The Lazy Person’s Guide to Meditation

The Lazy Person’s Guide to Meditation January 26, 2022

easy meditation
Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash

I’ve written about meditation many times at Wake Up Call. In fact, so many times that you might get the idea that I meditate on a regular basis. I do not—though I do go through phases where I meditate daily.

The issue with meditation? It’s hard to find time to do the recommended two 20-minute sessions a day. I know, there’s the old saying that if you can’t find 20 minutes to meditate, you need to set aside an hour. Call me lazy but I find myself frequently using my spare time elsewhere (including pursuing other spiritual activities).

That’s why I’d like to introduce you to 2 meditation-like techniques that only take a few minutes. You can do them whenever you feel like. And in both cases, they have a way of calming and centering you, offering a taste of the benefits of meditation without the work.

Both of these approaches are pulled from the Sam Harris Waking Up app, which also features a bevy of standard meditations. Each represents a way to get “out of your head,” giving the over-thinking, ego-driven mind a break. They also help us become aware that the world is vaster and more awe-inspiring than our little brains ever imagined.

First, a look at 2 different types of consciousness.

The English philosopher Alan Watts once talked about 2 types of consciousness. One Watt called “spotlight consciousness” which is the ego-based, “me” consciousness. It’s the focus most of us bring to daily life. The other type of consciousness he coined “floodlight consciousness.” It’s a state-of mind where we have a total awareness of our surroundings and the vastness of life.

Watts cites an example when we use both types of consciousness at once. When we’re driving a car and having a conversation with a passenger, we employ our spotlight consciousness to engage with the person next to us. But even though we are not thinking about it, we are also engaging our floodlight consciousness. We are totally aware of our surroundings as we safely motor down the road.

The two approaches that follow are all about engaging the spotlight form of consciousness, the total awareness that is always present, even when we don’t recognize it. As Loch Kelly says, to find this awareness, there’s no manager or thought process required. The awareness exists by itself, so it’s just a matter of getting the “small mind” out of the way and realizing it is there.

Lazy Technique #1: The Direct Approach

This mindfulness practice comes from Stephan Bodian who believes it is “more spontaneous and less laborious” than regular meditation. Author of the landmark 1998 book Meditation for Dummies, Bodian tells us that we already have the wisdom and compassion we’re looking for. We just need to locate it by parting the clouds that hide it and tuning into the awareness that is always present. When we do this, we arrive at a natural state of “inner spaciousness” with little or no effort on our part.”

  • As you begin this exercise, remember to have no expectations. There is no need to strive for anything. Just sit in a comfortable chair.

  • Take a few moments to shift from your focus from your thinking mind to your breath. Allow both your body and mind to settle in.

  • Sit quietly and let everything be as it is. Don’t follow your breathing, just let everything be.

  • Let any sense of boundaries dissolve between you and the world around you. Move beyond the mind and the body and rest in this open awareness. There’s no need to look for it, it is already there.

  • Consider the sky. It doesn’t have to do anything. This innate openness is your natural state.

  • Thoughts are like birds or clouds. They are just passing through. If you find yourself fixated on people or events, let them pass. Return to the field of awareness.

  • Let go of any judgements. There’s no doing, no manipulation, just rest. Sink back into the awareness that is the source of all that is.

  • When you are ready go, about your day, remembering this awareness that is always there.

Lazy Technique #2: Glimpsing

The glimpsing technique comes from Loch Kelly and represents another way to get out of the head and enjoy “the pervasive, spaciousness of awareness.” Kelly, a meditation teacher, says his goal is to get the ego to “let go, to semi-retire.” To do this, he focuses on our vision to help calm us and tamper down our internal monologue. (Sounds crazy, but it works.)

  • Sit comfortably and settle in, keeping your eyes open. Feel your body resting on a chair or cushion.

  • Focus your eyes on a specific object in the awareness field in front of you for a moment. Move to another object. Then to a third object.

  • Now, soften your gaze away from individual objects and with your eyes open, begin “receiving” the world around you. Keep your vision as open as possible, without focusing on anything.

  • Breathe. And smile.

  • Now, open the awareness to each side of your body, using your peripheral vision, on both the left and right. Become cognizant of the field of awareness that is on both sides of you.

  • Move this awareness into your head and then allow it to move through you. Recognize the field of awareness that is now behind your back.

  • There is no effort involved. The awareness exists by itself. Let go. Just be.

  • Stand up. Stretch. Move with this open-hearted presence. It is still with you and around you.

You can see a short video of the above exercise. Start at the 3:00 mark.

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