OPRAH: I loved how Eckhart Tolle redefined the present moment in his book The Power of Now. He said that all the stress and pain in the world is about not being in the now, because it's not allowing whatever moment you're in, even if it is a moment of despair, to be that moment; wanting it to be something else is what causes the pain and the suffering.

PEMA: That was the basic teaching of the Buddha. Not only that, but the pain that you're resisting cuts you off from understanding other people. You could say that meditation is about being receptive rather than resisting. That takes some learning, but if you're hurting enough, you'll be highly motivated to do it.

OPRAH: Ultimately, it's understanding what you conclude in When Things Fall Apart: that we all get so caught up in the goal, but the path itself is the goal.

PEMA: The journey is all there is, really. The future never comes, because it's always the present moment.

OPRAH: And when you know that, you get to move through the world without as much stress. What would you suggest to those of us who don't necessarily want to become Buddhists, but who do want to continue toward being as highly evolved as we can be? Meditation?

PEMA: Yes. And to notice when you're hooked, meaning something has triggered you. You're biting the hook and about to get swept away and lose being in the now.

OPRAH: What do you do when that happens?

PEMA: Notice it, pause, take three to five deep breaths. Just doing that is a shift. Then you can do something different.

OPRAH: That is beautiful, because what you said is true—the moment you realize whatever it is that triggers you or hooks you, in taking those deep breaths, you change your vibrational frequency and allow for the possibility of something better to happen.

PEMA: Yes. When you're triggered and you take those conscious breaths, you begin to understand that if you keep talking to yourself, you're fueling the triggered feeling. That feeling comes with an undertow; you're going to get swept away again and end up with the same result.

OPRAH: But if you pause and breathe, you open the door to bring something new in.

PEMA: Yes. And you open yourself up to infinite possibilities.

Oprah's Soul Series airs Mondays on XM 156 and Sirius 195. To hear this and other interviews, check listings on for times in your area or go to


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