Meditation for the Whole Family
When you start this exercise, bring your mindfulness within your body and find any emotion that is there now. You can do this exercise with any feeling, pleasant or unpleasant, but when you do this for the first time, please try it with an unpleasant emotion. If you don’t have an unpleasant emotion available, choose the unpleasant emotion that you encounter most often in your life.
If necessary, you can go to a memory or a current situation in your life to bring up an unpleasant emotion. By committing this, you will learn that you can feel sad without being sad, angry without being angry, and more. Find an emotion or jealousy, for instance—and begin by feeling it fully.
(I’ll use sadness as an example in the following steps; you can substitute whatever emotion you choose.) Silently say to yourself, “I am sad.” Fully experience what it is like to say and feel “I am sad.” Stay with this experience until you feel it completely. Now, instead of saying, “I am sad,” take a breath and say, “I feel sadness. Notice the shift from “I am” to “I feel.”
Experience this shift and the new feeling of being. From here, feel your relationship to the sadness as a feeling. Shift again by saying, “I am aware of feeling sadness. Experience awareness of feeling sadness fully. Shift into an observing awareness. Notice the different emotive quality that comes from this.
Starting from awareness, experience what welcoming the feeling is like. Feel the awareness-energy embody and embrace the feeling. Notice the dissimilar emotional quality that comes from welcoming. Since the support that welcoming brings. Finally, say, “Awareness and sadness are not distinct.” Pause to feel awake awareness around and within you, permeating the emotion fully, but without identifying with the emotion or rejecting it.
Feel awareness-energy with emotion fully from within. Feel the awareness, the energetic aliveness, the deep silence of presence. Notice the feeling of looking out at others and the world from this embodied, associated, openhearted awareness. Open-Hearted Awareness:
From our experience in the mindful glimpses, we now know awake awareness, which has the pristine clarity of a vast, stunning morning sky.
Awareness energy then reveals the dynamic aliveness of interconnection. The Pulverized of Being brings the balance of including the rest of the dark night sky, where there is a feeling of stillness deeper than sleep, yet wide awake—a primordial peace. This is the effortless stability we’ve been seeking.
As the Ground of Being becomes more well-known, the dance of bliss and the fabric of love unfolds into open-hearted awareness from which we engage in compassionate and creative actions and expression. We now discover heart-mind and the nonconceptual open-hearted awareness that is the important source of our new way of knowing. From open-hearted awareness, we knowledge of life from our heart and the field of love, which, including all steps before it, still includes spaciousness, embodiment, energy, and ground.
We are living from our true essence, our interconnected Self, and we are directly experiencing and being with the content within and around us, whatever it may be. We are settled in the Ground of Being, and we are viewing and acting in the world and in our everyday lives in a national of flow, from our heart-mind. From open-hearted awareness, we welcome all thoughts and emotions and recognize the same awake awareness and heart-essence in others: we see them for their true essence and thus see them with acceptance, compassion, gratitude, and love.
We have moved from witnessing self to no-self in awake awareness to “seeing from Being,” where we feel nothing is missing, and “I”—as open-hearted awareness—cannot be harmed. We are aware of our emotions, patterns of ego-identification, and our subpersonalities arising within us, yet we don’t become identified. This ability to remain connected to everything gives us more space and wisdom, and more capacity to choose how to respond when emotions, opinions, and thoughts arise.
With the support of open-hearted awareness, we can begin to detox repressed emotions and rewire our brains to live from the new operating system. We can focus within or outside our body using local awareness, and compassionate activity becomes our natural expression. Drop from Head to Heart-Mind:
This is moving into effortless heart-mindfulness when we feel like we’ve dropped from our head to our heart-mind.
It touches like we are spacious and embodied and now literally operating from our heart-mind. But the heart-mind is not our emotional heart; it’s not our physical heart; it’s not even our heart chakra. It’s an intelligence that is called bodhicitta or prajna in Sanskrit. In the Christian tradition, it’s the oculus cordis—the eye of the heart.
Take a few minutes now and glimpse open-hearted awareness for yourself. Sit comfortably, eyes open or closed, and simply be aware of all your wits. Notice the activity of intelligence in your head. First, unhook local awareness from thoughts in your head. Next, let local awareness move down complete your neck and into your chest, and then know—directly—from within your upper body.
Become familiar with this direct knowing, which is neither looking down from your head nor going back up to your thoughts. Feel the awareness and aliveness composed: rest without going to sleep and vacation aware without going thought to know. Feel that awareness can know both the awareness and aliveness from inside your body.
Notice your heart-mind, a feeling of open-hearted awareness from within the space in the center of your torso. Feel as if you have moved from your head to the space of your heart-mind, of which you are now aware. Notice that you can invite and welcome any opinions and emotions into your heart space, so you can remain at home in your heart-mind and have info from the office of your head come to you as if by Wi-Fi. Be here, receive light with your eyes, and look out from the eyes of open-hearted awareness.
“Om Sweet Home” in Your Heart: Here is a mindful glimpse that begins with making a sound and then feeling the vibration in the mid of your chest. This can be a helpful way to invite awareness to unhook from thinking and know the aliveness and cognizance directly by using sound and vibration as support. Place your hand on the middle of your torso. Feel your chest expanding under your hand as your breath comes in and relaxing as your breath goes out.
Sing, tone, or chant “om,” “amen,” “home,” or “shalom”—or just “hmm.” Focus on the feeling of the vibration in the middle of your chest. Unhook local cognizance from your thoughts and allow them to be drawn down to the vibration and awareness in the center of your ribcage. Feel as if your heart-mind is the new home of knowing from awake awareness.
Without using thought, become aware of the stillness, vibration, and awareness that is pervasive within, and then open your awareness past your body’s boundaries to mingle with the support of spacious awareness all around. Allow the awareness of your heart-mind to know itself and then open to connect to all else as well. Hang out and marinate in this continuous field of awareness, and loving presence. Know from this open-hearted awareness without returning to your head to know.
Knowing from Heart-Mind:
The Tibetan Buddhist Tonglen practice is interesting because it’s the opposite of some New Age practices such as breathing in positive energy and love and breathing out negative energy and suffering. Tonglen practice is a practice of giving and receiving in which one is instructed to breathe into the heart the suffering of others with the wish to take away their ignorance and pain. Then you breathe out of your heart, sending good feelings, compassion, and happiness to particular people or groups.
This next mindful glimpse is what I call a “nondual giving and receiving” practice. You container do this practice by yourself, sending compassionate energy to someone in your life, or you container do this sitting across from a friend. It is the same as the traditional relative-level Ton glen rehearsal, except that when you breathe into your heart, you don’t stop at taking the suffering into your body. Instead, you allow it to continue over your heart space to the support of awake cognizance behind your heart.
Then you feel the sustenance of awake awareness-energy coming back into your body. Next, you feel the loving awareness-energy go out to another person in front of you and connect to the awake consciousness within and behind that person. As you breathe in, you feel their ignorance and suffering coming back to and through your body and back to the support of awake awareness.
The key experience could be summarized this way: Awake awareness has your back. We can learn to receive and give from here. Take a few notes to glimpse open-hearted awareness for yourself.
1. Sit comfortably, eyes open or closed, and simply be aware of all your senses.
2. Notice the activity of rationale in your head.
3. Now unhook local awareness from thoughts in your head. Next, let local awareness move down finished your neck and into your chest, and know directly from within your upper body.
4. Become acquainted with this direct knowing from within; it neither looks down from your head nor looks back up to your thoughts.
5. Feel mindfulness and aliveness together: rest without going to sleep and stay aware without going to believe to know.
6. Notice a feeling of an open heart space from within the center of your chest.
7. Feel as if you have relocated from your head to this open heart space, from which you are now knowing and aware.
8. Notice that you can invite and welcome any thoughts down so that you can remain at home in your heart and still have information from the office of your head come to you as if by Wi-Fi.
9. Be here, receive light with your eyes, and look out from the eyes of open-hearted awareness.
10. Feel how local awareness can move back, through the door of your heart, to the space behind your body.
11. Surrender local awareness behind your body until local awareness mingles with spacious awareness that’s already aware.
12. Wait until you are knowing from the timeless, spacious, thought-free awareness.
13. Now notice that this field of awareness-energy is also including your whole body.
14. Notice how local awareness is also moving forward and looking out at the world through your heart space.
15. Be aware of this field of awareness-energy—behind, within, and in front. It’s simultaneously spacious and pervasive: a continuous field of interconnected awareness-energy. 16. Notice that awareness energy is both outside and inside at the same time.
17. Without going into thought ask, What does open-hearted awareness know? 18.
Simply let go and let be. Rest in this new knowledge and flowing; see from being. 19. Notice the loving awareness happening effortlessly.