“To the degree that we can acknowledge how we really are, we create a part of ourselves that is free from that mental state. We will find that there is nearly always at least a part of us of that can see what is going on in a more objective manner. This does not mean splitting ourselves off from experience; rather, it means trying to create a broader context within which to understand the experience. Mental states are very fluid; they change from moment to moment. Awareness means having a sense of continuity about the ever-changing flow of mental states.
“Take the way we treat the emotional experience of a young child. A parent seeing a child who is upset knows that half an hour later it will probably have forgotten all about whatever upset it and be restored to a happier state. The child has no such perspective on its own experience and is for that moment consumed by its unhappiness.
“As we become older, we should develop a perspective that allows us not to be quite so engulfed by the passing fluctuations of fortune. However, very often we never really do develop such a sense. Instead, many of us learn not to feel. We learn not to pay attention to our emotions; we cut off from them.
“In meditation we are trying to relearn how to feel, and acknowledge our feelings but at the same time not be overwhelmed by them.
“This, in essence, is what compassion in Buddhism is about; it is an ability to feel so deeply that we no longer distinguish between our own feelings and those of others — while at the same time keeping a sense of awareness and clarity.”
— Paramanada, Change Your Mind