I Am / Breath Hybrid Meditation

This is not an “official” Self-Inquiry / I-feeling / Awareness Watching Awareness meditation. Nor is it my final word on those things.

In fact this is a hybrid meditation I have created, aimed at beginners (and anyone else wanting to try it), to see if the “self-point” feature of the Self-Inquiry meditations can be transferred to beginners for more rapid progress in developing restful and blissful states.

The following description comes from my own model and I don’t have science to back it up. However, the results have spoken for themselves, in my experience.

The meditation should be conducted in the language you spoke before the age of seven. At this point in time, your brain was still primarily in the right-brain modality and the simple words learned carried strong emotional and energetic currents which defined your relationships with the world.

The English words in this meditation are “I am”. “I” is a self-point which strongly activates attention in all brain areas towards the organism’s centre, or its sense of being an independent perspective within the sea of awareness we call reality. “Am” means a state of existing, and is completely neutral, causing the organism to simply “rest in its own nature”.

Use the words of the language you first learned as a child, as these will (presumably) be more evocative of the fundamental energies we are trying to trigger.

  • French: “je suis”
  • German: “ich bin”


  1. Sit or lie in your usual meditation position. Posture is not really important and I don’t want it to become a distraction.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Smile softly, and remain smiling.
  4. On the in-breath, in your mind, say “I”.
  5. On the out-breath, in your mind, say “am”.
  6. Repeat for the whole session.


  • I would recommend trying this for at least 30 minutes per session.
  • Breaths can simply occur at their own rate and do not need to be controlled or timed (although I have found they will automatically become regular in this meditation, balancing out to around 3-5 seconds per in or out, or 6-10 seconds for a full breath cycle).
  • The words are not to be used as a mantra or chant. So, you are not repeating “I, I, I, I”, “am, am, am, am” mindlessly. Rather, you say “I” while simultaneously noticing (and absorbing into) a feeling that arises as a result of that self-point. Then say “am” and notice a feeling that occurs as a result of that word. It is an intelligent engagement with the self. However, please practise the meditation in the most simple way as outlined in Method above for a few sessions before getting into worrying about “doing it right”: the truth is that most of the positive effects of this meditation appear to arise “by themselves”, and continue manifesting after the meditation, and do not require exertion!
  • Completely give up the goal of reaching jhana or some altered state. Instead, simply notice the niceness of the gentle changing energy currents caused by both “I” and “am” and the breath and simply try to settle into those currents or states of being as they arise and pass. Relinquishing the quest for bliss actually makes it far more likely to happen, and this meditation (and variants of Self-Inquiry generally) provide the fastest routes to bliss and relaxation in my experience.
    • In corollary to this, the “goal” of this meditation (the one you are reading, not official Self-Inquiry practices) is actually to become more at home in the body — more embodied — rather than trying to “escape” the body. So, in fact, this meditation should make the body a more comfortable home in which to dwell, and you should revel in the experience of being embodied, and bask in the gentle blissful energy currents that the meditation produces in the body (and later the mind).
    • There are positive after-effects of this meditation whether some desired state was reached or not. In my writings going forward I am going to be instructing that people give up the pursuit of altered states as it appears to be a massive hindrance for most people.
  • Those who are advanced enough to detect energy patterns will hopefully notice:
    • A “gathering up” of energy in a central upward line, up the spine, during the in-breath/”I”. This will tend to be more stimulating.
    • A total letting go and dispersal of energy downward across the whole body during the out-breath/”am”. This will tend to be more relaxing. In fact, the am-feeling is the most relaxing feeling I have ever come across and is fully jhana-capable just on its own, but I do not want to distract you with talk of jhana.

See image below for a diagram of these energy patterns. Do not try to force these energy flows or mentally create them – they happen completely by themselves as a result of the invocation of the words “I” and “am”. You really do not have to do much in this meditation at all!

  • You will hopefully also find that the “self-point” energy of both phases becomes most strongly noticeable at the heart area. I recommend doing the most simple form of the meditation as outlined in Method above for a few sessions before making notes about this or anything else. However, if the “heart” feeling does not begin to become noticeable within a few sessions, you can begin saying “I” and “am” at the heart area to induce it, and then stay there with it, and see how that goes.
  • This meditation radically improved posture for me and began to finally fix some lifelong problems. These improvements accrue over time and should not be rushed.
  • Finally, “I” and “am” can be used independently if you prefer one over the other. For example, my just saying “am” then absorbing into the totally blissful downward “settling” energy it produces is the most instantly relaxing meditation I have ever found and can be used to enter classical jhana just by staying with the “am-feeling” pleasure on both in- and out-breaths. The am-feeling is a total “okayness with everything”. It is based in body bliss and relaxation response. The I-feeling used on its own however can be incredibly stimulating and energizing, and eventually attaches to something “beyond” or transcending the body. This is all I am willing to say on the matter at the moment however as I need to learn more about the origin and more “official practice” of Self-Inquiry before further sticking my oar in.

These are just some of my initial findings playing with these kinds of meditations. I am in an early stage with it so expect my views and instructions to change over time.

I am eager to know your results. Please go to the Method section and practise it for 30 minutes just with those simple instructions. Please disregard the Notes section until you have practised at least a few sessions with just the basic instructions. After that you can look at the notes and try to bring some of them into the meditation if necessary.

Thanks, and Happy New Year!

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72 Responses

  1. Arpan says:

    I have tried this one I think. Correct me if I am wrong.
    There is a traditional meditation called: Soham/Hamsa
    Breath in: So(that)
    Breath out: Ham(I am)
    Breath in: Ham( I am)
    Breath out: Sa(That): This produces a very deep sense of vastness and Equanimity.

    I chanted mentally. After some minutes the awareness seemed to gather to a “central point” in my being with utterly beautiful relaxation, taking away all discomforts of posture.
    That central point tended to deepen, like a Russian-doll-effect(doll within doll within doll),until I was in some kimd of blissful, thoughtless transcendental state.

    The specifics I stated might wary a little, but is that in concurrence with this tech ?

    • Arpan says:


      And yes, the central point deepens somewhere near heart.
      Also, the chant so and ham(or hamsa) is not really mental. Sound of breath itself it interpretted that way. As if it’s saying Ham Sa

    • Illuminatus says:

      I was not aware that that meditation existed but I am not surprised I came up with one that matched it closely since we all work basically the same way.

      Yes to the Russian doll effect, by the way. With “I” meditation alone the I-feeling identifies with different processes starting with the body and ending with something clearly not the body (with mental patterns in between). With “am” alone the am-feeling tends to allow deeper and deeper processes both mental and body exist for themselves and bring equanimity to them. Both tend to be expansive.

      The issue with the English translation of “ham sa” as “I am … that” is: “I am” contains two words each of which has its own energetic signature/ self-reference quality. The different vocal sounds will also manifest their own energy differences in the speech apparatus along the spine. These are both major problems with mantra translations generally, I have found. The solution is to figure out what the mantra is pointing to and try to translate into words with the same energy signature as that. So my meditation is slightly different to the one you just described due to this.

      The beauty of “am” in my meditation however is that nothing is pointed to, leaving just existence itself to be felt/experienced. This is why it is so relaxing and eventually expansive. So, I do not say “I am calm”, or even “I am that”. The latter will coax the mind to search for (and find) the true self as the “that”. However I believe the true self is found in the experience itself so we do not need to search for a mystery noun.

      But I am just pulling this stuff out my ass, so don’t hold me to any of it.

      • Arpan says:

        ” The solution is to figure out what the mantra is pointing to and try to translate into words with the same energy signature as that. ”

        Exactly. The words i said were not meant to kick start an intellectual process during meditation but just a relaxing feeling as if my own breath is lulling me into the vastness.
        Yes, there is a cultural difference here. I am both:
        1. Familiar with that language(sanskrit)
        2. “That” instinctively makes a hindu think of Brahman on a visceral level(not just intellectual). Though most practotioners don’t use this conception and still succeed.

        To get back to the synthesis: While reading your tech I subconsciously interpretted(not verbalised in mind)”I” and “am” as being sounds made by my breath. Inbreath is saying I and outbreath is saying Am. This just makes it more subtle and engages the thinking mind even less. It had the same effect as Soham meditation.

        As an aside: this is also what TM style gentle mantra meditation leads to. I find it most effective for compulsive thinkers(which is the issue with most of educated folks) as it engages the most dominant part of their being aka thinking mind.

        If these kinda meditations are catching your interest, you might like:
        1. H appiness B ey ond Thought: A Practical Guide to Awakening
        By Gary Weber. He sayd he has reached a permanently thoughtless state. Was a student of Ramana Maharshi
        2. A search in secret India
        By Paul Brunton. It recounts in detail his experience of Samadhi while meditating under direct guidance of Ramana Maharshi(it quite fits both our narratives). He has also explored advanced hath yogis, tantriks etc. Though he seems bit cranky and less trustworthy to me, especially going by his subsequent books on Egypt etc.

  2. Morgan says:

    Is this an advanced technique, can someone who is in verbal thought do this or do you need a certain threshold of body awareness for things like “am-feeling” to even be observable?

    > I am going to be instructing that people give up the pursuit of altered states as it appears to be a massive hindrance for most people.

    Does this include jhana?

    • Illuminatus says:

      >Is this an advanced technique, can someone who is in verbal thought do this or do you need a certain threshold of body awareness for things like “am-feeling” to even be observable?

      I am hoping anyone can begin seeing benefits regardless of skill level. So consider this a beta test, and let me know how it goes!

      >Does this include jhana?

      Yes. Active methods for jhana or other types of absorption seem to be beyond most people, so I am going to go more in the direction of “letting go” techs.

      • Morgan says:

        So is jhana something that you need certain genetics for, or is it just an advanced meditation technique that requires mind clearing abilities and body awareness?

        • Illuminatus says:

          I would suggest that jhana is a state most people are capable of falling into, though the ease with which they do so may depend on starting conditions, and the type of practice used — and possibly some luck, e.g. a certain situation conducive for it which gives them the taste of it the first time around so they know what it looks like.

          Some people are able to go right for it because they have some intuitive control over their mind. I might call this “active” technique. Most people however will require “passive” techniques of letting things go, progressively understanding their mind, increasing body awareness etc.

          A rough analogy is lucid dreaming. Most people need to train it, and learn techniques to notice during a dream that they are indeed dreaming (such as the “hand test”) before learning to control the dream. Others can close their eyes, command themselves to sleep, and pass right through the “dream barrier” and appear in a lucid dream while remaining conscious the whole time.

          I have fallen into both camps for both jhana and lucid dreaming. There have been long periods when I could go right for jhana by sticking like glue to some sensations or intuitively absorbing into the breath or controlling my mind in some intuitive way. Then, there have been dry spells. Currently my concentration in terms of staying with an object is still very good but it won’t necessarily put me into jhana (and it has had this hit and miss quality for some time now, annoyingly). So I’ve gone onto I-feeling and am-feeling techniques which bring bliss quickly and which can also go full jhana quickly but the nature of those techniques means I don’t mind whether I go full zoned-out jhana or not because they completely allow everything that is going on non-judgmentally as part of the unified “I” or the unified “am” of simply existing. Ironically this mindset is actually how most teachers teach the “passive” techniques for jhana. So what I’m doing now is probably a lot more like traditional samatha practice (except I am not using the breath or any object besides the “I-feeling” or “am-feeling”).

          Re lucid dreaming there have been months on end when I could “command” myself through the dream barrier at will; in between regular consciousness and the dream state I would pass through a tunnel of stars. There would sometimes be loud buzzing noises, too, like a swarm of wasps.

          These phases come and go. When they go, the feeling of loss is fairly palpable. This is one reason I switched to the “I am” methods — I am looking for something more permanent beneath it all. And, for the last couple of months, the changes have been slowly accumulating and are becoming tangibly permanent (so, I feel a lot more at home in myself, and feel GOOD a lot more often, and the fear of this state suddenly being pulled out from under me has also disappeared — and I think that’s what “permanent change” should look like; a drop in the fear of losing the positive change that is happening).

          The progressive change I just described is what the samatha path is supposed to look like anyway. Vern L describes his permanent ongoing mind-change here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgGiv2Ydtk0

          I royally fucked my practice by a) getting hardcore into drugs and b) following MCTB’s “fast noting”/”shooting space aliens” bullshit insight method. Let it be a warning. Follow some bliss-based path to its conclusion and don’t get sidetracked. I know Mayath has done very well with The Mind Illuminated book.

          • Illuminatus says:

            Good video on first jhana by Vern L: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PprEAT76_Vs

          • Arpan says:

            @ Illuminatus:
            Shinzen Young states that one sign of prpgress in your practice is that you find an improvement in your performance with a tech of the other camp(camps being Being and Doing) too.
            This is somewhat true in my experience, in that now I can attain few of the form-jhanas easily with normal concentration meditation compared to earlier, despite doing just a Being meditation almost exclusively. (I never honestly strived further as a good baseline concentration and gentle feeling of bliss most of the day is what I achieved and is what I am content with right now) .Ramana Maharshi too states that concentration should become “spontaneous like your breath”.

            What’s your take on this: does practice of one camp enhance ability wrt practice of the other camp ?

            • Illuminatus says:

              I would say definitely yes. And often I have found it necessary to take an alternative route around an obstacle rather than bashing my head against it.

              Regarding being (nondirective) vs. doing (directive) meditation, one model I have been considering for a while is as follows. The left brain is almost certainly responsible for the initial “grabbing” of the object, and the suppression of thoughts not fitting its programme. So in the early days there are many early gains that come from training this “doing” side, like making a dog run after a stick. Absorption is able to occur alongside this progress since it is new, and the right brain likes novelty and can absorb into the task.

              However the left brain reaches the peak of this skill very quickly. At this point it is no longer new and the right brain stops engaging. The old reality that was being suppressed re-emerges in the right brain, and the chasing of the stick no longer compels it to enjoyment. This is when you need to cultivate the “being” side in order that satisfaction is found regardless of the contents of the reality. It is a signal to stop trying to ESCAPE the current reality (and this “escape” urge is what has most screwed up my meditation in the past).

              The question is, do we need to train the “doing” side much at all? Or can we just throw students only into the “being” side? This is what I would like to find out.

              • Arpan says:

                This Excitement-Effectiveness(flow)-Boredom-Ineffectiveness(EEBI) cycle is what most people seem to understand at a very later stage in life, in all spheres of activity. Even if you explain it to them, and they agree with you on an intellectual level, it doesn’t quite sink to the vital/visceral level without experience.

                I seem to get this naturally since early on, thus my disenchantment with hedonistic pursuits. This attitude naturally spilled into my meditation practice and I found the gamut of attitudes: No expectation, equanimity, non striving etc come to me naturally. This is aided by the fact, that due to such nature(I guess) my baselines state has never been miserable.

                On the other hand, most people, especially ones with super-active type A personalities don’t have the abovestated ingredients at the forefront of their persona, so Being meditations might seem “stupid” to them(Exact attitude I found during my early attempts to teach it to such people. They literally became irritated and shoved that on me.) A yogi once said: not everybody has suffered enough to be a yogi. These people are more accepting of it either after having suffered out of their wits in life or totally frustated with Doing meditations, as both these things show them the EEBI cycle upclose and encode it into their viscera. I also know many people similar to me in this regard, and they latch on to Being techs relatively fast.

                Thus, it is important to understand which camp your student falls in before you decide which camp of meditation you take him into.
                However, for a really cloudy mind, no matter of what nature, the lind which cannot fathom the idea of being separate from his thoughts/mind, I prefer some simple Doing tech like counting breaths for 5 min or 10 min(some are thick enough to not understand how to “watch” the breath).

  3. Hey everyone,

    I wrote on my blog a little bit tweaks regarding the practice and my results so far with it 🙂

    • Arpan says:

      Is your non dual method different from Do Nothing ?
      I cannot makeout the difference if there is any.
      Not doing anything is what always results in my “awareness settle into my being” always.

      “when getting distracted and you remember that you need to be aware of awareness, at this very moment awareness is already there, be with it until you get distracted again and again and again, repeat.”
      This is the only automatic-doing involved in my Do Nothing.

      I had given up on I am because trying it by what you call Dualistic way(you had mentioned in a comment that not to worry about attention modes) usually strained me in one way or the other, while Do Nothing seemed more uncontrived.

      • “I had given up on I am because trying it by what you call Dualistic way(you had mentioned in a comment that not to worry about attention modes) usually strained me in one way or the other, while Do Nothing seemed more uncontrived.”

        Yes you are correct, I guess I was wrong. I mean when I did it the dualistic way I also had experiences and all that stuff, however I suspect it came to me because eventually my mind would just give up and settle.

        However I don’t like to describe it as “do nothing” method, as there is still a very slight effort going on, there is a certain balance that needs to be met.
        Also while I say that you shouldn’t ignore thoughts, you also shouldnt exactly let the thoughts carry you away to the point that you are aware that you are watching a movie in your mind… it’s okay for the movie to happen but still the feeling of awareness shouldn’t be lost.

        • Arpan says:

          “however I suspect it came to me because eventually my mind would just give up and settle.”
          Yeah, you came to AWA after practicing hardcore concentrative anapanasati, while I came at it from opposite side: Do Nothing. So the slight effort of Dualistic AWA must have been “reasonable” for you, while iit stuck out like a thorn for a Do Nothing softie like me 🙂

          “it’s okay for the movie to happen but still the feeling of awareness shouldn’t be lost.”
          Yeah, this awareness of awareness comes up to me in Do Nothing as soon as I realize that I am watching the movie of my thoughts.
          I guess, it’s just a difference of how Do Nothing unfolds for me now as a result of experiential increase in understanding what “just being” feels like. So the difference between my method and your Non duality has, “at this point of my practice”, become merely sementical.

          • The thing is I have seen many different versions of how to practice the so called “do nothing” method… and each description is really essential because it’s a very subtle progress, a small tweak in the description might change the whole way I practice it.

            Different kind of description serve as pointers. we might talk in the same language or slightly different and agree that we practice it the same way, however I think languages still can fail us. maybe we do practice exactly the same way, or maybe a bit different, or maybe completely different. I can only compare it with myself the way I practiced before and the way I practice now that what I do now is much much much more effective. before all day without letting go of awareness and pushing thoughts away, there was barely a time I wouldn’t be aware of awareness. however I didn’t feel bliss at all times and when I did like I said I suspect it was because my mind would shift to what I call the “non dualistic way” so that’s why bliss and peace kicked in very fast.

            I think rupert spira description of awareness is the best and makes sense.

            Now when I practice it the way I do I have many many many distractions, however because the few moments my mind is in a non duality so called mode those moments are 10000 times more effective than holding my awareness all day without distractions.

            Also I feel that my physical body is actually “unwinding” like Illuminatus calls it.

            I feel this is the correct and natural way for me.

            • Arpan says:

              @LB: This difficulty in conveying Being techs is very frustrating. Let me attempt to behead this gremlin once and for all wrt what exactly it is that I practice. Please bear with me.

              To start, I follow follow Shinzen Young’s rendition of Do Nothing:


              To summarize:
              1. Let whatever happens happen.
              2. Whenever you become aware of an intention to control your attention, drop that intention.
              Note: you don’t have to constantly monitor for intention.
              Intention is Fully Free Will. If you cannot drop it or it arises again after dropping , it is not Intention.
              In practice: “Drop” means “relaxing” for me. “Becoming aware of an Intention” feels exactly like how an angry man would become aware that he has clenched his fist. Thus, many processes that seemed automatic/unintentional slowly start appearing as intentional, as if you suddenly realise that it is your hand that is moving the puppet. But you must not Try to work on the basis theoretical knowledge: oh this movement in mind is ultimately my intention, so I must stop it.
              No, you have to do it only when you actually become aware that a particular mind-movement is your Intention in realtime.

              Re Unwinding the body: I feel as if some muscle/nerve(s) very deep in my my bosy are “opening up”. Often that feeling is also there in the limbs. What seems to relax is not usually something I can intentionally feel and relax in daily life. It just happens. And with this relaxation some bliss and physio-mental relief is experienced.

              At this juncture I would also like to say that what Edd described as his tech while practicing Do Nothing his Non Directive post, has some “doing” at some crucial junctures that spoils the whole point of Do Nothing(No offence Edd). I might be wrong, but these statements of his were the red flags for me:
              1. “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.”

              Here he tried to break a past pattern to experience what idea of a Do Nothing experience/practice he had in his mind. No, if that is where your mind is naturally going, that is how it has to be allowed to be. You must let the mind “unravel” by itself. Also initially, the mind will sometimes fall on breath, sometimes on 3rd eye etc depending on your past momentum, ultimately settling on awareness(I am past such vancillations now).

              2. “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.”

              This tension he experienced, too is important part of the process. This infact is the most confusing part of this practice and it is here that Doing Nothing is REALLY crucial. This is because, the instinct to Do, to Control is maximally activated in this sitiation. Solution, one must just stay with the confusing-experience And with the Fear of going wrong that one might experiencing along with it.

              3. “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 has 2 huge assumptions:
              1. practice session must make me feel good(blissful).
              2. Mind should not feel sketchy
              No, initially, an individual session maynot be good, but it IS working under the radar.
              Important thing is to
              A. practice regularly
              B. Practice in daily life.
              So, bliss would start permeating your being all day.

              Here I am not advocating my style of Do Nothing. I only wish to ask LB if it seems like something that would lead to or is similar to his Non Dual AWA tech.

              Now I rarely tend to get lost in thought(though they are often present in quite a number), but this is the stepwise progression:
              Lost in thought-> Become aware of thoughts -> Become Aware that I am aware of thoughts(there are layers within this too)

              This “stepping back” feels like a Matryoshka Doll Effect(doll within doll within doll).

              Nowadays I often fall to this 3rd level and a bliss seems “wet me” at various places in my body.
              I find that practicing in daily life is important:
              1. gives a big headstart on the cushion.
              2. Integrates gains on cushion into one’s habitual nature much better.

              Re Rupert Spira: his youtube videos are long and slow, thus not amenable to experimentation for me. Can you suggest 1 or 2 videos(whatever length) that best sums stuff up for you ?

              • Arpan says:

                @ Edd: pls delete my posts in moderation cue. I reduced the links and posted here again.

                @ LB:
                Here are some guidelines and encouragements Shinzen Young gives for Do Nothing:
                • 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.

                Also , is my experience of Physical Unwinding that I mentioned in above post same as yours ?

              • Arpan says:

                To summarize effectively, the method is:
                Just sit. As long as you are sitting you are not doing it wrong. This is what really cleared it up for me.(Really, this trust is what people don’t have)
                Sitting also guards against Dullness, which is the real bane of Being Techs, until some mimdfulness has become natural. Such mindfulness becomes natural effortlessly when you choose to sit back up everytime you dull oot and go limp in posture. Then your mind can treat waves of dullness like any other movement, and you can also successfully meditate while reclining.

                The only way to do this tech wrong is to deliberately try, which you obviously won’t do(unconscious trying is fine). It’s the easiest and simplest thing out there.

                Rest of the issues, “unconscious meddling”, thinking, emoting etc are all part of the process and would graduay go away on there own.

                Realizing that people have difficulty grasping Pure Non Doing, I think any one of these 2 Non Directive Techs(they use a very gentle touch of direction in order to help one scratch his “doing” itch a bit) would be good to help them experience Non Doing. Once experienced, they may gradually start slipping into it on their own:
                1. CMR:

                2. TM style gentle mantra meditation: It can be learnt at little or no expense from various spin offs of TM like NSR, Natural Meditation(free on youtube). Best free resource according to me is a Free app called: 1GiantMind. It’s instructions are excellent, though the app is a bit clunky(too many areas locked unless you complete certain sessions of meditation etc).

              • Hmm regarding Rupert spira, he tells you not to look for awareness anywhere, because you are it.

                He says to ask yourself , are you aware? This is the state I am holding with a very soft effort towards it and I am doing no more than that.

                I am not completely doing nothing, I am just being aware instead of looking at awareness as an object , I am already awareness, if I am not “being aware” then I am lost in thoughts and I don’t know about my existence .

                With all respect to the mind I am not letting it completely do what it wants, if it starts to think and I ma aware of the thinking I won’t continue to be aware of the thinking because that will bring duality again. But I am also not pushing it away, I am softly favor myself as awareness again. It’s hard to explain sorry.

                Regarding the tension, it feels like a weight from my shoulders have been lifted but at other parts of my body, it feels lighter and weightless .

                Btw it’s not my tech, and it shouldn’t considered a tech, it’s just pointers to let the mind fall to it’s source. It’s very simple , better to remove as much as concepts as possible

                • Arpan says:

                  To ask again: is my description of Unwinding same as what you feel ? This is my primary question now.

                  And to reclarify:
                  1. In my practice, exactly like in yours, thiughts are neither driven away nor entertained, they ars just “allowed”. Logic is, IF iam not favouring them in my micro moments of clarity, my tendency to be lost in them is weakening.
                  2. “He says to ask yourself , are you aware? This is the state I am holding with a very soft effort towards it and I am doing no more than that.”
                  This is a guard against dullness I guess. For me, Dullness is not Do Nothing, though to a novice there won’t be any difference. For a novice, only “active hindrances” are hindrances. That is fine. When I don’t “favour” the comfort of dullnesd in micro moments of clarity, and am “just” are with waves of dullness or restlessness, I am breaking the habit of dullness naturally. Thus, slowly I reach actual Conscious Non Doing Awareness.
                  So yeah, there might be a slight difference at our starting point, with objective being similar.

                  • Yes regarding the unwinding I think it’s quite the same

                    • Illuminatus says:

                      Regarding the unwinding, I had SERIOUS body problems that were really screwing up my meditation and they got a lot worse last year. Tightness in face so hard that I could not sit to meditate for more than a few minutes some days. Left side of body being so tight my nerves felt strangled and I would be in pain much of the day. Here is what finally broke this pattern:

                      – “Whole body” mental impression. So, get an impression of the whole body at once, outline and inside as a whole living organism. This brings literal light — bright, golden light, becoming white light later — and lets the tension start to go. If however I tune into some “part” of this process it will turn bits of the body into “objects” and the tension will come back.

                      – I-feeling and am-feeling. Both of these are deep “self-points” and induce wholeness feelings and deep unwinding.

                      My problem was almost entirely along the left nadi — so, nerves emanating from the left side of the spine, along the WHOLE SPINE — so, this is a right-brain problem. The “wholeness” meditations of both whole body impressions, and I/am-feelings, turns on the right brain (it deals with wholeness, and living systems) and lets it take over the running of the whole body again and releases the clenched left side (the left brain controls the right side of the body only and is “blind” to the left side; the right brain however can perceive and control BOTH sides of the body.)

                      Overly directive concentration, and general addiction to left-brain modes, has, in my opinion, made my brain “blind” to the left side over the years and that side is perma-clenched. It is only these last few months of practising these nondirective meditations that the left side has freedom; the unwinding is totally obvious, and the pain has reduced. The tight face anomaly has completely disappeared.

                      BTW the “Do Nothing” post you quoted me on, Arpan, was, yes, a screw-up, because I was approaching nondirective from a directive perspective and was always looking for something to do. However I still don’t like Do Nothing because my directive mind will seek out things to do and get me into trouble. I do not really have the luxury of just letting it do as it wants because it will just stick me in a thought-action loop trying to find objects for, potentially, hours.

                      I had a lot more success with Abandon Release Method however because the instruction is just “let it go”. I mainly responded to “let go of all effort”. This also led to the left side relaxation/unwinding response.

                      LB is right, the language used can drastically alter the technique for various people.

                      My favourite version of all this so far — by miles — is straight am-feeling. No focus on breath or anything else. Just say “am” then get the sense of “amming” (it is more subtle than “being” since “being” tends to turn the body into an object which is then “allowed to be” separate from awareness. “Amming” however makes me myself the “object” which just “ams”). Most of the time now I do not need to say the word “am” in my mind because I have discovered the feeling side, which is just awareness “amming”.

                      There are no verbal thoughts in any of this (except the initial prompt “am”) and therefore nothing for my “doing” mind to get caught up with. “Amming” for me is a deeper form of “being”.

                    • Arpan says:

                      @Edd: I never had a whole body fascia problem, though I did have issues with facial fascia, woth lots of head tension and facial twitching in moments of extreme concentration or overwhelming emotion. It was purely random and would strike without warning, and sometimes not atall. Due to this, I was extremely wary of having an emotional reaction in front of anybody due to this sometimes, especially in a confrontational situation. NDM solved it like a charm, in quite a similar fashion as you mention: not chopping the experience up analytically.

                      Re Do Nothing: I agree. In my experience of teaching it is hard for left brained ppl and even more so for those who were very successful with DM, because they have a “just inner demand” from meditation , they can compare it wrt some other meditation and judge it. To your issue about your Doing mind throwing you into loops, answer from a Do Nothing perspective will be:
                      Yes, and be ready to go into loops for hours and hours. Your job is not to reach anywhere, but just to Do Nothing.
                      This is will actually solve it because:
                      1. You just gave up an intellectual Left Brained(goal oriented) complaint.
                      2. Your Doer has an ingrained certitude that it is a potent-entity, due to its past successes in DM. Only way to break it in Do Nothing is to let it do whatever it wishes to do for 30 min to an hour for few days. Then it will realize that it’s not effecting any results, will get tired and frustrated and give space to your Knower.
                      This happened with me for first 4 to 5 days to some extent. Then in 2 sessions I suddebmnly released loads of noxious energy blocks in my limbs and lung area, and Do Nothing started seeming natural. This might take longer with hardcore DM guys.
                      This why I guess, devotees and such ppl with great unquestioning surrender naturally enter Do Nothing.
                      I have developed various subtle right brain attitudes quite naturally since then: eg. I can “trust God” more easily. I have become more open with people and less jaded and cynical. The earlier Analytical Me would say: oh i didn’t get a good response for being open, let’s go into the shell again, Or, oh this didn’t go well, Trusting God is woo woo. I understand better now how emotional processes work, and how to establish relations with “God” and people better, accomodating their “illogical” quirks which would make me flare up earlier, value of regularly connecting with them, sometimes giving support rather than solutions etc(i knew these things, but never felt natural to practice. I would prefer company of fellow hardnosed grounded people).
                      But to make it easier is why I suggested slightly directed NDMs to people. It’s like allowing a habitual thief to lockpick (slightly directed NDM) his own house(Right Brain/Knower) till he becomes secure and comfortable in the premises it by repeated welcome experience and then one day just walk in(Do Nothing).

                      AWA is a one such slightly directed NDM too. However I preferred to teach people CMR or TM style mantra tech, because the AWA is again difficult to explain like Do Nothing. “Self” is an amorphous entity to “watch”. LB is right about slight difference in description leading to massive difference in practice. Though I will go further: slight difference in interpretation of same description can lead to massive difference in practice.

                      Do you find this progression in my own sitting practice to be converging with AWA ?:
                      Lost in thought-> Become aware of thoughts -> Become Aware that I am aware of thoughts(there are layers within this too).

                      And what did exactly did you do with your thoughts in Abandon Release ?
                      I interpretted it’s “Let go off thoughts” as:
                      Be unconcerned with thoughts, let them be (which is what I do in Do Nothing), rather than “actively driving them away”.

                      And how exactly does Aaron Sleazy “let go off” thoughts ?

                      Btw, this description of AWA by you suited me the best:


                      This is what I seem to feel in Do Nothing now, which was absent in Dualistic AWA. Is is how you would interpret LB’s Non
                      Dualistic AWA ?

                    • Illuminatus says:

                      BTW, going into awareness “softly” is in fact the most important thing for triggering myofascial release/unwinding as it gets awareness into the finest nerves and releases almost invisibly there. This is the only meditation that fixes my body in the way I want it to, or the way I hoped it would work out. In fact, for my problem, it is the ONLY thing that works.

                      The “soft” factor also prevents the mind from “grabbing” onto the I-feeling or the bliss which makes it flee or transform into something else.

                      This “soft” approach represents the very fine line between “totally nondirective” and “directive”. It could be considered “very minor directive”.

                    • Illuminatus says:

                      “And what did exactly did you do with your thoughts in Abandon Release ?”

                      I only had one thought which was: LET GO INTO GOD.
                      Anything else appearing in mind was what I had to let go.

                      This worked very well. My mind was totally filled with bright glowing white-gold light.

                      I take your point about Do Nothing and just going into thought-action loops BUT I have tried this approach often for several hours and it’s very painful with lots of body tics and fails to resolve. I see no reason to put myself through it when I have working alternatives.

                    • Illuminatus says:

                      BTW, I went through a heavy atheist phase in my early twenties where even the suggestion of a god (let alone invoking one during meditation) would have provoked fire and fury in me like the world has never seen. Funny how things turn out.

                    • Arpan says:

                      @ Edd: yeah, that explaination was for theoretical clarity. As I stated, I prefer teaching slightly directed NDMs to left brain oriented people.
                      Can you answer those 2 questions I asked about AWA and my practice progression ?

                    • Illuminatus says:

                      @Arpan: Sorry, it’s getting rather cluttered here. I just made a new forum board for this topic: https://www.personalpowermeditation.com/forum2/nondirective-meditation-self-inquiry/

                      Mind posting questions there? I will also post the questions for LB there shortly.

                    • Anon Regular says:

                      Since there’s some discussion of left / right brain, I’ll ask a question:

                      What is the proper function of the left brain? Ie how is it to be optimally used?

                      That may seem like an incredibly left-brained question, but bear with me 🙂

                      I’ve managed to get into “right brain states” in the past (using eg meditation and drugs) but the thing that kicked me out of them was always going out of “flow” somehow, due to some unsolvable survival problem (bills, safety, etc) that just couldn’t be resolved with flow (at least not with survival / practicality intact).

                      So I guess one answer to “what is the proper function of the left brain” is simply: it’s an emergency debugging mechanism to be used only for survival, and that’s it. Once you popped the hood of the car and changed the oil – go back to right brain mode immediately, and cruise in the Porsche.

                      Somehow, that strikes me as not quite fully answering the question to its full potential.

                      So, again, what’s the proper use of the left brain? What is its optimal role in cognition?

                      RAW used to talk about how the sixth circuit (metaprogramming) would be unlocked once the second circuit was tamed, and how the third circuit (left brain I guess) would similarly give way to the seventh circuit (DNA intelligence I think he called it?) once thinking in concepts was transcended. Is that directionally accurate?

                    • Illuminatus says:

                      @Anon Regular:

                      Do you mind posting this question on the forum please? We’re already cluttered on this comments section. Thanks!

    • Illuminatus says:

      Thanks LB. I had intended to create a forum post asking you some questions about your practice; if I set it up do you mind responding to them please?

  4. Morgan says:

    I have struggled with this tech because I do not notice any concrete feeling when I say “am”. I can feel the “i”, that sort of self identification. But “am” is just nothing to me, I don’t think that this was an emotionally charged word for me in childhood so it doesn’t carry the same weight as it does for you.

    Then again maybe it is because I am a beginner and have not reached the level of meditation required to be able to perceive these things clearly. What meditation technique would you recommend for someone that is very in their own head/lots of mental chatter? Like a day 1 beginner still fully identified with their thoughts. I read one of your comments recently Edd where you said that you literally have zero thoughts, only “pre thought forms” when you meditate, this is very advanced (at least to me). It seems that this would make everything easier. I am at the stage where I meditate then forget entirely what I’m doing, and going into thought loops about my day or other things I need to do, then remembering to meditate, then forgetting again, etc.

    How did you get to this position of zero thoughts and what do you think is the quickest way for a total beginner to get there? This just seems like it would be so much easier if I could just turn off all the mental noise. It is relentless. There are so many different meditations, “mindfulness” with the very vague “focus on the breath and let thoughts happen” instruction, concentration “be with the object” stuff, then others like “find comfort in your face and let your attention soften”, then this “I am” meditation, then body awareness “feel the feelings in the body” etc. What would you recommend for a total newb

    • Illuminatus says:

      Well, firstly, let me make it clear that having fewer or, temporarily, no verbal/image thoughts does not mean you do not suffer. Negative emotional states can still persist. What is removed is the dialogue and conjectures that would feed back into the process and make it more intensely negative. However, there are certain states such as certain anxieties which do not require dialogue and conjecture feedback to persist. If a “we are in imminent danger” flag has been set, this will quite happily buzz away for hours or days whether or not you have word/picture thoughts about it. In this sense the word/picture thoughts are merely the tip of the iceberg — the most overt representation of the underlying problem. At the very root of every problem however is most likely some ancient survival circuitry firing to attempt to protect or nurture an illusory separate self.

      I just wanted to make that clear. “No thoughts” doesn’t necessarily mean “everything is good”. You can still SUFFER. This comes from a “self” identifying with certain sensations (whether it be an anxiety buzz or something else jarring and unpleasant). With that in mind, I will answer your questions…

      “How did you get to this position of zero thoughts and what do you think is the quickest way for a total beginner to get there?”

      I did it relatively quickly and it was done in the following way. I watched a David DeAngelo video (of all things) and they had this guy called Dr Paul. He talked about a concept called “observing ego”. I believe this comes from the field of psychology, but the guy was quite a hack by my estimation so don’t quote me on that. The principle is that you observe your own behaviour and responses in order to have some control over it; learn about yourself; rein in some unproductive patterns, etc. I had not studied or practised meditation at all at this point, else I would have known this has another name: “mindfulness”.

      Anyway, it seemed like a good idea to begin just observing my own thoughts and responses to everyday stimuli and interactions. I did no sitting at this point. I just noticed what I thought and said and felt when things happened. This was pretty illuminating the first day, so for some reason I made the decision to turn this feature “on” all the time. Within about a week this “observing ego” was now a permanent fixture. Now I will give you some idea of what this involves:

      – Someone speaks to you. Monitor your internal “stream” of thoughts and feelings in response to each thing they say, noticing pictures and words that come up, and feelings, and where those feelings are in your body.

      – Out for a walk. Notice every sight and every sound. Attention turned outward as much as possible.

      – Watching television. Notice how each character or situation makes you feel and what thoughts it induces (this is one way to quickly realize how poisonous and loaded with societal conditioning most television is).

      Of course, you cannot possibly intercept all information your mind is processing but you can easily achieve one hundred times more self-awareness than the average person within a week or two of training, if you go all out and keep this feature on all the time. It is a huge thing to ask of yourself, though. Most of the information you have no idea what to do with. This level of mindfulness also illuminates just how much you suffer. It makes all the pain very visible. It also takes one out of the ordinary flow of reality. These are just some of the reasons I hardly ever talk about it, and hardly ever recommend it. The person you were dies the day you turn on this level of mindfulness.

      The added visibility of pain, suffering, and all my inappropriate responses to just about everything under the sun almost certainly led straight to my many drug addictions, with the painkiller addiction perhaps being the most understandable. I was very hard on myself during this “observing ego” time which made things a lot worse. I am still am in many ways.

      Perhaps a year after turning this “observing ego” on, I came across Shinzen Young’s “The Science of Enlightenment” CD series. He advised cultivating mindfulness in a similar way, but added a new idea of finding equanimity with everything I observed. I had already been observing myself for a year and my capacity for doing this was now very high. Adding the equanimity just required an extra step, and I began sitting in order to train this part. Because, IIRC, Young does not talk about the jhanas on that series, I did not know one could cultivate highly equanimous states intentionally. So, I just tried to find some peace with things in my thoughts and responses that I didn’t like. This actually led to a few accidental jhanas but I could not reliably induce them. It was the events described here that eventually led to some reliability in creating these concentration states: https://www.personalpowermeditation.com/how-i-discovered-access-concentration-and-jhana/

      So, I would tend to credit the year or so spent training “observing ego” as being responsible for being able to turn off thoughts at will, since meditation came relatively easily to me after that. (Please note that you don’t really “turn thoughts off”; you just direct the energy of your awareness toward other things.) This kind of constant mindfulness makes one’s mind very quick, powerful, and pliant. The more self-aware the mind is, the more it can direct itself in different ways. Consider for example that when out walking I would always have my attention turned outward to external events. That meant I quickly built up a large catalogue of experience in the “outward-pointing” mode. That mode simply does not involve verbal thoughts. But most people don’t train this mode; they walk along in verbal thought, thinking about bullshit. The ability to play with your own mind and do interesting things comes from training different awareness modes so it understands itself and learns how to push its own buttons. Spending a day out in a field just looking at natural things would probably do a lot more for most beginners than trying to sit and be “mindful”.

      “What meditation technique would you recommend for someone that is very in their own head/lots of mental chatter? Like a day 1 beginner still fully identified with their thoughts.”

      I recommend you get a journal program, or just an Excel spreadsheet, and plan the next 8 weeks. So, write a date, then the meditation you will try for 7 days written next to that date. Then write the days under that and fill in how long you meditated for (please do 30-minute sessions minimum if you are serious about this) and make another column for notes.

      You should abandon all desires about attaining altered states of consciousness or any specific results, really. The only goal should be filling in your spreadsheet with what you did and what you noticed.

      I would probably start off with Conscious Mental Rest: https://www.personalpowermeditation.com/forum2/concentration-absorption/conscious-mental-rest-(cmr)/

      That is a nondirective meditation. If thoughts don’t settle down for noticeable spans of a few seconds or more during the 30 minutes, for the next week try a directive meditation such as Sadhguru’s kriya: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxgD9En6Vso

      Things a beginner should be looking for are not fireworks or overt signs of altered states or bliss during their meditations. Instead they should look for simple things such as noticing whether verbal thoughts disappeared for a second or longer. This should be thought about AFTER the meditation and noted in the spreadsheet.

      Other things to look out for are how one’s interactions with the world are changing in the day-to-day. Maybe events appear to have more “time” within them and you are not so quick to react to someone or something happening.

      I would certainly recommend taking a walk each day and trying to keep attention pointing outwards to sights and sounds as much as possible during the walk. I used to call these “presence walks” and they are highly educational AND they train additional mental modes which can be useful for a wide array of things. In general you want to have a toolbox of mental modes you are able to enter somewhat quickly through training. Presence walks can result in a spontaneous “popping into the present moment”, spontaneous dropping away of all verbal thought, expansive peace, even bliss. However you should not think of or desire those things while out doing the walks. If they happen, they happen.

      • Illuminatus says:

        P.S. Regarding which meditations to choose in the trial period, maybe 8 different ones is too many. The first thing you probably want to figure out is whether you are responding better to directive or nondirective meditations.

        Nondirective meditation examples:

        – “Do Nothing”
        – Conscious Mental Rest
        – Self-Inquiry / Awareness Watching Awareness / I-Feeling / Am-Feeling
        – Abandon Release Method
        – Actual Freedom Method

        Directive meditation examples:

        Anything that uses an “object”:

        – Mindfulness of breath
        – Concentration on breath or kasina
        – Energy work / kriya
        – Chanting / mantras

        Alternate weeks between nondirective and directive. An example schedule I’m pulling out my ass:

        Week 1) Conscious Mental Rest: https://www.personalpowermeditation.com/forum2/concentration-absorption/conscious-mental-rest-(cmr)/
        Week 2) Sadhguru’s Kriya: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxgD9En6Vso
        Week 3) Abandon Release Method: https://albigen.com/uarelove/abandon_release.htm
        Week 4) Mindfulness of breath: https://www.personalpowermeditation.com/basic-mindfulness-meditation/

        30 minutes a day for 4 weeks will give you some idea of whether you respond better to directive or nondirective. Then plan future meditation tests using meditations from only the camp you respond best to.

        Unfortunately there is the effect that, for a beginner, just about any type of meditation practice can give lots of “early gains”, making it harder to judge.

        Ultimately, this will be an intuitive choice regarding which one “feels right”, and you should trust that too.

        • Arpan says:

          Besides CMR, Mantra-NDM seems to be the one most beginners resonate best, in my experience. Thus, the TMs popularity.
          It id quite different from Directed Mantra meditation.
          Though for Mantra-NDM instructions need to be very good(as for any NDM) .
          Do Nothing is too incomprehensible for most people who have a strong “gaining idea”, and other NDMs you stated use too fuzzy an object and can be, from a foggy beginner’s perspective, quite similar to Do Nothing.
          Directed Meditation: has been discussed manytimes over.

        • Morgan says:

          Thanks for this advice.

          A question on finding the “attention comfort zone” in the conscious mental rest meditation. I notice that when I try to let me eyes just settle, they are pulled around a lot by thoughts. One second I will be looking to the upper right, then the centre, then another thought will have me looking left, etc. It actually takes me effort to hold them in the centre, so I stopped doing that, and tried to just let the eyes go. When I tried to let the eyes rest, I noticed a lot of tension in them. So I tried to feel this tension and felt it soften a bit, my awareness of the eyes then deepened, and instead of feeling big pulls from thoughts, the pressure was much finer and also much quicker. It felt like my eyes were vibrating very finely 10 times a second.

          Is this necessary to find the “Attention comfort zone” or am I going about this the wrong way? It doesn’t feel like I actually have an “attention comfort zone”, just endless thoughts pulling me one way or another. It actually causes strain to hold the eyes in the middle. If I let the eyes do what they want they vibrate, and the face starts twitching.

          • Illuminatus says:

            You are doing it totally right.

            What you are experiencing is the accumulated tension of a million thoughts. The movement is letting them go.

            “It felt like my eyes were vibrating very finely 10 times a second.”

            It’s ultrafine REM.

            I believe most people are totally REM-deprived. There are just too many tension patterns accumulated in the day — especially by using VDUs which “freezes” the eyes and causes the rest of the body to become “bound” to them via fascia, since the rest of the body keeps moving — for 8 hours of shitty sleep a night to deal with. Also, you need “upright REM” (meditation) since you need to approximate the poses that caused the tension pattern to be stored (e.g. sitting upright at a computer).

            The only thing that is important is that more “winds” are being taken out than were put in that day. Each eye movement represents the release of a “held pose” (body/eyes frozen, thoughts taking place). So these eye movements are taking out a LOT of stored patterns. Just keep doing it and you will find the intensity of movement to lessen each day as the release accumulates.

            BTW, I believe it is the release of tension patterns via REM which plays as a dream as the mind interprets the kind of “reverse playing” of these patterns as they exit the body. That’s where dreams come from, or what they are.

            • Arpan says:

              “Tried to rest the eyes” sounds oxymoronic. Resting occurs when trying ends.
              What has sometimes helped in my experience with ultra restless newbied is:
              Have them look at something soothing with open eyes eg a scene of Nature. Thus they learn at a somatic lev what a “natural gaze ” is.
              Then have them close their eyes after 10 to 20 seconds and for atleast a fraction of time their eyes may rest even with lids shut. If they don’t rest atall, they can open their eyes and open-eye-gaze again.
              Once they can experience resting gaze with closed eyes even for a couple of seconds, they get a “foothold”.

              Sorry for the typos, pls delete the anove post.

              • Illuminatus says:

                This is another reason why widefield/nature exposure is important. Most of what we are doing in everyday meditations currently is simply undoing hours of VDU use.

                Scientific/medical models haven’t caught up to how exactly VDU use damages the whole body (it is now believed to be “the new smoking”) but I know the reason, and it is the “rigid eyes” phenomenon I mentioned. Eye nerves become “bound” to all other points in body via fascia wrapping around fixed-in-place eye nerves, and the rest of the body which might either be moving (mouse, keyboard hands) or “squeezing” (legs, trunk, other structures to keep you upright).

                End result –> all body parts become bound to eye nerves.

                Solution –> REM via good sleep AND meditation (we need an “upright REM” to approximate the computer pose).

            • Morgan says:

              Brilliant. Earlier I noticed that when I relaxed the eyes my awareness then went into another tense spot, at the back of the head. I tried to go deeper into that and let it soften and this was accompanied by a quick sort of micro spasm, a heavy feeling spreading at the back of the head, and then a release in the upper neck. If awareness drifts to other areas should I let it happen or bring it back to the eyes?

              • Illuminatus says:

                In my experience, if you get involved in the REM process, it will draw it out and interfere with its natural flow. When REM is happening naturally it will dart around to the most severe problem areas first. You can end up getting some quite unexpectedly large release from what appears to be a very small REM event.

                This is where you need “umbrella” techniques that occupy your mind so the REM takes place naturally. Directive meditations have you use an object like the breath. However I found as time went on that object-based practices interfered with my natural REM flow because they use too much conscious mental focus.

                So the umbrella method I use is “am”. I sit, smile, and get a sense of just being there. “Am”. I now know for a fact, having observed it many times, that “am” feeling activates REM and deep relaxation and the REM will definitely whizz around to where its needed. This means I can just get on with letting go into pure awareness.

                Abandon Release Method might serve a similar purpose for you if you find you are paying too much attention to the REM patterns.

                • Morgan says:

                  This technique is great. Only been doing it a few days and already the most fruitful meditation technique I’ve done. Today I got in a groove where I got deep enough into the “eye softening” or relaxation feel that it just seemed to deepen by itself. I kept going deeper into it while eyes were spinning around. Could literally feel unwinds happening as the eyes moved. It was like the relaxation created a distance between the eye movements and me, before I would have just been pulled down their path, now I had enough distance to actually allow the “tug” to happen without it pulling me along with it. Feels amazing by the way

                  To the guy who mentioned breaking down and crying during meditation; Try this technique. I’ve also been frustrated with typical “focus on the breath” meditations. This is much better and clearer.

                  • Arpan says:

                    ” It was like the relaxation created a distance between the eye movements and me,”

                    This is really the key to all meditative endeavour. This is how meditation becomes effortless for experienced yogis.
                    Once sufficient stable distance from your mental and physical nature is attained, concentration becomes easy too, like a yogi stated:
                    When you concentrate on an object, the object should appear gently, like an evening star, in the vast free sky of your mind.

                  • Betha says:

                    So far I’ve noticed with this method that when I relax and try not to control anything, my eyes stay very still. When I exert even a slight amount of control, my eyes start spinning all over the place. I assume there is still unwinding happening, even if the eyes are still.

                    • Illuminatus says:

                      The eyes may appear to be still at your current level of awareness but it is likely that the are making very, very fine movements, which is what I call “ultrafine REM”.

                      Ultimately you do not want to be worrying about or controlling the REM though, but rather just following the method for a set period each day during which “what needs to happen, happens”.

                      Eyes and REM are an interesting topic though; I have used them to “hack” meditation many times. For example, if you smile with eyes closed and make your eyes super-“dreamy” (like, really, really soft, and think of them becoming happy), you should be able to feel good feelings almost immediately, and with a certain level of skill, combined with breath awareness this good feeling can be rode all the way to jhana. I have now moved away from attempting to teach such “directive” methods though since they are beyond most people.

        • Vysotsky says:

          What is the difference (from an inner perspective) between Do Nothing and simply lying down and have a rest (without sleeping), if somebody doesn’t know this kind of meditation?

          • Arpan says:

            If you “rest” in a very strict sense, i.e. not pursuing or otherrwise controlling any of your mental activities/feelings then there is no difference between this and Do Nothing. However, by “taking a rest” people often mean either sleep, or indulging in a drowsy state or just engaging in light/relaxing mental-banter, which is not Do Nothing.

            • Vysotsky says:


              Is it Do Nothing, if somebody has many automatic thoughts without any conscious control?
              The problem, I don’t understand the real difference between intentional and unconscious thoughts yet. E.g. isn’t it still controlling, if somebody “drops an intention”?

              • Arpan says:

                It can be, if you are not trying to suppress or follow them.

                If you are angry and you suddenly realize that your fist is clenched and thus release it, did you give up control/drop. an intention or exercised control ?

                Conscious vs unconconscious thoughts:
                I tell you: visualize a pen and you do it. That’s conscious thought.
                While visualizing, some ither thought distracts you. That’s unconscious thought.

                You are right in the sense that there is no sharp dividing line between conscious and unconscious thoughts . The actual experience of Do Nothing practice is somewhat similar to that anger-example. You see your mind full of automatic/unconscious thoughts, then suddenly realize there is a subtle tension in your body and a corresponding thought you are holding in mind, you drop the tension and the thought drops away. You realize that for newer and newer levels of thoughts. What was unconscious is realized to be conscious and dropped/relaxed.

                For Do Nothing, I first recommend this exercise for 20 min:
                Just sit still and do whatever you want.
                Only instruction is to not do anything physically. Mentally, it’s upto you.

              • Vysotsky says:

                I think it’s clear now. The fist/anger-example was very good.

                “Conscious vs unconconscious thoughts:
                I tell you: visualize a pen and you do it. That’s conscious thought.
                While visualizing, some ither thought distracts you. That’s unconscious thought.”

                I thought the feel of awareness beside any mental activity is the consciousness, but after your explanation, it’s more likely the focus, what you meant.

                “For Do Nothing, I first recommend this exercise for 20 min:
                Just sit still and do whatever you want.
                Only instruction is to not do anything physically. Mentally, it’s upto you.”

                I tried it. I made full dark in my room. I had way more thoughts than during concentration meditation but they were less annoying. My thoughts were mostly about I must resist the urge of thinking, then to let go of resisting, then to let go of letting go, then it became a mess, and it ended for a little time. The another focuses were the dark of my room and the ticking of the clock.

                Maybe the main difference with resting is, that the mind knows, this is a “meditation” session, and it reacts unconsciously in an other way, i.e. with more awareness.

                • Arpan says:

                  ” I thought the feel of awareness beside any mental activity is the consciousness”
                  It is. I am not suggesting otherwise. I was talking about conscious aka intentional thought, and nit consciousness itself.

                  Re Do Nothing: you are on track, try it for 30 min for 2 or 3 times and tell me. If it feels too messy, you may remind youurseld that “everything is allowed, let it be, don’t worry”.
                  I am not a professional teacher, and I am just trying out new ways as to how to best explain Do Nothing.

                  Re difference with resting: Yes, what you state is indeed one factor.
                  It’s best to not theorize too much, else these thoughts interfere in practice.

                • Vysotsky says:

                  “It is. I am not suggesting otherwise. I was talking about conscious aka intentional thought, and nit consciousness itself.”

                  I mistook awarness for awareness with intention, thanks for the clarification.

                  “Re Do Nothing: you are on track, try it for 30 min for 2 or 3 times and tell me.”

                  1.: I was very tired on that evening, plus my asthma has come back or I’ve got a cold. I was sleepy during the last part of the meditation and I went to sleep after that. On the other hand, my cold hands and feet became warm, I had a few seconds long bliss and the session was relaxing despite of the many automatic thoughts.

                  2.: I noticed my hands are in mudra position or similar to that. There were many automatic thoughts again, even when I was in a hypnagogic state. As I became aware of this, I found it funny and immediately after that, I had a short bliss. I was in a joyful/calm state after the session for a few hours.

                  3.: Still many thoughts, focus on my hands or the dark or clicking. I was sleepy. Nothing more happened.

                  A question: Is it possible, practising Do Nothing during a mechanical activity like walking? Or is this an oxymoron?

                  • Arpan says:

                    Firstly: wow! you really do put in work instead of just asking and asking and asking .

                    Re automatic thoughts: not a sign of failure, just tread on, like you are doing.

                    Re second session:
                    “I noticed my hands are in mudra position or similar to that.”
                    There are many mudras btw. However don’t worry about that right now. Do you mean your awareness went to your hands ? Or that your hands took a mudra position on their own ?

                    “I was in a joyful/calm state after the session for a few hours.”
                    You mean you meditated for many hours ? Or the bliss continued off cushion. Also warmth in limbs etc is quite common(I used to be very prone to cold and this was an attractive side effect of meditation) as it’s a reorganization of vital energy ciculation. Sometimes you can get chills too.

                    Just curious: Do you live in Eastern Europe/Russia ?

                    Re session 3: It’s fine. Everytime you meditate, processses keep happening, and aee not always manifest to your conscious mind. Were you deliberarely listeming to the clock etc ? (Drop that if it were deliberate, take it easy).

                    Re mechanical activity: Yes it’s possible. Do Nothing means doing nothing with the mind. I do what you are asking most of my hours when I am not “intelligently involved” in some task. I mentioned that you have to sit “still” so that:
                    1. As a beginner, you can clearly grasp what pure mental activity is.
                    2. With just mental activity going on, for say 30 min, you can clearly cognize many layers of activity that you are “doing” as these are the ones that are adding an “unecessary” component toyour discomfort/tiredness. That way, as is brain’s nature, it will learn to give those up to follow the path of “least resistance/doing/effort” every moment. That I think is a better way to teach Non Doing than giving endless complicated lectures which the learner can endlessly complicate by theorizing.
                    It’s like, instead of describing what a rose smells like, just have the learner smell it.
                    If you want a very detailed attempt at describing Do Nothing, here it is:


                    I would advise that you don’t give anymore thought to my explanation of the mechanism, and just continue your practice.

                  • Vysotsky says:

                    Re: Hands

                    My awareness went to my hands, which were a little “heavy”, and to my thumbs and forefingers, which were joined on each hands, but it was more likely a natural position, not mudra (similar to chinmaya).

                    “You mean you meditated for many hours ? Or the bliss continued off cushion.”

                    No, the meditation was about an hour long, and the relaxed state came after that. But it was different, than the bliss. The latter was more like a pleasure.

                    “Do you live in Eastern Europe/Russia ?”

                    I live in Central Europe, In Hungary.

                    “Were you deliberarely listeming to the clock etc ?”

                    No, it was unintentional and automatic.

                    • Arpan says:

                      Everything looks good to me.
                      That you did it for an hour is actually good. I find “relaxing/being” kind of meditations are better done for an hour in the beginning as these are hugely dependent on experience. But most newbies are not motivated sufficiently for putting in the work. If you can do it, by all means sit for an hour.

                      PA: off-cushion practice can escalate the benefits and progress manifold.

                    • Betha says:

                      I automatically took you for an eastern Slav as well when reading these comments, Vysovtsky. I mean no offence by this of course.

                    • Vysotsky says:

                      You were right, this is a Russian name, but it’s just my nickname.

  5. Betha says:

    Are the directive methods beyond most people, because they lack patience, persistence and discipline to see such practices through? Or do the people lack in whatever natural capabilities they need to have to understand such methods?

    On the sidenote, I still keep swaying to a lesser degree with CMR. I don’t focus on the breath at all, but when I breathe in, my head snaps back, and when I breathe out, it leans slightly forward. It almost feels like my breathing is pumping up energy, like a wave. I feel a slight pressure arising in the body when I draw the breath in and it dissipates when I breathe out. On the other hand it could be just a normal physiological funtion that I notice when I direct my awareness into it.

    • Illuminatus says:

      >On the sidenote, I still keep swaying to a lesser degree with CMR. I don’t focus on the breath at all, but when I breathe in, my head snaps back, and when I breathe out, it leans slightly forward.

      Breathing runs an “activation wave” up and down the spine, turning on nerves in sequence. When spinal nerves turn on they activate fascia wrapped around them, prompting the fascia to release, resulting in swaying. There are millions of these “winds”. Meditation is an extension of sleeping in a way in that it continues the release process that is one of the main functions of REM sleep.

      The bottom line is, as interesting as all this is, you should ignore it and consider it part of the healing and relaxation response of meditation.

      My suspicion is that most of the head/neck fascia tension patterns are put in by computer use. Meditation is slowly undoing that for you.

    • Illuminatus says:

      >Are the directive methods beyond most people, because they lack patience, persistence and discipline to see such practices through? Or do the people lack in whatever natural capabilities they need to have to understand such methods?

      It is more that Average Joe cannot hold his mind on, say, the subtle good feelings that come from smiling long enough for those feelings to escalate to absorption.

      Average Joe does not understand that there are mental modes beyond just wittering bullshit to himself in verbal thought.

      From the age of 0 onwards we are taught just one mental mode: verbal thought. Maybe you get a bit of body awareness and widefield senses if you learn sports, but these are not emphasized at school (I hardly received any sports tuition at school).

      Even the arts seem to be taught fairly mechanistically.

      So Average Joe has no idea his mind possesses MANY mental modes; let alone has he trained them. Suggesting to smile and ride good feelings into a completely altered state would be met with immediate verbal thought pulling him off course, since that is the only mental mode he has ever trained. Humans are in rather a pitiful state as a result of this.

      Here is how I began training alternative mental modes: https://www.personalpowermeditation.com/i-am-breath-hybrid-meditation/#comment-100399

      • Morgan says:

        What level of meditative skill do you think is necessary to begin going for the jhanas with the directive type techniques? Is there a certain milestone, for example being able to stop verbal thoughts at will, that you would recommend before hardcore going for the jhanas? I never had success with object meditation stuff but this CMR technique is great, can feel it working already. So just wondering how long I should do it before I start going for the bliss stuff, and what I should look out for to know I’m ready

        • Illuminatus says:

          The CMR method is identical to how I practised meditation “naturally” before getting dragged into various object-based methods. I got jhanas from that long before I knew what they were.

          If it’s working for you, just keep doing exactly what you’re doing. Don’t go for bliss. All you need to do now is increase the length of your sits. And continue to surrender to the process.

  6. Arpan says:

    “Are the directive methods beyond most people, because …”
    I was weak at Directive meditation, and reached a decent jhanic mastery at it after NDM. None is easier or difficult. It seems more about personality. What you are practicing is not really a pure NDM(it has some sense of directing your attention) precisely because pure NDM aka Non Doing, actually demands a harsh discipline. It’s often a desert with no roadsigns assuring you of an oasis(jhana or any meditative bliss) in a predictable way and thus considered an advanced zen-practice (Surrender/devotion etc are theistic analogues of the same).
    Yet, all meditative practiced end in this Non Doing. Directive practioners can really be bugged by Non Doing , while Non directive practitioners can find Directive meditation strenous.
    Ultimately, test of succeeding at practice of 1 camp is to gradually become good at the other too.
    You might find these 2 discussions helpful:



    • Betha says:

      “What you are practicing is not really a pure NDM”

      Yes, I gathered as much. In the beginning I managed to turn the Attention Comfort Zone into an object, so at times it felt like I was doing concentration meditation. However, this is not a problem anymore. Now I just to observe what my mind does instead of trying to do anything myself.

  7. Morgan says:

    I have hit a wall with letting the eyes go in the ACZ meditation, and I find that the more I let myself go the more this is turning into a “feel the sensations in the body” meditation. When my eyes are relaxed awareness then switches to a sense of heaviness in the back of the head and neck. It is like a great pressure that is pressuring right on my awareness. I think these are repressed emotions. When I go to meditate now the first thing my awareness goes to is these heavy, harsh feelings in the head/face/neck. It is like this “pressure point”, the point where it is felt in the awareness, is asking to be opened up and deepened. I am unsure however if this is the right way to go, because as far as I know this is more like insight meditation than non directive?

    I think there might be a chance that many of us who are starting out have so much emotional repression in the body that there needs to be a period of working through that before “restful gazing” is even possible.

    • Illuminatus says:

      >When my eyes are relaxed awareness then switches to a sense of heaviness in the back of the head and neck. It is like a great pressure that is pressuring right on my awareness. I think these are repressed emotions.

      I suspect that you are right. But in my model of meditation, the whole meditation process is just drilling into and transforming these blocks into freedom, all the time, every time — and a “bad” meditation is just some progress into that process without an obvious upside (though: the work was done, so it is not “bad”).

      My advice would be to stay with it, wherever it goes, and however long it stays on there. I wish someone had told me that many years ago and that way I would not have done things like faff with my posture for so long when just sitting with awareness of discomfort is what gradually breaks it down.

      >I am unsure however if this is the right way to go, because as far as I know this is more like insight meditation than non directive?

      In my experience so far, insight meditation is just the results of nondirective meditation but with an elaborate labelling system. Please don’t get caught up on this distinction because it does not particularly exist.

      >I think there might be a chance that many of us who are starting out have so much emotional repression in the body that there needs to be a period of working through that before “restful gazing” is even possible.

      I think that’s true. But here are some thoughts:

      – You did fine initially. Now you hit an obstacle so have doubts. Correct response is to assume the obstacle is part of the process and stay with the process that has begun.

      – All meditators hit blocks no matter how far along they are. Don’t make a special case of your own ones. 🙂

      – I think there probably is something people could train before doing ANY kind of meditation to decrease the number of blocks and to make them resolve quicker. Two that I can think of are:
      1) Adopt Alexander Technique–style “push breath” (instigate breathing by pushing air OUT the lungs which induces a reflexive inhale).
      2) Have mindfulness of one’s jaw and ensure it is loose and not clenched in daily life (obviously if you are lifting weights it will be clenched but that is a special case). I suspect that if you let your jaw become loose (even if that means actually letting your mouth drop open a little) then it might resolve your block a bit quicker, too. I am hypothesizing based on the fact that jaw-clenching was a real problem for me.

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