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Secular Meditation

Loch Kelly on Awareness, Freedom, and Effortless Mindfulness

loch kelly

Host Michael Taft speaks with Loch Kelly on nondual practices, contemporary forms of ancient awareness techniques, dzogchen, mahamudra, advaita, the role of psychotherapy in awakening, the need—or not—for a guru, open-hearted awareness, internal family systems therapy, and more.

Loch Kelly is an author, meditation teacher, psychotherapist, and founder of the non-profit, Open-Hearted Awareness Institute. Loch teaches in a non-sectarian lineage based in the earliest non-dual wisdom traditions, modern science, and psychotherapy.

Loch Kelly’s Website

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What does nondual mean?


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  1. Leandro July 10, 2019

    Great podcast!, very interesting questions Michael!

    1. MWT July 10, 2019

      Thank you, Leandro!

  2. Tim Dunn July 13, 2019

    Thank you Michael & Loch. The Podcast on Effortless Mindfulness with Loch Kelly was very informative and helpful. It spoke to some questions I’ve had for some time.

    1. MWT July 13, 2019

      Thank you, Tim. So glad it was helpful.

  3. Hamza Khan July 13, 2019

    Hi Michael, thanks for this podcast, I went to meet Loch around 2 weeks ago at one of his events in NYC. I found that this podcast explored some of the most deepest aspects of the practice which are rarely talked about by other non-dual practitioners and for that I am genuinely grateful! I just had a some questions about the practice and I was wondering if I’d be able to ask you them over email, please let me know!

    1. MWT July 14, 2019

      Thanks, Hamza. It depends on your questions, honestly.
      Go ahead and drop me an email.

  4. dougt22 July 15, 2019

    Great interview. Nice to hear from other mutants who started meditating in the mid teens and got hooked. 🙂 Can you point out a few others in your podcasts that I can listen to?

    1. MWT July 15, 2019

      All of them, really, since I got hooked on meditation in my teens. 😉
      As for the interviewees, I’m not sure who else would or would not fulfill the requirements, since I haven’t always asked.
      Mukti, for sure.

  5. Matt September 1, 2019

    Extremely interesting podcast, thank you!

    At 1:06:18 to 1:08:36, Loch is talking about the difference between one-pointed concentration practice and resting in awareness as he teaches it, and he says some really interesting things. One is that one-pointed concentration activates a different part of the brain to the awareness practice – I can’t find the reference right now but I think elsewhere in the podcast he says or implies that one-pointed concentration is a function of the task-positive network (TPN), whereas his awareness practice is about ‘balancing’ the Default Mode Network (which he says explicitly at 1:07:12). Around the 1:06:18 mark he mentions ‘the research’, and around 1:08:07 he says that after 3-12 minutes (a curiously specific length of time!) there’s a ‘click’ and the DMN becomes ‘balanced’ and the experience becomes one of unity consciousness, which can be observed in an fMRI.

    Do you have a pointer to the research he’s talking about, please? I’m extremely interested in the neuroscientific correlates of meditation practice. What I’ve heard from other teachers in the past is that the DMN is the source of ‘bad stuff’ (self-referential thought etc.), and conditions like depression are often related to the DMN getting stuck in a particular pattern causing those unpleasant negative ‘thought spirals’; the DMN and TPN are mutually inhibiting, so being focused on a task (e.g. in a Flow-like state) inhibits the DMN and thus wipes out self-referential thought (which is why Flow experiences, per Csikszentmihalyi, involve the sense of self falling away). I had speculated some time ago that many traditions’ focus on continuous mindfulness (see e.g. Torei Zenji’s Undying Lamp of Zen) were geared towards permanent TPN activation; on the other hand, I recently saw an interview with Elena Antonova in which she was using a model from John Teasdale of three modes of experience – mindless emoting (DMN?), conceptual doing (TPN?) and mindful being (???), and was wondering how all that fitted together. I’ve never heard the suggestion that the DMN could become ‘balanced’ and thus a pleasant place to hang out, so this is very much new territory for me, and I’ll happily devour anything you could throw my way. Thanks!

    1. Michael W. Taft September 3, 2019

      Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed the program. You’ll have to find the research yourself, but if you do, please send it my way!

      1. Matt November 3, 2019

        Hi Michael,

        I tracked it down. It looks like Loch has started using an abbreviated form of words which slightly obfuscates what’s going on. In his book Shift Into Freedom he cites a study by Josipovic (2012) which suggests that non-dual awareness ‘balances the activity of the default-mode network and task-positive network’ – elsewhere he suggests that non-dual awareness is about balancing intrinsic and extrinsic focus, which is along the same lines.

        By the time he was giving interviews about it, it seems that the statement had become truncated to ‘balances the default-mode network’ (see, for example, his interview with Conscious TV where he says ‘your default mode network will balance’. This gives the impression that non-dual awareness is somehow affecting the DMN itself, as opposed to balancing the DMN *with* the TPN. Hence my confusion!

        Link to relevant page in Shift Into Freedom: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=l51jDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT40&lpg=PT40&dq=loch+Kelly+%22balance%22+default+mode+network&source=bl&ots=xg_9NB0ANS&sig=ACfU3U2Jl5Y6rDPkfFKQ7ujVavpvhZxdpA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjAhJWy5c7lAhWiVBUIHZo7CH4Q6AEwBHoECAsQAQ#v=onepage&q=loch%20Kelly%20%22balance%22%20default%20mode%20network&f=false

        Link to Conscious TV interview: http://conscious.tv/text/135.htm

        1. Michael W. Taft November 3, 2019

          Thanks, Matt!


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