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I’m almost 60. The experience of meditation has been reminding me of accomplishments of when I was a child. But, more important, they describe the combination of the three qualities of mind: contracting or exacting, expanding or opening, and free, uncluttered, and spacious.

Floating on one’s back in water is one example. To do so requires a stiffness in the body as well as an ease (contracting and expanding at the same time). It also requires trust – or learning to trust the buoyancy of one’s body and the support of the water. Again, this is an example of loosening the contracting, security driven mind such that ease in the mind in the form of trust and exploration can replace it.

Riding a bike with no hands is another example. Exacting balance combined with open arms which create a different type of balance make it happen. Of course, we sprinkle in a little trust and daring! The experience is of of freedom, a zone of peace and refined presence that, even as a kid, we could experience.

Meditation is like this: a particular combining of factors to accomplish a result. The trick with meditation is the same with floating in water or riding a bike: each experience is unique and brand new. But, just like the childhood examples, with practice the variations of moment are navigated with ease and little thought. Again, we have combined exacting or contracting, expanding and opening, and the spacious qualities of mind.

Downloadable podcast: Childlike

“Let breath be your lover…


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and light be your bed.” Each meditation sitting is an embrace.

The first experiences of meditation’s embrace are those of taming and training the mind-emotion feedback loop. Meditation is a form of wooing the mind to open, to soften, and to allow the unknown to be the delight and adventure that it is.

With openness to receive and some meditative stabilization, meditation begins to embrace itself, and the meditator experiences layers of more. Each more, each vibration of newness, somehow has both familiarity and an almost radical presence. Now one’s relation to breath as a “lover” is imperative. Mind has loosened from its controlling, protective modus operandi, and we/mind have experienced peace, light, ease, maybe a touch of bliss or mystical awareness. The breath is realized as the gate and the gatekeeper. Experiencing the breath and the veluptuous experience of breathing is the next embrace.

With that comes light. Light can be experienced as brightness, lightness, weightlessness, clarity or lucidity. Light might be its own embrace, a beckoning into higher states and vibrations. It might even give ‘way to deep silent blackness – profound, primordial, and non-dual.

Downloadable podcast: Let breath be your lover

of three minds


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light_13-021114-ykwv1Mind is a very comprehensive word. It refers to:

  • creative processes,
  • intuitive processes,
  • emotional processes,
  • and sorting out daily living processes.

In order to accomplish all of these, mind has three primary qualities: contracting or exacting, expanding and opening, and empty mind or mind in a state of peace.

Human beings are unique in that we have all three. Because we do, we can use them to accomplish tasks – great or mundane – and discover important things. Yet, modern society conditions people to a default of the contracting mind. This generates the feelings of fear, doubt, worry, anxiety, limit, powerlessness, and hopelessness, and reinforces a separated or isolated feeling. A contracted mind state is one of clamp-down control or thinking that we can control things. None of these lead to peace or harmonious shared well-being. By the same token, this contracting or exacting quality of mind is necessary to accomplish most daily tasks. Balance within oneself through accessing all qualities of mind is the key.

When we combine this quality with the open, celebratory, listening quality of the expanding mind, then we have creativity, new thought, an openness to change, and the capacity to listen. Interest is born from combining these two qualities, though is only possible because of the expansive quality of mind.

The empty state of mind does not refer to emptiness, but instead to a mind at rest, uncluttered, and free. It is the mind in a state of not needing to do anything and at peace within its own simple radiant space and ease.

We need all three;and human beings are unique among the life forms of this planet because we can utilize all three states of mind.


Downloadable podcast:Of three minds


Choose your state of mind


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1988054_origThe first several steps of The Practice of Living Awareness give us the tools and techniques to learn Peaceful Abiding (shamatha). Just as important is the constant encouragement to take each of those techniques or tools into one’s life.

  • Smile – lighten up
  • Breathe – you are alive. Celebrate life.
  • Flow – set your own pace with your day. Let patience guide you.
  • Soften, Open – speaks for itself
  • Receive, Release – speaks for itself again
  • Asana – composure, equilibrium, integrity

So much more could said about each of these and the integration of their wholeness into one’s life, state of mind, wholeness of emotional well-being, and relations.

The next several steps of The Practice bring us into the workings of Insight (vipassana). This means to get to know the states of mind (on and off the cushion), the inner terrain of the chakra system and central channel, and to put it together with the stability and luminous presence generated through Peaceful Abiding – the first half of The Practice’s steps.

I encourage you to listen to the 4 minute explanation at the beginning of this podcast, Then the rest of the meditation is largely a silent presence meditation of Shamatha (Peace).

Downloadable podcast: Choose your state of mind


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