View Post

Meditation, Psychedelics, and High Weirdness

A Conversation with Erik Davis Note: This is a transcript of a podcast episode. If you find any mistakes, please let me know. Michael: Welcome to Deconstructing Yourself. My name is Michael Taft and in this interview I’m delighted to be speaking with the one and only Erik Davis.  Erik Davis is an author, podcaster, award-winning journalist and popular speaker …

View Post

Awakening & Psychological Growth

by Michael W. Taft Awakening and psychological growth are largely orthogonal. While one can definitely help the other, they are entirely different things. You can be very awake and still be a total asshole (as well as anxious, depressed, conflicted, avoidant, etc.). From my viewpoint, awakening is just the beginning of the path, and nothing like the end. Waking up …

View Post

Awareness and Attention

Michael Taft leads a guided meditation (about 40 minutes) and then answers questions from students. Topics center around aspects of attention in practice, using Zoom In and Zoom Out techniques — i.e. narrowly focused attention vs. broadly focused awareness.

View Post

How to Deconstruct Yourself

by Michael W. Taft The next time you’re talking to yourself, in your mind, ask yourself this question: Who or what is talking to whom? Are there two people in your head, one that is talking and one that is listening? If not, then it’s kind of weird that you would need to have a conversation with just yourself in …

View Post

Fire Kasina Hints for Shinzen Meditators

by Michael W. Taft I recently went to the Fire Kasina retreat on Denman Island, in British Columbia. The group was hosted by Lama Shannon Stein, at a tiny Tibetan Buddhist retreat center on the island, called The Hermitage, and the practice was taught by Daniel Ingram. I had only done the Fire Kasina meditation (FK) a couple of times …

View Post

Nonduality, Stace, and the Analysis of Mystical Experience

by Michael W. Taft Walter Stace was a British civil servant who became an important author and a pioneer in the philosophy of mysticism. While serving in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) for many years, including as the mayor of Colombo, Stace became interested in the Hinduism and Buddhism practiced in Ceylon. Stace wrote a number of serious books on philosophy, …

View Post

Nonduality, Freud, and the Oceanic Feeling

by Michael W. Taft Western psychology has also described something that seems to be the nondual state, although it appears to have been a direct import from India. Freud first discussed what he called the “oceanic feeling”—which is apparently nondual experience—in what is perhaps his most important book, Civilization and It’s Discontents (1929). How this came about is interesting. Freud’s …

View Post

Deconstructing Michael — an Interview with Michael Taft

(This is a transcript of a podcast interview. If you notice any mistakes, please let me know.) Michael: Welcome to Deconstructing Yourself, the podcast for modern mutants interested in mindfulness, meditation, awakening, hardcore dharma, consciousness hacking, emptiness, and more. My name is Michael Taft, your host on the podcast. And in this episode, we’re gonna turn the usual host and …

View Post

What Is Emptiness? An Interview with Rob Burbea

by Michael W. Taft (The following is a (fairly) verbatim transcript of a podcast interview I conducted with Rob Burbea. Please let me know if there are any errors in the text.) Rob Burbea is a meditation teacher, musician, and author who teaches at Gaia House in Devon, England. Rob is the author of the groundbreaking meditation practice book entitled …

View Post

Roshi Joan Halifax on Standing at the Edge

(A transcript of Deconstructing Yourself podcast episode DY 016. Please let me know if there are any errors in the text.) Michael Taft: Welcome to deconstructing yourself, the podcast for modern mutants interested in mindfulness, meditation, awakening, compassion and much more. My name is Michael W. Taft, your host on the podcast and in this episode I’m very happy to …

View Post

Effort vs. Effortlessness in Meditation Practice

by Michael W. Taft started out trying way too hard in meditation practice, and continued to practice like that for a very long time. Waking up was serious business, the most important thing in life, and I threw myself into practice with almost comedic fervor and dedication. The Indian scriptures I was reading at the time tended to reinforce that …

View Post

Do Nothing Meditation

by Michael W. Taft The sages of many spiritual traditions have said that the highest state of spiritual awakening is present in each human being at all times. Total enlightenment has always been there, is there now, and always will be there deep down at the base of consciousness. In Buddhism this is referred to as the Buddha Nature, or …