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Effortless Awareness that is Always Present

Nondual Guided Meditation by Michael Taft

Streamed live on Jan 19, 2022

Begin by settling into your meditation posture. As usual, you can stand, you can lay down, you can walk, but our typical posture is going to be seated. And if you’re on a meditation cushion make sure it’s firm and high enough so that your hips are well above your knees so that it gives that nice slight forward tilt to your pelvis. So your whole lower back is curved in such a way that your spine lifts up. The top of your head is almost like being kind of like, suspended from the sky. Your chin is slightly tucked so your spine is nice and upright and your rest of your entire being is just relaxed. 

And before we do anything too complicated, I just want you to check in with yourself. Just allow awareness to notice sort of the overall condition of your being, like how does it feel to be you right now. What’s going on? And just tune in and allow whatever is happening to just be happening. Don’t try to change or control it or judge it, or make yourself wrong, or let it be part of the story of you in whatever way.  Just tune in to whatever’s there and just notice the thoughts, the emotions, the state of your body, the state of your mind, the state of the room around you or whatever.  Just tune in and take a nice deep breath and just let whatever’s there be whatever’s there. Right. We’re just tuning in for the moment. Checking it out. Totally non-judgmental, totally not feeling bad about whatever’s there. Not even trying to change it, not even trying to deny it or push it away. Let whatever the condition of your being is, be the condition of your being right now. It’s totally fine. Okay, good.

Now, set your intention for the meditation, whatever that might be. Good. And then, let’s build some resource together. And tonight we’re going to do that simply by what we’ve been doing recently. We’ve been doing gratitude practice. So, I want you to just bring up things you’re grateful for. Really think about them. See them in your mind’s eye. And then feel the gratitude that’s arising even if it’s very subtle. Even if it’s very slight, but really notice that feeling of gratitude. Doesn’t have to be big. This is not about big. It’s about genuine. Things you genuinely, authentically feel grateful for. And we’re just going to do this for a few minutes, just noticing our gratitude. Feeling our gratitude. And don’t veer from that. Keep coming back to the gratitude again and again. And notice how it starts to kind of melt your heart and melt your armor and melt your being in a very, very pleasant way. So, let’s do some gratitude practice together now. 

Okay, good. So, just feel that gratitude, feel the open-heartedness, and feel the lack of defensiveness. And now let’s move into the main part of the meditation. Beginning with our unification practice, our collectedness practice, our integration practice, our settling, restful practice of shamatha with an object. And so what I’d like you to do is simply allow yourself to rest as vast spacious awareness. Remember I say allow. I’m not saying try to make your attention or your awareness as big as possible. Actually, awareness is naturally fast. It’s naturally everything you’re aware of. And what we do, is we only kind of focus on the attention part that’s narrow, but just all I’m saying is just relax that. And notice that awareness is like a sphere that just goes in all directions. And it’s always like that. We don’t do anything to make it that way. So just rest as this vast spacious awareness. 

And then notice the breath rising and falling, the breath rising and falling. And I want you to particularly notice the end of the in breath, the very last moment of that in breath and then the end of the out breath, the very last moment of the out breath. Really pay attention to those moments extra, right. And then stay with the breath all the moments in between. And if it helps you can use a label like breathing in, breathing out, breathing in and breathing out. And where the end is the end of the in breath, at the end of the out breath. You can do a couple different ways. But I want you to stay with this in a very open manner. You’re not focusing on the breath, you’re simply allowing those body sensations of breathing to arise in this open awareness. 

If you get lost in thought, just come back. Just awareness can be aware of thoughts and aware of breathing at the same time. Just allow that breathing to become prominent, the main thing in awareness. 

It’s really very easy to allow the mind, allow awareness to simply be with the breath. We’re not straining, we’re not struggling, we’re just allowing, just allowing the breath to be clear in awareness. 

Okay, good. Now we’re going to tonight switch directly into doing Vipashyana, but we’re going to kind of parallel what we were doing with the breath. I want you to do Vipashyana on thoughts. So you’re listening to the verbal thoughts in your head or observing the visual thoughts in your head. And you’re noticing when they vanish. Just like we notice the end of the out breath and the end of the in breath. Notice the end of each thought whether it’s visual or verbal. Notice that come to an end, come to an end, come to an end. You’re not pushing them to stop. Awareness is simply aware of the thoughts, but it’s particularly aware of the end of each bit of thought. If you want to you can use the Shinzen style label there of “gone” but of course don’t label that label. But even without labels just notice the end of any bit of thought. 

If there’s no thoughts for a while that’s fine. Just rest as vast spacious awareness. And then if more thoughts arise those are just thoughts arising in vast spacious awareness. And awareness is aware of them arising and particularly aware of them passing. 

If you notice that attention got caught in a thought, just let go. Come back to just allowing thoughts to arise in awareness. And awareness notices them coming and going without interfering with them or getting caught up in them in any way at all. You’re not following the thoughts. You’re just noticing them and when they’re gone, they’re gone. 

Good. Now I want you to clearly notice the emptiness of the thoughts, which is that you know here’s the vast spacious awareness aware of thinking. But the thoughts are just like dreams that pass through awareness. Or they’re just like images on a movie screen or sounds in a recording. They’re in nebulous, wispy, dreamlike. Okay. You can’t get caught in them, because they’re just too much like gossamer, too much like rainbows or virtual. They just disappear. They are empty. 

It’s impossible to get involved with any thought or follow any thought, because they’re just like vapor, mist, fog, that is there for a little while and then vanishes. 

Good. Now what I’d like you to do is let go of the Vipashyana and just come back to being the vast spacious awareness in which the thoughts are arising. But now we’re not paying attention to the thoughts at all. We’re not paying attention to the breath at all. We’re allowing the vast spacious awareness to simply be aware of itself, okay. If you wonder how to be aware of the awareness you just look at the thing that’s looking. It’s that simple. Just let the vast spacious awareness be aware of its own awareness. Okay. That’s it and drop everything else. If a thought comes up and you start to grab onto it, just let go. If the breath sensation comes up and you start to grab onto it just let go. We’re not pushing them away or anything, but we’re simply just resting as vast spacious awareness uninvolved with anything. Let’s do that together now. 

There’s nothing to change. There’s nothing to fix. There’s nothing to control. There’s nothing to manipulate. There’s nothing to make better. There’s nothing wrong at all. There’s nothing at all to do. Just rest as the awareness that is always there, uninvolved with anything, simply aware of its own awareness without any effort. Zero effort. Rest like that. 

Okay good. Now with a little effort I want you to just fill the universe with the sense of gratitude. Feel the gratitude that you felt at the beginning of this meditation and just allow it to sort of like naturally beam out from you in all directions. Allow that joy that comes up to just radiate out in all directions everywhere to all beings. Allow a sense of openness and caring and kindness to radiate out in all directions to all beings everywhere in all universes. And allow that sense of just stillness and the sense of spaciousness and the sense of there being more than enough time to just fill all beings everywhere so that they feel happy and joyous and they feel healthy and strong and they feel safe and supported and they feel a sense of kindness and love and caring and belonging now. 

All right, very good. That’s our short, but sweet guided meditation for this evening.

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