Awareness Watching Awareness – Better than Any Sight, Any Sound

I have had The Direct Means to Eternal Bliss by Michael Langford on my bedside table for the last month and a half. This book is the original source of the Awareness Watching Awareness method as it is written here which we have been linking to in posts and comments for the last year, and which we have been discussing on the forum here.

I like to have an actual book version of the things I’m most serious about so I ordered one off Amazon. I’ve dipped into it as nighttime reading, but didn’t fully jump into it, possibly due to an unconscious ego defence. A few days ago however I reached the chapter with the practice instructions. After reading them, I then just practised Awareness Watching Awareness exactly as it was written in the book, rather than trying to put my own spin on it. All I can say is: Damn. This is it.

I do not usually practise late at night because meditation tends to energize me which screws up my sleep. The exception is sitting breath jhana which is so opioidic that it puts me out like a light and gives a deep, dreamless sleep. I was also lying in bed which is a suboptimal way to meditate because you do not gain the more “agglomerated” awareness that comes from having an upright spine. I decided to practise AWA anyway however since I had just read the instructions and was curious. Description D seemed to pop out at me, so I tried that first:

  • Description D: Shut your eyes. Turn your attention away from thought and watch the watcher.

This had a rapid unifying effect on my mind. I was reminded that this was the form of meditation I practised naturally at the start of my meditation path more than ten years ago, before reading highly technical meditation methods involving objects, paths and territories such as Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, which I now see as having corrupted my natural tendencies towards Awareness Watching Awareness. As a side note, the command to “watch the watcher” activates awareness of the eyes which causes this meditation to become very similar to Conscious Mental Rest, another good nondirective meditation.

I practised watching the watcher for a few minutes, and it certainly had its own benefits beyond general mindfulness or concentration. However, I also wished to try one of the descriptions that featured the word “awareness”, since the author seemed to have this as his primary theme in the book. So I next used Description E:

  • Description E: Shut your eyes. Notice your awareness. Be aware of your awareness. If you notice you are thinking, turn your attention away from thought and towards awareness of awareness.

It was while practising this method that the following experience happened, which let me know that it was the real thing. This all happened very quickly, perhaps within one minute of switching to this method, and it went something like this:

First, there was an event that I cannot fully put into words as it was a direct experience, and this was the realization that I am the awareness. (I assume this was the “I-feeling” people have talked about.) This was followed very rapidly by two more insights: 1) I have always been there, and 2) “I” (the ego) was in some perpetual struggle to get away from that abiding awareness and towards some state it considered better. So, the ego is always trying to pull awareness away from itself, or something like that. It’s very hard to describe, but I hope you get the gist.

There is a permanent “home” of awareness always there for you, but the ego wants to get towards its goals which it assumes will satisfy it, and this means the ever-present “lighthouse” of awareness is no longer seen while the ego is off on its jaunts. You actually have to turn back towards the lighthouse to find your way back home. There is no way to reach that insight academically, though; it must be experienced via the practice.

So, if I am always there, always aware, I should stay in that place, get to know it, get to love it. So, once I had found it, I decided to stay right in that awareness. Reading the book the next day, I found that this was in fact given as an instruction in Description P:

  • Description P: Shut your eyes. Awareness aware only of awareness. Remain there. Dwell there. Be there. Live there.

But I had stumbled upon it myself. So, I decided to stay in the awareness and make it my home. Within just a few seconds of doing this, the following happened:

  • Everything became extremely quiet.
  • A surge of energy rushed up my spine. The inside of my torso felt like it was opening right up and became light and breathy, like I could finally breathe properly for the first time in forever. My heart then began to feel so warm it was like it was bursting with love and joy. My visual field also filled with gold-yellow light, and I could see orbs lighting up at my crown. My face was smiling, like a shocked ecstatic smile, eyes wide, and I could feel joy and happiness trying to explode out of my face and my whole body.
  • My sense of self became extremely thin. So, the thick “centre” I previously perceived as the core of my being as a separate self who suffers suddenly thinned out to the extent that there was no perceivable centre. This also had the effect of making my mind appear to have expanded infinitely in all directions.
  • It felt like “I” was disappearing, dying, being replaced by – dare I say it? – love. I hate to become one of those people who reads a book then starts repeating phrases from it like a brainwashed zombie, but I cannot think of any better way to put it than Michael Langford does: infinite-eternal-awareness-love-bliss. That is what waits for you on the other side of Awareness Watching Awareness.

A few things surprised me about this experience. The first was the rapidity of its onset. I haven’t had anything hit me that fast and that hard before. I was only “in” the awareness for a few seconds before that peak experience blasted me.

The second thing was the intensity. The experience was so intense that I was only able to stay there for a few seconds as I felt like I was going to explode. It’s hard to believe that this had come from something as simple as a decision to stay in awareness itself. The energizing effects plus the general excitement about the experience then meant that I could not get to sleep until 4am.

The third thing that surprised me was the amount of insight that exploded out of that experience. It taught me things in the blink of an eye, things that could never be reached intellectually. It felt more like a “download” than something I had “learned”.

The goals of this practice are, in my words:

  • To permanently end suffering.
  • To realize my true nature as what Langford calls infinite-eternal-awareness-love-bliss. I’ve had glimpses of it enough times to know it exists.
  • To resolve the paradox between duality and nonduality, i.e. being a separate self who can operate in the world (duality) while also experiencing total connection, unity, and absence of suffering (nonduality).

These days I only tend to judge meditation practices by whether they appear to get me closer to those goals. However, I also realize that none of my meditation reports would be complete without describing some “fireworks”, so here is some worldly stuff that happened over the next few days which were nice bonuses.

Two days after the experience it was our company’s summer conference which was hosted at a beautiful cricket pavilion in the English countryside. We truly have some of the nicest scenery here in England, and the green hills in the distance were like the ones Princess Diana used to walk upon before her candle burned out far too soon. In the conference room some dickhead was droning on and on about the company’s new software platform in a failing presentation whose video’s sound was mixed so low not a soul could hear it, and I turned my attention out of the window to the view of the countryside beyond the pavilion. Watching the watcher, I was pulled so hard into the present moment that I could barely even think. The trees in the distance stood with such a stillness that it looked like a dream. The boredom ended immediately.

After the presentations there was a quiz for entertainment purposes with a music round, a general knowledge round, and so forth. In between rounds there were bonus prizes if you could shout out the answer to an additional question the compère asked over the mic. These prizes were cheap inflatable plastic beach toys, such as a lifeguard float and a Nemo knock-off. “These prizes are so shit, they’re not even worth going up for,” I muttered to my team, to some agreement. For the next prize, the compère then pulled out an inflatable parrot. “Ooh, I like that parrot!” I said, my non sequitur not going unnoticed by my team. “It looks just like the bird on the Parrot Bay logo.” (Parrot Bay is a cheap brand of alcoholic liqueurs and “freeze pouches” that turn into slushy ice cocktails filled with sugar and E-numbers. I used to drink them when I was an alcoholic.) “If we win that, I’ll put it on my computer and we’ll rename our area of the office Parrot Bay!” This seemed like the best idea in the world to me in that moment.

The compère continued: “Now, the winner of our last prize has already been decided by our Managing Director, and it goes to the team with the most creative name,” she said. “And the winner is – and I shall say this name very slowly! – Big… Fact… Hunt!

I had named our team “Big Fact Hunt” in order to trick the compère into saying “big fat cunt” in front of the entire company, which I think would have been very funny. Evidently however she had figured it out and had mentioned it to the Managing Director, who luckily had a sense of humour. After collecting the prize I sat back down and my colleague said, “Hey Edd, you got your parrot! It must be divine intervention!” Why did he have to say that? Given how small the gap was between my seeing the parrot, deciding I wanted it, making a visualization about having it, and then being given it the next moment, I could kind of see his point. The whole thing rather blew my mind.

I was fairly solidly locked into nonduality for the rest of the day, showing that the meditation has powerful lasting effects even from short bursts of practice. This manifested in my behaviours mainly as something like hypersociability, with my taking a great deal of interest in other people as they now appeared to be something akin to “me pushed out”. This 180-degree turnaround from my previous decades of introversion suggests to me that meditation can powerfully affect personality.

The next morning I woke up an hour before I was supposed to wake up for work. Rather than going back to sleep, I instead opened up the book and decided to try Description O:

  • Description O: Shut your eyes. Turn your attention away from the known and know the knower.

I repeated the instruction back to myself a few times in my head and began practising it. The gold-yellow light appeared and, without losing consciousness for even a moment, I passed straight through the dream barrier into a lucid dream. I don’t regularly lucid-dream any more because I lost the knack for controlling dreams as well as I once could and they tend to descend into chaos before I can build anything substantial. For some reason however this meditation had given me back close to total control of the dream, and I stayed there for what seemed like, perceptually, a solid two hours – two hours filled with sex, golden rooms full of treasure, and magic mirrors that could take me anywhere I wished just by walking through them. I awoke sure that I had slept through my alarm and was now late for work. However, when I checked the time, I was totally shocked to discover that only twelve minutes had passed “out there”. So that was two hours’ worth of experience, more real than real, and with any adventure I wanted, bought for the price of just twelve minutes in the real world. That’s Inception-level nonsense.

What I have surmised from these experiences is that Awareness Watching Awareness puts one back in touch with the Source – infinite-eternal-awareness-love-bliss – to the extent that one’s true creative power as Awareness itself begins to show itself vividly in all things. 10/10, would recommend.

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105 Responses

  1. Joe says:

    Thank you for your wonderful descriptions. It’s been a little over three months, and I know that I will never do anything other than AWA meditation. I usually use instruction E, but am sometimes moved to use others. I also experience a vivid dream state at times that packs more punch than I can handle. Like you, I have a tendency to avoid spouting LOVE as a consequence of meditation, but damn, there is no other way to explain how it makes me feel. There are times I am overwhelmed by a love, bliss feeling that is profound. I freely admit that, as Mr. Langford states, this meditation is akin to a relationship with a woman. I went from liking it to realizing that I love it. Thank you for confirming my own experiences.

    • Illuminatus says:

      In this video Maitreya Ishwara said something along the lines of, “If a normal person became enlightened right now, he would just die, because his body would not be ready for it.” That is paraphrased. He then said something about how he had to train his central nervous system over the years using meditation to expand its capacity in order to be enlightened.

      So, we see this with the intensity of experiences generated by certain meditations. Self-Inquiry-based meditations are quite known for this intensity phenomenon.

  2. Ed says:

    what do you think of the Loving All method from Michael Langford?

    • Illuminatus says:

      I have not reached that part yet. However, since it’s written by Michael Langford, and he has gone all the way, I expect it to be good.

      Loving all aspects of experience is a natural repercussion of detaching identity from the false self anyway. True story: While meditating the other day a fly flew in through my window and was making a loud buzzing around me. My mind identified it as “life”, the same way it identifies my cat as “life”, and loved it. That was involuntary. It is a result of meditating for a long time: a kind of universal compassion arises. The same thing happens with other humans too. However it’s easier with animals as I do not attach ego stories to them the same way I do with humans.

  3. Saturnus says:

    Eckhart Tolle has a similar “tech” when he says be aware of silence and stillness. Since silence (space) is the container for everything else, and awareness is the container for experience, then I believe silence and awareness are similar or the same hence these meditations would be the same in practice.

    I only very briefly touch such states, barely a few milliseconds just to give you an idea. I get a tiny glimpse and then I get pulled out of it. I believe my body and mind is not prepared yet for the profundity of such experience. If I start indulging in drugs (weed, tobacco) and alcohol I cannot even reach such states for at least 3 days to a week. A few months back I went on a long stretch without drinking or doing drugs and I remember being able to stay in those states for a little longer.

    • Illuminatus says:

      >Eckhart Tolle has a similar “tech” when he says be aware of silence and stillness. Since silence (space) is the container for everything else, and awareness is the container for experience, then I believe silence and awareness are similar or the same hence these meditations would be the same in practice.

      I’m not sure this is right. Space seems to me to be a dimension pulled out of awareness. It is certainly possible to view “space” as an object, and this is achieved in the Fifth Jhana – Infinite Space. So observing space is a duality-based meditation, though a subtle one. Awareness Watching Awareness however is nondual; no object is observed. The light just turns back on itself.

      Agreed re substances; they should be viewed essentially as poisons.

  4. Joe says:

    Hi, Ed

    For me, it is a work in progress. When I am focused on it, it can be amazing. But, I can’t yet focus on it all my waking hours. I get involved with stuff and forget to always be aware of it I think it will take me years of practice before it is so natural and ingrained that it is as natural as breathing. Worth the effort though as by doing this, you are expanding AWA to all your waking hours eventually.


  5. Tan Trinh says:

    So what will i do now Illuniminatus? Buy the book first (; !

  6. william says:

    This is great stuff, but after meditating in such way I feel so much bliss that I am out of order for days to come. For example I watched the watcher for some time yesterday and now I am so drowsy in bliss that I cannot do any work! I know I am supposed to get used to it, but any tips to wake up? I take cold showers, drink my coffee, do some pranayama, but it all helps only in the short term. I am happy, but I am not it is a pretty ridiculous matter. 😀 I am mostly venting here, but still any tips to energize would be welcome. I am thinking that focusing on dragons breath for longer period of time is probably my best bet right?

    • Illuminatus says:

      I don’t know what to recommend because AWA only ever energizes me.

      The “happy sedation” you describe, I used to get from breath jhana, and would end up “self-stimulating” with it for many hours after the main meditation. It grew to be a problem for me. E.g. I would be out of the house and be drawn towards the breath which was like a heroin drip and would take me out of the present moment and into blissful sedation. This is a primary reason I switched meditation type — it was getting me nowhere towards acceptance of the real world, any more.

      I don’t know what “dragon’s breath” is.

      I suggest you post this on other meditation forums though to see if anyone else can help.

  7. Aldous says:

    I held a copy of this book in my hands about six years ago, an earlier printing. I flicked through it, didn’t buy it, regreted it then promptly forgot the title! Delighted I ordered this on Illuminates reccomendation and discovering its the book I’ve been wanting for years!
    It’s tremendous – this is the only meditation I’ve done for a year now with the occasional forays into Jhana for magick when I’ve needed to give the dream a nudge, which actually becomes unnecessary once this is adopted as practice number one.

  8. Tauredon says:

    Great stuff.
    I’ve tried it and found it way more “natural” than what I was doing before (concentration on breath).

    As my main goal at the moment is developing the jhana states for the cognitive benefits they provide, I wondered if this kind of ND meditation is capable of producing those or it brings about different effects.

    Also, do you think it produced those results only because of your previous experience in concentration meditation or it can work also as a stand-alone practice?

    Thanks a lot for this high-quality content.

    • Illuminatus says:

      >As my main goal at the moment is developing the jhana states for the cognitive benefits they provide

      Which cognitive benefits do you believe they provide?

      >Also, do you think it produced those results only because of your previous experience in concentration meditation or it can work also as a stand-alone practice?

      No way to answer that. I can’t have a “redo” where I go straight to NDM and skip all the concentration stuff. 😉

      • Tauredon says:

        High level of concentration, experiences of non-duality, confidence and increased personal influence and even siddhi-like modification of reality you talked about often in your blog (related specifically to 4th jhana, I believe).
        Is this type of meditation similar to Sleazy’s? I ask because in the review to his book you seem to hint that with a ND meditation he achieved states very similar to jhanas.

        • Illuminatus says:

          I have a suspicion you are a reader of Absolutus and are following the “jhana will fix everything” ideology.
          He has a lot to answer for in that respect. It didn’t turn out so well for him either, by the look of it.

          As I alluded to in my reply to William a few posts above, pursuing jhana without a robust methodology and philosophy to act as a framework for its development can lead to any number of outcomes. Sitting around “self-administering” is just one of these. It can also lead to becoming fairly checked-out from reality, often for months at a time.

          Forgive me if I miscalled you on that. I will now answer without bias.

          >High level of concentration

          Yes, concentration meditation will develop this ability and allow one to stay with objects and in fact any activity for a long time.

          Playing video games is similar in terms of training flow states with a narrow attention on a specific task. The difference is that to develop jhana you have to stay with your object through all the bullshit and unpleasant feelings. This is why someone who just plays video games can develop flow states and ability to maintain strict attention — but only to things they like, such as video games.

          Concentration meditation is serious mental training and you have to suffer a lot in making your mind behave in the way you want it to (i.e. pointing it at the object, and wrenching it back when it strays).

          >experiences of non-duality

          While you can go into very strange realms of existence via jhana, the benefit of AWA is that you train using nothing but your ordinary everyday awareness, not some special awareness like that which is trained in concentration meditation. This means nonduality in everyday situations can be experienced just by gently “touching on awareness”, or “making awareness aware of itself”, even just for a moment.


          AWA has skyrocketed my confidence, more than any other meditation type. I am shocked at how much I’ve changed this last year. It has been greater personal change than what occurred in the previous five years, maybe even longer.

          The reason for this I suspect is what I just wrote above; that AWA trains using ordinary everyday awareness. Jhana made me mentally checked-out in more ways than it helped me, I suspect. I may have been more confident because I no longer cared, but that’s different to actually being confident.

          Quick example of this sort of thing: a few weeks ago I spent a day just doing sitting breath jhana. I reached Fifth Jhana, Infinite Space, and hung out there for a while. After a few hours doing that I went out for a meal with my friends. I kept finding my mind “tuning in” to the space between things, even the space within space itself. It was an altered state not unlike LSD in terms of extra sensory information being overlaid upon my normal perception of reality, and my being largely in a different world to the one my friends were experiencing (I don’t talk about this sort of thing with them since they are “normal” people). The food tasted AMAZING, and the curry house looked rather holographic and artificial due to the altered state. E.g. colours were brighter, things had sharper edges, and everything just took on a dreamlike appearance. It looked awesome, frankly. I found that my mind kept tuning into space “in all things”. I went home early since I had become rather withdrawn and “trippy” and sat and “self-injected” first jhana for like 2 hours, like a heroin addict.

          I just fail to see what any of that did for me as a person. I don’t feel bad about it, I just recognize that it wasn’t taking me towards my goals.

          >increased personal influence and even siddhi-like modification of reality you talked about often in your blog (related specifically to 4th jhana, I believe).

          You can do magick without jhana and people should try it using basic exercises before they decide they need to develop concentration meditation strongly. Steve Pavlina has some basic exercises I think. That said, jhana will ramp up the effects (and the consequences) of magickal intent.

          AWA has been the best for magick for me because it has caused me to let go of the craving which actually blocks magick. So nice things are now “allowed” to happen. I yearn for less so am satisfied with simpler things.

          I would suggest that AWA is in fact the most powerful cultivator of magickal ability generally, though it is difficult to make comparisons. Synchronicities and “instant magick” (where something I want happens spontaneously as soon as the desire is formed) have gone up considerably under AWA. However, as I just alluded to, my demands have gone down so it’s just everyday nice little things that appear effortlessly.

          >Is this type of meditation similar to Sleazy’s? I ask because in the review to his book you seem to hint that with a ND meditation he achieved states very similar to jhanas.

          We need a post to clarify the language regarding altered states of consciousness. Consider this part of the reply a kind of skeleton of that post, to be developed later.

          There are potentially infinite altered states of consciousness, each with their own qualities. Dreams and flow states are two that ordinary humans experience.

          The definition of the classical jhanas comes from anapanasati — breath awareness meditation. This means that if you sit and listen to Ajahn Brahm or Culadasa or anyone else who has mastered anapanasati, then practise what they told you — and this means REALLY listen, and REALLY do exactly what they say, and do not try to put your own spin or ideas onto it — eventually, whether it be days, months or years, you will attain altered states of consciousness, exactly as they described, in a systematic progression, which are jhanas 1–8. Those are the classical jhanas.

          I have been referring to a number of altered states as “jhanas” on this blog. This is not entirely inaccurate, since the “jhana factors” were present (rapture, happiness, one-pointedness, equanimity etc.). However, I have stopped doing this for some time now. I will only refer to the anapanasati jhanas as “jhana” from now on, because those are the specific states that orthodox Buddhist meditators recognize as jhana, and it is VERY distinct. In other words, I want to get away from what has been going on on many other meditation forums (while recognizing my own contribution to this problem) which is the phenomenon of jhana having become whatever anyone wants it to be.

          A brief outline of events that happen during genuine first jhana is as follows:

          – Mind becoming extremely quiet
          – High-pitched whine in the ears
          – Visual field becoming brighter (and the brighter it gets, the “higher grade” of jhana, though one’s body must go through some changes or “purifications” before it can get the highest grade, the luminous jhana, where the light is almost infinitely bright — and this progress can be lost through bad living, bad habits etc.)
          – A rushing feeling, along the same lines as a good intravenous drug hit of amphetamine, cocaine, heroin etc. but “purer”
          – No longer hearing outside sounds
          – Mind becoming EXTREMELY absorbed into the breath, i.e. you cannot think verbally or in ordinary ways

          I initially read Sleazy’s meditation as being a progression through the classical jhanas, but I was just doing an incorrect pattern-match, seeing what I wanted to see. In future I will actually try methods before commenting on them. Sleazy’s meditation is characteristically different from the classical jhanas. I never felt heat that like with classical jhanas, for example.

          Now, I will mention some other altered states of consciousness, most of which I have written about before on the blog.

          The rule is, the state you attain is a result of the method you do. Sleazy’s method is obviously very different to anapanasati, hence a different state arises.

          – Kasina meditation. Absorption on a visual object. Said to be “jhanas” but characteristically different to breath jhana in many ways I won’t go into now.

          – Energy practice. I have sometimes referred to “kundalini jhanas”. However, energy practice tends to be energizing (with feeling body movements going generally UP) whereas breath jhana is largely sedating with the feeling body having a sense of DOWN patterns. Energy work tends to have a manic quality to it. Third eye gazing and chakra work falls into this category.

          – Yoga nidra. State between sleep and wake, masterfully held while lying down. Shown to increase dopamine by 65% (article on PubMed). Most of my more hallucinatory “jhanas” have actually been due to this practice.

          Then you have dozens more that are known, and possibly infinite other states that are yet to be discovered (or engineered).

          The insight path territories are all arguably their own altered states.

          Then there are out-of-body experiences and astral projection, which do not have much in common with the classical jhanas.

          The kundalini awakening produces several extreme altered states including OOBE.

          Then you have all the crap where you merge meditation with lucid dreaming, or use an astral projection to go to a world that you can make your own.

          Then you have things like mastering concentration until you can wilfully hallucinate objects.

          (The above two are guaranteed to make you go crazy eventually.)

          Practising magick itself appears to have its own “feel” to it, a definite shift in feeling and perception that would constitute its own altered state.

          All the nondirective meditations seem to induce their own flavour of altered state.

          So, it’s a big world re altered states. Daniel Ingram seems to lump a lot of them under the unbrella “jhana” which is most likely where I got the habit, but I’m not doing that any more.

          • Tauredon says:

            Understood! Thanks for the extensive reply.

            My plan for the near future is doing spinal breathing (AYP style/Qi Gong) which seems to me to be a pretty safe way to building up ones energy, followed by this type of AWA meditation as it comes incredibly natural and pleasurable to me.

            Also, I think that after having achieved high level with it I will be able to use the mind power achieved to investigate the other mind states you referred to and find what’s more useful for my goals. What do you think?

            • Illuminatus says:

              I think you are destined for the “intermediate realms” — you wish to explore many things (magick, methods, altered states, “getting stuff”) and will basically do whatever flight of fancy your ego compels you to do for the next several years. When none of that has ended fundamental suffering, you will return to AWA and go straight for ending the ego (the only truly worthwhile goal). See you in a few years! 😛

              • Vinicius says:

                I was about to ask those same questions. But I still wonder if it’s better for me to keep following Culadasa’s book or start AWA, since I couldn’t reach any kind of jhana after some months of practice of the former.

                Regarding the cognitive benefits, by attaining the 4th jhana, is it possible to develop a super-memory? One of my goals would be to memorize textbooks after just one reading. I also struggle with ADHD, and would like to cure it. What do you think about that?

                • Illuminatus says:

                  >I was about to ask those same questions. But I still wonder if it’s better for me to keep following Culadasa’s book or start AWA, since I couldn’t reach any kind of jhana after some months of practice of the former.

                  I would probably switch immediately to AWA in that situation. Eventually AWA manifests absorption states with some characteristics common to the jhanas.

                  >Regarding the cognitive benefits, by attaining the 4th jhana, is it possible to develop a super-memory?


                  >One of my goals would be to memorize textbooks after just one reading.

                  I think there are reading programmes out there that can improve this.

                  >I also struggle with ADHD, and would like to cure it. What do you think about that?

                  I’m not a clinical psychologist, but I would suggest that any meditation type would have benefits for ADHD.

                  Have you tried exercise?

                  • Vinicius says:

                    That’s disappointing. I was hoping that the malleability of the 4th jhana would leave the mind easily programmable with any skill. A super-memory is what I need the most for now.

                    Yes, I have been doing weightlifting and aerobics mostly, but it seems that only the hyperactivity aspect of ADHD improved.

                    • Illuminatus says:

                      I know it’s disappointing. I was hoping to use the fourth jhana to learn Chinese, fly, give me a sixteen-inch cock, and make Princess Jasmine come alive out of Disney’s Aladdin and bounce up and down on me while I suck LSD off her nipples. Damn you, fourth jhana!

                      >Yes, I have been doing weightlifting and aerobics mostly, but it seems that only the hyperactivity aspect of ADHD improved.

                      Googling around reveals studies showing that meditation helps ADHD.

                      How long did you practise Culadasa’s mindfulness of breath for? You must do at least 30 minutes per session if you wish to see results.

                      Shinzen Young on ADD and “Do Nothing”:

                    • Vinicius says:

                      Ok, you don’t believe in super cognitive powers. What about developing the capacity to very focused studying for 8 hours a day (with above average memory retention). Is that expectable/possible by attaining the jhanas?

                    • Illuminatus says:


                      >Ok, you don’t believe in super cognitive powers.

                      That’s not actually true. My site is full of my own reports of magickal/psychic powers arising. On the old forum I also once talked about a spontaneous speed-reading “siddhi” arising which allowed me to see a page of a book and have it play like a movie (so, 6 seconds to read a page, and with correct recall):

                      The reason I was so curt in my answer to you above (and I’m kind of sorry about that) is complex and I’m not completely sure myself why I was like that. So, what follows is my drilling-down into that. I will try to be honest as possible without being rude.

                      I guess the first thing I thought was that you’d probably got here by reading Absolutus’s Reddit AMA. That’s how a lot of kids get here asking about the jhanas. (The second assumption is that you are a kid.) The Absolutus posts gave many young men hope which took the following form:

                      “If I just get jhana, I will get all the skills I need, and everything will be all right.”

                      I have received queries about all the major aims of young men since Absolutus wrote those posts. “Will jhana mean I can get girls/money/super cognitive powers/amazing weightlifting performance/[you name it]?”

                      The reality is:

                      – The jhanas are very difficult for most people to attain. This is compounded by GRASPING (a.k.a. craving) for jhana, which is one of the Five Hindrances. I think most people who get jhana tend to fall into it by accident.

                      – Getting jhana is no guarantee of getting powers.

                      – Getting jhana can actually work against the initial reason you pursued it. E.g. “I want jhana to get girls!” –> Guy gets jhana and ends up lying on his bed in gratitude thanking God for giving him existence all night instead of going out.

                      – People don’t understand their initial desires very well. E.g. do you actually need a super-human memory to get a high grade at university? Or just a well-practised regular human memory? Do you need a SIDDHI to get a high grade? People have got high grades without magick.

                      Finally, I would say something like this. From your post I guessed you were in college or whatever and you need to study hard and fast for some exams. So you want fourth jhana for that. Fine. The jhanas don’t really have anything to do with studying from textbooks, but whatever, we’ll entertain it. Then you say you have ADHD and have practised Culadasa for many months without progress. I’m now thinking, you have some bigger problems than “not having fourth jhana”.

                      Get first jhana before you worry about fourth jhana. But also understand that jhanas are for meditative progress and understanding the nature of reality, not for passing some exams.

                      >What about developing the capacity to very focused studying for 8 hours a day (with above average memory retention). Is that expectable/possible by attaining the jhanas?

                      That is already entirely possible without jhanas.

                      I don’t know what else to tell you besides: work from where you are currently, with the assumption that progress will be slow.

                    • Jrager says:

                      @Vinicius A friend of mine studying computer science told me his studies became easy after reciting the Buddhist Cundi Dharani for a while. It is said to fulfill wishes if you recite it around your heart chakra.

                      If you want to give it a try, the pronunciation here is mostly correct
                      This mudra makes it quite a bit more powerful when done in seated sessions, but doing it throughout the day with intention, when you aren’t using your mind for anything important is also good.

                  • Vinicius says:

                    Thank you.

                    I did learn about the jhanas for the first time by Absolutus’ post, but I’ve been studying about spirituality long before.

                    Actually, I’m already graduated, but my major doesn’t worth much. Now I have to study to a hardcore exam in order to get a good public job here in Brazil (my only hope to get a well-paying job).

                    Yeah, I do have some bigger problems than “not having fourth jhana”, hahaha. That’s precisely why I have put a lot of faith into the jhanas.

                    • Vinicius says:

                      I read your report on speed reading. Have you develop it more? Among other things, I have to memorize thousands of pages of law books.

                    • Illuminatus says:

                      >I read your report on speed reading. Have you develop it more? Among other things, I have to memorize thousands of pages of law books.

                      Sadly I was only able to get the book to play like a movie once. Maybe I could develop it if I put some time into it. I have had many level-ups in meditation since then.

                      But I have experienced dozens of “one-offs” in meditation where something awesome happens once then never again. I rationalize it by saying something like, “I am God playing at being human. One-offs are just a reminder this is a game.”

  9. BuddhaZero says:

    I have decided to only do this practice all day for the next 11 months. I will update on my 22nd birthday. remember me.

  10. Nigx says:

    Hi Illuminatus, do you have some experience/advice in doing some kind of meditation (maybe jhanas?) to achieve some kind of analgesic/pain relief effect?

    I have some injury in my body that after years of treatment still can’t improve enough to be free of pain, i tried a lot of analgesic to reduce pain but with little to no effect, the only one so fat that does smoething is tramadol, but i think that is more because it makes me more “happy” in general and it distract my attention to the pain itself making it more tolerable.

    Some advice how can i implement a meditation practice focus on the goal of pain relief/healing? doesn’t matter how long it will take me as long it makes a difference.


    • Illuminatus says:

      >Hi Illuminatus, do you have some experience/advice in doing some kind of meditation (maybe jhanas?) to achieve some kind of analgesic/pain relief effect?

      Entering the first jhana provides profound and immediate pain relief for body and mind. Even access concentration (the stage of mental unification immediately before jhana) provides significant pain relief. I would advise practising anapanasati (mindfulness of breath) in the traditional Buddhist style. There is a book called “The Mind Illuminated” by Culadasa which instructs on this. How long the pain relief lasts AFTER the meditation depends upon how “infused” you made your body with the bliss during the meditation. In neurochemical terms, jhana releases endorphins, natural pain-killers. The higher the “grade” of jhana you attain, the more persistent this effect afterwards. I also recognize however that accessing these states may be made more difficult due to the pain. However, the time is going to pass anyway, so you may as well practise. This is where perhaps a teacher and a meditation retreat may help. You will have to ask around on other meditation forums for advice on finding one, and tell them about your situation as well.

      One reason I have advised mindfulness of breath is that certain breathing patterns themselves provide analgesia. You ought to try “push breathing” as shown here to see if you can get some relief that way:

      There are other specific breathing systems such as Wim Hof which may help but I have not tried these so cannot comment.

      Yogic breathing such as Breath of Fire or Kapalbhati will probably give some immediate pain relief — YouTube these. Diaphragm work tends to release endorphins rapidly.


      One more thing. I watched England’s World Cup game on Tuesday and had a few beers. I have very little tolerance for hangovers any more and even a couple of pints gives me a strong headache the next day. Strangely I thought of the idea of visualizing a yellow square. I suspect it was a matter of distraction, but this took attention away from my headache immediately. It also did not matter whether I was able to visualize the yellow square well at all — just the action of trying seemed to kill pain. This is of course just an anecdote, but feel free to try it. Red triangle is another sacred object.

  11. Tauredon says:

    My only problem with this meditation is that at some point the attention goes to the breath and I am unable to come back to a non-voluntary/automatic breathing, but it stops if I try to revert back to simple awareness and forget about the breath.

    Have you got some tips on how to get over this? Thanks.

    • Illuminatus says:

      Your question is not very clear so I will rewrite it into what I think you mean then answer that:

      “My problem with Awareness Watching Awareness is that at some point my attention goes onto the breath and stays there.”

      Attention going elsewhere during AWA is not actually a problem. It is in fact an opportunity to watch awareness in a new situation.

      To do this you simply become aware of the thing that became aware of the breath. This will quickly return you to Awareness Watching Awareness.

      The reason AWA skips about and goes onto various objects sometimes is that awareness itself is amorphous and wishes to take the shape of the thing within it. AWA is therefore about developing a “meta-awareness” — an awareness of awareness itself — and this will inevitably involve witnessing awareness taking the shape of various objects along the way, including the breath.

      In other words, it is largely impossible to screw up this meditation. It is like an exam where you get a passing grade just for showing up.

    • bigskymind says:

      Hi Tauredon

      This is a pattern I notice in my non-directive practices after years of on and off breath-based meditation techniques. For me, it’s more a case of my awareness “undulating”, or opening and closing over the course of the breath cycle. My attention “latches” on to the breath and then opens on the in breath and tends to close down somewhat on the exhalation. Some people might language this as a form of dullness I suppose. But some degree of intention and “directdness” here helps maintain open awareness independent of the breath cycle.

    • Illuminatus says:


      I wrote a post recently on the forum regarding an experience I had during Do Nothing where awareness settled naturally on the breath:

  12. BabaFella says:

    Do you believe there is a difference in results in the long run when following different practice description? It seems that they all give a different flavour.

    When being aware of awareness, there is a more distant feeling.
    When being aware of consciousness, it becomes narrower
    When being aware of the seer or watcher, it looks more like being aware of the I-feeling as is instructed in the book “the Path of Sri Ramana that LuminousBliss has referred to in the forum.
    I also like to be aware of the aspects of Sat Chit Ananda, existence, consciousness and bliss

    They probably all lead to the merger with the Source in the long run, but I find it interesting that Michael Langford emphasizes the simplicity of the practice, but he still chooses to give so many descriptions.

    I love the practice btw thanks for the suggestion

    • Illuminatus says:

      >Do you believe there is a difference in results in the long run when following different practice description? It seems that they all give a different flavour.

      >They probably all lead to the merger with the Source in the long run

      I snipped out the above to say I agree with this.

      Now, let’s talk about different “flavours”. I have long been aware that different people respond in different ways to various metaphors — hence why I myself have presented many approaches to meditation on this blog over the years, e.g. a post on using pleasure to reach jhana, another on using flow, and so forth.

      Personally, some of Langford’s descriptions do nothing for me (e.g. “Consciousness” is not something I really respond to, for some reason).

      I also have no reason to believe that my response to any description will be the same as yours or anyone else’s.

      Ultimately, whichever description you use, you will be noticing the “awareness watching awareness” in small parts around the edges of the main experience. I think in directive meditation the same thing is happening, hence why some people get enlightened off of that. It’s like the more time you spend doing any meditation type, the more little experiences of noticing the awareness behind it all.

      The beauty of AWA is that you go straight for that awareness. That does not mean it is easy, however. When I wake up in the morning my mind is not collected enough to stay with awareness watching awareness for more than a second at a time. I have to do directive meditation for a while first to dust off the cobwebs.

      Regarding the different “flavours” of AWA (which arise as a result of the description chosen) I have found the more “passive” descriptions to get me closer to pure AWA the quickest. Now, this is just my experience, and I do not assume anyone else’s will be the same. But this may be useful to some. I find that there is a difference between the following two descriptions and it is a matter of active vs. passive:

      – Watch the watcher (ACTIVE)
      – See the seer (PASSIVE)

      In my experience, watching the watcher is a more active meditation. The “watching” mode of attention is more active and effortful than the “seeing” mode of attention. “Watching” implies an active self at the centre watching out for something. “Seeing” however implies just visual info going into some eyes and being “seen”, so it’s more passive.

      The result of this is, for me, that the “watching” variant puts me one extra step away from pure AWA, because I have to mentally “undo” the mental construct of “watcher”. “Seer” on the other hand is far closer to the kind of “pure awareness” we are attempting to see. So, it is a language issue. The language causes an extra mental construct “watcher” to be formed. However, for all I know, it may just be me who constructs his language like that. Perhaps in someone else’s language “watching” is passive not active.

      Anyway, this isn’t really important, since eventually your awareness finds itself if you stay with it, whichever meditation you choose. I do recommend however trying the different descriptions in order to find the best one for you.

  13. Buddhazero says:

    I noticed something intersting. Awarness seems to have the inverse of the 3 characteristics.
    Satisfactory, Permant and self.

    • Illuminatus says:

      Yeah. I actually stumbled into that realization from time to time in my practice over the last few years. I just found a couple of posts where I talk about it, but I sound like such an almighty ass in those posts that I daren’t post them. Well, I will anyway, for the sake of completeness (but there is not that much value in these, so don’t take them too seriously):

      Anyway, the danger with this realization (satisfactoriness, permanence and self of True Self) is that the ego can try and jump in and claim those too, and you then have to kill off the ego again with another cycle of practice. It takes great discrimination to know what is progress and what is ego. Luckily, this discrimination gets cultivated with more practice.

      • Arpan says:

        Satisfactoriness and permanence leads one to embrace outer life fully rather than creating a division between inner and outer,God and Devil, Spirit and Flesh, so on and so forth. In Hinduism, Nirvanic experience is also called realization of Passive/Silent/Unqualitied(Nirguna) Brahman, where as Sat Chit Anand is called the Active/Qualitied(Sagun) Brahman. Non Quality and Infinite Quality are 2 sides of the same coin.

        As Sri Aurobindo put it:
        Illusionist(Mayavadi, follower of the mainstream nondualist sect) told me to look behind Personality to the Silent Brahman. I went there and found my Krishna behind the Silent Brahman in Infinite Personality.

        What brings in the ego is the wrong conception of True Self that New Ageists have spread in West. I find it rather absent in India. New Age creates the idea that True Self is something like Super-ego of Freud(he too did not ascribe the meaning that most people ascribe to it due to their subconscious associations with the word Ego). It is nothing of that sort. It is more innocent and intimate with you than your breath and your thoughts. On the other hand, due to this very ultra obviousness(Buddhism describes true nature of reality as Suchness), it is as distant to your egoic self as God is in most people’s minds. It’s actually safe to consider it an object of worship from the Ego-centric mode of operation. That is why in actual experience, the ego-wilting required in ultimate accomplishment of theistic paths is experienced on path of Non dualism too.
        Here’s a mental suggestion: Stories of accomplished non dualists rarely talk about display or even urge for external manifestation of power, but that of deep humility and harmlessness eg:
        A sage was attacked by a tiger while meditating. As the tiger ate him, he laughed and said, Tiger Brahman is eating Yogi Brahman.
        Obviously that is not the recommended way of operating in wordly life. Essential point being: Once you are established in Brahman, then your standpoint toward life is decided by Brahman. Raman Maharshi also used to say, that a Jnani has no egoic will. He cannot teach or heal. Any teaching or healing that comes from him, is something Brahman wills to express.(This is very similar to attitude of devotees)
        Autobiography of a Yogi 2 instances:
        1. during the Revolt of 1857, a British sepoy bayoneted a wandering yogi. The yogi had been silent since 27 years. He spoke 3 words to the sepoy before dying: Tat twam asi! (You are That)
        2. A man mixed quicklime in a drink and gave it to Trailang Swami. Yogi knew it but drank it never the less and the man fell to the ground with great agony in stomach. Trailang said: Scoffer! when you have absolutely no desire for retribution, when you have mastered the forces of violence, Universe does the job on your behalf with sweetness(paraphrased)
        3. A mohammedan cut the arm of a yogi in anger and the yogi non chalantly healed himself after attaching the severed arm. The mohammedan asked for forgiveness and spiritual instruction, to which the yogi wrote in sand: “Do not do what you want, then you may do what you like.”
        Then there are various anecdotes like that of Arjun where the man desired to leave his enemies be out of weak pity and nervous revulsion at the thought of gory massacre rather than out of disinterested compassion. To this they were guided to their inner call to slaughter with the common underlying lesson: “He who does not slay when beckoned by God, wrecks incalculable havoc upon humanity.”

        Overall, nothing is absolutely wrong or right as true judgement does not come from an “objective 3rd person point of view”. It depends a lot on who you are. Violence or Non violence, Sex and Continence are all of little value or at most a temporal value when they arise from a egoic source of thought. The silent space behind the Ego is the true source of Right and Puissant action Or non action. Any pointers to help discriminating ?
        Some subjective ones: If you decide your course of action out of one or more of Bliss, Love(ignore this if it means attachment for you), Wideness, Sense of Purity, Assuredness etc.

        • Illuminatus says:

          Fascinating insights as usual Arpan! Thanks. 🙂

        • Vysotsky says:

          “In Hinduism, Nirvanic experience is also called realization of Passive/Silent/Unqualitied(Nirguna) Brahman, where as Sat Chit Anand is called the Active/Qualitied(Sagun) Brahman. Non Quality and Infinite Quality are 2 sides of the same coin.”

          It reminds me of the Wu Wei from Taoism. It’s maybe not the same thing, but they’re similar.

          Btw is there such thing as focusing on the (mental) silence/”Nothingness” or is this equal to watching the awareness/paying attention to the consciousness itself?

  14. Arpan says:

    Re Wu Wei: What I mentioned is far meta level concept, though it does have certain implications of that sort. But then it is bound to happen as Tao is Brahman.
    “Whoever thinks he knows Tao does not know it”
    “Brahman is not known by those who think they know it”.
    Very similar statements.

    But Hinduism does have very exact equivalent of Wu Wei. The who instruction of desireless action/Karma Yoga in Gita is essentially about Wu Wei. It’s nothing to do with morality or liturgical discourse.

    “Btw is there such thing as focusing on the (mental) silence/”Nothingness” or is this equal to watching the awareness/paying attention to the consciousness itself?”
    They are both valid methods and can lead to Nirvanic realization. Sri Aurobindo has spoken/written at length about both of these. He realized Nirvana by the first method but usually advocated the 2nd one. Reason: He believed 2nd to be more universally doable. 1st one is faster but can lead to peopls bringing in too much mental interference or getting discouraged by sudden surge in mental activity that this method may bring about initially.
    Methods are not exactly same but would obviously have some comvergence at some stage of practice.

    • BabaFella says:

      Hey Arpan, could you link the material or guide me to where Sri Aurobindo talks about watching awareness/consciousness practices if that is possible? I’m very curious.

      • Arpan says:

        It’s rife throughout his Evening talks, The Life Divine and. Synthesis of Yoga. You can read the section on Jnana Yoga in SoY, especially the latter part of the chapter on Concentration.
        Also read:
        (This is 2nd out of 2 connected articles. You will find link for first article in this one. Did not post it as multiple links lead the comment to moderation queue).
        You can also read Conversation with Sri Aurobindo, written by Pavitra. The author had a buddhist background and practiced the witness method a lot.
        You can also read the article on Meditation from the Menu of the same site. Search for “pavitra” in it.

  15. Tauredon says:

    Would you advise to do it as a stand-alone practice or can/should be coupled with concentration/absorption on the breath?

    • Illuminatus says:

      Tauredon, who is this question to, and what is it concerning? There are multiple active threads going on in this comments section currently. Thanks.

      • Tauredon says:

        I meant the AWA meditation you talk about in the post.

        • Illuminatus says:

          AWA is strictly standalone and cannot be combined with breath practice.

          From Chapter 7:

          “Description X: Shut your eyes. If you see light, turn your attention away from the light and towards awareness of awareness. If you see darkness, turn your attention away from the darkness and towards awareness aware only of awareness. If you notice your breathing, turn your attention away from the breathing and towards awareness aware only of awareness. Whatever you become aware of, turn your attention away from it and towards awareness of awareness.”

          From Chapter 8:

          “Looking outward brings suffering, death and futility.
          Watching thoughts is not looking inward.
          Watching feelings is not looking inward.
          Watching breathing is not looking inward.
          Only turning the attention away from the observed and towards the observer is looking inward.”

          (Emphases mine)

          • buddhazero says:

            The breath seems to sucks me in.
            Its goes like this
            Awarness watching inbreath
            Awarness watching awarness
            Awarness watching outbreath
            Awarness watching awarness
            Awarness watching in breath
            and so on
            Is this ok or do you have any advice

          • Tauredon says:

            I explained myself poorly. I understand that while practicing Awareness Watching Awareness it should be done by itself. I wondered if it’s okay to have a schedule of like an AWA session in the morning and a Breath/Concentration session in the evening or if it’s best to do only one practice for a certain period of time. Thanks

            • Illuminatus says:


              Langford would tell you to spend all your spare time on AWA and nothing else.

              However I personally do directive meditation in the morning as it clears brain fog. Then I pick up AWA later in the day.

  16. Martidir says:

    Can we also use a description like this: feel the feeler, hear the hearer, smell the smeller?

    • Illuminatus says:


      I understand your logic and I also asked myself that question. However, Langford is no fool, and I assume he chose the “watching” metaphor for a reason. It might be something to do with the way the visual system integrates with the sense of self, or the fact a huge piece of the brain is dedicated to vision, or that the right brain prefers the visuospatial mode.

      You could always try those meditations though and see what happens. I remember I tried the “hear the hearer” one but have nothing to report from it, so it got discarded pretty quick. I’m tempted to give it another go to see if it ends up “hearing” silence. But I might just be scripting myself in that case.

  17. Tauredon says:

    I found this view ( an interesting and original take on the duality/non-suality paradigm. What do you guys think?

  18. Nathan says:

    What makes you (and Michael) think that concentration isn’t a useful or necessary prerequisite to this?

    • Illuminatus says:

      I cannot speak for Michael. According to the book he spent 23 years practising other methods first, some of which were likely concentration.

      I also never said that “concentration isn’t a useful or necessary prerequisite to this”. When asked, I have repeatedly said I do not know what influence good concentration has on this meditation.

      However, I will give a view as to why I think it MIGHT not matter. That is, because it’s a different skill set. With concentration meditation you take an object and become absorbed in it. The mind follows a predictable path through that concentration (access concentration then the jhanas). The meditation is clear-cut in terms of your having to maintain attention on the object.

      With AWA there is no object. As a result, it is not clear-cut how to even start. I still spend much of this meditation doing it wrong. That’s completely fine. So, I’ll sit there, and try to “watch awareness”. Where is awareness? With concentration meditation, at least you have a stable object to absorb into. So you have to remember it is “awareness watching awareness”.

      Since writing this article, I have found this instruction especially useful to help with the above:

      Description Q: Shut your eyes. One awareness observing one awareness. Not two, one observing the other. Only one. Observe your awareness. If you notice you are thinking, do not attempt to complete the thought. Drop the thought and continue observing your awareness.

      My short-form reminder of this for my meditations is: “One awareness watching itself.”
      This is a really, really powerful meditation. It causes the awareness to kind of “wrap back on itself”. This then answers the various questions like “where is awareness?” because it becomes self-evident (it answers itself in a way that can’t be expressed in words).

      I still end up spending a lot of time faffing around trying to establish that process, precisely because it is so vague. But it then tends to settle somewhat spontaneously which gives rise to intense feelings of joy and “coming home”. Insight bursts out of it like a remembering of who I am. This is the meditation that is most difficult to write about, probably because it is so nondualistic.

      So, in short, I think that AWA and concentration practice are rather different processes.

  19. Arpan says:

    Queen Madaalsa’s lullaby sung to her infant son when he starts crying after being named by the King:

    Story is from Markandeya Puran. Queen Madaalsa is considered to be one of the greatest Brahmavadinsi(knower of Brahman) and yoginis to have ever lived.
    Song proper starts at: 1:14
    (Sung by British Sanskrit scholar and singer Gabriella Burnel)

    • BabaFella says:

      This is great, thanks for sharing

      • Arpan says:

        You might like this:

        It discusses a page from Savitri where the Materialist Denial of things spiritual as well as world-negating spiritual paths are being given a voice in form of Death who is talking to Savitri as she plunges into deeper recesses of her being and of Creation itself. I like how the most modern of scientific arguments are included therein. (The entire poem is essentially a description of experiences and travails experienced in one’s inner being as one takes up the spiritual journey)

  20. Nathan says:

    Whenever I recognize a thought or sensation, I perceive that it is in some direction and at some distance relative to that which recognizes it. When we look away from a thought or sensation, is the point to look at this point of recognition (with the point of recognition)? Can awareness in the meditation be conceptualized as an ‘origin’ in space, like a meeting of graphical axes relative to which we decide “that sensation is two feet below of what perceives it…that thought is an inch forward-left of what perceives it”, etc.? Or is to construe awareness as a point with some vector qualities, such as having a front and back (or even simply a point, or a region, perhaps even a shifting vector, point or region) to miss the thrust here?

    In summary: are we just looking away from whatever comes before awareness, whichever direction that awayness is – or are we trying to look towards the sensation’s perceived perceiver and expecting that there is such a perceiver for us to perceive?

    • Illuminatus says:

      You’re working with illusion at the moment. So, objects only get properties like “direction” due to their existence within a volume. The volume is space, but space is a construct of mind.

      This question answers itself if you ever attain Fifth Jhana – Infinite Space then progress through to Sixth Jhana – Infinite Consciousness. The space was revealed to be a construct of mind, with something finer beneath it (consciousness).

      Even within Infinite Consciousness there is a sense of “this side” (the viewer) and “that side” (the viewed). The purpose of Awareness Watching Awareness is to turn the viewer back on itself. What one “sees” at this point is beyond words since words are inherently dualistic (they work with a strict subject–object divide). So technically I cannot answer your question in words, since you would still be looking for me to label up what the “viewer” “looks like”. Get me?

      • Illuminatus says:

        P.S. There is a “viewer” but it transcends the mental constructs you are working with in your question.

        • Nathan says:

          Should/can the eyes be moving during this practice, flicking ‘toward’ the manifestations of awareness?

          • Illuminatus says:

            Eyes can do whatever they want.

            The general rule is that eyes are allowed to do as they want unless specified otherwise in the guide for that meditation (e.g. some meditations will insist on “gazing”; others will use kasinas and so forth).

  21. engadget99 says:

    I found this reddit thread with an associated technique to enhance AWA. It involves breathing into awareness while practicing AWA

    • Illuminatus says:

      Don’t do that.

      Here are my thoughts.

      1) The guy reminds me of me a few years ago. The attitude is, “I’ve got it all figured out”, based on some experience with a new technique. It is not based on serious advancement towards enlightenment.

      2) He’s comparing meditation to drugs. Big red flag. That means he is identified with the body, and on some level sees enlightenment as “feeling good”.

      3) We have an element of faith that Michael Langford has gone all the way and achieved what he says he has in the book. That means you should do what Langford says. It is a bad idea to start bringing in ideas from others and muddying up the teachings — especially if they originate with some kid off Reddit who is clearly obsessed with drugs.

  22. Eternal Awareness Love Bliss says:

    I have enjoyed this conversation about AWA etc. I especially like Illuminatus stating do not change the instructions, because Michael Langford repeats over and over that people add their own thoughts and therefore do not see the Teachings. This is the link to Michael Langford’s youtube playlists:

  23. Sean says:

    How do you know when you’ve “found” awareness? How do you know the ego’s not tricking you? I’ve followed all the instructions and I find it extremely difficult. Awareness isn’t an object, so how can you treat it like one? Do most people have the experience that you find a “trick” and then you can quickly locate awareness again?

    • Eternal Awareness Love Bliss says:

      The audio of this video is for the purpose of identifying
      awareness for the AWA practice:

      Don’t read the words in the video while listening to the audio
      because those words are on different subjects.
      It is the audio that points out awareness
      and how to distinguish awareness from so many other things.

    • Eternal Awareness Love Bliss says:

      The fact that there are 26 descriptions of the AWA practice instructions
      is closely related to the question of knowing what awareness is during the practice.
      There are 26 descriptions because different people find different words easier to understand.
      If after having listened to or read the detailed definition of awareness
      in the preliminary instructions, someone tries a different description every day for 26 days
      for the purpose of finding the description that is easiest for them to understand and to practice,
      if they still have trouble with knowing awareness
      then that explains why the two chapters on the extremely intense desire for freedom
      came before the chapters about AWA.
      Awakening that extremely intense desire for liberation
      stops all of the millions of potential ego tricks
      and dissolves all obstacles.

  24. Nathan says:

    How are Daniel Ingram’s dry insight noting and AWA similar or different? It seems like neither require jhana and both involve closely tracking the content of awareness. Is it just the linguistic aspect of noting, and if so why does that make such a difference?

    • Illuminatus says:

      Daniel Ingram’s dry insight noting is designed to shred reality into its constituent sensations in order that the Three Characteristics (no-self, impermanence and unsatisfactoriness) can be perceived in them. It is dualistic. It could be termed “Awareness Watching Sensations”. There is an implicit assumption that the sensations are independent of the observer (even if he does not spell this out, this is what his methodology brings into effect).

      Awareness Watching Awareness does NOT “involve closely tracking the content of awareness”. Awareness Watching Awareness is nondualistic. AWA is not interested in the content of awareness. It is only interested in watching itself. It is the light turned back on itself. It is difficult for people to grasp simply because it is nondualistic: “What do I watch then!?” This question answers itself via actual practice. 🙂

      AWA is a mental state more like a jhana. The jhana factors of piti and sukha manifest quickly and persist even after short bursts of AWA. There is little to no discursive thought in AWA. Based on the traditional table of the jhana factors, it would be closest to second jhana in its initial stage. However, since there is no object it is not directly comparable.

      The last paragraph probably reflects my prior concentration work. I would not want to discourage any newcomers by placing expectations on them.

      A final note is that I found Ingram’s dry noting to be insanity-provoking and near useless. Some of my worst experiences on this planet occurred during MCTB dry noting.

      • Nathan says:

        Do I just plant the words “awareness watching awareness” and then allow whatever arises to do so?

        • Illuminatus says:

          Yes. And you can retrigger it if you think you’ve got lost.

          The act of awareness watching awareness reveals itself non-verbally so I cannot really guide you any more with words. This is where a little faith comes in handy. 😀

  25. Nathan says:

    …or any of the various phrasings available in the book?

  26. Nathan says:

    I think you said it’s a good exercise for daily life. How does that work? Repeat the phrases in the midst of whatever I’m doing and let them do their work?

  27. Nathan says:

    How best to do metta in the midst of things?

    • Illuminatus says:

      Firstly, let me establish why I chose metta as “the best exercise for daily life”. If you live in the First World, most of your problems in life are probably due to other people. For me, personal relationships (or lack of relationships) have been the main cause of emotional ups and downs. Also, most of the joy in life does seem to come from interactions with other people. If your opinion is different on this matter, and you are looking for meditation to deal with some other type of problem, let me know what that is and I’ll try to prescribe something.

      So, given my reason for choosing metta, I’ll continue.

      >How best to do metta in the midst of things?

      Prevention is better than cure. It is best to become as saturated with loving feelings as possible in the morning then venture out into the world. The “spell” will tend to last for several days for me. This can either be done with standard Buddhist practice (section 36 here: or via Langford’s “loving all / loving awareness” method.

      If you become confident, you can try my practice under “Method” here:
      I have personally practised this enough that the word “love” itself has become a powerful anchor, NLP-style. This means that, in the midst of things, if I need to, I can say “love” in my mind repeatedly while sensing the associated feeling on the left vagus. I have witnessed this literally turn the room red and had people’s expressions change to happiness (I am not interested in a debate on whether this “actually happened” or if it was just a pleasant hallucination; in terms of subjective experience, perception is reality). I was pretty impressed that the anchor fired that well.


      Leaving the idea of “other people” for a moment, Langford’s “loving all” method can be used as a general practice in the midst of things. Doing the washing-up? “Love the suds. Love the gleam. Love the water.” It’s a “metta” for all of reality. In fact, it is so ridiculously powerful for changing perception in the moment that it can also be considered a “spell”.

      If you don’t like the “spell” language, just consider that meditations (good ones at least) are powerful tools for altering perception.

      • J says:

        Hi Illuminatus,

        I really appreciate your fleshed out thoughts for metta practice. It has never really made sense to me to feel “love” until I practiced it as a trial months ago. My first short trial of metta before practicing TMI style breath meditation had made me shed tears for some reason. I freaked out by “love” but still set up a 15 minute metta practice for a month before sleeping.

        Despite all the positive benefits with metta practice like waking up really energized,refreshed, and blissed out, I felt a lot of overwhelm that I avoided practicing and simply stuck with breath meditation practice. Recently, I took a route of reading Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life for things to slowly make sense of my inability to feel joy and pleasure and that was mostly due to disatisfying relationship with my family and friends. It’s also probably why my breath meditation sessions are often dry, often full of dull concentration, and overefforting.

        I am currently working on these problems by opening up to people (Intentional Socializing) and massively toning down “what am I getting out of these people” thoughts. Reading your site, especially the techs, clicks very well for me and has made sense into aspects of my meditation practice.


  28. Rick says:

    hi Ed,

    I am interested in this meditation but what holds me back is that Michael Langford writes that you should spend at least 2 hours daily on this meditation if I remember it well. I simply do not have that much time. So I would like to know if an half our per day is also beneficial. How much time do you spend on it?

    • Illuminatus says:

      I spent easily 2+ hours per day in the first months. Then the “loving all” method got me into metta practice which I continue to explore, since it has fixed many of my relationships. Also, the metta practice got me looking into the jhanas again a bit, and then I looked into Do Nothing in order to better relax after work.

      So, AWA started a sequence of events that had me exploring other meditations (since I have a strong sense of unfinished business with those and, after all, they do offer other benefits besides enlightenment). I expect this to be a temporary matter. I did some AWA for half an hour a couple of weeks ago and was blown away by how quickly it produced something like divine connection.

      If you only have 30 minutes free per day, I am unsure whether to advise you AWA or some other meditation. What do you want from it?
      But certainly you can do a formal experiment. Do 30 days just doing AWA for 30 mins/day, and write a brief daily journal about the meditation and its effects. Then repeat, but for a different meditation. Decide afterwards which meditation was a better fit for you.

      I have a feeling that certain parts of one’s life need to be in order before going all the way with AWA. For me, AWA has had the effect of showing me how to fix other things that needed fixing before going forward.

      • Rick says:

        I do 2 & 15 minutes connected breathing for the Presence Process of Michael Brown. Further I do about 30 to 45 minutes the Wim Hof method which includes a couple of rounds of breathing, cold exposure and yoga. Then I do transformational breathing when i have some time left. After the 15 minutes breathing I have 15 minutes twice a day left for meditation.

        • Illuminatus says:


          Do you have goals with each of these things? It sounds to me like you are throwing a lot of spaghetti at the wall and hoping some sticks.

          I would advise one breathing session followed by one meditation session. Use self-tracking (journalling) to determine which ones are working best for you.

  29. Nathan says:

    Alan Wallace describes this (or something very close to it) as a shamatha practice. It doesn’t seem to be that for you – you gained a whole lot more than shamatha and it’s components. How do you understand his interpretation? Is he describing a different practice than what you did?

    • Illuminatus says:


      The answer to your question is in the first sentence of that transcript: “I would like to return once again to shamatha without a sign.”

      So this is shamatha without an object, which is basically what AWA is.

      By the way, even when practising shamatha with an object, little bits of AWA is picked up during the course of the meditation. You cannot really NOT watch awareness to some degree while meditating since everything is awareness anyway.

      In this paragraph onwards, he is outright stating that they are practising AWA (emphasis mine):

      “(4:24) Now the culmination of the practice is where Tsongkapa starts and ends, because his description of awareness of awareness is the most concise that I have seen anywhere, from any teacher, and that is he says ok, now just rest your awareness in the sheer luminosity and sheer cognizance of awareness [Tibetan] and that’s it, that’s all he has to say about it. And so the instructions can be very concise, that is some of the most concise and that is where we end.”

      By the way, I was fairly astounded at reading his “extending audio awareness kilometres outward” at the start of the transcript — this is exactly the exercise I do to start “awareness of awareness”. The audio field is unique because it is processed evenly across both brain hemispheres regardless of which ear is being used (unlike the rest of the body which lateralizes left or right). Highly recommended! 🙂

  30. Arpan says:

    “I would like to return once again to shamatha without a sign.”

    When you are not attending to anything, you are attending to awareness.
    – Rupert Spira

    >>“extending audio awareness kilometres outward” at the start of the transcript — this is exactly the exercise I do to start “awareness of awareness”.
    Exactly what I have usually used for “I am everything” or “cosmic metta”. It’s also similar to Michael Langford’s Infinite Space meditation, in its effects.

  31. Nathan says:

    Then could AWA be described as shortening the vector of attention to length 0, so awareness is tuned to its own center? When attentin it ventures ‘out’ just bring it back to length 0, to the center?

    • Illuminatus says:


      I suspect that your attempt to make this something mathematically precise is part of the reason you’re not quite getting it. (Though, in truth, I did not really understand what “shortening the vector of attention to length 0” means — maybe you got it after all. 😉 )

      Did you try extending awareness outward in the audio field like your transcript link recommended? Everything you need to know is contained in that one action.

      It means that awareness is WITHIN the action of attending to something, regardless of what that “something” is (and even if that “something” isn’t even there, like trying to hear something miles away which does not actually exist).

      You can also say that awareness is within the movement of attention. I really, really like lying down and listening to the most distant sounds I can. Try hearing traffic on a very distant road. It becomes blissful. I also notice that lower-pitched sounds are even more blissful. So try hearing low rumbles many miles away.

      As your attention moves between different sounds, one thing consistent within that movement — the one constant — is AWARENESS itself. So, awareness isn’t a “thing” you can see/hear/feel — it is actually a process, and one that is always at work as long as you are conscious. Recognizing that process is what AWA is all about.

      I suspect you will have an “a-ha!” moment before long.

      • Arpan says:

        “shortening the vector of attention to length 0”
        He simply means this: Visualize your attention as a line directed from the core of your being(“awareness”) towards outer phenomenon(not just external world, but also your own outer nature: thoughts,emotions etc). So if you shorten the vector(the line of attention being “directed” outwards, makes it a vector), till it becomes 0 in length, it would abide in the core of your being, i.e. your awareness.
        It’s a pretty succinct statement, though the impression he gives regarding the realtime process is one of “doing”, when he says: ” When attentin it ventures ‘out’ just bring it back to length 0, to the center”. This can be a valid approach, but it is far less confusing and easier if one “let’s it happen”, by “just relaxing the attention when one finds it focussing one a particular phenomenon within or without”.

        • Nathan says:

          Oh this is a helpful clarification! So the vector of attention tends to spring back elastically to 0, if permitted. And stretching it out first as Wallace instructs tends to make that happen even more easily. Is that it?

          • Arpan says:

            >>”So the vector of attention tends to spring back elastically to 0, if permitted”.
            Yes, though it is good not to be rigid regarding such mental frameworks. They are pointers only. Attention is a subjective thing and not bound by such rigid laws of working. Sometimes it may not seem to “spring back”, and then one might start worrying about that(another thought process activated). To just “let it be” is a good enough understanding to get going.

            ” And stretching it out first as Wallace instructs tends to make that happen even more easily. Is that it?”
            Meditation is an organic process, so each person speaks from his own experience. The abovestated no longer applies in my case, as after years of practicing and living the process, it is automatic for me. Though for a beginner, who has not developed a sharp enough perception of the process, going to the other extreme of stretching the vector beyond normal limits may be beneficial to give an idea of how a “relaxed homecoming” feels. Much like give an analogy which is an exaggerated version of someone’s logical flaw, to give them a feel of how they are wrong, or how , when you cannot feel subtle tensions you carry in your muscles, hath yoga teacher instructs you to tighten them further, and then relax them.

            • Nathan says:

              I’m probably being too literal again, but does this mean the ‘stretching’ out into space will feel uncomfortable, and that’s the point?

              • Arpan says:

                Point is only one: Just Do the Meditation.
                No amount of enquiry would replace that.

                And no, “stretching out” is often rather pleasurable as one get out of one’s usual din. The point is to show you how it feels when the consciousness “returns home”, but first playing out an exaggerated version of the process i.e. literally stretching out beyond normal and making you experience the return. Then as your perception develops, you will be able to see it happening at a smaller scale, as your consciousness returns from its mundane preoccupations.

                I rather dislike ALL descriptions of AWA. Best is to Just Sit. No other instruction. The person would learn organically, to not think, as that is the path of least effort while sitting still.

          • Illuminatus says:


            From your transcript link (emphasis mine):

            “Awareness of awareness is also known as shamatha without a sign. Sign refers to a target, so there’s no vector of attention. During the meditation, when you do the warm-up exercise of directing awareness in the 4 directions, don’t meditate or visualize the 4 directions. Just send out your antenna, or expand the space of awareness.”

            “I would like to return once again to shamatha without a sign. Sign, just for a reminder, it’s one term used for many things, here it means, kind of, a target, a target; something you direct your attention to. Just that simple. So here there is no vector for attention; as you well know now, you are just resting at home.”

            I’ve been talking to you a fair bit over the last few months and your main sticking point, it seems to me, is that you don’t understand AWA but you DO understand maths, mechanics etc. — so you are trying to cram AWA into a mathematical model in order to understand it. However:

            – AWA is vague, amorphous, non-specific, and process-orientated
            – Maths is rigid, specific, and object-orientated

            Maths is the wrong tool for the job.

            The only way to figure out AWA is therefore to do the exercises, like a blind man stumbling around a room bumping into things to see what’s there.

            Attention isn’t a “vector” at all. It’s a process. AWA is about finding the process itself. That’s why I had you listening to cars and distant sounds in my previous reply.

            The mapping of Cartesian space with kilometres is completely irrelevant. That’s just a lure to get you moving attention around. When you notice you are attending, that is AWA. “What” you are attending to is largely irrelevant.*

            *It is only relevant in that you will likely find some ways of working with attention easier than others. This is the origin of, for example, Michael Langford’s set of different AWA exercises, e.g.:

            – AWA (and its many wordings)
            – Infinite Space
            – Loving All
            – etc.

            I find “distant sounds in the audio field” to be very easy to notice the “essence” of attention/awareness. That’s why I recommended it.

            Practise it daily and see what you learn. (Personally, I find it VERY nice, relaxing, blissful etc.)

            You can journal it here if you like:


  32. 2004 says:

    Where is the best place to ask questions regarding The Most Direct Means To Eternal Bliss, by Michael Langford, please?
    Ego has challenged “chinks in the armour” of the very important chapter 5, that is affecting overall success of the program (in my case).
    Clarification would be wonderful.
    Thank you.

  33. 2004 says:

    Thank you Illuminatus. As Michael states in the book, there are probably hundreds of objections that will crop up. On reflection, I’ll go with the flow for now, and bear those options in mind.

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