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What Practice Would I Recommend?

First and foremost, I would say follow your own light—trust your own sense of what opens things up and what just amplifies the confusion. Everyone is unique, each moment is unique, and no one else knows what you need. In my experience, life always gives us exactly what we need—including the difficulties and apparent setbacks. Everything that shows up is part of your unique path. You can't get it wrong.

What I would suggest, whenever it invites you, is to simply give open, innocent attention to the bare actuality of present experiencing – hearing sounds, feeling sensations, seeing shapes and colors – just this bare actuality that is here before, during and after the thought commentary about it.

When I speak of present experiencing, I’m not pointing to some past or future “event” that has been artificially carved out of the flowing whole and then categorized as good, bad, enlightened, unenlightened, and so on. “Experiences,” in that sense of the word, are like nouns—objects removed from the whole, events with a beginning and an end. “Experiencing,” on the other hand, as I’m using it, is a verb—it has no beginning or end, it is only NOW. So, I’m not pointing to seeking, collecting or evaluating certain types of experiences. I’m talking about the bare suchness of THIS, right here, right now—ever-changing while never departing from this present immediacy.

Notice that this radiant presence or present experiencing is seamless—there is infinite variation but no separation. It is all an ever-changing appearance in and of consciousness, like waves in the ocean. Feel into the sense of presence itself, the aliveness of being. Feel the spacious openness of the awareness beholding it all, and notice that awareness is like unconditional love—it has space for everything to be just as it is. Notice that awareness is inseparable from what appears. We have all these different words that seem to create different things, but the bare actuality is seamless and boundless. Notice this.

Notice the thoughts that pop up and the stories they spin, and let them go. Instead of resisting any troubling emotions or moods, is it possible to be curious about the mix of thoughts and sensations that make them up and to simply experience them as bare sensation without labels or storylines? Nothing needs to be regarded as a distraction or a problem. Everything is included in this indivisible presence.

Notice that you never leave or experience anything outside of Here-Now, this present immediacy. There is always just THIS, present experiencing or aware presence, this one bottomless moment, exactly as it is—always changing shape, but always right here, right now. Notice that any conceptual formulation or explanation of THIS is a kind of mental overlay. The word “water" is not water. This may sound obvious, but it gets more and more subtle because our concepts are so pervasive and so easily mistaken for reality. Explore this.

Instead of trying to think your way to clarity or awakening, keep turning the attention—in a relaxed, effortless, enjoyable kind of way, not a heavy-handed, result-oriented way—to the bare actuality of this aware presence that you are and that everything is—hearing sounds, seeing shapes and colors, feeling the breathing and other sensations in the body—without labeling it or trying to explain or make sense of it, without trying to control it or get something out of it. Just simply enjoying what is, just as it is.

This simple practice (or exploration, or way of being) is available anywhere at any time – it requires no special posture or location – you can be sitting still or moving, on a meditation cushion or riding on the city bus – it’s always just THIS, right here, right now.

-- copyright Joan Tollifson 2022 --

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