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Finding Space and Freedom

Freedom

Nondual Guided Meditation with Michael Taft

Meditation

Okay, ready. You might want to take your glasses off, maybe, don’t have to. And just make sure you’re nice and comfy in your seat. Okay, one last deep breath like this. Let’s do three of these. I really enjoy the huge deep gigantic in-breaths. 

Very good. Now just check in with yourself and see how you’re doing. Just tune in, just notice. Ask yourself the question, What’s it like to be me right now? How do I feel? How’s my mind? How are my emotions? That kind of thing. What’s it like in there? What’s the weather like? And be really very honest about it. It’s just you evaluating. No one’s going to ask you what, and so don’t kid yourself–what’s it really like in there?

And at the same time whatever it is like, let that be for now completely okay. So if you’re feeling great that’s okay. If you’re feeling awful that’s okay too. Just let it be fine. So this is kind of a non-judgmental weather report about your own being and just tune into that and feel it clearly, directly, honestly.

Most of the time we’re so caught up in what we’re doing that we’re not just taking the time to ask ourselves, What’s it like to be me right now? And then really letting that be okay. Often if we notice what it’s like to be ourselves, we then immediately try to change it. So this is the opposite of that. We’re immediately totally accepting it.

Okay, good. I’m just going to do a little invocation so just allow this to just wash over you. Okay, I’ll just do this for a few moments. 

Aum

Bhur Bhuvah Svah

Tat Savitur Varenyam

Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi

Dhiyo Yo nah Prachodayat

Good. Now just imagine yourself to be meditating as if you are the sky. You’re just a wide-open clear blue sky. How does the sky meditate? However you imagine the sky to meditate, invoke that now. But we can imagine that it’s pretty open, very spacious, very clear, very bright. And so just see if you can tune into a sense of real openness and spaciousness. We’re not narrowing our attention. The sky doesn’t narrow down. The sky opens up. So just meditate like the sky right now, being wide open, really relaxed, really clear, lucid. The sky is also beautiful, so see if there’s a quality of beauty confined in that meditation. And just rest as this openness. If you notice your mind bunching up around something, the minute you notice that, just return to openness and just relax. And it bunches up again around something else some thought or some feeling or something

 and then as soon as you notice that just let it naturally relax wide open and just rest in that place of wide openness.

We don’t have to make it open or coax it to be open or somehow cultivate that. It’s naturally like that when we don’t bunch up around something. The bunching up or constricting or grabbing onto something, that’s the effort, that’s the tightness, that’s the doing. So if we notice any of that happening we just relax and open. Let’s just sit with that for a moment.

With the awareness wide open, notice the breath wave rising and falling within awareness. So we’re not narrowly attending to the breath at our nose or something like that, you’re staying wide open. And just like you can hear the train outside, you’re just feeling the breath. There’s nothing special about it. But let the breath be a kind of anchor or a kind of home base for a while, as you just rest in this wide openness noticing that breath wave rise and fall. It’s just rising and falling and that’s kind of our home base.

Vast open awareness. Rising and falling wave of the breath. As that’s going on just in the background again, because awareness is wide, this is all able to be noticed. Allow your face muscles to relax. Let go of any fixed expression. Your jaw can loosen to the point where your upper and lower teeth are not touching. You can let your neck release and relax your throat open a little bit. And just notice how even that little bit of relaxation allows even more of a sense of spaciousness and ease and rest. We don’t have to keep our face and throat all tight, it can just be open, it can just be easy, it can just be gentle. 

Continuing to just notice that rising and falling breath wave. Allow your shoulders to release and relax and let go and your arms and hands to be as loose as wet noodles, completely without tension. Not even residual background tension, they just go limp. And again with your face relaxed and your throat and neck relaxed and your shoulders a little bit more released in your arms and hands all loose, notice how that just brings on a much more profound sense of ease and openness. And it allows you to just drop now into a much more open, easy, relaxed space of gentleness and stillness. Wide open stillness where the breath wave is coming and going in a very pleasant easy manner. We’re just sitting here breathing. It’s not that hard. Now notice any tension in your upper back or upper chest and just let that relax as much as you can. Let your heart just open, just melt open. If you’re defended or holding yourself back, just commit, completely give yourself to the now of this experience and let your heart feel melty and open and maybe a little bit tender and sensitive. 

And if it’s available to you let your diaphragm relax. Notice the breath waves slowing down getting much deeper as we get more and more relaxed. In the vast space of the sky of the mind allow the belly to let go. Release all that belly tension, there’s so much. Just relax that, and release that, and let that be open, undefended.  A loose, open belly not tight, not armored, not waiting for the gut punch, but rather completely open.

And something similar in the back in the kidney region. Just let that open, unfold like an accordion as the breath wave rises and falls absolutely naturally and effortlessly in the body. And notice even more of a sense of relaxation and openness rising into the sky of the mind. Even if some things are tense, just notice the openness. Notice the relaxation. Let that be very foreground. We’re not fighting with the tension that can be there, but we’re just noticing the relaxation, noticing the openness.

Let the pelvic region relax and release and open the hips and hip joints and allow the legs and feet to just be as limp as wet noodles, utterly, completely, totally relaxed. And you’ll notice as you do that, just like your hands did, maybe your feet warm up a little bit because as you relax the muscles the blood flow increases. They might even kind of tingle. So because you’re so relaxed you could feel some tingliness in your feet and hands, maybe your lips that’s pleasant. That’s piti.

And because your face and head and neck and shoulders and arms and hands are relaxed and your torso and belly are all relaxed and your pelvic region and your legs and feet are all relaxed, just let that relaxation permeate your whole being. Bringing you now–because it feels so nice, feels so open, feels so free, allow yourself to just relax even more completely, even more totally, even more profoundly now. And you may notice because the body and mind are not separate, they’re one system, as your body gets even more relaxed, the mind kind of melts and becomes even more open. 

The mind itself becomes relaxed and open. It’s almost like it melts and turns to a kind of vapor. Instead of a mind of sharp, cold ice, it’s now just like steam or mist, wide awake, very clear, but also very, very porous and relaxed. Now let’s just sit with this wide open completely relaxed mind, very deeply relaxed body and just allow awareness to naturally notice the breath wave coming and going. If the mind starts to turn to ice again, starts to congeal around some object, just let it relax and open again. Over and over. Every time the fist tightens around a ball, grabs onto a ball to play with, just relax and let the fist naturally fall open and the ball just drops. So let’s do that together for a little while.

You’ll notice maybe, that there’s a kind of a habit of grabbing onto stuff with your mind, but you’ll also notice you don’t have to do it. It’s not necessary. So if you notice the mind grabbing onto something–Oh I want to think about that–just relax. It’s so much easier to just relax and let the thing drift away and the mind come back to this very pleasant, wide openness where there’s breathing happening. You feel tired or whatever, like you’re slipping away, just open your eyes or sit up straight. This is not a sleepy meditation. The sky of the mind is bright and clear and crisp, very awake.

Good. I keep talking about the mind, let your mind return to whatever you believe its rest condition is, however it normally is for you, and then I have some questions for you that I want you to investigate directly. These are not intellectual questions to answer from logic or memory, they’re just looking-type questions like: is that the color green or whatever? You look and see. That’s it.

So these are look-and-see questions about your mind. Everybody has a mind. So the first question is: What is the shape of your mind? Is it a sphere? Is it a cube? Does it have a shape like a piece of popcorn? Look now directly at your own mind. What is its shape? What is the shape of your mind and as you’re looking, does it just have one shape or does it change? Is it continuously changing shape? What’s the shape? You’ve got a mind, it must have a shape, right, what shape is it? And if you decide that it does have a particular shape, look and see if it really is that shape or not. What are you finding? What shape is it? It’s interesting, looking directly. 

Here’s another one, this sounds easy, but it might not be. Where’s it located? Where’s your mind located and if you say in my head, okay, where in your head? Or if it fills your whole head, is it head-shaped? Where is it located? If it’s smaller than your head, is it like rolling around in there or is it kind of suspended in the middle of the head? If so, what’s holding it there? Look. It’s your mind, you should know. So I assume you found it by now, you know the exact location of your mind. Although, if you have found it, it’s an interesting question, what’s looking at it? But anyway…

What’s the color of your mind? Is it blue, is it orange? Maybe you have a brindle mind or something. What color is your mind? Or a pattern, maybe you have a paisley or orange and purple paisley mind. Let me know if you have one of those. Those are the special people. But what color is your mind? And what pattern does it have? Look. Look clearly now. 

Okay good, then assuming that’s all clear. Is your mind located in one spot and still? You found the location I presume, but is it still, or is it moving around? Is your mind moving or still? It’s got to be one or the other, right? Look. I’m saying look, but, of course, you’re not using your eyes so don’t screw up your eyes or make them tense or something. This is awareness simply aware. Is it moving or still? If it’s moving, in what way is it moving? Is it bouncing up and down or back and forth, or maybe wiggling like jello? What’s it doing? How’s it moving? 

Don’t move if you don’t have to, especially don’t make motions that make sounds like cracking your knuckles. Please don’t do that. That’s just fidgeting. 

Good, now hopefully you noticed that you can’t really answer any of those questions because no matter how hard you look, you can’t actually find your mind. So let’s try something different, really different. I want you, with awareness, to search along the back of your head. Feeling the inside of the back of your head, or if you can’t feel that then the scalp on the outside of the back of your head. Feeling carefully along it until you find a place just below your occiput where there’s a hole. Feels like there’s a hole there. 

And when you find that I just want you to get ready to push your mind out the hole so awareness goes out the back of your head. Don’t do it yet just wait. Find that hole and okay ready, now one, two, three go! Awareness goes out the back of your head into space. If it snaps back in then just take a breath and extend it out again, out the hole, out into the space behind your head, and see if you can relax in such a way that it stays there. Notice what it’s like back there. It’s just kind of vast, like the sky, but it’s also sort of like just outer space or something. It’s totally empty.

There’s no walls, there’s no floor, there’s just like this totally empty space. If you find yourself seeming to inhabit the inside of your skull again and find that hole again and pop back out the back into space and just rest there in that openness. That’s like the sky again except it’s just this totally empty sky with no walls of any kind, no ground of any kind, there’s not an earth or it’s not even blue.

Okay good, very good, now feeling along the back of your neck, come to the place sort of behind your voice box somewhere on your neck, there’ll be another hole like that in the back. It’s like a place–you can feel your skin all along, but there’s one place you can’t feel the skin, that’s the hole. So once you found it then one, two, three, pop awareness out that hole, out into that vast space. No ground at all. Wide open. Can you feel it? That’s always there right behind. Just hanging out in that space. There’s nothoughts or feelings there, it’s just space, aware space.

Okay, let’s try this one more spot. Feel the back of your neck again. Come down your spine below your shoulders until you come somewhere in the neighborhood of your heart but in the back of your body. So on your spine wherever your heart is, there’s an opening there. It’s bigger, very distinct when you feel it. Once you locate that we’re gonna do the same thing, but in this new spot. Ready one, two, three, go, shoot awareness, shoot your mind out that opening into space. Feel the gigantic space. No walls, no ceiling, no ground at all. Zero ground. 

Notice your mind can just be back there in this gigantic space and the body is almost just like the skin of a balloon on the front of that space. And that vast space back there is very still and very peaceful, incredibly still. Now notice that the space behind the heart and the space behind that hole in the neck and the space behind the head, it’s all one space. Dwell in that space. If you find yourself coming back into the body just go back out. You know where the holes are. Go back out. Rest in space. Wide awake, utterly aware, empty space. 

Alright, we’ll do one more. Allow awareness to travel down the spine way, way down into the pelvic region. We almost never do this one, so this is cool. And in the pelvic region in the area of the sacrum, you’ll notice another opening and this one’s really big. When you find that, get ready, one, two, three go. Shoot awareness, shoot the mind out that hole into the space behind, the incredibly vast open space behind. That one you can really feel the bottomless, groundless, emptiness beneath. And notice again how that isn’t any different than the space behind the heart or the throat or the head, it’s one big space. 

So notice those other openings in the heart, the neck, the head all at once. All of them opening out into this vast, vast, vast space. It’s almost hard to hold on to being somebody at all when there’s that much space and if you want to you can just let go. You won’t disappear or die. Nothing bad will happen. Just let go and just fall into the space. And then if you get caught up in a thought you’ll snap back but you know what to do, just go back out one of these openings into the space. Back into the space. Total stillness, tremendous freedom, wide openness.

Good. Now allow awareness to come back into the body, but notice it like new. The feeling of body sensations, how they’re just kind of hanging out in that space. It’s not like there’s some space behind your body, it’s like this vast space has this tiny little bit of body sensation arising in it. Pleasant or unpleasant, but vivid and bright, various and interesting, all kinds of body sensations. Emotions, feelings, being nervous or joyous or disappointed or frustrated or whatever. Maybe all at once. That’s all bright and colorful and interesting and kind of weird because it’s just hanging out in this space. Where does it even come from? 

And then, there’s all that thinking which so often seems like the center of everything and filling up, but it’s not even a minuscule, tiny fraction of that space. And yet it’s bright, it’s got pictures and sounds, it’s there, it’s flashing through space like lightning in a dark sky, coming and going and yet not coming from anywhere or going to anywhere.

So it’s not that this empty space is somehow realer than the emotions and thoughts and body, but it’s also that the emotions and thoughts and body aren’t realer than that space. They come together in a kind of magic show in which anything can arise. That’s the thing about the space, anything can arise from it. Everything does arise from it. So as we get to the end here I want you to, on purpose, have a particular thought and feeling arise. It’s like a wish and sometimes we see peace and healing for the whole world. 

Tonight I just want you to imagine that everyone in this room experiences physical healing, emotional healing, spiritual healing to the nth degree, the greatest amount of healing of every kind that they could possibly have. Just allow that wish to arise within you. Everyone here to be utterly totally permanently healed in every way. It’s like a shining wish in the sky of the mind. Our open heart and our perfectly clear minds just let that wish shine forth, because that’s a kind of compassion practice, let’s do the mantra of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Avalokitesvara which you probably already know. It’s Om Mani Padme Hum. And we’ll sing it all together several times. I’ll just ring the bell each time and kind of follow with me at the same time. Om Mani Padme Hum…

Just feel that.  Very good, let’s end the meditation there for now. Feel free to move and stretch.

Dharma Talk / Q&A

Those of you who were moving the whole time, now stay perfectly still. And let’s just go to questions. A lot of folks here tonight, so if you want to report how that meditation was for you, great. If you need to run and go to the bathroom, great, go do that. There’s at least three bathrooms, so go ahead and do that, but if you want to report on how that was for you or ask me questions, or whatever, let’s do that. Don’t be shy, raise your hand. I will bite, but it won’t hurt that bad, it’s only mildly poisonous. So what’s going on out there?

MT: How’d it go?

Questioner 1: Very strangely, I think because of the previous experiences and the last things have been very intense. I don’t know what happened this time that my mind starts shutting off and as soon as I got relaxed and started feeling very sleepy, like really, really sleepy. 

MT: Yeah, okay, that’s like an escape clause.

Questioner 1: Yeah, exactly and then the moment that you said “Oh, it’s almost finished,” then I was no longer sleepy.

MT: Right so you did the right thing though, you kept your eyes open and you sit up straight and do it from there.

Questioner 1: Yeah, but I did do most of the exercise I was just very surprised at how much every time I would do it for a little bit, sleepiness, right? 

MT: But you didn’t fall over.

Questioner 1: I didn’t. 

MT: Very good. This is a gold star. You didn’t fall over. There’s really kind of two things that can happen, maybe you’re just discovering that when you relax you’re really tired, you aren’t getting enough rest and maybe you just need sleep. That’s one thing. Or that’s another way to not experience the vastness, because that’s been kind of terrifying, right? So this is another…

Questioner 1: Mechanism

MT: Yes, so just notice it. The more you notice it, it won’t be able to keep doing that. So we’re not trying to force you into it. So step by step, everything’s cool, you know, just little by little, that will start feeling comfortable. Relaxed and open, your mind shuts off or at least gets quieter, it’ll start to feel really nice, so excellent, very, very good. And you keep showing up, so another gold star for bravery. Excellent. 

Good, so what else is going on out there?

Questioner 2: This is gonna be somewhat hard to talk about. The exercise of moving out of the holes redirected is very interesting in that in one sense it didn’t really feel like awareness was going anywhere, though in imagination, it was as if that was happening and somehow that did amplify the awareness of the space. It was like doing it in a magical space… 

MT:  Did it? God, it’s so weird.

Questioner 2: Yeah, it happens imaginably, don’t really go anywhere that space was always there and yet it’s as if one is moving out into that space.

MT: Yeah, and so it helps facilitate noticing that right? Absolutely. The funny thing is when we’re talking about the mind, imagination counts. That’s your mind right, so it’s not like–lots of meditation traditions kind of throw out imagination, don’t do that, that’s just thinking, but actually it’s interesting, it’s useful, it can be anyway. So very good. Was there more to say about that?

Questioner 2: That’s it 

MT: Thanks for pointing that out.  How’d it go?

Questioner 2: Yeah it’s interesting how what is extremely obvious isn’t always.

MT:  It’s the most obvious thing in the world, but we’re contracting down onto other things, right? As soon as we kind of let go of that toy for a minute you’ll start noticing Oh, the thing that’s always there, right? We just really there’s a lot of toys – Tik Tok is really interesting you know and super important, but you let go of it, it’s like okay, you know there’s this vast space of the mind there. So yeah it’s the most obvious thing there is. Very good thank you. What else is going on out there? Questions, comments, reports, movie reviews… yes? 

Questioner 3: I definitely noticed there was sort of this constant balance of having to self-regulate to make sure that I felt physically comfortable and that I didn’t start tensing up, but the other really interesting thing that stuck out to me was that as I was like convincing myself that the space around me was as real as the space inside me, it started to feel very intuitively weird that I could only experience my own sensations and like everything was just contained to me and that I couldn’t feel other people. So that was quite surprising.

MT:  You mean other people’s physical sensations?

Questioner 3: I think so.

MT: Because you can see the room right, so that’s a sensation outside you. You can hear the room, right? So you might not be able to feel the itch on my knee. I think that’s what you’re saying? 

Questioner 3: Yeah. 

MT:  Okay, yeah it’s kind of weird right? There’s little local areas of contraction sort of, but there’s also all this other experience out there. Very cool, so questions about or is it just kind of a report.

Questioner 3: I guess the question is, does it get easier to not feel so itchy?

MT:  Depends on your diet or whatever is causing itchiness, even if it’s just psychological but what does get easier is not being bothered by it. So for example, if I sit still like this long enough my legs will go to sleep and that feels kind of tingly, not itchy but tingly, but it’s not hurting my legs for that to happen. They’re not gonna turn blue and fall off or something. They just feel tingly for a minute and then I just let them do it and then after a while they don’t do that anymore. 

So you just kind of get used to the itchiness or discomfort. Lots of people are kind of wiggling a lot. It’s like eventually you just kind of get used to the discomfort and stop wiggling and it actually makes it less–not more. So do a lot of it, but that feeling of: there’s lots of stuff–maybe kind of a contracted feeling–there’s these certain discomforts that are background most of the time. But when we sit they are foreground for a while and then eventually your brain is like well that’s always there and it sort of just shuts it off.

MT: Good. What else? Any burning questions? 

Questioner 4: I just noticed the sort of melty-like, relaxing into your body thing that it just felt really good.

MT:  It does. 

Questioner 4: In a way that was sort of like a narcotic, you know, I wasn’t sure if I was just sort of melting into that feeling of feeling good without being more aware. 

MT: Yeah, so how did you know you felt good, right? 

Questioner 4: Right

MT: Yeah, so just don’t fall asleep yeah.

Questioner 4: That wasn’t really an issue, I didn’t feel sleepy, I felt…

MT: …really relaxed, but notice there’s kind of a feeling like maybe relaxation is bad, so just even flirt with just narcotic-ing out on relaxation, but then if it feels like–wow maybe I went too far with that– how do you know you’re relaxed, right? Just notice that you’re totally aware of the relaxation. Okay? And sure, it can be the case that you start to actually go into hypnagogia or whatever and then just come out of it. Although later when your awareness is really clear you can even go into that and stay awake or even into dream and be awake right, so we’re not quite so afraid of that in here. I mean we don’t want to just sleep when we meditate, but notice the awareness part. This is the report corner. The rest of the room is really failing. Other stuff going on out there? 

Questioner 5: I just want to report that the holes did nothing for me.

MT: What does that mean? Well, all you notice is space and stillness, so they’re not doing anything. You mean you couldn’t go out them?

Questioner 5: I wasn’t perceiving holes. I’m not at good at visualising. I think that’s the problem. The space was there without the holes.

MT:  And so you can notice space behind your body right now?

Questioner 5: I guess so.

MT: Yes or no. 

Questioner 5: Sure.

MT: So do you notice space inside your body?

Questioner 5: Sure

MT: Is there anything between those two spaces?

Questioner 5: Just space.

MT: That’s the hole. It’s just a really big one. Okay? You already know you know how to do the space. So it’s just a big hole. Right, there you go, thanks for your report. Yes? 

Questioner 6: I just imagined the holes. I’m not sure if they were there or not.

MT: They’re there. Were you able to go out?

Questioner 6:  Oh yeah. Well, I was able to get the vast space. I was already like everywhere. I got the perception of the vast space behind more. Yes.

MT: Yeah, and then you notice we did four holes and then we have all of those open at once, but eventually where it would go to is where you just noticed–it’s just–there is just space back there and there’s no boundary at all. Right, very good, you imagined it. 

MT:  What about your mind, what shape and size and color? Anybody got a purple and orange paisley mind? I keep looking for those. What’d you notice about your mind?

Questioner 7: In class on Monday the teacher was talking about the developmental patterns and how it evolves…

MT: We have a meditation class on Monday?

Questioner 7: It’s a movement class, it was BMC, and he was talking about and basically like the front part develops into your viscera and the middle part goes into the musculoskeletal system and your external part is your skin and your brain. Like kind of come from the similar zone developmentally. And so it just kind of got me thinking about it like the shape of when I was kind of playing with the shape of mind. I was kind of distributing that throughout the entirety of my body and it kind of felt like this when I was doing like a visualization it was sort of like this glowy tendrily thing that was vaguely shaped in my like sack of skin…

MT: Okay so without a visualization what shape is your mind?

Questioner 7: Well I mean… it doesn’t… yeah.

MT: Right, so that’s the direction just notice you can’t find a shape. The other thing is very cool as a visualization and probably really useful for energy stuff and all that. The main thing to notice is you can’t find a shape, you can’t find a color, you can’t find a location, you can’t find what’s holding it up, you can’t find what size it is because it’s not a thing. You have a mind but it’s not an object, but I can say that over and over and it doesn’t mean anything but when you actually search and look carefully in those categories that we use for objects, you can’t find it. 

Or is it moving or still? You can’t even answer that right, not if you look closely, it’s very odd. So the fact that we are a mind or have a mind or however you want to say it, is there it is, you’re having an experience, but you can’t find any object qualities about it. So that’s kind of what we’re pointing to there. Everybody understand that? So I want to hang out doing the sparkle jellyfish thing you’re describing. It’s like a cool visualization, but you can do that because there is no shape to your mind. You can visualize anything. So, anybody else find a particular… yes?

Questioner 8: There’s such a strong temptation to imagine something at the center of me that’s like contacting something else in my awareness. And the more that I was looking for like where is the mind and sometimes like an emotion would arise and it’d be like oh that’s just like in my stomach, like there’s not a thing in the center that’s like touching the thing in my stomach, it’s just and then that starts open things from…

MT: And that’s the direction exactly and especially if you find a spot where your mind is, well, what’s looking at the spot? Oh, it’s a new spot over here. Well is that where it is? You can’t land anywhere and actually if you look at that emotion closely, you can’t find a spot really. Even sort of high-res way it’ll be in a certain area but if you go right to the center of it you can’t really locate it, because it’s empty also. There’s no object. It’s a continuously changing field of sensation, right? Excellent. Yes? How’d you get here tonight?

Questioner 9: I drove 

MT: How did you know this exists?

Questioner 9: I came here with a friend for… uh, I mean I forgot his name the…

MT: Uh, who’s that guy?

(Laughter)

Questioner 9: No, no I didn’t forget my friend’s name, we came for Daniel Ingram, yeah, it was great awesome. So yeah that’s how I found out about this. But I’ve been meditating on my own for quite some time which was… it’s always…

MT: How long is quite some time?

Questioner 9: I guess, since I was a kid. So my mom taught me… well okay get in my life story… so I was diagnosed with ADHD and my mom was a hippie so she didn’t want to throw Ritalin at me. Which they did that to my sister and that didn’t work out, so that’s why and so she taught me how to meditate. That’s why I started meditating. It was very utilitarian.

MT:  Yeah, me too, that’s great.

Questioner 9: Yeah, so recently I’ve been pursuing the spiritual side of this so it’s very easy to just sort of drift into the space that you’re talking about and things happened tonight that were really different, like I was feeling my leg like the entire time and like then I had to say I just had this thing of like I never move on meditating. I was like there’s a bug in my hair for sure! So it was really weird to like be like alright I’m gonna play along and go with this this thing and like I was forced that you’re saying look at your mind like my mind became extremely loud it’s like yelling at me like I’m a massive shape, I’m a fractal, I’m not, I’m space, I’m cosmic. I’m like whoa… 

MT: You’re really concerned about these… 

Questioner 9: Yeah, yeah, I’ve never tried to look at my mind and it was so loud and then that thing that you were talking about happened where you were like ‘who’s looking at it?’ and I was like ‘ah I know this one, see the witness’ and then I was like wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, who’s who… It was really fucked up. 

MT: Yeah. That’s the goal. 

Questioner 9: Yeah yeah and then and then it was… I was very outside my comfort zone, like literally physically uncomfortable. So yeah, it’s cool. 

MT: Wonderful, yeah. notice that even though that seems like an infinite regress–the Hall of Mirrors–it’s not because your brain figures it out and goes ‘oh it’s not anywhere’ and so it doesn’t go on forever. You’re not a math machine. Good thanks. Yes? 

Questioner 10: I just want to say I really appreciated the extra instructions around shape and color and around finding the mind. That’s an instruction that’s in a lot of meditations that I do and I realized when you are giving those instructions that I was getting into like a real pattern for finding a mind and that turned the mind on the mind a little bit more. 

MT: Good, yeah those are really classic Mahamudra instructions right so typically Kagyu lineage type instructions.

Questioner 10: Tonglen yeah…thank you 

MT: so that’s like core of Vajyarana sequence, but when you go at it again in a fresh way, all of a sudden ‘oh!’ Awesome yeah thanks for bringing that up. Yes? 

Questioner 11: When you asked those questions about how is your mind, my mind is essentiallly ‘there is no answer to this, why are we asking?’ So it actually distracted me…

MT: Okay, but notice that’s a thought and what I was asking you to do was not go into thinking, but look, so even if you can’t find it, I still want you to look, because you’re cheating otherwise. It’s like just hanging out and thinking right? So it’s like I’m always saying it’s a ‘where’s Waldo?’ The answer is not, Well I know he’s on the page somewhere. It’s like find the motherfucker and even if you know there isn’t one, keep looking okay, it’s a different thing. Very good. Anyone else have a burning question or anything?

Questioner 12: It occurred to me in the meditation to ask, I’ve been curious about this whole emptiness thing I’ve been hearing about for a long time.

MT: This crazy emptiness thing.

Questioner 12: And I was, Oh, is this that emptiness thing? It’s that space, that’s spaciousness.

MT: It doesn’t have to be space, but that is why you combine emptiness, but in other words, this is empty too. Even though it’s not, that’s a chunk of metal, still empty right? So it’s not that that is it. The easiest way to describe it in modern English and modern Western concept is: it means something is a mental construction. That’s it. So you know there’s probably a room full of people here, but you’re experiencing a mental construction of it because that’s how we experience stuff. So you just notice that’s a mental construction. That’s emptiness. Not that there’s nobody here, okay, but the usual way to go into that deeply is to notice that kind of space, that aware space, because then the next–what was the next thing we did? It’s like notice that now stuff is just appearing on this screen of this spacious emptiness. That’s the appearance, that’s the mental construct.

And interestingly the mental construct and the emptiness aren’t–one is not realer than the other. There’s a real urge to be like, so the emptiness is the absolute, that’s the real thing, but it’s not. It’s all just as real, but we tend to put all the stuff in a box and then kind of, like–the flow of experience moves on, but we still have our boxes that we’re putting everything in and that’s the non-emptiness. So that’s what I want you to see there. A really easy way is to find the space. Okay, good. 

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