“Those who flow as life flows know they need no other force”
One skill to rule them all
Imagine that you are in a state of attentive awareness. You feel attuned, engaged, present, connected and curious. Your are totally immersed in what you are doing, without attachment to the outcome. Each moment flows seamlessly into the next.
Can you think of any activity that does not benefit from being in this state?
Meditation strengthens our innate capacity for attention regulation, receptivity, cognitive flexibility, perspective taking, embodiment, emotional regulation, relaxation, kindness… and the list goes on. These qualities can be applied to any domain, which is why the benefits of meditation can be demonstrated in such a wide range of areas.
📖 Meditation as a “meta-skill”
Beyond skill development
Useful and important as they are, these qualities can be seen as side effects of meditation. Ultimately, meditation is beyond skill development. It takes us on a journey of self discovery and awakening to our true identity. The more we embody and live from this realisation, the more we express these natural qualities.
📖 The process of self discovery
Framing the frameless
Here is a paradox: meditation is not an activity. In fact, it is the absence of activity – a shift from doing to Being.
As with anything, results come with practice. Meditation can be described as the practice letting go of anything that gets in the way of relaxing into our Being. A meditation technique – like breath awareness – is a subtle “doing” to help us detach from more distractive and hindering habits of the mind. It is like using a small stick to remove a larger stick.
All techniques ultimately point beyond themselves. Just like a good map helps us navigate through unknown territory, a meditation practice can support our process of self discovery. But we should be careful not to confuse the map for the actual terrain. As they say in Zen, the teaching is like a finger pointing to the moon. If we stare at the finger, we miss the point. The finger is meant to turn our attention so we can discover the moon for ourselves.
Frames are pointers; they introduce practices designed to support the process of self discovery. Their aim is to help us realise that which is beyond frames.
The practice of Frameless Meditation
The practice of Frameless Meditation rests on 4 pillars:
The first pillar is about developing a meditative awareness. The following elements are needed for a balanced meditation practice (see “An introduction to meditation” for more information):
- Focused attention (shamatha) – attention regulation – the capacity to zoom in and really be aware of our experience (inner and outer) with clarity and non-reactivity. This practice is like developing a steady microscope.
- Open awareness (vipashyana) – open monitoring – 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. It is like learning to zoom out and seeing the bigger picture.
- Nondual awareness – awareness of awareness – 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).
- Kind intentions – contemplation and cultivation of kindness and compassion – strengthening 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.
2. ENERGY WORK & MOVEMENT
Health in body, mind and spirit in based in QI. The second pillar incorporates movement and the cultivation of the energy body. Mindful movement helps to integrate our practice by engaging both hemispheres. The practice of qigong and neigong takes this further through the cultivation of energy and awareness.
3. COACHING & CONSCIOUS CONNECTION
The third pillar works with self discovery on a personal level. Frameless Meditation is inspired by Zen Coaching, making use of techniques such as Inquiry, Non-Violent Communication, Internal Family Systems, Somatic Experiencing, and Focusing. Deep down, we already know the answer. Zen Coaching is a path of self-connection and remembrance. It is based on the insight that what we are searching for is who we are – and we (re)discover it by returning to our Self.
4. NATURE IMMERSION
When we forget our connection with nature, we disconnect from our source and create separation and isolation. The forth pillar rests on a love for nature and a recognition of its profoundly healing effects. Shinrin yoku (“forest bathing”) combines mindfulness with nature to awaken a sense of wonder and remembrance of our interconnectedness.
Frameless Meditation draws from a range of wisdom traditions. The approach is firmly rooted in mindfulness and vipassana. It is also inspired by zen/chan and vajrayana Buddhism, as well as tantrism and Daoist energy work.
Some keys to the process of self discovery are found outside of traditional spiritual paths. We all have psychological bagage*. Some we may not be aware of. Some we may ignore. Some we may try to transcend using spirituality (a common phenomena known as spiritual bypassing). As long as these psychological and emotional blockages remain unresolved, they tend to show up as obstacles on the path**. To deal with this issue, Frameless Meditation works with contemporary approaches such as Zen Coaching***.
We are all beginners
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few”
― Shunryu Suzuki
We are all students of life. I am sharing the teachings and practices that have helped me on my path with the intention to help make the process of self discovery easily accessible.
I am committed to making the Frames and practices as truthful and holistic as I possibly can. I sincerely hope that they will be of benefit to you!
* Therapy may be a helpful complement to the practice of meditation. Psychological interventions can help us deal effectively with suppressed emotions, somatic blockages, the role of trauma and unconscious conditioning.
** Ultimately, these blockages show us what we need to work through (“the obstacle is the path”).
*** Frameless Meditation is not therapy. The point is that psychological healing cannot be fully separated from spiritual work (“the obstacle is the path”).