25 Brief & Potent Awareness Training Techniques for Breaking Through to the Mysterious Realization

Chatrul Rinpoche, seated
on the skin of a tiger
who would probably prefer
to be somewhere else.

1. Look intently for a little while not at objects but at the space around objects. Do not objects suddenly now appear as if baselessly floating in naked space, free of any ideas about them? 

2. Hold a finger in front of your nose. Shut one eye, then the other. Doesn't your finger appear to be jumping back and forth? Which is the real position of the finger in space?

3. Rub the back of your head with one hand. Doesn't your hand seem imbued with Awareness, just as your scalp does? How is that possible, if it's an inch behind your brain?

4. Lie on the floor and roll your head from side to side, eyes shut. Where is Awareness (Mind)? At what instant can you see or feel it?

5. Nod your head up and down. Lean forward and back, intent on your awareness. Where is it? Does it move as your body moves?

6. Holding up a fly whisk. What is it? Don't call it a fly whisk, don't deny it's a fly whisk. Just — what is it?

7. Keep a log of your thinking mind. Jot down what you're thinking about from instant to instant. Note the spaces in between when you seem not to be thinking at all. Are these spaces more alive for you, or not?

8. Point out north and south, up and down, in empty space. Then point inward. What direction is that?

9. Find where your Seeing begins and ends. An inch inside? At the surface? Outside? Do the same with Hearing. Are the sounds inside you, or outside, or in-between?

10. Watch emotions change. Investigate if there is a difference between emotions and physical sensations. If there is, what is it?

11. Letting breathing settle naturally, is there a space between breathing in and breathing out? How big is this gap? Can you relax & just stay there for a little while? What happens to you when you do this?

12. Making mudras. Do your emotions change? Does your awareness Itself change?

13. Looking for the backdrop of all experiences. Where or in what do all your experiences & sensations appear?

14. Chasing yourself back through time. What is it that unifies your experiences of differing moments in time? Is it something external and material? Is it something inside you? What?

15. Using a mirror. Is what you see "in" the mirror "in" it or outside it? Where?

16. Studying desire. Look at yourself when you are in a state of intense longing or desire. What happens when you simply look at the feelings of longing, nostalgia, desire or whatnot with calm appreciation, like someone looking at a painting in a museum?

17. Using fear and being startled. Did your thinking stop? Try to experience the essence of “being startled” here and now.

18. Using the tanden. Sink mind into the “zero point” in the Hara. Does your awareness clarify?

19. Stopping the universe. Can you stop it right now?

20. Walking, using the frame of vision. Doesn't your field of vision subtly bounce up and down, side to side? What happens when you focus on this?

21. Lying down, being aware of prone posture. Isn't that strange?

22. Starry Sky Gazing Meditation. Let your gaze take in the whole star-strewn night sky at once without breaking it down into parts or thinking any thoughts about it.

23. Looking at objects. See that you are seeing only your own Seeing (mind) externalized in & as space, then broken down into objects by name-and-form thinking. Let it settle back into its original luminosity, resonance, spontaneity, purity, and instantaneousness. (The Bodhi-mandala)

24. Consider the essence of hatred, envy, desire, passion, joy, love, anger, resentment, &c. What is the common factor of all these?

25. Working with the posture of your body. Where does the stress involved in thinking painful or sad thoughts reside? Meet it with deep repose. Visualize the face of the Buddha. The relaxed shoulders and graceful line of the arms of the Buddha, sitting still like a great swordsman. Can you recreate this attitude of alert stillness right here now?

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