Odds are, you have already experienced Resting Awareness Meditation Technique (“Open Meditation”), even if you are new to meditation. You will have experienced it at those moments when you temporarily step outside of your usual way of looking at things. Those moments when you simply exist, without judgment, when you are being purely mindful.
Usually, as we go through life, we are caught up in our own way of looking at things. We are generally self-absorbed to a degree. Our perspective is usually altered by our emotions, our thoughts, and our beliefs. And so, we never truly look at the world for what it is. Instead, we see a view of reality that is distorted by our minds.
As you practice mindfulness you begin to cultivate a non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. And as you progress in meditation you will come to see a truer view of reality, one that is less distorted by thoughts, emotion, and beliefs.
Because you have been practicing mindfulness, you will start experiencing moments of Resting Awareness. These are moments when we simply perceive things for what they are, without judgment.
Resting Awareness is an effortless meditation. Indeed, it is very similar to the practice of “Effortless Presence”, found in yoga. This awareness could be either narrow or broad. You might be aware of your body and the sensations occurring in your body, along with your thoughts and emotions. You might be aware of sensory experience, of sights, sounds, feelings, scents, and tastes. Or you might be aware of your surroundings. Either way, it is an effortless awareness.
This “Resting Awareness” meditation is like consciousness on another level. It is a deep awareness of the present moment, or what Jon Kabat Zinn calls a “non-conceptual direct knowing of…aspects of human experience, beyond thinking, without separation or identification”.
Then again, as is done in Samatha Meditation, it could be that you are meditating on a particular object and you become effortlessly aware of the entire nature of that object.
Let me show you how to do Resting Awareness meditation technique. And then we will discuss the benefits.
How To Do Resting Awareness Meditation Technique
- Lie down comfortably on the ground. Make sure you have good posture and good spinal alignment. You might like to place your head on a soft pillow. You might also want to read my guide to meditating lying down.
- Allow your attention to come to the soundscape. Simply become aware of the sounds around you. It is a gentle awareness. Do not force yourself to focus. Instead, simply allow the sounds to enter your mind freely, coming and going, without attachment. Be the hearing. Allow your entire existence to simply be one with the sounds around you.
- Inevitably, thoughts will come to mind. That is just natural. Allow your thoughts to come and go freely, as they will. Do not attach to them. Do not attempt to repress them. Just let them come and go, and gently return your focus to the soundscape.
- When it feels natural to do so, allow your awareness to extend to the air around you. Be aware of the air brushing over your skin, around your face, and the air entering into your body as you breathe. And expand your awareness once more so you are aware of the sensations in your body. Again, do not cling to them or repress them, simply permit them to exist.
- You are currently meditating on the sounds around you, and the feelings in your body. Remember, it is a resting awareness meditation. Your mind is not active. You are simply allowing sounds and feelings to exist as they occur.
- Expand your field of awareness once more so you are aware of mental activity in the mind. Be aware of thoughts and feelings as they occur. Your mind is resting and you are allowing these thoughts and feelings to flow as they will. If momentary emotional currents arise, again, simply permit them to come and go as they will.
- Now take one more step. Be aware of all that is occurring within you and around you. Let your mind be boundless. Be aware of the infinity of space all around you. Let your mind be one with that space. There is no separation, no “You”, just existence. All is one.
The Wonderful Benefits of Resting Awareness Meditation Technique
I can honestly say that Resting Awareness meditation technique is one of my favorites. I love teaching it in my online meditation lessons. Because it is a simply wonderful relaxing meditation technique.
By resting the mind we step outside our usual mode of existence. We completely let go of the self. We experience the moment precisely as it is.
Do not be surprised if your breath becomes deep and slow during this resting awareness meditation. Indeed, one of the benefits of the method is that it slows the breathing rate down. This is a natural byproduct of relaxation.
And of course, we get the regular benefits of meditation too. We stimulate activity of the parasympathetic nervous system. We reduce amygdala activity. And we help both the mind and the body to heal.
But more than this, resting awareness meditation is simply a wonderfully enjoyable experience. It is ever so refreshing to simply stop and exist, to experience the moment precisely as it is.
Paul Harrison is a passionate meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison