Welcome

On this page you’ll find a non-dogmatic, effective and easy-to-learn meditation practice. You’ll also find links to further information if you wish to deepen your understanding. Scroll down this page to learn an easy and complete 4 step meditation practice.

The practices offered here are based on the author’s 40 years of exploration of a number of meditation schools and techniques, principally Zen Buddhism, Raja Yoga, Theravada Buddhism and Dzogchen.

In gratitude, this site is offered.

Relax The Body

We begin by finding a position which is both comfortable and that allows us to stay alert. For this reason, a relaxed sitting pose can be preferable to lying prone (although there is nothing wrong with experimenting to find what works best for you).

Seek out any tension in the body and release it. Discover those places where you habitually keep tension. Common places are the eyes, jaw, shoulders, stomach, hands or lower pelvis. Feel each part of the body in turn. Is it tense? Release the tension, and then move on to the next part. Start at the head or the feet, it doesn’t matter — just be systematic in seeking out those places of tension and letting them go.

Spend anywhere from two to ten minutes doing this, and you will be ready for the next step in your practice.

Rest In Sensation

Now, with your eyes closed, begin to focus in a relaxed manner on the darkness behind your eyelids. What do you see? Nothing? Look again, more carefully. Whatever it is that you see — even if it is mere darkness — pay careful attention to that. Immerse your mind in the real seeing of whatever it is that you are seeing. You’ll notice your mind begins to wander, and suddenly you are no longer attending to sight. That is fine. That’s natural. Take note of the difference between your mind wandering and your mind focused on really seeing what you’re seeing behind your closed eyes. These are, in effect, two minds we have within us, and we need to become intimately familiar with both of them.

These two minds arise from two very different activities of the brain. One activity is characterized by story-telling, remembering, justifying, rationalizing — all of which we can call cognition. Cognition is by far the most active part of our minds. The other activity is characterized by direct perception of the senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and feeling what there is around and within us. We need both activities: perception helps us know what is in the world, while cognition helps us understand and make sense of what perception gives us.

But meditation begins by moving away from our habitual mode of cognition, and we can do this by strengthening the activity of relaxed attention to direct perception. Hence, the focusing on the darkness behind closed eyelids and watching as the mind moves between perception and cognition and back again as you refocus on perception. You can do this with sound, with the feelings of your body, even with smell and taste. In every case, watch for the movement between perception and cognition, learn how it feels, become accustomed to catching the movement as it happens, and you will develop a mental muscle crucial to a successful practice of meditation. You will also have a complete meditation practice as taught by many schools, especially commercial ventures like Headspace or apps like Calm — with all the major benefits, both mental and physical, associated with meditation.

If you would like to deepen your practice, then continue resting in perception, preceded by relaxation each session, for a few months, until you are very comfortable with the process and can watch yourself moving from perception to cognition and back again. Once you can rest largely in perception alone for minutes at a time, then you are ready to proceed to the third practice below.

Rest In Awareness

So. We’ve become adept at resting in perception, and perception is … what exactly?

Perception is the awareness of a sensation.

A sensation by itself is like a video camera with no one behind it. It records, sure, but there’s no one watching the recording. We have thousands of sensations a minute. How many are we actually aware of? When a dog is barking at you, you can hear the dog barking and feel your heart pounding. But do you feel the breeze on your face, the smells of Spring and the crunch of gravel beneath your feet — all sensations which moments ago you were enjoying as you took a walk in the park? These sensations are all still available to you, but the perception of them has been replaced by new sensations associated with an imminent threat. Cognitions arise: how can I get away?Where is the owner? Is the dog rabid? But then you perceive the smile in the dog’s eyes and the ball at its feet, and a new cognition arises: this dog just wants to play…!

So what is the difference between a sensation and a perception? The element of awareness. You are aware of one sensation to the exclusion of another, and therefore you perceive it — while you don’t perceive the other sensation.

The essence of this practice is to rest in awareness itself, to become intimately familiar with the awareness half of perception, leaving behind, to a significant extent, the sensation half.

But how to do this? Do we just focus awareness upon awareness, contort our will and force down hard until the mirror sees the mirror, until we become the snake eating its own tail? That wouldn’t be very restful, would it?

The reality is, this is not a practice that can be described….

Ha ha. I know. That sounds like an enormous cop out.

But I can tell you this: if you have practiced enough the previous practice of engaging the senses and resting in perception, then I guarantee you will find your way on your own.

Because ultimately you alone are responsible for your advancement in your practice of meditation. No book can enlighten you, no guru can snap their fingers and make you realize anything important.

You alone, on your own, are the key to your own door. Find the key and open the door.

That is all.

Two important notes:

The first is that if you become uncomfortable engaging in this practice, then proceed with care. It is very possible you have not spent enough time engaging the senses and resting in perception. Return to that practice. Give yourself time. Be gentle. Be relaxed. You are not here to win a prize, to beat a competitor, to show to anyone your worth, not even to yourself. You are here to simply be here and now and that is all.

The second note: We are also aware of our cognitions, of course. So why not focus on cognitions? Because they are, in effect, little rabbit holes which we follow down and get lost in. The other half of a cognition — the half that is not awareness — is all the realm of our fears and desires. To be aware of a cognition is, in effect, to be unaware of anything other than the cognition. Awareness itself gets lost. Rest in perception, then, after awhile, rest in awareness itself.

Rest In Realization

So now we arrive at the fourth stage of this practice. So far we’ve experienced a practice that trains the attention. But to what purpose? Traditions typically answers that we practice meditation in order to clear the way for the arising of certain realizations about the fundamental nature of reality. Can we do so without being encumbered with religious and spiritual dogmas?

Begin by asking: what is it that allows you to be conscious? This bit of matter we call a brain, no? So what is it that has produced this brain?  The universe (and, ultimately, Totality — by which we mean both this universe and anything that is not this universe). And what is this brain conscious of if not both itself and the universe, at least locally? That is to say, conscious of some bits of this universe at various levels of abstraction — also known as perception and cognition.

So couldn’t it be said that the universe has created within itself (by whatever means we need not define) something which is conscious of itself? Which is to say, self consciousness? Which is to say: a brain that allows the universe (and, ultimately, Totality) to be conscious of itself, at least locally: some bits of itself at various levels of abstraction?

Are we not, then, each and every one of us, Totality experiencing and knowing itself?

Bring this recognition, this realization, into your daily mediation practice and into as many waking moments as you can, and soon enough it will become more than just words. It will become the reality of you being that which you are.

With the very best wishes to you as you move along your path.