Mason says reading A New Earth has helped him cope with the stresses of war. "My mom gave it to me to read before I came here and, like I said, with the recent fighting that's going on, I've realized at any moment—not to sound melodramatic—but I could be casualty number 4,003 or 4,004. And that can drive you crazy," he says. "I've tried to just calm myself down and stay in the present moment and realize that I'm probably going to live through this. When I get back home, I don't get a gift certificate or anything with all that wasted energy worrying about it."
To remind himself to stay in the present, Mason says he carries a card in his pocket at all times with 10 principles from A New Earth written on it. "It says, 'Getting through Iraq and beyond—some practical steps,'" Mason says. "I wrote, 'Be aware that what I think to a large extent creates the emotions that I feel. See the link between my thinking and my emotions. Rather than being my thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.'"