Shikantaza – “Just Sitting” – The Ultimate Nondirective Meditation

This is part of my Start Here series of posts aimed at teaching beginners the basics of the meditative journey.

One way to categorize the meditation practice of shikantaza, or “just sitting,” is as an objectless meditation. This is a definition in terms of what it is not. One just sits, not concentrating on any particular object of awareness, unlike most traditional meditation practices, Buddhist and non-Buddhist, that involve intent focus on a particular object. Such objects traditionally have included colored disks, candle flames, various aspects of breath, incantations, ambient sound, physical sensations or postures, spiritual figures, mandalas, teaching stories, or key phrases from such stories. Some of these concentration practices are in the background of the shikantaza practice tradition, or have been included with shikantaza in its actual lived experience by practitioners.

But objectless meditation focuses on clear, nonjudgmental, panoramic attention to all of the myriad arising phenomena in the present experience. Such objectless meditation is a potential universally available to conscious beings, and has been expressed at various times in history. This just sitting is not a meditation technique or practice, or any thing at all. “Just sitting” is a verb rather than a noun, the dynamic activity of being fully present.

… it is objectless not only in terms of letting go of concentration objects, but also in the sense of avoiding any specific, limited goals or objectives… just sitting is not a technique or a means to some resulting higher state of consciousness, or any particular state of being…

… [for Dogen] simply just sitting is expressed as concentration on the self in its most delightful wholeness, in total inclusive interconnection with all of phenomena.

–Taigen Dan Leighton

The above text was sent to me by a student and is from a PDF called A few views around shikantaza. The context of the conversation was that the student had asked me my views on meditating with eyes open, and I sent him a write-up of a practice I have been doing for the last few months in which my eyes are more or less always open. He replied informing me I was practising shikantaza, a meditation method I had not heard of but which matched exactly what I had been doing. I had found my way to it instinctually.

Shikantaza is Japanese for “just sitting”. It is a form of zazen practice found in Japanese Zen Buddhism, and is similar to Taoist zuowang (“sitting and forgetting”) practice. Shikantaza involves sitting very still and looking at a blank wall a few feet away for long periods of time. That is basically the extent of the instructions. The meditation is as close to completely nondirective as you can get. You are allowed to think thoughts and feel emotions. You do not take the breath as an object (nor anything else for that matter). You do not try to control any aspect of the mind, body or perception. In fact, the need to control events is the main thing you must allow yourself to let go of, and it is the relinquishing of control at progressively finer layers that deepens your state of inner peace. Goals must also be abandoned completely. You do not sit to gain jhana or some other altered state, or to practise magick, or to become enlightened. You sit in order to give up your resistance to simply existing! Just sitting means exactly that; no more, no less.

The first result of this practice is that, after some time, you may find yourself in a quiet, still and blissful state in which the separation between inner and outer worlds has thinned or disappeared entirely. This is the state of being I believe everyone is actually looking for when they make the decision to start practising meditation, whether they realize it or not. It is incredibly peaceful. The time it takes to fall into this state will likely vary between individuals, with experience playing a role. Furthermore, there is not a sudden shift into something profound, but rather there is an initial “switch” at around 20 minutes wherein the body noticeably settles, mood shifts to something more equanimous and open, and thoughts become easier to handle. After this point, there is a simple, gradual deepening of the state over time – a growing sense of peace, quiet and stillness, which grows and deepens, and grows and deepens until, eventually, there is no trace of a separate “I” living in your head, and all its problems are gone away with it. It is a total break from the world. This process may take a few hours to evolve depending on your experience and the amount of “stuff” you have coming up. However, the state becomes gradually more peaceful as time goes by, so it is not really a problem to keep sitting. Once you have ventured into this state even just a little, you will likely want to sit in it as long as you can!

I will describe a little more about how the above state unfolds in terms of the dissolution/dismantling of the sense of self. This is from my personal experience but I will talk as though it is universal. Ordinarily there is a sense of a conscious agent located in my head. This agent controls the body, makes decisions, and interacts with the world via thoughts, emotions and actions. This agent looks out through my eyes and sees objects – “tree”, “car”, “person”, etc. It has thoughts and feelings about each object, liking some objects (desire) and disliking others (aversion). It ignores or filters out some objects if it is overexposed to them or if they are not deemed “useful”. As well as an external world of visible objects, the agent also experiences an internal world of thoughts and concepts, which it also has feelings and judgments about. Some thoughts please the agent and it will return to them again and again; other thoughts are displeasing and the agent will try to suppress or ignore them, or to do actions in the external world to try to remedy them with the aim of those thoughts no longer coming up. The three processes of desire, aversion, and filtering therefore are applied to both objects in the external world (where they appear as physical things) and objects in the internal world (where they appear as thoughts about things). This constant process of judging and appraising objects is mistaken as a permanent, separate entity which resides in your head – your “self”, “you” – also known as “ego” or “false self” when viewed in spiritual practice. The problem with the separate self illusion is that the process of judging and appraising can never truly be satisfied – more of the good feelings are always desired (and their end is feared), bad feelings are always wished to be expelled or avoided, and there is always a slew of objects which can cause bad feelings just around the corner. The separate self illusion is the cause of suffering.

When I sit to do shikantaza, thought chains will begin immediately, usually about things that have happened over the last day which feel like “unfinished business”. However, by sitting very still in the body, and by looking at a completely still wall, the rapid movements of the mind will begin to show themselves, highlighted in contrast with the stillness of the body and the wall. I will say that again: The movements of the mind become visible against the stillness of the wall. (Later on, thoughts will even “pop out” and play on the wall, rather than “inside the head”.) This is a really important insight to get: the mind’s constant movement, its churning, dissatisfied thoughts, are the cause of suffering. Those thoughts can never be satisfied. Even if you somehow managed to give them everything they demanded, more thoughts would soon come, wanting more of the good things and fewer of the bad – or falling into boredom, apathy and despair, which are the hallmarks of dissatisfaction with the way things are. Recognizing this is really important. Once it is truly recognized that thoughts can never be satisfied, the way forward begins to become clear: by allowing thoughts to expire, they can be replaced with peace and silence (which is inherently satisfying). I don’t think this insight can be rushed. I can seed the idea in your mind by writing this post about it, but it is still your job to simply sit and look at the wall until the insight is realized experientially. When the mind realizes for itself that its thoughts can never be satisfied, it will naturally start to let them expire into silence. This is insight into dukkha, “dissatisfaction”, one of the Three Marks of Existence.

Around 20 minutes into the meditation, there is a noticeable physiological and mental shift wherein the body settles, mood shifts to something more equanimous and open, and thoughts become easier to handle. There is a lifting of the sense that meditation is a chore, and things suddenly become a lot easier. This stage is called Knowledge of Mind and Body in Theravada. Virtually all meditations involving sitting still will cause this shift around the 20 minute mark, which is why it is important to practise for at least 30 minutes per session, even as a beginner. This stage is pleasant, peaceful and relieving, and is the main reason for the early gains many meditators experience in their practice. In fact, many lay meditators across the world simply sit each morning until this stage is reached, then get up and go about their day, enjoying the benefits of the state without intending to go any further with their practice. (This is probably the extent of the “mindfulness” movement currently going on in the West.)

In shikantaza, the Mind and Body stage manifests as thoughts no longer being confined to the inside of the head. Visual thoughts may appear as projections on the blank wall, or as images simply floating by within the space of conscious awareness. Verbal thoughts might also take on a more object-like appearance, becoming more free to float around the mind-space rather than being tightly tethered to an illusory “narrator” in the centre of experience. This is insight into anattā, “No-Self”, one of the Three Marks of Existence. The thoughts did not come from a permanent self in the centre of experience, but rather arise in the clear space of awareness the same as any other object does. This experience of thoughts having space around them also reflects a partial dissolution of the (illusory) division between internal and external worlds. Objects “in here” are the same “stuff” as objects “out there”. It is all awareness.

Finally, there is the noticing that thoughts and emotions are completely transient. They come and they go. With enough sitting, even the solid wall itself is realized as a shimmering collection of transient sensations – an act of pure holography. This is insight into aniccā, “impermanence”, one of the Three Marks of Existence. Nothing lasts forever – nothing even lasts for a second. This means that today’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chips wrappers. The only thing giving life and apparent continuity to today’s drama is your own emotional attachment to it. It can be let go of.

Letting go of control is the most important lesson I took from shikantaza. It is the one piece of the puzzle I was missing, and it first came from realizing that thoughts appear, and I don’t have to like them. This is a totally different mindset to not liking thoughts and wanting to get rid of them (aversion), which is the default human approach. It means, in the stillness of shikantaza, a thought “I” don’t like can be allowed to exist for the short time it does exist, and the forces that arise in opposition to that thought is the illusory sense of self. The ego arises in response to unwanted thoughts, and it can be witnessed – it can be caught in the act. Simply noticing this desire to control the contents of awareness – while doing nothing – is enough to have that desire spontaneously vanish, and to find bliss and peace rushing in in its place. You don’t even have to purposefully “let go” of the desire to control – simply notice that desire, with clarity and honesty, and it vanishes. To see this clearly, a good question to ask yourself is, “What is the thing that seeks to control?” This practice has had permanent results for me outside of meditation. Someone said something that would ordinarily piss me off; the desire to control the situation arose, was noticed immediately, it vanished, bliss rushed in in its place, and I burst out laughing. (People always wonder why Zen guys laugh joyously at seemingly inappropriate times. It is because this is happening!) That “thing” was then gone forever – another layer of false self sliced off.

As thoughts phase in and out of existence, appearing projected against the backdrop of the blank wall, and apparently floating freely in space, the sense of a silent witness to those thoughts begins to be noticed – around the periphery at first, and in fleeting glimpses at first, before finally filling in the centre as control is relinquished. This silent witness is awareness itself. Like a fish becoming aware of the water in which it swims, shikantaza makes us notice the clear space of awareness into which all things arise and pass. Thus, shikantaza leads directly to Awareness Watching Awareness, or samatha without a sign. No effort is required – Awareness Watching Awareness is the normal state of affairs once control over the contents of awareness is relinquished. The mind eventually stops creating and labelling objects entirely, verbal thought stops, a state of flow is entered, and the contents of awareness are perceived directly and without judgment in an all-encompassing way.

Shikantaza also develops energy, causes myofascial unwinding on the micro-level where it is needed, and corrects posture over time. The eyes-open element is an immediate antidote to dullness.

The fact that shikantaza develops the best elements of all other meditation types – including insight, energy, mindfulness, elements of concentration, and Awareness Watching Awareness – makes it the most complete, yet most straightforward, system of practice I have come across. The benefits of every session are clear as day. That it requires no effort besides sitting still, and no special training beyond patience, makes it accessible and of benefit to all. I am in love with this meditation and suspect it might be the only one anyone ever needs.

The Method

What follows is how I practise shikantaza. It is a method I arrived at instinctually. Despite there being variants if you research it online, this is the superior form, in my experience. The session time is 30 minutes minimum, with 1+ hour being preferable for more rapid progress.

  1. Position yourself in front of a wall. I prefer a distance of around 2–3 metres (6–10 feet). This is to establish “medium-range vision”, which has a good balance of left and right brain hemisphere activation, as opposed to “close-range vision” which is dominantly left hemisphere. The wall should be blank, meaning free of “interesting” distractions. My wall has a radiator on it, but this is boring enough that it does not draw my attention. You would not have a painting, poster, or other “interesting” item in the field of vision, however.
  2. Sit up straight. I like to use a kneeling chair. However, cross-legged poses are fine, or even using a chair, provided you can stay completely still for at least 30 minutes with an upright spine. Stability is more important than comfort. At the same time, you do not want to adopt a position requiring massive effort to stay upright. If you have a weak back, note that regular sitting meditation actually fixes that over time, and shikantaza is the best one for it.
  3. Make dhyana mudra, and maintain it for the entire session. It is a strongly stabilizing vertical energy current which encourages stillness, becomes a “mental anchor” for stillness, and also helps keep your back straight.
  4. Keep your eyes open. Look at the wall. You are allowed to blink. You do not have to “stare”. However your eyes “want” to look at the wall, that is what you should allow. If your eyes want to defocus, let them. If they want to move around, let them. If they want to open wide, let them. If they want to close, let them. In maybe ten percent of my meditations, my eyes will want to start closing. They will turn into slits first, still letting in light. They will start to flicker with rapid, fine REM. This feels blissful. By the time they close, I will be in a blissful jhana-like state. I think this is natural, and is something like what your cat or dog is experiencing when he sits upright in his “roast chicken pose”. In ninety percent of my meditations, my eyes will stay open the whole time. Letting go of control and letting your eyes do as they want is the main thing, here. Note that having eyes open is an immediate relief to “dullness”, and people find this meditation energizing.
  5. Stay completely still below the neck. Breathing is the only thing allowed to move the body. Above the neck, things can move. You can emote, open and close the mouth, swallow saliva, and so forth. Your head itself should stay still, though. Regarding tongue pose, I let it do as it wants. If there is internal dialogue, it will tend to move or pulse subtly (since verbal thought is just very quiet speaking), which I allow. I have noticed however that the tongue eventually finds itself in the “correct” pose, which is the tongue tip in contact with the incisive papilla, the small fleshy bump on the roof of the mouth behind the front teeth. The meditation tends to end with the body in good form once the mind has expended itself of trivialities and settled into all-encompassing awareness.
  6. The rest of the instructions is a list of don’ts. Don’t fixate on a specific object – unless it “wants” to be fixated upon (e.g. awareness naturally settles on the breath at various points). Don’t try to control thoughts, emotions, or perception. If thoughts are running wild, let them. Just sit still and let it all happen. Don’t set goals or try to attain certain states. The only goal is doing the practice. The only state is whichever state arises in the practice.

That’s it. The practice is cumulative. Progress may be mostly unconscious and not “showy” at first. However, this gives way to more overt signs of progress later. Any overt progress is the result of the cumulative gains of covert progress. There is no such thing as a bad meditation. The meditation you got was the one you needed at that time. You cannot fuck up shikantaza. As long as you are sitting still and looking at a wall, you are progressing. Give it a trial week at 30 minutes a day and report your findings in the comments or make your own log on the forum.

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45 Responses

  1. Aldous says:

    Friends. Over the last twenty years of seeking I’ve read everything there is to read on Zazen and Shikantaza…
    THIS is the best thing I’ve read on it. Such a clear transmission…this is all you need to read or do. Of course if your a newbie or seeker you will read other stuff but trust me…you’ll end up here. Or you won’t. Either way…
    Wonderful post.

  2. andrew says:

    Agreed, well written and explained. and it is the only form of “meditation” that anyone needs.

  3. Vorth says:

    IMO beginners needs to start with AWA because the monkey mind and mindless chatter is way too strong.

    Once they are actually quiet in their head then they can start practicing the real good shit like Do Nothing, Shikantaza.
    Some Sadguru shit is good too but just as a distraction.
    labelling and nothing is a must to do sometimes too just to connect more to your feelings.

    The real good stuff is nothingness, the void. Not thinking but NOT trying hard to not think. Just effortlessly and naturally not thinking but still being awake.

    • Illuminatus says:

      “IMO beginners needs to start with AWA because the monkey mind and mindless chatter is way too strong.”

      The problem with AWA is that beginners don’t know “where” or “what” awareness is — what it looks like, what it feels like — so they can’t “watch” it. My inbox and comments sections are full of people asking basic questions of this nature. It’s understandable, in the “fish not knowing it’s in water” kind of way. Shikantaza results in AWA due to the mind moving through certain phases without needing to know how to do AWA. Shikantaza results in AWA, and provides the tech as a matter of course.

      “Once they are actually quiet in their head then they can start practicing the real good shit like Do Nothing, Shikantaza.”

      Except they won’t get mental silence by fighting it.

      “Some Sadguru shit is good too but just as a distraction.”

      Do not encourage distractions and frivolity.

      “labelling and nothing [sic – “noting”?] is a must to do sometimes too just to connect more to your feelings.”

      Paradoxically it is more mental noise and effort masquerading as technique.

      “The real good stuff is nothingness, the void. Not thinking but NOT trying hard to not think. Just effortlessly and naturally not thinking but still being awake.”

      That is what shikantaza results in.

    • James says:

      Sadhguru’s whole thing is getting you to just sit. Everything else is a means to that end.

      • Babafella says:

        Hey I learned Surya Kriya and I really like it and I had some nice experiences with it. But because of life circumstances I haven’t been able to practice consistently, but this will change soon. I will write about my experiences after I have practised it more. I’ve meanwhile also learned Angamardana which is really awesome, I can definitely recommend it. I’ll probably post something about that too.

      • Vorth says:

        Sadghuru has a ” I am not the body and I am not the mind” mantra that actually helped me.

        In the end it’s just concentration meditation on the breath with a mantra added on it but it’s really simple to do.

        Labeling and Noting is good to increase your awareness/feelings but I use it when I take long walks, like I’m so much more into the action and present moment when I’m quietly thinking about what I feel.

        Shikantaza sounds really intriguing, it’s pretty much do nothing except you keep your eyes open and then let them do their own thing.

        Also does any of you know about Zhan Zhuang? The Qigong technique that is basically standing up meditation? I actually increased my energy levels a lot with this and improved my posture. I recommand it to you people, it sounds stupid but it’s pretty good.

    • Babafella says:

      Imagine calling Hatha yoga a distraction

      • Illuminatus says:

        Hey Babafella, how come you deleted your forum account?

        • Babafella says:

          Hey man, I deleted most of my accounts on social media and forums to disengage from the internet. I still occasionally still lurk on your website. Maybe deleting my account on the forum was kinda unnecessary and too impulsive. I’ll probably get back at some point in the future.

  4. Saturnus says:

    Thanks for this, and sorry for being too combative on the forum.

    • Illuminatus says:

      No problem. Welcome back. 🙂

      The Greta Thunberg post has done in the last of my cares about politics. Sometimes it’s worth taking a big dump onto a page so you can see your own shit.

  5. Pell says:

    Which method will help one reach stream entry with better efficacy? I’ve tried shikantaza and felt like I was sitting in dullness the whole time allowing my mind to do whatever it wants. It was just like lounging on the couch wide awake which I’ve done numerous times before calling it shikantaza. I currently use TMI which is a directed effort system and it feels good. This kind of meditation seems reserved for stages 7+ in that system. I believe without concentration/samadhi chops, zazen is like groping around in the dark for awakening. What are your thoughts? Thanks for an awesome blog too! Just found it and it’s really fun.

  6. Panzershrek says:

    For everyone that thinks how sitting can be so simple. It is supposed to be simple because how else can these teachings apply to everyone throughout the world? Is enlightenment and mental freedom only for the select few initiated into the teachings of buddhism? It doesn’t work like that. Do you actually think the Buddha taught people specific techniques on how to focus on good sensations on the body to get bliss or move energy around through doing crazy energy circulation practices or other jedi mind tricks? No he was just sitting under a tree all day doing literally nothing.

    The Shangpa Kagyü Tibetan Buddhist tradition gives us a poetic response to the question of why
    we don’t recognize awake awareness. We don’t recognize awake awareness because it is:

    “So close you can’t see it
    So subtle your mind can’t understand it
    So simple you can’t believe it
    So good you can’t accept it”

    “I can sometimes come across as a ‘Shikantaza-fanatic,’ insisting that Master Dogen’s way of ‘Just Sitting’ is totally unlike any other flavor of Zazen or meditation, even those (such as “Silent Illumination” or “Dzogchen” meditation) it very much family resembles.The reason for such a wild claim is simply in the very nature of Shikantaza itself:

    You see, Shikantaza is to be sat with a sense that there is nothing else but Shikantaza, nothing more needed or which can be needed outside the act of sitting Shikantaza itself. Shikantaza is a ritual enactment of Buddhas sitting as Buddhas, embodying the peace and satisfaction of “nothing more to attain but this” which only Buddhas can know. It is a “non-self fulfilling prophesy” which becomes complete when we sit it with the conviction that it is complete. The mere act of sitting itself is to be known in the bones as the completion of the universe, the fruition of life. No kidding, no exaggeration. There is not one drop outside of sitting to be desired, nothing lacking, nothing more to attain. Simply sitting this sitting is whole and absolute satiation of all desires, the one action needed in all space and time in that time of sitting. It is the only place to be or where one can be in the world. ” – Jundo

    • Pell says:

      I thought Buddha used the jhanas for their Awakening though.

      • Illuminatus says:

        Perhaps the jhana state would become fully integrated via the 10-hour daily sitting of monastic life.

        I’m just a guy practising this stuff around a day job though so cannot say.

        • Pell says:

          What do you mean by fully integrated? From what I understand, one can have the skill to summon any jhana at will, but they are still fabricated states of mind. Shikantaza is interesting because the practice doesn’t seek to fabricate anything. Afaik.

          • Illuminatus says:

            As I explained in my other reply to you, jhanas can cause distortions in reality, indicating that they are not yet integrated:

            Since I don’t have 10 hours a day to try to integrate them, I will practise shikantaza instead, which has NEVER created such distortions in my experience.

            • Pell says:

              I see now. I suppose I lack faith. I’m concerned with what will take one to stream entry as effectively as possible and I’m working with the understanding that practicing the jhanas is a super effective way to do that, but then I stumble upon your website reading about your experiences that seem to confirm my suspicion. And then you speak highly of shikantaza, a practice that I suppose I didn’t give enough time to and dropped, was all everyone really needed. When I read that I felt like all the hours of sitting I did was wasted, gratifying an overly domineering left brain. I suppose I’m making this too much of an either/or thing. Maybe I can just do shikantaza and TMI. But why would I if shikantaza is all one needs. I just don’t want to dupe myself. I suppose I just lack faith.

            • Pell says:

              Perhaps I’m just corrupted by knowledge. I read MCTB and it lit a fire in my practice. But, I just didn’t vibe with noting even though I see people posting they’re experiences on r/streamentry of the tech working really well. I want to be able to teach this stuff one day…I just feel like I need the attainments to know what I’m really talking about so that’s why so I’m so fervent in knowing between what works well and doesn’t work.

      • Panzershrek says:

        The Jhanas are the result of long term cultivation practice not the other way around.

        • Pell says:

          Well yes that’s correct depending on what you mean by long term. It’s my understanding that the jhanas reduce fabrication like peeling the mind down to subtle layers like an onion. With less fabrication and great collectedness, Insight is realized more easily. The story has it that Buddha remembered his childhood experience of reaching jhana and thus used that as a basis for his Awakening. It’s also said that after his awakening, his first students were the Hindus who taught him the jhanas because he believed he would understand what he did the best. The Buddha created vipassana with jhana as a helpful tool.

          • Panzershrek says:

            Yes but he didn’t actually learn how to do Jhana, the energy was transmitted to him. In the Dzogzen tradition, they say that the key is to find an enlightened master who actually transmits the energy to you so you know how Rigpa/pristine awareness feels like(Kind of like a fitness instructor flexing his muscles to show what you’re capable of to). Than all you’re supposed to do is practice accessing that state. The way it works is because your energy channels open up by being in that master’s presence. Even than you’re not spared from the hours of sitting that you have to do. You won’t find a master that can actually do that. The one thing that sets a person’s luck from another’s is the environment he was brought up in. The Buddha was like was because his environment was conductive to his destiny. Some people get the jhanas without doing a minute of meditation. The point is that everyone already is enlightened because everyone is part of the same field of energy/spacious awareness, but the person that knows this has unraveled the knots of his psyche/conditioning because he surrendered his illusionary will power. Since you’re already in the field of pristine awareness, all you have to do is unchain your perceiving blocks so you can finally see reality as it is.

            • Pell says:

              The Buddha did learn the jhanas. The sutras have the Buddha talk about jhana consistently. Besides, that I ultimately agree with you. I actually have this book called “Our Pristine Mind” by Orgyen Chowang. It’s a great book!

  7. Panzershrek says:

    “Samatha without sign” is a term coined by Guru Rinpoche Padamsambhava which means awareness of awareness in which you’re aware but not concentrated on one object. It is the final stage of meditation practice. In other words, you don’t have to be aware. Awareness is not something you do, it is what you are. It is the gap between mental events like thoughts and emotions. Eventually the gap gets longer and longer as your energetic body detoxes it’s suppressed energy. Chaotic meditation is good meditation.

  8. James says:

    this meditation could be renamed “how many ways can you cross your eyes in 30 minutes? ready set go!”


    • Illuminatus says:

      Yep — this is due to myofascial unwinding from around the nerves which control eye movement and focusing. It shows how integrated the myofascial system is across the whole body. REM sleep would usually reflect this unwinding, but I suspect REM is screwed up in a lot of people, possibly because the sleep state is not suitable or conscious enough to integrate or process some past trauma. It is thought that SSRIs work by suppressing REM sleep.

      Shikantaza allows processing of deep unconscious stuff, IME.

      • James says:

        Mhmm, I felt a whole nerve cluster free up in the back of my neck.

        When I had that bad lsd+bcaapi trip, looking back my eyes were constantly flickering for about 8 hours.

        The first time I sat to do this meditation the molecules on the wall turned into a vortex. I get open eye visuals very easily, where as whenever I sit with eye closed I may get a little bit of a purple hue, even in deep meditations that bring happiness/bliss its still for the most part pitch black behind my eyes.

  9. Tom says:

    Thank you for that great article.
    I loved your blog before even it wasn’t in line with the non directive I was practicing…I’m so glad that you kinda switched and can teach us about it now !

    My question : you say “If you have a weak back, note that regular sitting meditation actually fixes that over time, and shikantaza is the best one for it.”
    I am “strong” thanks to weight lifting, but my back is chronically painful due to sitting a lot while working. So in your sentance, am I in the “weak” category ?
    More specifically, do you think shikantaza going to help that ? Because I am actually reluctant to sitting for meditation because of my back, and tend to try to replace by walking meditation etc…But it doesn’t seem shikantaza goes super well with walking.

    Thanks again.
    I wish you the best.

    • Andrew says:

      TRE, Original strength rolling and other 5 big resets will help. As will any truly “mindful” movement/use of posture (like sitting with the “correct” approach/belief system). Be “with” the discomfort and watch it heal itself. Get “into” the pain and learn from it. Pain is a call for attention as “energy follow thought”, the system needs the “conscious mind” there right now as it needs additional resources to fix it. Over simplistic but true nonetheless (I don’t type much these days). Good luck.

    • Illuminatus says:

      Thanks Andrew.

      I have started writing a new post resurrecting TRE and that will be my reply to Tom. In the meantime:

      • Andrew says:

        Excellent – And as you know, it’s not just about TRE. “Restrictions” within the physical body change how we resonate (our frequency, cel membranes as receptors etc) and therefore the information we receive from “the field”/God etc (and the obvious affects on what we call chemistry through expression of micro contractions and the “e-motions” that go with that as “stuck” energy is allowed to move through the system once more). So any postural/movement practice applied with the correct understanding of how the human system works – with the caveat that we know nothing for sure, this is based on what has worked for many people and continues to do so and therefore the understanding, even if flawed, seems to help and therefore it’s almost a case of pick a belief system that works for you. How to use slow movement, “holds” and to understand what is happening is a very useful “tool” to have. As you well know, while certain methods are more beneficial, understanding is so much more powerful as then everything has the potential to help. Forgive my long ramble, trying to be helpful, not the most skilled writer. happy to offer myself as someone to talk to if anyone needs a hand.

  10. Tom says:

    Thank you guys for these answers ! I’ll look into this TRE thing 🙂 Never heard about it before !

    This morning I had a surprising experience with back pain. Last 2 days I sat 30min with no pain, but this morning after 15min I just gave up as the pain and especially the resistance was so great. I’m trying to push slowly through resistance but only moderately, not when it’s becoming unbearable, otherwise it becomes a total chore and after a few bad days I just stop sitting…

    Wish you well, thanks again.

  11. Hagbard says:

    Is there any way to practice Shikantaza without having to stare at a white wall a few feet away?
    In my current home, it is impossible.

  12. Tom says:

    What about just sitting with eyes closed, have you tried it or have an opinion about it ?
    Thanks 🙂

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