation. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci., 1307: 9-18. doi:10.1111/nyas.12261
  • Mitchell, J.P., M.R. Banaji & C.N. Macrae. 2005. The link between social cognition and self-referential thought in the medial prefrontal cortex. J. Cogn. Neurosci. 17: 1306–1315.   
  • Buckner, R.L., J.R. Andrews-Hanna & D.L. Schacter. 2008. The brain’s default network: anatomy, function, and relevance to disease. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 1124: 1–38.
  • Andrews-Hanna, J.R., J.S. Reidler, J. Sepulcre, et al. 2010. Functional-anatomic fractionation of the brain’s default network. Neuron 65: 550–562. 17. 
  • Raichle, M.E. 2011. The restless brain. Brain Connect. 1: 3–12.
  • Mason, M.F., M.I. Norton, J.D. Van Horn, et al. 2007. Wandering minds: the default network and stimulusindependent thought. Science 315: 393–395.
  • Lutz, A., J. Dunne & R. Davidson. 2007. Meditation and the neuroscience of consciousness. The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness. P.D. Zelazo, M. Moscovitch & E. Thompson, Eds.: 99–551. Cambridge, England 
  • Jia X, Kohn A (2011) Gamma Rhythms in the Brain. PLoS Biol 9(4): e1001045.
  • Siegel, Daniel J. Mindfulness training and neural integration: differentiation of distinct streams of awareness and the cultivation of well-being. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2007 Dec; 2(4): 259–263. PMCID: PMC2566758
  • Davidson RJ, Kabat-Zinn J, Schumacher J, Rosenkranz M, Muller D, Santorelli SF, Urbanowski F, Harrington A, Bonus K, Sheridan JF. 2003. Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosom Med. 65(4):564-70.
  • Li Wanqing, Mai Xiaoqin, Liu Chao. 2014. The default mode network and social understanding of others: what do brain connectivity studies tell us.  Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 8. 
  • Kim SJ, Kim SE, Kim HE, Han K, Jeong B, Kim JJ, Namkoong K, Kim JW.   Altered Functional Connectivity of the Default Mode Network in Low-Empathy Subjects.   Yonsei Med J. 2017 Sep;58(5):1061-1065.
  • Fei Xin, Xu Lei. Competition between frontoparietal control and default networks supports social working memory and empathy. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. Volume 10, Issue 8. August 2015. (1144–1152)
  • Sofia Esménio, José M. Soares, P. Oliveira-Silva, Peter Zeidman, Adeel Razi, Óscar F. Gonçalves, Karl Friston, Joana Coutinho. 2019. Using resting-state DMN effective connectivity to characterize the neurofunctional architecture of empathy. Scientific Reports. 9(2603).
  • Coutinho, J.F., Fernandesl, S.V., Soares, J.M. et al. Brain Imaging and Behavior (2016) 10: 147.
  • King, A.P., Block, S.R., Sripada, R.K., Rauch, S., Giardino, N., Favorite, T., Angstadt, M., Kessler, D., Welsh, R. and Liberzon, I. (2016), ALTERED DEFAULT MODE NETWORK (DMN) RESTING STATE FUNCTIONAL CONNECTIVITY FOLLOWING A MINDFULNESS‐BASED EXPOSURE THERAPY FOR POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD) IN COMBAT VETERANS OF AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ. Depress Anxiety, 33: 289-299. doi:10.1002/da.22481
  • Maletic, Vladimir MD, MS. “Role of Default Mode Network in Depression.” Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Learning Network. March 2012.
  • Jacobs, T. L., Epel, E. S., Jue, L., Blackburn, E. H., Wolowitz, O. M., Bridwell, D. A., Zanesco, A. P., Aichele, S. R., Sahdra, B. K., MacLean, K. A., King, B. G., Shaver, P. R., Rosenberg, E. L., Ferrer, E., Wallace, B. A., Saron, C. 2011. Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 36:5. 664-681. 
  • Raffone, A., Srinivasan, N. 2010. The exploration of meditation in the neuroscience of attention and consciousness. Cogn Process 11, 1–7.
  • Goldberg, I. I., Harel, M., Rafael Malach, R. 2006. When the Brain Loses Its Self: Prefrontal Inactivation during Sensorimotor Processing. 50(2) 329-339. 
  • Arenander, A. T., & Travis, F. T. (2004). Brain Patterns of Self-Awareness. In B. D. Beitman & J. Nair (Eds.), Self-awareness deficits in psychiatric patients: Neurobiology, assessment, and treatment (p. 112–126). W W Norton & Co.
  • Nash Jonathan D., Newberg Andrew, Awasthi Bhuvanesh. 2013. Toward a unifying taxonomy and definition for meditation. Frontiers in Psychology. 4. pp 806.
  • Brick Johnstone, Daniel Cohen, Kelly Konopacki & Christopher Ghan (2016) Selflessness as a Foundation of Spiritual Transcendence: Perspectives From the Neurosciences and Religious Studies, The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 26:4, 287-303, DOI: 10.1080/10508619.2015.1118328
  • Yaden, David & Haidt, Jonathan & Hood, Ralph & Vago, David & Newberg, Andrew. (2017). The Varieties of Self-Transcendent Experience. Review of General Psychology. 21. 10.1037/gpr0000102.
  • Garland, Eric & Fredrickson, Barbara. (2019). Positive Psychological States in the Arc from Mindfulness to Self-Transcendence: Extensions of the Mindfulness-to-Meaning Theory and Applications to Addiction and Chronic Pain Treatment. Current Opinion in Psychology. 28. 10.1016/j.copsyc.2019.01.004. 
  • Bargh, J.A., & Chartrand, T.L. (1999). The unbearable automaticity of being.
  • Berkovich-Ohana Aviva, Dor-Ziderman Yair, Glicksohn Joseph, Goldstein Abraham. (2013). Alterations in the sense of time, space, and body in the mindfulness-trained brain: a neurophenomenologically-guided MEG study. Frontiers in Psychology: 4. 912. 
  • Berkovich-Ohana Aviva, Glicksohn Joseph, Goldstein Abraham. 2012. Mindfulness-induced changes in gamma band activity – Implications for the default mode network, self-reference and attention. Clinical Neurophysiology: 123(4) 700-710.
  • Carhart-Harris, R., Goodwin, G. The Therapeutic Potential of Psychedelic Drugs: Past, Present, and Future. Neuropsychopharmacol 42, 2105–2113 (2017).


Superhumans: The remarkable brain waves of high-level meditators
Daniel Goleman explains his studies on gamma waves in his work with Richie Davidson in “Altered Traits”
“All of us get gamma for a brief period when we solve a problem we’ve been grappling with… we get about a half second of gamma, it’s the strongest wave… what was stunning was that the olympic level meditators … their brainwave shows gamma, very strong, all the time.”

A Brief Introduction to the Default Mode Network
“A particular group of brain regions actually increase in activity whenever we aren’t focused on a task.”

Why Is It So Hard To Stay In The Present?
The School of Life, a global organization dedicated to helping people live more fulfilling lives, dives into the challenges of staying present.

Dissolving the Default Mode Network
Michael Pollan (an American author, journalist, activist, and Lecturer and Professor at Harvard University) explains the role of the Default Mode Network in maintaining a sense of ego and the implications for its dissolution.

The Self is an Illusion
Neuroscientist and author Sam Harris discusses the riddle of consciousness and the experience of being a Self.

This is Water
A commencement speech delivered by David Foster Wallace regarding the practice of inquiry in regards to what is real.  He urges us to pay attention to what we accept without question in our lives and advocates for us to take responsibility for how we interpret our experience.

Dr. Dan Siegel’s TED Talk on the relationship between schools and technology through self-regulation.  He employs his research on mindfulness and neural integration.

The Science Behind Aware
Dr. Dan Siegel summarizes his message and research from his book, “Aware.”  He explains the state of consciousness known as Presence and the power of his tool the Wheel of Awareness.

In Clifford Saran’s TED Talk, he discusses the physiological aspects of Meditation and how they relate to well-being.

During Matt Killingsworth’s TED Talk, he delves into how staying in the moment (versus mind wandering) contributes significantly to reports of happiness.

How Mindfulness Empowers Us
In this animated short narrated by teacher and author
Sharon Salzburg, she explains through the Native American proverb of “Two Wolves” how we have a choice in what we pay attention to.

Visit Byron Katie’s website for a wealth of materials on the process of self-inquiry to tune into how personal narratives and build a healthier relationship with your thoughts.

“No Problem” by Loch Kelly from “Shift into Freedom”  (5:19)
This short video explains our personal experience of the Default Mode Network or Monkey Mind, and offers a practice for disengaging with it.


Headspace (Google / Apple)
Calm (Google / Apple)
Awaken  (Apple)
Buddhify  (Google / Apple)
10% Happier  (Google / Apple)
Stop, Breathe, & Think  (Google / Apple)
Plum Village  (Google / Apple)
Dalai Llama  (Google / Apple)

We Croak  (Google / Apple)
Insight Timer  (Google / Apple)
Imagine Clarity  (Google / Apple)
The Mandala App (Google)
Mandala Drawing  (Google)
Eckhart Tolle Now  (Google / Apple)
Sounds True (Google / Apple)
Presently: A Gratitude Journal  (Google / Apple)

Inspiration: Stories, Poems, Metaphors

Be The Energy

Trust the energy that courses
through you. Trust – then take
surrender even deeper.

Be the energy.

Don’t push anything away.
Follow each sensation back to
its source and focus your awareness

Be the ecstasy…

Be unafraid of consummate wonder.
Emerge so new, so vulnerable,
that you don’t know
who you are.

Be the energy,
and paradoxically,
be at peace.
Dare to be your own illumination,

And blaze a trail across
the clear night sky…..

— Danna Faulds

What We Need Is Here
by Wendell Berry

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

To the mind that is still
the whole universe surrenders.

This we Have Now
by Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi

This we have now
is not imagination.
This is not
grief or joy.
Not a judging state,
or an elation,
or sadness.
Those come and go.
This is the presence that doesn’t.

The Peace of Wild Things
by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For the time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

by David Whyte

Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
until now.
Until now

Rainer Maria Rilke
The hour is striking so close above me,
so clear and sharp,
that all my senses ring with it.
I feel it now: there’s a power in me
to grasp and give shape to my world.
I know that nothing has ever been real
without my beholding it.
All becoming has needed me.
My looking ripens things
and they come toward me, to meet and be met.

What Do We Know
by Mary Oliver

The sky cleared
I was standing
under a tree.

and there were stars in the sky
that were also themselves
at the moment

at which moment
my right hand
was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree
which was filled with stars
and the soft rain —
imagine! Imagine!
the long and wondrous journeys
still to be ours.

Franz Kafka
You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen.
Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice,
it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

by Danna Faulds

There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
containing a tornado. Dam a
stream and it will create a new
channel. Resist, and the tide
will sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry
you to higher ground. The only
safety lies in letting it all in
the wild and the weak; fear,
fantasies, failures and success.
When loss rips off the doors of
the heart, or sadness veils your
vision with despair, practice
becomes simply bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of your
known way of being, the whole
world is revealed to your new eyes.



Seven Years in Tibet The story of an egocentric mountaineer who learns about humility, being in the moment, and compassion during a seven year encounter with Tibetan Buddhism.
I Heart Huckabees A heady and playful exploration of meaning through existentialist principles that touches on many of the ideas contributing to Presence.
Ferris Buellers Day Off “Life moves pretty fast; if you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  A movie about a kid that takes a day off and fully immerses himself in savoring life.
The Big Lebowski A playful story about mistaken identity, The Big Lebowski explores several narratives on meaning in life, especially through the lens of Stoicism (which has parallels to implications of practicing Presence).
Tuck Everlasting “Don’t be afraid of death.  Be afraid of the unlived life.”  The story of a woman who falls in love with an immortal man, Tuck Everlasting explores the implications of living forever and various approaches to what it means to be fully alive.
Travellers and Musicians The story of two men chasing dreams in Bhutan, this film explores Buddhist philosophies on attachment.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty An exciting tale of a man ‘awakening’ and living fully in the present moment.  Based on a short story by James Thurber.
Kung Fu Panda An upbeat animated film, Kung Fu Panda highlights the value of living in the Present, versus being distracted by an imagined future.
Present Moment A documentary about a man with Parkinson’s disease, the film explores what it means to live life well.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower The story follows a young man navigating the social maze of adolescence.  Riddled with rich themes, it touches on deeply confronting yourself and enjoying the present moment.  Based on the book by Stephen Chbosky. 
Wild Based on the book by Cheryl Strayed.  Wild follows a young woman grieving the death of her mother while hiking the PCT.  It is a coming of age story filled with rich moments of Presence and self discovery.
The Artist Is Present This documentary follows the career of artist Maria Abramovic and culminates with a focus on her exhibition at MoMA, “The Artist is Present.”  Her work deals with the concept of fully engagement and connection through being present on an unconventional level. It offers interesting insight into what it means to be present with others.  

Books (Fiction)

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell A thrilling story that follows multiple characters across different timelines and emphasizes the interconnectivity of all things.
Siddartha by Herman Hesse Following the spiritual journey of Siddartha in the time of Gautama Buddha, spanning various philosophical approaches to meaning in life, it is a classic that deals with many of the principles of Presence.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera Exploring the themes of ‘lightness’ and ‘heaviness’ as ways to relate to meaning in our lives, this story that takes place in Prague contrasts passivity with engagement and debates the value of a single moment in the midst of a transient existence.
Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman “There is never nothing going on.” Following the story of a gymnast who takes on a spiritual teacher, the story touches on the idea that no moment is ordinary, conscious response, and paying attention to your thoughts. (also a movie!)
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig “On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.” A philosophically dense and rich story on how to live meaningfully and execute purpose, commitment, truth, and our perspective.  Central to the messages of the book is engaging with the moment and seeing the magic and value in the mundane. 
A Pebble for Your Pocket by Thich Nhat Hanh A collection of Buddhist parables for children on Mindfulness practices and Presence.
Tuck Everlasting (see movies) “Don’t be afraid of death.  Be afraid of the unlived life.”  The story of a woman who falls in love with an immortal man, Tuck Everlasting explores the implications of living forever and various approaches to what it means to be fully alive.
Seven Years in Tibet (see movies) The story of an egocentric mountaineer who learns about humility, being in the moment, and compassion during a seven year encounter with Tibetan Buddhism.


3 Questions — Tolstoy

The Magic Thread

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber (also a film!)

The Precious Present by Spencer Johnson


A Japanese warrior was captured by his enemies and thrown into prison. That night he was unable to sleep because he feared that the next day he would be interrogated, tortured, and executed. Then the words of his Zen master came to him, “Tomorrow is not real. It is an illusion. The only reality is now.” Heeding these words, the warrior became peaceful and fell asleep.


Once upon a time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.
“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.
“Maybe,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.
“Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.
“Maybe,” said the farmer.


Matthew 6:34

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.


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