The Five Foundations of Effortless Mindfulness
I have found that it is important to acknowledge different learning styles and doorways. Some people find it easier to access awake awareness by going deeply inward, harkening to the adage “the kingdom of heaven is within,” while others access awake awareness by opening outward, connecting to awake awareness that is greater than the small self. We can call these inner doorways and outer doorways.
Whichever doorway we start with, we will end up being aware both of spaciousness and from within ourselves, simultaneously. The mindful glimpses in the effortless mindfulness approach use both the outer and inner doorways to have local awareness shift through each of the Five Foundations of Effortless Mindfulness.
Transitioning from Deliberate to Effortless Mindfulness: I’ve developed a series of practices to help transition from deliberate to effortless mindfulness. These are initial techniques that introduce calm and focus as we work with effortless mindfulness to shift into an awake awareness–based view. They are a good entry point because deliberate mindfulness versions of these practices will be familiar to many mindfulness practitioners.
The Four Postures of Dynamic Stillness Focusing on the Breath from Within the Breath Beyond the Meditator Lovingkindness and Compassion Are Already Here Embodiment Scan One of the advantages of starting meditation training with deliberate mindfulness is that it uses commonly understood terminology and instructions: “Bring your attention to your breath at your nostrils or belly.
To learn something new through experience, we must first be patient:
When we begin effortless mindfulness, “Unhook local awareness from thought and have it move to know your jaw from within your jaw. Now have local awareness open to know the space around your body.” Unhooking awareness has to be fast and direct so that awareness can separate from thinking; otherwise, we may be simply stretching attention.
We do not need to intellectually understand how local awareness directly knows, any more than we need to know how we can balance on a bicycle. Similarly, we won’t know what it feels like until we experience balance; we have to jump on the bike, push off, and get moving to balance and ride. As we do these mindful glimpses, it is important to note that local awareness does the shifting through all five of the foundations.
This means that shifting does not employ imagination or effort by the ego manager or the meditator. Instead, it is the intelligence and intentionality of local awareness that unhooks itself from thought. When we do this, we are not creating a meditation state; instead, it is like untying knots of consciousness that bind us to ignorance and suffering.
The key is to learn how to move local awareness or experience how local awareness moves. Here is the unique thing about moving local awareness: When I ask you to unhook local awareness from the cloud of thought and emotion, I am not talking to “you”—the ego mind, the manager, the small mind, or the small self.
The special feature of promoting local awareness is as follows:
I am talking to “You” he already awake being—and asking local awake awareness to separate out from thinking and know itself directly either within or outside your body, and eventually both. The good part is that you do not have to know how to do this. If you say, “I don’t know how to do that,” or “I don’t think I can do that,” in one sense, you will be right.
That “you” can’t do it! Awareness will be letting go of that “self” and shifting to the vaster, interconnected sense of who you truly are. Not all doorways or mindful glimpses are suited for everyone, so if one does not work for you, please let it go and move on to the next doorway to see if it opens for you.
Each person has a different learning style, so I have designed glimpses with inner and outer doorways that use visual, auditory, physical, perceptual, intuitive, mental, and emotional approaches. The best way to proceed is with the curiosity of an open mind and open heart to see if awareness can disidentify with your thinking mind and move on its own.
I recommend you take the following mindful glimpses slowly, step by step so that you can experience each movement for yourself. Once you become familiar with them, you can do them anywhere and at any time of day.
The Four Postures of Dynamic Stillness:
Deliberate mindfulness instructions often begin with physical posture, concentrating on how to place your body in order to sit physically still, with your back straight.
In this effortless mindfulness variation, we will focus on stillness at the subtler levels of experience to feel a different kind of dynamic stillness that can include movement. Find a way to sit comfortably. Take a few deep breaths and relax, as if you have just finished a day’s work. Become aware of your body and breath as if they are in your awareness.
Become aware of the space around you, the feeling of contacting what you are sitting on, the feeling of your body, and the motion of breath happening by itself. Notice your whole body breathing. Notice that breath is happening by itself. And now notice that awareness is also happening by itself. Notice how awareness is spacious like the sky, already aware from outside and within your breathing body. Begin to feel the first stillness of your body sitting.
What is it like to be sitting on the earth with the feeling of gravity and stillness? Nothing to do and nowhere to go. just now. Rest your body in this one place with the stillness like a mountain. Now be aware of the second stillness of space
Feel the movement of your breath. Notice the stillness of space in the pause between breaths. Feel the space in the room and between objects. Rest in the space within the moving atoms in your body.
Feel the space and stillness in which everything arises and passes like clouds and birds in the sky-like space within and all around. Become aware of the third stillness of the water.Feel the deep knowing that your body is mostly water. Feel the depth of water inside and all around. Breathe in and feel that the ocean of water is deep and still within, even while there are waves of movement and flow. 6. Now feel the fourth stillness of awareness.
Feel how that which is aware does not come and go, while everything else changes. Rest as this timeless awareness, which is what all the other stillness and movement are made of. Rest deeper than sleep as the awareness that is wide awake. Find that which is already resting without any effort to rest.