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Nondual Meditation: One Practice of Total Awareness

nondual meditation

There are many pathways into nondual awareness. Most forms of meditation, if you push them to their farthest limit, will take you into a nondual experience. Which one(s) will work for you is a matter of practice and experience.

In this post, I’ll lead you through one practice that I’ve found works well for people who’ve done a fair amount of mindfulness meditation practice in the past. But if you haven’t done much mindfulness it may have benefit anyway, so give it a try.

The essence of nondual meditation is the understanding that nondual awareness is actually something you have all the time. It’s not a special state or some kind of peak experience that you have to learn to achieve. Instead, the state of nonduality is always there, and it’s simply something that you learn to notice.

Want to learn what nonduality is? Click here.

Most forms of nondual meditation use this noticing principle (also called “pointing out instructions” because they are “pointing out” the nonduality that is already there) to show you the part of your experience that is already nondual. Thus the crux of the practice of nondual meditation is to learn to see this already-existing nondual aspect of awareness.

So let’s try the practice and see how it goes. You may have to do this many times, of course, before seeing results.

Try this Nondual Meditation Practice

Sit in a comfortable relaxed position. There is no special meditation posture for this practice. Breathe normally and comfortably and spend a few moments simply relaxing a bit and letting go of other concerns.

Now gently gaze at some object in your environment. It can be something simple like a chair or a plant, but it doesn’t matter what it is. Allow your soft gaze to take in the object. Notice if you can that the object is awake. Not that it’s an “entity” or anything like that, but simply that it is shining with awareness. In a sense the object is as much aware of you as you are of it. Feel the sense of the object being aware of you at the same time as you are aware of it.

Next move to a second object and notice the same thing. This object is shining with awareness. It is awake and aware and noticing you. At the same time, you are noticing it. Feel the sense of the object being aware of you at the same time as you are aware of it.

Then move to a third object and, again, notice that it is shining in awareness. It is awake and aware and noticing you. At the same time, you are noticing it. Feel the sense of the object being aware of you at the same time as you are aware of it.

Keep doing this with each part of the visual field. There is no object in the visual field that is not shining in awareness. All objects are awake and aware, and holding you in awareness as you are holding it in awareness.

Now notice the entire visual field at once. Relax your gaze even more and notice the entirety of the visual “screen” as one massive field of awareness. This field of awareness is aware of you at the same time as you are aware of it. It is awake and gazing softly at you as you are awake and gazing softly at it.

Next notice that the awareness that is aware of you is not different from the awareness with which you are noticing it. It is actually all one field of awareness. No matter what you are aware of, that is also aware with the same awareness. Awareness is all there is, and it is one awareness. Gaze at something very far away, and notice that it is the same awareness as your awareness of your innermost feelings. In the field of this awareness, there is absolutely no separate. It is all one wakefulness, one experience. It is one. One.

In this space of one awareness, there is only intimacy and connection. Because everything is awake and aware of everything in one awareness without separation, everything is known. Nothing is hidden. Everything is open and shared. Everything is soft and sensitive. There is just total awareness and total connection.

Whenever you like, end this practice of nondual meditation.


Read more about nonduality and mindfulness



photo by Dragan

6 thoughts on “Nondual Meditation: One Practice of Total Awareness”

  1. Hi Michael,

    Thank you for this practice; I have been experimenting with it for some time now, and can sense there is such potential in it… could you please elaborate upon the instructions at all? Particularly the instructions of noticing the whole field, and the latter instruction of recognizing “your” awareness as the same as “the object’s”? Any help would be much appreciated.

    Warm wishes from Western Massachusetts,

    1. Thanks, Jeremy. In (very very) short, the idea is that everywhere in the field of awareness is equally aware.
      Objects are not “real” but are simply appearing in awareness (i.e. in a way of saying it, they are simply made of awareness).
      Therefore, in terms of the mind, all objects are equally aware.
      Note that this is not saying that they have independent consciousness or anything like that.

  2. Thanks very much for your response, and for clarifying this “practice” (or recognition…?). I’ve also really enjoyed the badass, more Mahayana-inflected guided meditations that you have recently led at SF Dharma Collective; they have helped flesh this out for me as well, in a really straightforward and phenomenologically grounded way.
    This may have been implied in the instructions above, or the aforementioned guided meditations, but it also sometimes seems as though each “object”/appearance can be appreciated as simultaneously the center, even the source, of the whole experiential field, as well as seamlessly inextricable from it. This way in which every”thing” is sort of brimming with presence reminds me of Dogen’s radical non-duality and his style of verbing nouns, ie “entirely worlding the entire world with the whole world”… it feels like a somehow deeper letting go of the subject-object construction into direct experience, as well as any distinction between awareness itself as no-thing and experience as everything, so that stuff is just bubbling up or popping up from/as nothing.
    I also wonder how this pertains to temporality, specifically Shinzen’s writings on “gone” and the absolute present; Dogen did write that “in essence, all things in the entire world are linked with one another as moments.”
    I could officially be talking silly and/or too much, but any thoughts on this would be appreciated.


    1. Thanks, Jeremy, I’m glad you’re liking it.
      My very short answer would be, Yes, since nothing is the center of awareness, that makes everywhere the center of awareness.
      Please see my latest several video posts to head deeper into this territory.

  3. Thank you Michael for this exercise. Very liberating !

    One question : does this exercise come from a special buddhist tradition (like Mahamudra, Dzogchen, etc…) ? Or could you tell us from which source it had been inspired to you ?

    Thank you again, and greetings from Belgium

    1. Thanks, Centrino ~
      I created the exercise myself, based on my own experience.
      However, it turns out that there are many similar exercises in, for example, the Mahamudra and Dzogchen traditions.

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