Welcome back to the Mindfullness-Based Stress Reduction series, I am your mindfulness teacher Nejra.
In today’s practice, we will be exploring the open awareness meditation, sometimes also called choiceless awareness.
So we are bringing our awareness into all aspects of our present moment experience.
And we do that with an attitude of non-striving, so we are not trying to achieve a special, magical state, we’re not judging the experience, nor criticizing if we are doing it right or wrong, we’re simply trusting the process, practicing acceptance, and a broad effortless attention into whatever arises.
Assuming a comfortable sitting position now, either on a chair, or on the floor, with the bottom supported by cushions or a folded blanket.
Perhaps shifting the posture to assume a dignified, upright position.
If sitting on a chair, allowing your feet to be flat on the floor, with the legs uncrossed and your hands gently resting on the lap.
Practicing sitting away from the back of the chair so that the spine supports our intention to be awake and aware.
Setting this to be a time in which we pause the usual mode of doing.
And drop into being.
Allowing the body to arrive in stillness. Simply present with and open to what is happening now.
Gathering the attention onto the sensation of breathing. With curiosity following the breath as it rolls in and out.
Where can the breath be felt most vividly today?
The nose, back of throat, chest, or the belly?
When we find the anchor, gently centering our attention there.
And If the attention has wandered from the breath, perhaps making a note of where the mind has drifted off, and choosing to escort it back.
Making the breath the center, the focus.
And now, expanding the field of awareness to envelop our entire body, in stillness, breathing, being.
Becoming aware of sensations in the body.
The touch of the air on the skin, contact with the chair or cushion, the head balanced lightly on top of the spine.
Allowing into consciousness any, and all sensations in the body right here as we sit.
Being present with any sensations.
Opening space in awareness, perhaps to soften.
To allow whatever is here in our body now.
And when the mind wanders, which it surely will, because that is what minds do.
It does not mean that you are doing it wrong, not giving ourselves a hard time.
Just noticing and without judging. Gently, but firmly, bringing the awareness back to the sensations in the body.
And now, shifting the attention from breath to sounds.
So resting in hearing, without creating any distance between us and what is being heard.
Simply hearing, being the hearing right now, in this moment.
Not seeking sound, not striving, rather receiving whatever is featured in the soundscape.
My voice, your breathing, sounds from inside and outside.
Allowing the field of awareness to expand even further to include thought.
Allowing the field of awareness to expand even further to include thought, and the thought stream.
So naturally, thoughts find their way in, and perhaps inviting them now to center stage, as awareness can include the knowing of thought.
Not getting lost in the content of the thoughts.
Allowing thoughts to be in the foreground of awareness with sound, body sensations, and breath in the background.
Thoughts come, and go, flowing like clouds in the sky, moving through an open and spacious mind.
And sometimes, thoughts can carry an emotional charge, so naturally, feelings may arise.
So expanding even further now, for our awareness to hold the heart space and any emotions.
Noticing where inside the body certain emotions seem to live.
Investigating the echo, a residue they may leave.
Exploring the sensations.
Practicing allowing and softening.
And now, we are expanding our awareness to hold the breath, body, sounds, thoughts, emotions, all of it in this huge spaciousness, with no edges, no ending, no periphery, a space of open awareness.
Rather than choosing to focus on a particular anchor, now we let it all go, and just be in this vastness of space.
Simply sitting here, fully aware of whatever is presenting itself to us in each moment.
Opening up to a choice-less awareness, not seeking, or pursuing anything, no striving is involved.
If sound arises, allowing sound to be the center of attention.
If body sensations arise, letting that be the center of attention, feeling it lingering and then eventually dissolving.
Until the next arising, which may be another body sensation. Or thought about the body sensation. Or an emotion.
Or we may notice that we get carried away in the stream of thinking, involving ourselves with the narrative, perhaps, judging the experience, planning for the future, or contemplating the past.
As we have learned, this is completely natural, once we become aware of the fact that we are lost in thoughts, we have a choice.
A choice to not get attached to it, letting it go, allowing it do dissolve just like sounds.
Simply dwelling in an open awareness, attending to whatever arises.
Awareness functions as an open, empty, spacious mirror, empty and full, able to contain anything and needing nothing to complete itself.
Experiencing all of it.
Sitting, breathing, feeling, hearing, knowing, thinking.
Resting in awareness now.
Being present with it all.
Being here now.
Being fully human.
So now, at a certain point, returning our attention to the body, sitting or lying here, feeling the sense of gravity, a heaviness, relaxation.
Connecting with the feet firmly planted on the floor. A grounding, to Mother Earth.
Inviting perhaps a lightly deeper breath. Following the rise and fall in the belly.
Perhaps congratulating yourself for making the time to attend to yourself, nourishing and caring is an act of self-love.
Being courageous to open to whatever may be true for you now, accepting it with a nonjudgmental attitude.
And as we bring this practice to a close, perhaps we can contemplate, how can we make space to access a wider, deeper, more open way of being in our life, in which you can see more clearly and make more conscious choices for health, well-being, and freedom?
Remembering that open spaciousness of heart and mind is available to you in any and every moment of your life.
Starting to move the body and stretch it in any way that feels good.
Inviting a sense of curious exploration.
The open awareness meditation is now complete.
Thank you for dwelling in the huge space of open awareness with me.
In the next MBSR session, we will be diving deep into a gentle, nurturing self-compassion mindfulness meditation.
See you in the next practice.
”So we are expanding our awareness to hold the breath, body, sounds, thoughts, emotions, all of it in this huge spaciousness, with no edges, no ending, no periphery, a space of open awareness.
Rather than choosing to focus on a particular anchor, now we let it all go, and be in this vastness of space.