Unlike the other posts in this series on Beginning Meditations, the recording I’m sharing today is not something I’ve frequently recommended, or really ever recommended. However, of the meditations that I’ve produced, it is one of my favorites. I wrote it for a meditation course I first taught in 2012, and have revisited a couple of times over the years. This particular meditation has an as-above-so-below theme to it, and I really like how it plays out experientially. Today’s post includes the guided meditation script, plus a 20-minute mp3 recording of the awareness guided meditation. Please also check out the other meditations in this series!
Buddhism teaches mindfulness, sometimes called awareness, as a technique to end suffering. These ancient teachings are perennially relevant, and have wormed their way into most spiritual practices — and even secular regimens — today. So even if you’re not a student of Buddhism, it’s likely that you’re familiar with the concept of mindfulness, or being fully aware in the present moment.
When I discuss mindfulness with students or clients, I frequently use terms such as “objectivity” or “objective perspective.” Objectivity contrasts with subjectivity. A subjective experience can be very pure, an expression of full engagement in the immediacy of the moment. But that immediacy frequently comes with a lack of objectivity. Our emotions are subjective, our instinctual responses to impending pleasure or pain are subjective, and our hopes and fears are subjective. Objectivity asks us to step one step back and observe those experiences. No longer to have the primary experience of feeling them, but to shift the primary state to one of observing those feelings or experiences.
Mindfulness and Dissociation
Although this practice is generally beneficial, the sense of separating from experience can equate to traumatic dissociation. Unfortunately, this practice isn’t for everyone. This article does a nice job of explaining the components of dissociation. Many people who have a tendency toward traumatic dissociation find that they do better with mindfulness meditation when they keep their eyes open, walk or move instead of sit, or otherwise adapt the practice to fit their comfort zone. If mindfulness meditation triggers you, consult a psychotherapist.
Benefits of Awareness
The benefits of mindfulness or awareness are unending. A deeper sense of calm, peace, presence, and connection are examples. A greater perspective on life helps reduce catastrophizing, or making mountains out of molehills. Awareness reduces racing or worrying thoughts. But all of these things add up to something much more important. Awareness takes us away from outside influences and manipulations and into our own sense of truth and our connection to Spirit. This is the state which, when consciously cultivated, can significantly increase our intuition. By releasing our hopes and fears, our expectations, and our limited perspective, and by expanding ourselves into the place of greater awareness and compassion, Spirit guides us.
Awareness Guided Meditation Script
“You are awareness. Awareness is another name for you. Since you are awareness there is no need to attain or cultivate it. All that you have to do is to give up being aware of other things, that is of the not-Self. If one gives up being aware of them then pure awareness alone remains, and that is the Self.” – Ramana Maharshi
- Sit or lie comfortably with your back straight and your eyes closed. How does your body feel? Do you feel relaxed? Energetic? Be aware of how you feel.
- Become aware of your head, the top of your head, your forehead, your ears, your face, your mouth. Where do you feel relaxed? Where do you feel energy flowing? Do you need to move to feel more comfortable? Feel free to become more comfortable. Be aware of how you feel.
- Become aware of your throat, your neck, your shoulders, your shoulder blades. Where do you feel relaxed? Where do you feel energy flowing? Be aware of how you feel.
- Become aware of your arms, your biceps and triceps, your elbows, your forearms, your wrists, your hands, your thumb, your index finger, your middle finger, your ring finger, your pinky. Where do you feel relaxed? Where do you feel energy flowing? Be aware of how you feel.
- Become aware of your torso, your back, your chest, your ribcage, your heart, your solar plexus, your lower back, your abdomen. Where do you feel relaxed? Where do you feel energy flowing? Be aware of how you feel.
- Become aware of your pelvis, your pelvic bone, your hip sockets, your glutes, your tailbone. Where do you feel relaxed? Where do you feel energy flowing? Be aware of how you feel.
- Become aware of your lower body, your quads, your hamstrings, your knees, your calves, your shins, your ankles, your feet, the arches of your feet, your toes. Where do you feel relaxed? Where do you feel energy flowing? Be aware of how you feel.
- Become aware of your whole body and how the bones and muscles and organs and vascular system and nervous system and energetic system all work together, the ebb and flow of your body. Where do you feel relaxed? Where do you feel energy flowing? Be aware of how you feel.
Awareness of Below
- Become aware of how your whole body is supported from below. Become aware of how your body is touching and connected to that which is supporting it. Be aware of being supported.
- Become aware of how your support is secure and planted firmly. Become aware of the support that is below that, and below that until you get all the way down to the dirt of the earth. Become aware of how your body is connected to the support of the earth. Be aware of being supported.
Awareness of Above
- Become aware of your body being supported so securely by the earth. Remember watching the sun as it rises from below the earth, moves across the sky above you, and sets again below the earth. Become aware of the sunrise and sunset. Become aware of the ebb and flow of the day. Become aware of how your ebbs and flows are connected to the sun. Be aware of being connected.
- Become aware of the slow turning of the stars of the zodiac in the night sky above you. Become aware of the ebb and flow of the year. Become aware of how your ebbs and flows are connected to the stars. Be aware of being connected.
Awareness of Stillness
- Become aware of how the constellations rotate around the North Star. Become aware of how you on the earth are connected to the sun and the stars and moving around the perfectly steady center point of the North Star. Become aware of how you are connected to the center. Be aware of being connected.
- Become aware of the North Star, the center point around which you turn. Become aware of this point of stillness. Become aware of being connected to the still point of the Pole Star. Become aware of how you are connected to the center. Be aware of being centered.
- Be aware of the still North Star, and the turning constellations, and the rising and setting sun, and the earth, and how your support rests on the earth, and how you are secure on your support, and how the stillness inside you connects you to the still point of the heavens. Be aware of stillness.
“If water derives lucidity from stillness, how much more the faculties of the mind! The mind of the sage, being in repose, becomes the mirror of the universe, the speculum of all creation.”
– Chuang Tzu
To see a World in a grain of sand,
And a Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour…
– William Blake
Awareness Guided Meditation Recording
The recording for this meditation takes you through body relaxation and then uses visualization to connect you with the earth and the cosmos. Practice this meditation when you’d like to feel a greater sense of presence and connection. This 20-minute guided meditation mp3 recording includes about 16 minutes of the scripted meditation to help guide you through the process, then several minutes of music for you to rest in the experience. It concludes with a final quote. When you are familiar with the meditation, you can stop using the recording and lead yourself through the steps.
I just made this up one day. Influences include the Buddhist practice of mindfulness, the many meditations that start with body awareness, plus practices that connect you to above (such as the Cabalistic Cross, used usually as a preparation for a ritual practice such as the Middle Pillar exercise). I created a mash-up of these practices and put it into my own words. I kind of like it. I hope you do too!
What is your experience with practicing awareness? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!