Just like a telescope enables us to observe the cosmos, meditation practice is like developing an inner telescope – what we might call a “psychotechnology” – in order to explore deep truths about our inner universe and its relation to the outer world.

To continue this metaphor, when Galileo Galilee observed the night sky over 400 years ago, the telescope enabled him to make discoveries that would have otherwise been impossible.

But developing the technology is not enough; it is also about how we use it. Galileo applied scientific principles and trusted his empirical findings. Similarly, meditation practice relies on first principle thinking – trusting our own direct experience over beliefs and authorities. We also apply certain attitudes in our process of discovery, such as curiosity and non-judging.

When we put these 3 together (instrument, principles and attitudes), that’s when the magic happens. When we practice meditation in this way, we start seeing through old beliefs, narratives, projections and self-deception. Just as astronomy woke us up to a vast cosmos, meditation can help us wake up to our true nature and the reality of our inter-connectedness.

In addition to opening up to new discoveries, our meditation practice needs to be integrated. Just like the science of astronomy has real implications here on earth, the practice of meditation provides real benefits in the way we lead our lives and relate to others.

One skill to rule them all

I like to view meditation as the cultivation of “meta skills”. In other words, meditation helps us develop innate capacities that are crucial regardless of the specific skill that we want to learn or excel at.

As an example, having control over our attention is of central importance whether we are doing martial arts, writing, programming, gardening, or engaging in a conversation with a friend. And I would argue that these type of meta skills are becoming increasingly important in our fast moving world. More than ever, we need to develop agency and resilience to be able to respond to the ever-changing demands.

By learning to meditate, we are:

  1. Training our attention and strengthening our agency
  2. Opening up to insights and deep understanding of ourselves and our relationship to the world
  3. Developing equanimity and ability to act with more intention
  4. Developing a natural capacity for compassion and a sense of connection

Putting a Frame around the Frameless

At a deeper level, meditation is not a method for acquiring new skills or excelling at specific activities. It is more than concentration and stress reduction. Meditation is a process of self discovery and self transcendence. So we can look at all these benefits – increased focus, well being, stress reduction, emotional regulation – as side effects of this deeper process.

Ultimately, true meditation is beyond any technique of framework. And yet we need practices and skills in order to rewire our brains and build new habits of effortless focus and compassionate care. This is the role of meditation techniques.

Styles of meditation

Frameless Meditation aims to provide a holistic set of meditation practices. They generally fall into one of these these four categories:

    The first pillar is attention regulation – the capacity to zoom in and really be aware of our experience (inner and outer clarity) without reactivity. This practice is like developing a steady microscope.
    The second pillar is open monitoring – zooming out and seeing the bigger picture. It refers to the capacity to witness and remain equanimous in the midst of changing experience. This practice builds resilience and leads to insight into the universal nature of phenomena.
    The third pillar is what we might call awareness of awareness. This is the capacity to withdraw from the content of awareness (what we are aware of) and allow awareness to become aware of itself. This is a subtle practice that enables us to rest in the formless and invite the dance of form (sometimes referred to as nondual awareness).
    The forth pillar is the cultivation of kind intentions. Through intentions, inquiry and contemplation, we strengthen our natural capacity for compassion and empathy. By bringing these intentions and qualities into our meditation practice, we create new ways of relating to ourselves and others.

A practical technique for the cultivation of insight

A powerful method for training awareness is what is known as Vipassanā, or “insight meditation. This is a Buddhist meditation tradition that underlies what is commonly referred to as “mindfulness meditation”. It is specifically designed to help us discover fundamental insights about the nature of our mind. Insights that ultimately liberates the mind from patterns that cause suffering and that gets us in touch with our true Self.

Zen has the same goal. Although this ultimate goal may sound lofty or vague, the methods are very practical. The basic meditation technique is both simple and profound. Use the resources below to start developing your inner telescope and meta skills!

A practice that integrates all 4 of the pillars of meditation:

Free guided meditations:

Back to all frames:

Back to Frames