Nondirective Meditation (“Do Nothing”): Initial Thoughts

Last week a conversation began in the comments section of the Types of Meditation post when Malik asked what my views are on something called “nondirective meditation”. I had never heard of this practice before and there was some exchange of ideas where we tried to figure out exactly what it is, with some input from Arpan, too. A lot of links and information were exchanged and I’ve waded through it in order to bring the main points to you in this blog post.

So, here are the notes.

In all meditation I’ve practised up until this point, I have always used an object to anchor the mind to in order to stop it from wandering. This could be the breath, or a candle flame, or a sound, or whatever. The point is, I always gave the mind something to “latch onto” to maintain concentration. The idea of having no object was completely foreign and frankly unbelievable to me. Yet this is exactly what nondirective meditation is.

The way I have been practising it the last week is as follows:

  1. Sit very still with eyes closed. In fact, staying very still is the only “direction” I give myself. I also use the dhyana mudra, pictured above.

That’s it. You can let the mind wander, go into verbal thoughts, have feelings and visual thoughts and memories arise, notice things about your experience such as being uncomfortable or feeling rotten or wanting to get up, make little egoic plans, and basically do everything you would’ve been doing anyway except you are sitting very still. Then, something amazing happens. The comments on this link describe it well:

After about 30-40 minutes, it felt like my mind “cleared” and my attention settled on my breathe quite naturally, although i did nothing to keep it there. The pure bliss this practice gave me is hard to explain. It’s heavy, thick and extremely consistent – i get teary eyes from happiness several times a week after doing this. Any kind of stress or anxiety about something just drops. It’s replaced with pure relaxation and inspiration. The effect seems cumulative so far. Yet i do nothing. No focus, no mantra, no sounds, no counting, no anything.

[…]

The reason that non-directive meditation works so well is, i believe, because it doesn’t involve doing anything but rather just being which is a very rare state in our fast-paced society. When you just are, the mind can naturally unravel it self.

(Emphasis mine.)

This meditation is fully jhana capable. In fact, the willingness of jhana to arise entirely by itself has triggered a thought process in me whereby I am now evaluating whether things like using an object, constantly manipulating attention so it points towards that object, and suppressing verbal thoughts and other distractions, are actually a hindrance to meditation. I never thought I would be thinking those words, let alone writing them here.

When you use an object (as in directive meditation), the purpose of that object is to suppress the monkey-mind by taking attention away from the monkey-mind and sending it towards the object. It is like you are saying firmly to the monkey-mind, “NO. Look over here at THIS instead” (repeatedly taking attention back to the breath or whatever your object is). Whether you do this lightly or strongly, with narrow or wide focus, with short intense bursts of concentration or longer periods of broader mindfulness, in directive meditation you are always trying to steer attention away from the monkey-mind and towards the object, with the goal of the monkey-mind eventually “giving up” and the mind becoming still and unified around the object.

In nondirective meditation however the total reverse approach is taken. The goal is not to control the monkey-mind, but rather to let it burn itself out on its various ponderings and schemes. Whether it takes 10, 20, 30, 40 minutes or longer, what I have found is that, reliably, at some point this will happen: the monkey-mind will eventually give in to the stillness and total bliss will arise.

Now, I don’t want to get ahead of myself as these are early days. However, I am very excited about how this is looking so far. Rather than drawing conclusions at this point, I will instead just tell you what happened over the last week during these sessions.

On my first session, I sat and immediately found myself slipping into my existing pattern of conscious suppression of verbal thoughts, with attention becoming very narrow on the breath at the nose (and the tension that arises as a result of such directive action). I consciously had to break this pattern and go into verbal thoughts, and I did this by noticing what I was doing and having a little internal dialogue with myself about it. It has been a long time since I have allowed myself to do this. Anyway, I found my attention naturally going onto my breath at various points which was interesting. I also found that allowing myself to speak in my head was very liberating (which probably suggests something about the wrongness of the way I was doing it before, i.e. with continuous suppression of those thoughts).

I would find that my mind would notice little lights and swirls in the dark stuff behind my closed eyes and would make little commentaries on them. I just let the mind go towards whatever it wanted, whenever it wanted. I noticed that while doing this there was a bigger sense of awareness growing in the background, kind of like a great big soft cushion. At times my breath would appear to pause and there would be something like an anxious tension in there. At these moments, when I didn’t know what to “do”, I simply said the words in my mind: “Do nothing.” Then, breathing would spontaneously restart and the tension would fall away.

At around 10 minutes into this, something very special happened. The verbal thoughts started getting slower and more effortful, and finally it seemed like they were being sucked out of me and into that great big soft cushion of awareness that had been growing in the background. That awareness cushion began to take centre stage and all my thoughts began flowing into it, seemingly fuelling its growth. Indescribable bliss and gratitude arose, along with that “full”, satisfied feeling of first jhana. I found that my awareness had come quite naturally to be upon the breath, and the “awareness cushion” was now completely linked to the breath. My eyes had also come to rest looking at the third eye position. So, my mind had found its own “objects” in its own time completely by itself. This level of jhana would normally take me 20-30 minutes to reach when using the breath as an object, so the fact I got there quicker with no object was very exciting for me. Unfortunately my alarm went off and I had to go to work. I nearly said “fuck it” as I wanted to sit there forever but I got up and went to work. The next day I set aside a lot more time for my meditation.

On the second day I set things up exactly the way I had the day before. On this occasion however the bliss did not arise so easily, though there were definite windows where it was shining through. After around 20 minutes I found my verbal thoughts had naturally disappeared, but that I was in what Mayath and I have been referring to as a “dead jhana”, a state where the mind is still but dull. I stayed another 10-20 minutes in this state and the bliss of the previous day did not arise. However, later in the day, I was walking around a shopping centre near where I work, and usually I consciously tune into the sense field, especially the far edges (e.g. my peripheral vision, or the sounds of the environment) to get some “present moment absorption” which leads quickly to mindful bliss but requires ongoing conscious effort. On this occasion however I just said to myself, “Do nothing.” Suddenly bliss rushed in and I absorbed instantly into the present moment, with the veil between this side (“me”) and that side (“the world”) temporarily disappearing (it is the goal of meditation to have this barrier permanently removed). The verbal command to simply do nothing deactivated the processes that in fact prop up that veil. It is a way of letting go, and is coming directly from this nondirective meditation practice.

During the third day’s meditation bliss was arising quickly, just a couple of minutes into the meditation. However, I found myself “grabbing” for the bliss which would cause it to retreat. It is common for the monkey-mind to try to subvert a working tech in this way to try to grab the bliss from it while avoiding the “bad” bits. The key here is to realize that this itself is just part of the meditation. It is the mind going through its motions on its way to unravelling itself. You just have to “do nothing” and eventually it will pass. On this occasion the heavy bliss began to coalesce again once I let go of the need to control it. However, the alarm went off again and I had to go to work.

The fourth and final session was last night, before going out. I set aside around 30 minutes, though I wish I’d gone for longer. I have this annoying habitual mental process at the moment which has been going on for the last several months specifically concerning going out to socialize. The process goes something like this: “Because I’ve been meditating so long and experienced all these wonderful states, I should be able to sit and access them before going out to put me in a great mood so I can go and get what I want from the world.” There is a huge tension surrounding this presumption as it is a kind of performance anxiety with a lot of attachment to outcomes — exactly the sort of thing you should be letting go of in meditation. I had reached the point where directive meditation, e.g. trying to force concentration on a breath object, was actually fuelling this tension, making me even more tense before going out. By sitting and doing nothing however I found myself going through various motions, my feet tapping nervously, thoughts racing, chaotic emotions swirling, and so forth. But, eventually, the stillness came. This was spontaneous like the first session. I wish I had allotted more time for the sit because it was just getting into the good stuff when the alarm went off and I had to go to meet my friends. But this was a significant improvement in approach, with a tangible mental stillness I had not been able to generate before going out for some months. This made me very hopeful for the future.

My goal now is simply to give more time — a LOT more time — to these sits. One of the best things about this new approach is that by specifically having no method the tension surrounding the need to perform within meditation has disappeared. This vastly increases the capacity for bliss and stillness to arise naturally. The major shift in my mind is that I have now started really, really looking forward to meditation again, because I now know that I don’t have to do anything during meditation but sit, and the mind will naturally unravel itself. I predict that I will be increasing my session times vastly going forward, perhaps to two hours minimum. I have already started waking up earlier each morning in anticipation of these sits which itself is a noticeable change.

It’s still way too early to say for sure, but my feeling is that this is meditation the right way, the natural way — that the mind wants to fall into states of stillness, and you just have to give it the time in which to do so. Nondirective meditation may well become the standard meditation I teach here on PPM.

I phoned Aldous in the week to tell him about my experiences with nondirective meditation and he said, “Ummm yeah, I’ve been meditating like that for ages. Many people meditate like that. It’s how Alan Watts always taught it, too.” I am just surprised with myself that I never thought to meditate without an object before, and that doing so was so easy and powerful. But, let’s see where this goes!

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64 Responses

  1. Arpan says:

    What i have found is that in this method my mental predispositions reveal themselves very cleary. Eg. Dullness. It’s been considered the main danger of this method by many apart from the fact that inexperienced meditators may not consider many of there “doings” to be doings (What’s called shikan-waste-of -time in shikantaza circles).
    I dont have the latter issue as i am much more experienced now but the former issue(dullness) has harassed me for long. Ultimately I have come to a conclusion that dullness arises from 2 main causes:
    1. Physiological: lack of nuitrition or sleep or illness.
    2. Psychological: “i am not feeling like doing what i am doing” aka Resistance.
    For 1 solution is obvious: eat and sleep well and take medicines if ill.
    For 2(which i think is/was my issue) i think the focus on ACCEPTANCE in this meditation resolved it for me to a large extent on and off the cushion. What are your views on this hindrance during this meditation ?

    Also, in this technique I find myself in moderate to substantial bliss(only once had intense..as if menthol had filled my entire body) but never have any visual effects. Am i experiencing 1st jhana ? Sorry about bringing this up again despite you writing many times on jhana..but the factors seem difficult to dustinguish as sometimes am extremely absorbed abd yet only slight bliss arises while sometimes I am very lightly absorbed and great bliss arises.

    Btw your experience about eyes rolling upto 3rd eye region is exactly what i do now instead of turning the head back like Sadhguru suggests. This seemd more natural to me..to allow the natural inner peace guide my eyes there.

    Great post btw…thanks a lot. Provided me with lots of validation for the technique in onestroke.

    • Illuminatus says:

      My views on the causes of dullness are similar to yours. I tend to model it according to energy levels however. So physiological issues (sleep, nutrition, illness, injury etc.) will affect energy levels. For bliss to arise there needs to be a minimum energy level present. Below that level you get dullness or “dead jhanas”. The psychological aspects CAN affect it but I feel these are downstream from energy level and physiological state. So, you get resistance due to a lack of energy, rather than resistance causing lack of energy.

      In my model of energy there are two scales:

      1) Energy level (raw amount of energy available to the meditator from the body)
      2) Energy coherence (how “organized” this energy is)

      So the highest grade of jhana/samadhi is high energy, high coherence.

      Under this model the emotion “fear” is high energy, low coherence (so energy move chaotically).
      Anxiety is low energy, low coherence.

      “Dead jhana” or “dullness” is low energy, good coherence. So, you have unified the energy you have available, but there isn’t enough for jhana/samadhi.

      Natural mood swings and life events affect energy states too. What I like about the “do nothing” meditation is that it reveals your natural cycles (to help you optimize your practice) by taking “technique” out of the equation.

      “Also, in this technique I find myself in moderate to substantial bliss(only once had intense..as if menthol had filled my entire body) but never have any visual effects. Am i experiencing 1st jhana ?”

      Culadasa does a great job here of distinguishing between the many definitions of “jhana”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8vpuW34HcI
      Well worth a listen.

      My view is that if the jhana factors are present then it qualifies as jhana. So, for first jhana: piti (rapture), sukha (bliss), ekaggata (one-pointedness). If those factors are there, it’s first jhana. That’s how I define it.

      “Sorry about bringing this up again despite you writing many times on jhana..but the factors seem difficult to dustinguish as sometimes am extremely absorbed abd yet only slight bliss arises while sometimes I am very lightly absorbed and great bliss arises.”

      My view on the different “flavours” that occur within jhana (provided you are talking about using the same method each time) is that existing energy levels and coherence will cause one or more jhana factor to stand out or be diminished.

      • Arpan says:

        So what do you suggest I do about dullness ? Continue Do Nothing (it has resolved it to some extent till now despite my not so consistent practice)

        That clears up my doubts about jhana quite a bit. Do you think Do Nothing is sufficient to guide one to higher jhanas all by itself or we do need some active intervention ?

        What I told you about applying the principle of Do Nothing in directive meditations like sadhguru’s is in the same vein as to what you said about using insights of Do Nothing to optimise practice. That clears doubts as well.

        In your magick gambling article: http://www.personalpowermeditation.com/magickal-gambling/

        You wrote: “Then, I implanted the suggestion that ALL the symbols were going to turn into the woman symbol that had already been recreated in the centre — and waited. This is how you do visualization properly — you don’t “force” the object to appear, but rather suggest to yourself that you are going to see it at some point, then just kind of let it filter into awareness.”

        I have recently found this to be a valuable method for any kind of meditation. Eg in this Non Directive article you write: I simply said to myself: Do nothing
        Is also in vein of implanting a suggestion before continuing to Do Nothing. This would itself guide the meditation in right direction more quickly. Similarly now i just implant a suggestion that “all this mental chaos would disappear, these thoughts are dancing about helplessly” beforrbentering Do Nothing. I guess what all constitutes our mental activity including your mind often going to your breath is just a mass of suggestions we have practiced all our lives upro the pount we sat in that sesssion. Tho8gh one must have gained good amount of experience in separating from thoughts to effectively feel power of these suggestions. Is this also a minor form of intention manifestation ? Any further views on usefulness of suggestions ?

        • James says:

          IMO dullness is dealt with before a meditation, not during.

          Exercise, cold shower, video game, hatha yoga (stretching) etc… before meditation to put your mind on alert.

          • Arpan says:

            Very true bro. Intense physical activity or pranayam or both combined b4 meditation do channelise my energy conducively it seems. Video games/tv seem to hv a jarring chaotic impact. Cold shower..did not try will do.
            Though i would like to know if am missing something in my meditation too

            • Illuminatus says:

              Cold shower followed by pranayama is my first port of call to raise energy. Also “Ahhhh” deep in belly to turn on base of spine nerves. Stable energy requires base of spine to be turned on first and foremost.

              During the meditation itself I have noticing that dullness always correlates with the focal point of vision being lower in the visual field. So your eyes look more downward, often towards the belly (“navel gazing”). Just lifting up focal point of vision e.g. to third eye will raise energy quickly, but if your body is weak at that time it can be hard to maintain this. Better off aborting the meditation if serious dullness has set in.

              • Arpan says:

                I have heard this in navel gazing thing in a yogi’s lecture. I look directly in front and let the peace of meditation take my focus upwards.
                Hmmm..i undermined sadhguru’s advice on aaaaahh

        • Illuminatus says:

          “So what do you suggest I do about dullness ? Continue Do Nothing (it has resolved it to some extent till now despite my not so consistent practice)

          That clears up my doubts about jhana quite a bit. Do you think Do Nothing is sufficient to guide one to higher jhanas all by itself or we do need some active intervention ?”

          I will need to explore the meditation a lot more before I can answer those questions.

          ” guess what all constitutes our mental activity including your mind often going to your breath is just a mass of suggestions we have practiced all our lives upro the pount we sat in that sesssion. Tho8gh one must have gained good amount of experience in separating from thoughts to effectively feel power of these suggestions. Is this also a minor form of intention manifestation ? Any further views on usefulness of suggestions ?”

          One question is, if we had not been told we would fall into intense bliss (jhana) through Do Nothing, would we still have fallen into it? It is possible that jhana itself is a completely scripted event.

          I began a theory a few weeks ago that all enlightenment is in fact a scripted program. So, you have a “goal state” e.g. emptiness in Buddhism, True Self in yoga, etc. etc. That state is just one found by previous masters to be the most desirable to live out your life in.

          Getting to any goal state from any current state is simply a matter of intending the goal state then sitting through the “blocks” that stand in the way (these are known as “formations” in Buddhism). So the Dark Night etc. is just the formations that stand in your way between the current state and the goal state. You typically have to experience the blocks so they disappear.

          One way of doing magick is to intend then simply sit there as the repercussions and conflicts between states arise in your awareness, then see through them as they arise. This is in fact the surest way to create your desired outcome, in my experience.

          • Arpan says:

            I would wait for your future reports on Do Nothing.

            Well Re rescripting: Well all what you are saying seems entirely consistent with Subjective Reality model. This model is internally consistent in my opinion so nothing you say based on its assumptions is refutable by Anything that accepts same assumptions. Though in a way you can be right even according to yogis..that’s what concept of Maya entails at a deeper level in hindu/buddhist mystic experience.
            As for your question about Do Nothing I do think that going by Subj Reality model we (as higher self or upper fractal image where we are all One) have scripted certain physical “laws” according to which our lower fractal image would feel bliss if certsin physical/mental conditions are met. I like the term used by Sri Aurobindo: habits.
            He calls laws of physics and biology to be habits. This gives them due respect we beed to gv them in our initial practice as well as implants an idea that they can be transcended.
            I seriously recommend Adventure of Consciousness by his French disciple Satprem. It deals quite exhaustively with such existential questions while not using grounding of practice and in a way that would satisfy a western educated mind.
            In his Commentary on Isha Yoga SA does define Will to be the primal force of the Universe with other physical forces being its manifestations.
            He also calls friends enemies sickness health etc to all be moods of One Consciousness(prime concept of Isha upanishad i gues along with giving up Desire to truly Enjoy the world…and how in deep awareness we can enjoy anything that any body in the universe enjoys since we experience cosmic consciousness). He is the most sabe and balanced person i hv come accross.

            As for your last statement about magick..what a synchronicity..i am applying the same method and. .i was reading this from the novel Siddharth(not buddha):
            ““You were willing. Look, Kamala: When you throw a rock into the water, it will speed on the fastest course to the bottom of the water. This is how it is when Siddhartha has a goal, a resolution. Siddhartha does nothing, he waits, he thinks, he fasts, but he passes through the things of the world like a rock through water, without doing anything, without stirring; he is drawn, he lets himself fall. His goal attracts him, because he doesn’t let anything enter his soul which might oppose the goal. This is what Siddhartha has learned among the Samanas. This is what fools call magic and of which they think it would be effected by means of the daemons. Nothing is effected by daemons, there are no daemons. Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goals, if he is able to think, if he is able to wait, if he is able to fast.”

            How do you deal with Non manifestation of an intention ? Being indifferent to it and fully intend in the present moment again when you want to do something else. ?
            Also i know why one must let go and sit secured in thehe knowledge tht it wud all be tajen careof. But wudnt tht lead to risk of getting caught up in contradictory thoughts later if one does not hold onto the intention ?

            • Arpan says:

              commentary on isha upanishad*

            • Arpan says:

              So i guess Enkightenment is realising that it is all scripted by One Consciousness that is Us appearing to be different as whirpools in an ocean.

              A very potent excerpt from SA’s commentary on Isha Upanishad that seems to support subjective reality:

              There are twowaysofattaining to Jnana, to the Vision. One is the way of Insight, the other the way of World-Sight. There are two ways of Bhakti, one by devotion to the Self as Lord of all concentrated within you, the other by devotion to the Self as Lord of all extended in the Universe. There are two ways of Karma, one by Yoga, quiescence of the sheaths & the ineffable unacting, yet all-enveloping omnipotence of the Self within; the other by quiescence of desire and selfless activity of the sheaths for the wider Self in the Universe. For the first you must turn your eyes within instead of without, put from you the pleasures of contact & sense, hush the mind & its organs and rising above the dualities become One in yourself, aAmtErAmArAm.Is this too difficult for thee? Does thy mind fail thee, the anguish of thy coverings still conceal the immortal Spirit within? Dash the tears from thine eyes; though they be tears of blood, still persist in wipingthemawayastheyoozeoutandlookoutontheUniverse. That is thy self, that is Brahman. Realise all this Cosmic Stir, this rolling of the suns, this light, this life, this ceaseless activity. It is thou thyself that art stirring through all this Universe, thou art this Sun and this moon and these Constellations. The Ocean rolls in thee, the storm blows in thee, the hills stand firm in thee. If thou wert not, these things would not be. Canst thou grieve over the miseries of this little speck in the Brahman, this little insect-sheath, of whose miseries thou art the maker and thou canst be the ender? Is the vision too great for thee? Look round thee then, limit the vision there. These men & women and living things that are round thee, their numberless joys & sorrows, amongst which what are thine? they are all thy Self and they are all in Thee. Thou art their Creator, Disposer & Destroyer. Thou canst break them if thou wilt and thou canst rescue them from their griefs and miseries if thou wilt, for power infinite is within thee. Thou wilt not be the Asura to injure thyself in others? Be then the Deva to help thy Self in others. Learn the sorrows of those who live near thee and remove them; thou wilt soon feel what a joy has been so long lost to thee, a joy in which thy own sorrows grow like an unsubstantial mist. Wrestle with mighty wrongdoers, succour the oppressed, free the slave and the bound and thoushalt soon knowsomethingofthejoy that ismore than any pleasure, thou shalt soon be initiated into the bliss of the One who is in all. Even in death thou shalt know that ecstasy and rejoice in the blood as it flows from thee. THE STUDENT These ideals are too high. Where is the strength to follow them and the way to find that strength ?
              The Guru: The strength is in yourself and the way to find that strength has been laid down from the times of old. But accept that ideal first or you will have no spur to help you over the obstacles in the way.

              • Illuminatus says:

                Arpan, can you please separate out your posts into more readable paragraphs, and check the spelling and grammar more carefully? Some of these are really hard work.

                I’m not really sure of the value of posting enormous quotes from scripture, either; let’s try to keep quotes concise and relevant, eh? Thanks. 🙂

                • Arpan says:

                  Umm..sorry for the typos. I did notice them. I am typing from my phone that’s the issue. Would check that. I avoid quoting from scripture. I foind the lines from the commentary on it relevant to the subjective reality thingy. Will avoid that.

                  As for the joined words..that happens in copying sometimes. Will check tht too.

                  I guess I should type from the laptop. That had be easier

                  • Arpan says:

                    found*

                  • Arpan says:

                    This is what I wanted to ask you primarily in that post :
                    How do you deal with Non manifestation of an intention ? Being indifferent to it and fully intend in the present moment again when you want to do something else. ?
                    Also I guess I understand why one must let go and sit secured in the knowledge tht it wud all be taken care of. But wouldn’t that lead to risk of getting caught up in contradictory thoughts later if one does not hold onto the intention ? At least that’s what has happened with me on several(though not all) occasions.

                    • Illuminatus says:

                      There are two ways of manifesting:

                      1) Ritual. Do the spell, or the jhana, and send the intention into the “cloud”, then forget it entirely and it will arise in some form in your daily reality. It is up to you to identify it when it arises, and its obviousness (or “pattern-match fidelity”) in relation to the original intention depends on your skill and the nature of the intention (how specific you made it). Steve Pavlina adds “tracers” to his intentions so he knows for sure when they show up: https://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2010/04/intentional-tracers/

                      Using this method you MUST forget the intention and let the universe reorganize itself to present the manifestation to you. Going back to the intention and trying to will it even more into existence will just muddy it up at this point and end up pushing it away. But everyday thoughts about the intention that pop into your head won’t really affect it; the whole point of ritual is that a state of strong one-pointedness is reached during which you slip your intention through a crack in reality. Everyday thoughts generally lack the one-pointedness required to mess it up; still, you should not dwell on such thoughts as you will develop a neediness that WILL push it away in cumulative fashion.

                      2) “Direct” manifestation (I just made up that name). This is completely different to the above. This is the method you just quoted from the novel Siddhartha. You form the intention and will it. Then you sit and notice the resistance between your current state and the goal state. So, if you want to be rich, there will be a LOT of resistance if you are currently poor, and this resistance is all your beliefs (karma) regarding what money means to you, its unattainability, etc. These beliefs, this resistance, arise as FORMATIONS. These are whole “patterns” which occur in all sensory modalities including the thinking mind and feeling body. You sit through all these formations as they arise and penetrate them with your attention. I talked about how to do this here: http://www.personalpowermeditation.com/mailbag-formations-and-their-annihilation/

                      These formations can be perceived as “blip blip blip” sensations which, via your direct perception of them, annihilates them. You can tell when a whole formation has been annihilated because it will feel as though a sudden weight has been lifted from you. The more formations you have regarding the unattainability of the goal state, the longer you must sit. Removing these formations from situation X (the intention you are doing) also removes them from all other situations in your life. So if there is a common formation holding you back in one specific area, annihilating it will free you from that limitation in all other areas it affected. One way to view the Buddha’s enlightenment is that he sat under the bodhi tree through all formations pertaining to his suffering until he achieved liberation. In this sense, genuine insight and liberation is attainable through magickal practices.

                      In this “direct” method of intention-manifestation you can keep returning to the intention again and again, sitting through the resistance, working on it over a long period until you emerge in the goal state. Meanwhile reality will be shifting all around you, all the time, with the annihilation of each formation. You can see athletes doing a variant of this by their constant visualization of high performance, and business people do this too by constantly visualizing success. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali specifies exact formations to meditate upon to gain siddhis, such as an elephant to gain super-strength.

                      So, with these two methods in mind, let’s go back to your question:

                      “How do you deal with Non manifestation of an intention ? ”

                      Under method #1, you set a time period you are willing to wait for it. If it fails to manifest within that timeframe then you go back to the intention to find out what went wrong. Debugging these is a topic too big to go into here, but I would suggest that typically you will know the reason, deep down.

                      Under method #2, you simply assume you have not yet worked through enough of your resistive formations, and go back to the cushion and sit, sit, sit until they are worked through and it manifests.

                    • Arpan says:

                      For some reason I can’t see the “reply” option under your comment Edd.

                      “Everyday thoughts generally lack the one-pointedness required to mess it up; still, you should not dwell on such thoughts as you will develop a neediness that WILL push it away in cumulative fashion.”
                      This is the crux of what I wanted to confirm. Thanks.

                      I went through both the links you posted. Will try Steve Pavlina’s suggestion about tracers.

                      As for your article on Formations, I have been working on fixing these since a long time, I just call them “habits”. I think the 2nd method of manifestation that you state is the more reliable one. For the first, one must possess the ability to enter jhana at will reliably I guess(correct me if I am wrong). While I do possess some skill with concentration now, I cannot hit jhana reliably. It’s frequent but not totally upto my will.

                      I understand what you mean by debugging the cause of failure in 1st method. However I have a feeling that I do need to work on some pretty strong formations for which 2nd method would combine easily with meditation, that’s why siddhartha’s advice resonated a lot with me.

                      ” In this sense, genuine insight and liberation is attainable through magickal practices.”
                      I think this is what Vajrayan(Tibetan Tantric buddhism) as well as tantric hinduism is all about: embodying deities by learning to break up the formations that make up your own personality and creating those that make up the deity’s personality and gaining powers of the latter in process. This leads to a realisation that self/ego is an illusion. What traditional theravadin buddhism attains by a deconstructive process(observing individual strands of the Self and breaking them apart), Vajrayan/tantra achieves by Constructive process(creating alternate selves). I have created a self image to embody after standard meditation sometimes and it includes a heavy dose of metta for the Universe(kind of image described in the huge comment i posted from Isha Upanishad commentary). This has led to some really blissful jhanic absorptions along with some powerful rescripting in behaviour during social interaction.

  2. Monk Bro says:

    So the last couple of days (11th, 12th and the 13th) has been full moon days, which increases the intensity of whatever mood or feeling you have during those days. I heard this from Sadhguru. He says yogis all throughout history has known this and taken those days free to meditate a lot. Not to be a buzzkill but just a heads up as to why you experienced so much bliss so easily.

    I’ve switched my meditation practice from breath meditation to Sadhgurus beginners Kriya meditation. It’s bloody fantastic. Mostly because it feels effortless in comparison to breath meditation. I do a mantra for 9 minutes, do some ‘Aaa’s then just sit with my head slightly backwards and just chill the fuck out. This meditation does itself. My attention WANTS to go to my forehead, I don’t have to do much at all. I set aside an hour for the meditation then I set the alarm for 9 minutes, when it rings I stop the mantra and proceed onwards, finishimg whenever I feel like ot. This meditation is so pleasant and effortless (and chiiiiiill) that I easily sit for 45 minutes.

    Sadhguru says the Buddha taught in a way that made it easy to learn, easy to understand and easy to practice by oneself without a teacher over long periods of time. Having complete awereness (mindfulness) all the time makes it very safe aswell. However it also makes the path long, repetetive and tedious. He taught is way because he wanted to spread the way of awereness as a means to find liberation broadly and quickly, kind of like commercials who tries to appeal to the masses, alluring as many people as possible, effectively and quickly. So, with that in mind, I’ve lost some of my amazement with buddhism. Largely because an enlightened being is teaching more effective ways than what the Buddha taught. The main thing I like about Sadhgurus techniques is that they involve more direct manipulation of energy, using the body, like in yoga, to free up pathways and what not, instead of just being aware of this and that like in Sattipathana (basic buddhist meditation).

    Cheers mate.

    • Illuminatus says:

      “So the last couple of days (11th, 12th and the 13th) has been full moon days, which increases the intensity of whatever mood or feeling you have during those days. […] Not to be a buzzkill but just a heads up as to why you experienced so much bliss so easily.”

      My first session in the above post occurred on Monday 8th, next was on Tuesday, then Thursday, then Saturday. I do not think it is reasonable to pin all results on whether there was a full moon that day or not. After all, there is always SOME cosmological event or other taking place.

      Re Sadhguru’s kriya, I have also been making huge progress with it, and I switched to it exclusively for several months and had a True Self awakening during that time. I got a lot more done with it in a shorter time than I did with Buddhism, but then again I had been using various individuals’ interpretations of Buddhism (e.g. Daniel Ingram). We will likely never know what the Buddha actually taught as it has no doubt been highly corrupted. But I am liking what Culadasa has to say about it, now.

  3. James says:

    I’m for sure sensitive to the cycles of the moon now.

    This “do nothing” meditation is one of the ones I started with, and I enjoy it. I always thought this and mindfullness meditation were the same thing. When I would “do nothing” for instance after a work out, I found I would naturally look up at the third eye spot, cycle through different breathing patterns etc…

    • Illuminatus says:

      No, mindfulness means increasing awareness by keeping track of mental and physical events, or by expanding awareness to encompass more of the sensory field.

      “Do nothing” on the other hand doesn’t keep track of anything and has no conscious control over awareness. It just so happens that the mind’s natural tendency is to expand and become still when left to its own processes.

  4. Kautilya says:

    I would have been a bit despondent had I read this a month ago……’are we COMPLETELY reversing direction now!!??’

    Timing of this is amazing.

    I went to a short Plant Medicine retreat recently and was advised to COMPLETELY drop control so obviously my current technique – focus at the Colummella (thank you Illuminatus!) I let go for a bit.

    So I read the book someone suggested: Adyashanti – True Meditation

    I believe this is EXACTLY what’s being talked about here, only 80 pages, and can be read in 2 hours. Hopefully some of you guys will get it and see how it fits in here. Ons point was that consciousness is dynamic and that by just letting go the mind will get into its natural state.

    Good to hear Jhana is possible or a similar Samadhi state. I think I will continue with a string focus and supplement with this after. Also I think Illuminatus and some of the other guys have experienced Jhana and are experienced therefore the 10 mins, I doubt many people doing this for the first time will get that but I’m all for MMM – Mixed Meditation Methods ….if it’s good for Martial Arts why not here??

    This is an interesting angle and some development on this and links to what we have discussed here previously would be amazing.

    Highly recommend you guys get that book.

    Thanks

    • Illuminatus says:

      “Also I think Illuminatus and some of the other guys have experienced Jhana and are experienced therefore the 10 mins, I doubt many people doing this for the first time will get that”

      Well, out of the four sessions, I only got jhana on the first one, and even then I didn’t have time to have it mature.

      But you are onto something regarding experience, and I will explain why I think more experienced meditators can get jhana quicker and using a variety of methods.

      In humans there seems to be some innate anxiety surrounding pleasure. There is a kind of reflexive “pull back” when bliss begins to arise. Even the Buddha himself allegedly reported a moment of apprehension each time he approached jhana. A beginner might well reach the point where a jhana could arise even within the first ten minutes of his first attempt with this method, or certainly during the first 40 minutes. However, firstly, he may not recognize that “tipping point” for what it is: a gateway to jhana. So, his mind may miss the connection between its own relaxation and pleasure arising. More and more exposure to that bliss point will eventually allow the mind to train itself into that groove. More experienced meditators therefore come to know intuitively how to spot such moments and ease themselves into them, hence quicker times for full jhana using a variety of methods.

      Secondly, I suspect that many beginners will really struggle with this reflexive pull-back (the pleasure anxiety). In this sense the capacity for pleasure is like a small pot which gets overfilled too quickly. Training allows the pot to become bigger and eventually hold enough pleasure for a full jhana to arise. More experienced meditators already have a larger pot and can therefore fill it to jhana threshold with fewer reflexive pull-backs.

  5. Arpan says:

    Excerpt from Shinzen Young’s Five Ways:

    Here are some guidelines and encouragements I give when I lead people in Do Nothing practice.
    • If you have an intention to get focused or settled, drop that intention.
    • If you have an intention to get centered or meditate, drop that intention.
    • If you have an intention to stay with a good state or fix a bad one, drop that intention.
    • If you have the intention to be clear or concentrated or in equanimity, drop that intention.
    • If you drop into equanimity, good. If you notice you’re trying to find or maintain equanimity, drop that intention.
    • If you drop into clarity, good. If you notice you’re trying to find or maintain clarity, drop that intention.
    • If you drop into concentrated space, good. If you notice you’re trying to find or maintain concentration, drop that intention.
    • If for a while you have no intentions to control attention, good, just hang out for as long or short as that may last.
    • If you get dissociated or confused, let go of any intention to do something about that.
    • If an intention to make sense of things arises, drop that intention.
    • Remember, if you cannot drop an intention, it’s not really voluntary by our definition so you don’t need to drop it.
    • Remember, by definition, dropping does not require any struggle. If you have to struggle to drop it, you don’t need to drop it.
    • If you find this centering, good, that’s a sign you’re doing it right.
    • If you find this decentering, good, that’s a sign you’re doing it right.

  6. daniel says:

    Do you think that Do-Nothing mediation only has this effect on meditators who have previously suceeded (to whatever degree) in breath or other directed meditations? I.e. you may still need to start with a more object-anchored meditation technique at first?

    I’ve had sessions of late where I’ve had a lot of distractions/thoughts right before sitting down to meditate (an hour long session), where I’d say to myself “for the first 20 minutes, just let your thoughts go where they will.. , then tighten up ” , and like you say, the thoughts eventually settle down by themselves .. and the end of the session is not that different from one where there would have been breath-focus for the whole time.

    • Illuminatus says:

      Like you said, I reckon the first 20 minutes of distracting thoughts most people experience when trying to concentrate on the breath are just a phase the mind has to play out. My feeling currently is that Do Nothing lets this phase play out quicker, and that trying to concentrate on the breath is actually a hindrance to this phase.

      I don’t know if only experienced meditators can get jhana from Do Nothing because I only have my own experience to go on. But my feeling (and hope) is that they can, and will in fact find it easier this way because there’s far less to do, less pressure put on yourself etc. I really like the Shinzen Young guidelines above.

      When I entered the jhana phase (and brushing it by entering some bliss on subsequent attempts), interestingly the mind came to rest very much on the breath, making the breath a kind of de facto object. This was the same feeling you get when you’ve been concentrating for a while then suddenly, spontaneously “lock” onto the breath (access concentration). The difference is that the mind just does this anyway if you let it by Doing Nothing.

      So, seemingly you have two paths to the same result. Which is better? I choose the one with less mental effort and performance pressure, and that’s Do Nothing.

  7. Kautilya says:

    From a Samadhi perspective this would be objectless Samadhi which is a very high goal but still the suggestion and almost pre-requisite there is to have a grasp on objective Samadhi.

    I think both are good I’m going to experience how this goes by starting with Breath then Do Nothing and vice versa.

    We may end up with a really increasingly meditation routine…obviously we will then just ‘drop the routine’…. or have several paths

    • Arpan says:

      I think, by objectless samadhi you mean Nirvikalp samadhi:
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nirvikalpa
      Which is also called Nirbeej samadhi(samadhi without seeds/sanskars). In such sanadhi the very core sanskars/formations(sankhar in buddhism) get destroyed and you come out transformed permanently.

      Jhanas/samadhi(atleast first 4) of buddhism is rather equivalent to what is known as Dhyan in Hindu/patanjali’s system. Samadhi is used as a rather generic word for concentration in buddhism which would encompass all kinds of concentration states. Eg in 8 fold Noble Path Buddha calls for Samyak Samadhi or Right Concentration(in meditation and in life) . Standard effortful concentration is called Dharana in hindu/patanjali system.What is referred to as Samadhi in the Hindu/patanjali model is a much deeper state of absorption.
      So Buddhist Samadhi= hindu dharana
      Buddhist Jhana = hindu Dhyana (jhana chan and zen all 3 comr from Dhyana

      Yes, Non Directive is usuat considered an advanced meditation and Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev who’s isha kriya/shambhavi mahamudra Illuminatus has taken up teaches Non Directive meditation as a advanced program under the name of Shoonya meditation after people have tajen a course in Shambhavi.
      However many other teachers eg Swami Vivekanand and to an extent Jack Kornfield and Ajahn Brahm teach similar methods as a biginning meditation or even as Pratyahar(patanjali’s 5th step) to ppl with very chaotic minds or who initially feel suffocation/other issues in narrowing their minds in standard concentration meditation(eg me…my practicebaky rocketed after i took this up first).

      Also, as far as I have studied/experienced This is what’s called “surrender” in various religious traditions: you renounce your personal will in meditation and in life.

      • Kautilya says:

        Yogis would call it Asamprajnata Samadhi

        Nirvikalpa and Sahaja Samadhi are aligned towards Vedanta and Advaita Vedanta – having a lot more in common with Buddhist philosophy as well.

        This might be useful to remember…..they mean the same thing but Sanskrit is a very sophisticated language and it is considered more eloquent to use different words….kinda like in English where it is more interesting and demonstrates a broader vocabulary. Since Pali came from Sanskrit it may help us have an better gestalt understanding.

        I don’t think Buddhist Samadhi means the equivalent of Dharana ….. even lost in translation that’s a ‘downgrade’ of two stages down and would have been quite misleading lol!

        There are supposed to be 8 Samadhis – 4 Objective and 4 Objectless (familiar huh?)

        Also the objective ones are associated with – vitarka (deliberation), vichara (reflection), ananda (ecstacy) and asmita (I-am-ness)

        I found all this very interesting and was obviously looking to overal if with what I know of Jhana.

        I think an element of ‘surrender’ is good no matter what stage you are at.

        • Arpan says:

          I admit that I did overspecialise the meaning of buddhist samadhi in that statement with “=”. My earlier statement about samadhi being a generic term in buddhism was closer home. It encompasses from highest to the most mundane states of concentration. Mundane in the sense of “samyak samadhi” in every day conduct. Those 8 instructions are definitely not limited to the practice of meditation, else Right Livelihood would make no sense.

          Sahaj samadhi which is kind of non directive meditation applied to practical life is indeed a part and parcel of adwait and samkhya. But nirvikalp samadhi is not limited to any particular school of thought and is infact most well propounded by Patanjali who’s school of thought is basically a the practically side of the thoroughly dualistic philosophy of samkhya(Conscious Being i.e. purusha being separate from Nature i.e. prakriti and there being infinite number of purushas..as in each living being is a purush deluded by movements of prakriti) which is a far cry from Non Dualism aka Adwait.I think patanjali would have us start from Dualistic perspective as we are better grounded in it..and leave Non Dualism to arise via mystical experience naturally. Patanjali’s is a highly technique heavy approach, very left brain, as he wishes to communicate in precise language, which is impossible for the right brain which is more into images and feelings and poetry and when articulated, comes accross as whacky. Yes, buddhism and Adwait (or for that matter upanishads)do seem very close, that’s why Adwait’s main propagator Adi Shsnkaracharya was labelled: Crypto Buddhist. I would cut down on philosophy here now.

          Yes I am aware of the 8 samadhis. Sasmit Samadhi(where vichara and anand leading to a “smile” both are present does seem close to initial jhanas. However all these steps of dharana dhyan and samadhi are not very sharply distinguished abd the organically “flow” into each other. Asampragyat and Sampragyat are two broad categorizations of samadhi with Nirvikalp being under the earlier head. Yes, when one starts with an anchor Nirvikalp is the term favoured for last stage under patanjali’s influence, else without an anchor(niralamb) asampragyat(sorry for not using Hunter’s system for transliteration hehe) is the term favoured.
          Anyway, in my experience and study, Non Directive is more inclined to formless jhanas/samadhis. Can’t remember the exact patanjali sutra for this right now.

          I agree with your point on surrender..I think due to post rennaissance reaction against religion, Western mimd seems to gravitate towards approaches which don’t emphasise surrender. Since a lot of money and recognition to religious and yogic organization flows from the West, they temd to play down that element even where traditionally it would have been there. However, yogis are speaking out on true neaning if surrender(not being meek submission) so things might improve on that front.

    • Illuminatus says:

      As I have just gone to some pains to explain, this meditation will merge into objective samadhi with the breath as the de facto object. After the “mind unravelling” phase the mind settles onto the breath. Please try the Do Nothing meditation as I described before drawing conclusions.

  8. Arpan says:

    basically sky* rocketed

  9. Sounds quite similar to the abandon release method, and awareness watching awareness.

    He claims both methods are the fastest means to self realization.

    http://albigen.com/uarelove/abandon_release.htm

    • Few weeks ago I tried this method myself, but as described on the site above (I believe it’s the same way like here).

      My experiences are almost if not completely the same like Illuminatus.

      Tried it for a couple of more minutes yesterday night before I went to sleep, had all kinds of frictions of bliss, ecstatic, orgasmic energies popping up here and there. couple of times my eyes also went upward which brought more ecstatic energies with it.

      • Illuminatus says:

        My problem is that my thinking mind has already subverted this tech. It knows there is great pleasure and peace available so it grabs for it. There is an “anticipation tension” where my body is locked-up, waiting for the pleasure. This totally blocks it. This is an issue I have experienced with just about every tech I’ve ever tried, and has no doubt held back my general meditation progress. Ordinarily I will either explore a new tech at this point, or cycle back to an old one, to get back to the “new energy” of discovery. (There is a lot to be said for beginner’s luck when trying a new method.) Do you have any advice for overcoming this? Longer sits? Try to penetrate the anticipation tension? “Just wait”?

        I will check out that site now. Thanks.

        • I think I know what you mean, I think the best way is to just surrender to everything and perhaps that “blockage” will get cleared by itself.

          To be honest, I don’t think the average can make meditation or energetic methods work so quickly, some who will practice this “no doing” meditation probably nothing much will happen to them in he beginning.

          I remember few years ago when I tried all kind of methods out, they barely did anything to me, or I just got one mind blowing experience as a “beginner’s luck”. but now days any method I try works instantly on me.

          This is because all those jhana practices and any other energetic kind of method must have “purified the nadis and channels” to some degree.

          You can see yourself that every tech you try you get some bliss and other experiences.

          I myself sometimes switch methods because in the end what I really want is some permanent shift rather than some short lived experience.

          I think you should continue practicing methods that you feel that works… only because the progress is “stuck” somewhere, doesn’t mean it will not sort out later on, it’s not up to you anyway, the best you can do is take up a practice and practice it, the rest is up to the nervous system.

          But yeah, without a doubt longer sits are better if you are able too.

          btw, in this meditation, do you also get a lot of subtle head movements?

          • Illuminatus says:

            The head movements are entirely caused by myofascial winding, and the “letting go” of tension in the meditation having a 1:1 correlation with the myofascia beginning to unwind and the head moving. Winds always meet at the head, that’s why head movements are basically universal at some point if people keep meditating. Because I am almost free of such winds, I do not really get the head movements any more. And yes, this improves meditation vastly.

            I am hoping to get the complete method for myofascial unwinding up soon but I am learning new things about it all the time. It has been something I have wished to solve for everyone for a long time now. It is particularly important to solve it when energy starts rising, and especially if you do energy practices/ kundalini, as these practices turn on nerves which are “buried” in fascial winds and this gives rise to sudden jarring body movements.

            Ultimately though, for sitting meditation, you ought to be ignoring such things completely in order that you “lose” the body. Interestingly I used my awareness the last couple of days to see which nerves are actually turned on during bliss in concentration meditation. There is a link from the nose down to various nerves in the abdomen along the spine. Only those nerves are active. There is a distinct flow current between those spots. For example there is a nerve somewhere around the solar plexus which turns on when you smile (try it). During bliss/jhana there is a steady flow into that nerve coming from the nose and smile area. So there is a “circuit” that is active. This seems to turn on optimally when the rest of the body is inactive. Any “sympathetic” movements from the body tend to turn this circuit off basically immediately.

            I have had some success in turning this circuit on intentionally via purposefully “losing” the body and feeling for the nerve link down the spine. I am not sure how healthy it is however to skip phases in the natural unravelling of the sympathetic mindbody state.

            • What you refer to unwinding, in non scientific words those movements can be seen as Nadi channels being purified , happens to me also while doing g pranayama and directed meditation, but the nothing meditation it happens much more.

              • Illuminatus says:

                The problem with putting it in meditation terms is that there is an implication that meditation will eventually solve it. In my experience, it definitely won’t. Nor will standard yoga (though that might make a dent in some of it). I don’t even think Andy Hutchinson’s hard surface work will fix it.

                What really started to unravel it for me was to notice that, through habit, certain spinal nerves were NOT being turned on during everyday life. I now think this has more to do with computer work than anything else. So, training certain postures and patterns of movement turns on specific nerves repeatedly with other nerves necessarily being turned off. Think of reaching forward with a hand — the nerves that pull the hand back would necessarily have to be turned off during that motion. And habits like computer work condition certain nerves “always off”. What I found is that I literally have to find those OFF nerves and turn them ON with my mind (and you do this by placing awareness on them). Then, when moving, the clumps of fascia that have wound around those nerves begins to unwind in a very tangible unwinding feeling with freedom spreading across the whole body.

                The tricks here are:

                1) Finding the OFF nerves (which is not always obvious since they dropped off the map so long ago — in my case it is one on my left lower spine and another in my right hip, which correlate with my computer use patterns).

                2) Having the ability to turn them ON while moving around, going about your business, or in fact doing yoga poses (which really help in a “paint by numbers” way once those nerves are being turned on).

                One thing I am struggling with in writing this up is how to teach people to turn nerves on. There is a strong element of kundalini/ energy work in this itself since turning nerves on at will is a big part of all that. (But this similarity won’t exactly help the layperson). Perhaps you can see now why meditation, energy work and kundalini awakening often do cause these sudden body twists as OFF nerves come back ON and their associated fascial winds suddenly activate. If anyone is confused by “fascia” here, instead just think of it as strips of muscle itself wound around nerves and suddenly activating.

                • BabaFella says:

                  Will the unwinding and proper alignment of muscles and nerves not be achieved by asana and pranayama anyways? That is the impression that I have every time I study yogic literature. In fact kundalini techniques, together with asana and pranayama should purify the energetic pathways, which in turn will activate nerves that were dormant previously and will also cause unwinding of blocks;

                  I believe it is because most people neglect proper practice of asana and pranayama, and only focus on meditation (which is really an influence of buddhism) that we have to resort to techniques such as the ones that you describe (which are very helpful by the way, I am not complaining). Also the question is how well we are doing asana practice, because it is not about simply stretching, but by putting the body in all these weird twists, while at the same keeping the spine in proper alignment and by breathing correctly and causing prana to go to the areas we wish, we will cause, I believe, unwinding and opening of the channels

                  • Illuminatus says:

                    It might well work. Truthfully I didn’t practise actual hatha yoga enough to be able to tell you, and was more interested in making a working model of the whole thing.

                    However, I also conceive that it’s possible the student would attempt the poses without turning those “OFF” nerves on. You can get by in life with a surprising number of spinal nerves turned off. Just look at all the hunchbacks walking around. The purpose of the poses is to force many nerves to be turned on, in a paint-by-numbers fashion. However I see it as conceivable someone could unknowingly perform poor versions of those poses, potentially for years, without ever turning on those nerves.

                    I also found good teachers hard to come by, which is one reason I stopped going. My last teacher had her head literally merged into her neck which then merged into her body. I saw no reason why that couldn’t be corrected, and would have thought it would have been by now if long-term yoga worked as you suggested. But maybe she was just shit at it. Western teachers are known for being terrible at yoga themselves, which is something said by Sadhguru often.

      • Illuminatus says:

        Okay, I just read that site (http://albigen.com/uarelove/abandon_release.htm). I would consider that quite a strongly “directive” meditation as there is a direction to constantly let go of thoughts and effort. I have tried that method in the past and it works just fine. However it does require constant intentions to let go of thoughts. In this way it is a kind of concentration.

        What I liked about the method I described in my blog post is that there is no attempt to control thoughts. You can literally think verbally, let your mind wander, let it do whatever it wants. By removing the intention to control attention, the mind eventually unravels itself in its own process. I personally believe that it is the sitting still with eyes closed that is the trigger for this automatic process (and this may in fact be the driving force behind all successfull sitting meditations, which kind of destroys the illusion that meditation is a very directed, precise process — my inclination now is that certain states and insights will arise anyway if you allow such automatic processes time to develop).

        • Arpan says:

          @ Illuninatus: You mention that the mind eventually settles onto the breath. This has been stated by the guy in this link you posted as well: https://www.reddit.com/r/Meditation/comments/30ekpa/my_mindblowing_experience_with_nondirective/

          I have increased my sitting at Do Nothing a lot since you created this post. My suspicion is that prior conditioning has a great effect here. Eg.
          1. Earlier I rarely settled onto the breath ..mi usually either entered a “cessation” for brief periods many times in a single sit, or i experienced great bliss with entire awareness space feeling “frozen”(concentrated but not on a specific object..just in the Now) .
          2. A friemd of minehas been meditating on a bright image of a white sun(i think u call it kasina in buddhist lingo) in his mind. When I suggested him Do Nothing, he went into a deep blissful state after hus mind naturally created the white sun image and rested on it.
          3. Exceptional thing is, since i havr been reading here continuously that the mind settles on the breath via Do Nothing, my mind too is more ofen than not settling on the breath in these past few days.

          Since you and the reddit guy have a background in breath meditation(that guy used Headspace where breath is included in instructions) your minds seem to have a proclivity to settle there which not all have. Since, Buddhism is not widespread in India and meditation is popular here more via Hindu channels , I know plenty of meditators who have not used breath as an object in any sincerity, and none of them report this phenomenon. Most of them report formless bliss states like i did.

          If you watched the Do Nothing youtube link by Shinzen Young, he does state towards the end:
          Here, you are not meditating, 2 things are meditating you:
          1. You past meditation momentum
          2. Nature of nature, God, Tao..choose your word.

          Your problem about your mind grasping for bliss. I have this problem to some degree. LuminousBliss us spot on. Just surrender to whatever resistance you are feeling. I have solved this via this approsch only, maybe by implanting a suggestion prior to sitting in addition. The same instructions are applicable for anything in this meditation.

  10. Axel says:

    I’ve done this in the past (I think). Basically I would try to calm myself down, or figure out something, or get a feel for some meditation I’ve just read about. I noticed my body would relax, and my mind would settle, after about ten minutes. So I got into the habit of “waiting”/”doing nothing” for the first ten minutes.

    I figured:

    Eyes closed + being still lying down + thinking = Sleep
    Eyes closed + being still sitting + awareness = Meditation

    To avoid thinking some anxious thoughts I would do some free-form meditation. That basically means I would remember some meditation/trick and do it and that would remind me of another thing and I would do it, as long as I didn’t think about something else. By this I mean I wasn’t too effortful about it. I would do whatever came to my mind or just think about it. I would focus somewhere in my body then go back into verbal thoughts, then I would notice some impression and so on.

    I gave this up because going full-in gave me better results and the satisfaction of thinking I was working hard at it vs thinking I was wasting 10 minutes every time I meditated. Raising energy (by cold showers, exercise mostly) works way better.

    I thought this had to do with expectations. I couldn’t eliminate grasping but I could delay it (not expecting to feel any different for the first ten minutes). I thought doing the opposite would work just as well. By this I mean “meditating” for a minute, you would not expect any result for so little time. Have not experimented with that yet, but there may be some truth to that one-minute thing that guy is selling to business-types.

    I have no doubt you guys are talking about a much deeper thing, but I still think that closing our eyes+sitting still is the trigger for some kind of meditation-like bodymind process, just like sleep is automatic.

    • Illuminatus says:

      “I have no doubt you guys are talking about a much deeper thing, but I still think that closing our eyes+sitting still is the trigger for some kind of meditation-like bodymind process, just like sleep is automatic.”

      I have also arrived at the same conclusion.

  11. Robert says:

    Jason Siff uses an similar Approach like the Nondirective Meditation.
    In his book “unlearning Meditation” he writes, that his students could reach Jhana with this more receptive Way of Meditation.

  12. andrew hutchinson says:

    This is exactly what i talked to you about all those months ago and was what we were having great sucess with. I must have done a poor job of explaining it was the same thing. “Meditation” will come when you are ready (along with random yoga asanas and breathing “techniques” etc). Simply remove external distractions and wait (a firm surface heps too). Admittedly we have evolved it ever so slightly so that if necessary (many some people find the above almost impossible) we can give very subtle suggestions that assist. It’s all about those little subtleties.

  13. Kautilya says:

    I had a thought concerning doing other things normally avoided for this:

    I am still working towards the hour long, spine straight, deep breath, one-pointed focus

    However, with doing this kind of meditation as well could we lift restriction on the following and perhaps more:

    – Food: meditating after eating…energetically not good but ‘do nothing’, so why not?

    – Breathing through mouth: many reasons why nose is optimal but once again if that’s how your body goes then why not let it go

    – Lying: Just be whilst lying there, can sit but if you get tired or whatever ….in fact any number of postures, like curled up or feet on the table

    Are these things ok in your opinion if doing this style

    *** Also – I think it’s worth bringing up that this non-directive, letting go style of meditation…..is this what (I haven’t hardly ever used this word) all the ‘doss heads’ have been doing this whole time??

    Laying or sitting there doing fuck all and letting their minds go wherever …. you’d think guys like that would be all over the place about their spontaneous ‘bliss experiences’

    • “Laying or sitting there doing fuck all and letting their minds go wherever …. you’d think guys like that would be all over the place about their spontaneous ‘bliss experiences’”

      It’s different when you do “nothing”

      The typical person when laying down and just letting their mind go wild, many times they are actually Intentionally interfering with their thought process, they are not letting truly “go”. they are getting caught up in all sort of shit which without them noticing also creates tension.

      When I do the doing nothing meditation, I don’t get lost in thoughts, I just don’t reach to anything, I let my body truly go, I don’t control anything, you will be aware of thoughts going in and out but you dont deliberately follow them, this way in a moment they break apart, eventually you will come to a state that you will be aware of only awareness, void of thoughts and images, at this point you could say the meditation transforms automatically to the meditation “awareness watching awareness”. which btw some people got to some stage of enlightenment, and every second of the day are in a blissful and joyful state.

      The very basic stage of enlightenment should have a permanent shift on the individual and not just some kind of state that comes and goes.
      Also it should be very dramatic and not just, “hmm well I can’t identify with my ego anymore, maybe I am enlightened!”. *cough cough* dharmaoverground *Cought cough* himalton project.

      Anyway try it out and you will see there is a difference

      • Kautilya says:

        Lol

        Great answer by the way. I get that….so it’s like the ‘wild dog’ mind….you are letting it go free but you are giving it little snacks here and there – this is not letting go completely.

        So these guys if they truly truly let go for extended period without subtly hanging around in the same thought cycles would really be experiencing amazing states – with such a slight change.

        I’m familiar with be aware of being aware.

        I have incorporated this, followed by single-pointedness…..however, be aware of thoughts, sensations and feelings…….is this just straight advocating of Vipassana, which has its benefits I’m sure, but now almost challenging the core principles of why concentration meditation itself should be pursued.

        I know that Vipassanna happens in stages – observe breath, sensation, thoughts, emotions, meta etc. and he you are not being ‘told’ what to do. But it is on that side if things.

        Also we hear that Buddha spent 9 years or whatever doing concentration proper then the ‘vipassana style’

        The reasons for me saying all this stuff is primarily, whilst I respect the main givers of knowledge here, I think you guys are seriously underestimating your previous Jhana work and experiences.

        For example – making it the default meditation here. Guy comes with ZERO practice and excited by what meditation could offer and the advice is – do nothing. Whilst I think I think it should be incorporated from the start. I don’t think he’s going to get shit.

        This is the point of the Vipassana people – completely ignoring the 9 years of work and then saying – just be aware, that’s the way to enlightenment.

        Do Nothing, is fantastic …. it may be the goalkeeper.

        Imagine that one position filled in a football match, an incredible goalkeeper – how MUCH of a difference that makes.

        But is it THE (or one of the) best way to a Jhana experience which is a true game changer.

        There is still the giew that once you have made your mind settle and there will be a pleateau and you will not experience all the Jhana states.

        I think the value of this is manifold times more for those among you who are able to enter Jhana pretty easily.

        • Well if you want to enter jhana forget about this kind of meditation it won’t bring you there.

          From my experience only the breath gets you there and produces light nimitta .

          Other objects will generate piti but for me I never got a nimitta out of them.

          When people say you can enter jhana with kasinas, I am quite skeptical about that too.

          I am sure other types of meditation have their benefit, but I haven’t practiced them so long to know where it will take me.

          • Illuminatus says:

            LB, don’t get ahead of yourself; just because you haven’t experienced something doesn’t mean it is not capable of delivering the “true jhana”. I have had just as powerful jhanas from kasina and, my favourite, spine energy work.

            Now, here is what links them. When you get deep into kasina, the breath LINKS UP with the object. As I have said many times before, all jhana is a hybrid breath meditation.

            Now I will link this into spine energy work, too. The breath itself causes all spinal nerves to turn on sequentially in up-down fashion. With spine energy work you activate the nerves sequentially using awareness. This actually controls the breath also. I personally find spine energy work to be a stronger “anchor” for my awareness than the breath.

            One thing I have been meaning to write an article on for a while is “Direct vs. Indirect Jhana”.

            Direct methods are where you control the breath (or attention to the object, which itself will eventually join with the breath) very strictly. They are the quickest way to get jhana, and, as you say, you can plough straight through thoughts. This is a strong use of the concentration muscle, which I have been talking about for ages (and which I have never seen talked about in those terms anywhere else). It seems there is a strong aspect of being a “natural meditator” for being able to control this muscle so wilfully (and to even get the idea in the first place, it seems). Ever since the start of my meditation 9 years ago I sensed that muscle and could create bubbles of concentration, pushing thoughts very forcefully away from the object as they tried to fly in from the sides. I got jhana accidentally doing this; that’s how I got started with things, really. I have therefore always been a strong adherent to direct jhana methods.

            Indirect methods on the other hand basically involve being given an instruction such as “stay with the breath” — then sitting there waiting for a miracle. I NEVER liked those methods because I had had mindblowing experiences with not a fraction of the time and energy spent doing those. Yet those are the methods I have ended up seeing EVERYWHERE being called “concentration meditation”.
            The main reason I have begun writing about them is because it is now becoming apparent that there aren’t that many people around who can intuitively flex the concentration muscle to keep the tight attention on the object required for relatively rapid jhana. It is just not in most people’s realities. But I still want them to have some fantastic states and to progress spiritually and expand their awareness. And they do occasionally produce very nice states that would probably qualify as a “sutta jhana” or whatever they’re calling them.

            A quick update on my progress with Do Nothing: My progress petered out a few days after my last question to you. I tried sitting through “anticipation anxiety” but found that my mind no longer even particularly settled down, let alone started feeling nice. This meant I was no longer feeling refreshed after my morning meditation. My meditation is largely for functional reasons, i.e. to induce stillness of mind and good emotions so I can enjoy my day. The “sketchiness of mind” from years ago started to come back.

            This morning I went back to my own kundalini method that had been doing so well for me before I started playing with all these other meditations over the last several months. It actually took some practice to get it back. Got good absorption, strong piti, then the timer went off (only had 15 minutes before work). Went outside; eyesight is back to crystal clear. Everything has that luminescent white outline around it, like wisps of energy. I start feeling completely grateful for everything. My mind is totally silent all day. I feel like I just lost 4 months or whatever it was, and am only now back on track with myself.

            The message here is not that meditation X is better than meditation Y, but rather: find out what works for you and stick with it!!

            Regarding Do Nothing: I think for some people it might still be very good. It’s certainly better than no meditation. And as far as easiness goes, it’s got to be the easiest out there, and I think it could get results sometimes. It would probably be a functional “mental reboot” for most people. My main problem was that it was unpredictable (for me). And I like to have a lot more control over things. I know that even after just 5 minutes of kundalini I will feel amazing all day, and that is something under my direct control, so I’m sticking with that.

            • Arpan says:

              I was one of those people who had a problem with “intense focus”. Now when I look back and also when I see other people who have a similar problem, I think it boils down to:
              “Tensing around the object in an attempt to focus intensely.”
              This prevents the relaxation response from occuring in the body which is quite necessary for generation of piti. This combined with the feeling that even greater work has been added to their daily workload turns people off.

              This is the issue that lots of teachers try to resolve by advocating “stay with the object” approach. This gives them a taste of how concentration can occur along with, or rather in a causal relationship with Relaxation Response. Once this taste is had and general waywardness of mind reduced, people relatively effortlessly fall into more intense concentration. Thus low effort meditations like Do Nothing seem to strike at the root dissatisfaction ppl have with their everyday experience and help them generate a relaxation response amidst such mundane experience. How well this is working can be gauged by how much better can one perform intensive concentration styles compared to earlier. This has been my exact growth trajectory anyway. I still have not mastered this, but I have grown by leaps and bounds.
              Thus, personally I define hindrances as: Distraction, Dullness and Tension. As buddha said about sitar’s strings being neither too tight nor too lose, I tend to not just be mindful of getting back to the object if distracted or if xoned out be dullness, but also to relax any tension i might have brought in with concentration when i notice such tension. This is also a selling point of Bhante Vimalramsi, in adding the Smile Step to relax tension when getting back to an object(though I am more subtle about it in just letting the tension “be”)

              I think some people just have an inherent repulsion to such narrowing of mind and it is suffocating for them, which needs to be worked through.I have also noticed that with more intense styles(never done kundalini seriously, so excluding it) zi reach euphoric states which die out and I become the same again. Whereas styles akin to Do Nothing seem to have gradually eroded my dissatisfaction with everyday experiance and this itself gives rise to a sort of quasi-permanent bliss.
              Any thoughts ?

            • Yeah, but if you follow ajahn brahm or PA auk kasina instructions the breath isn’t mentioned , so one will just keep staring and not be even aware of the breath linking.up.

              In the end I guess we both agree that the breath itself is the real object that carries one deeper

              The spinal breathing does more then just meditation means, from time to time energy beams shoot up the spine and more prana enter the channels so one can have some days experience “Devine bliss” “heaven bliss” in daily activities.

              • Illuminatus says:

                I never studied Pa-Auk so didn’t know about that. The only kasina instructions I had were from Daniel Ingram’s materials. I had to use the breath in exactly the same way as breath meditation to stabilize the object. The nimitta in that case manifests directly in the visual itself, as the brightness of the “star” that the flame/light afterimage coalesces into.

                Does this mean you have given up on Ajahn Brahm’s method? I remember you were trying it out at one point. I had success with it once but it took a long time for anything to happen; maybe an hour. You need extreme amounts of mindfulness, especially of the widefield.

        • “So these guys if they truly truly let go for extended period without subtly hanging around in the same thought cycles would really be experiencing amazing states – with such a slight change.”

          Correct.

          One other thing is, no method will have lasting and permanent effects if not practiced for years except by grace.

          Some people are more lucky than others, one can practice awareness watching awareness for 5 years and one day suddenly that person wakes up every morning in love bliss.

          Another one might practice for 50 years and not even get close to that, that’s just how it is.

          In the end it all takes time, there is no magic way to get enlightened in 6 months.

          “I think the value of this is manifold times more for those among you who are able to enter Jhana pretty easily.”

          Exactly.

          Even if I tell you in less than 10 minutes I can produce a light nimitta even when thoughts are raping me from every side, I am willing to bet with you that another person won’t be able to do that, and let’s assume with that that we both use the same method exactly the same way.
          It’s useless to talk about scientific terms, we can just adapt those hindu concepts and say that my body/mind is more purified than another said person.

          This is not just an assumption, I know other guys which after long periods of energy works became more sensitive to meditations and other energy practices and actually showed results.

          “But is it THE (or one of the) best way to a Jhana experience which is a true game changer.”

          I agree a jhana experience is very dramatic and when you get a taste of that you see breath meditation as the absolute method.

          But let’s say I get in jhana everyday for let’s say 20 minutes, and the effects wear of quickly.

          Now let’s say I practice a boring method such as awareness watching awareness and I don’t get any dramatic kind of experience, that doesn’t mean that that method will not one day put some permanent shift on you and experience total bliss all of time…

          While going inside jhana in and out might or might not do that.

          So what do you prefer? to enter jhana and have a mind blowing experience which wear off, or practice a boring method such as awareness watching awareness but eventually you will have permanent bliss?

          For me obviously the answer is both, I would practice both methods, perhaps they are a good combination together, even if awareness watching awareness won’t produce instant results, I can use breath meditation to get blissed out, so it’s a win win 🙂

          • Kautilya says:

            Thanks 🙏

            Great answers!

            I will probably focus once again on pure concentration meditation as that in itself is useful skill ….focusing.

            However aside from this a half hour at night to ‘Just Be’ I think will be useful.

            I’m not trying to model you or make assumptions from your experience or anything but can I ask you:

            Ar you a ‘natural’ at meditation – like first time Jhana kinda guy?

            How many hours a day over what length of time did you sit before you became what you consider proficient?

            So what about that other stuff I was saying about meditation after eating, breathing through mouth, laying with feet on the table – proper lazy!….. as far as Do Nothing is concerned?

            • Ar you a ‘natural’ at meditation – like first time Jhana kinda guy?

              Pretty much, but I too experienece sometimes dry spells or I can’t get deeper than usual.

              However before jhana practice , I was more into energetic work such as kriya pranayama (going up and down the spine) which had their own benefits as well.

              Today when I do few minutes of breathing you and down the spine very fast it puts me into a pleasant ecstatic state, also I noticed it produces for me a light nimitta as well, but it’d not strong enough for me to use .

              I am not so sure what you meant regarding the last part of your post

              Your posture doesn’t matter as long as it’s comfortable and you are meditating as instructed.

              • Illuminatus says:

                “Today when I do few minutes of breathing you and down the spine very fast it puts me into a pleasant ecstatic state, also I noticed it produces for me a light nimitta as well, but it’d not strong enough for me to use”

                The trick is to notice that the spinal energy modulations have an effect on the breath at which point the spine work seamlessly merges with the breath and the light nimitta goes to full strength. I believe spine-breath work is the FASTEST way to jhana. Absorption occurs within seconds and there are zero thoughts. I have toyed with the idea of writing up the method but I believe virtually no one reading it would be able to do anything with it.

                • Kautilya says:

                  Again if it happens within seconds AND it’s a tech no one reading would be able to do anything with – it’s a testament to your own ability and experience anyway.

                  Just like you can vanquish an opponent using ‘dim mak’ aka. Thrusting fingers, touch of death etc.

                  Take the ability to channel chi to that degree in the first place

                  I have come across methods that involve mantra, locks, visualization of chakras and sounds each progressively taking up ‘bandwidth’

                  Do you use full yogic breath by the way? As in belly expands then chest expands then goes down

                • James says:

                  sounds like samyama on the chakras.

  14. Kautilya says:

    Any thoughts on this??

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