“The key to the transformational potential of bare attention lies in the deceptively simply injunction to separate out one’s reactions from the core events themselves,” wrote Mark Epstein in his book Thoughts Without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective.
“Much of the time, it turns out, our everyday minds are in a state of reactivity. We take this for granted, we do not question our automatic identification with our reactions, and we experience ourselves at the mercy of an often hostile or frustrating outside world or an overwhelmingly or frightening inner one. With bare attention, we move from this automatic identification with our fear or frustration to a vantage point from which the fear or frustration is attended to with the same dispassionate interest as anything else.
“There is enormous freedom to be gained from such a shift. Instead of running from difficult emotions (or hanging on to enticing ones), the practitioner or bare attention becomes able to contain any reaction; making space for it, but not completely identifying with it because of the concomitant presence of nonjudgmental awareness.”