The Practice Menu
Experiential Meditation: The Mirror and the Reflection
If this or any other video of mine is grokked, understand that it will be Awakeness Itself that groks it.
An imaginary character cannot grok anything!
I posted this video about three years ago and got a lot of positive mail on it. I still do.
I’m reposting it because this teaching is growing rapidly and I don’t want relative newcomers to miss it.
NOTE 1: If you are not watching my videos or listening to my podcasts, then you are missing out on half or more of what this teaching is offering for free. Do consider it. And if you want to see this teaching grow yet further, give the video a “Like” vote. YouTube sees all that, and the more “Likes” a video gets, the more it will be suggested elsewhere, thus expanding its viewership.
NOTE 2: This post, while primarily aimed at those in post-awakening, can be taken to heart by those in pre-awakening as well. It is a very meaty post.
While neither time nor effort is required to awaken or to clear, I notice that most people who actually do awaken and clear have employed a lot of both. Even most people who appear to wake up suddenly with me never got to me until after they had already tried a host of other things, often over the course of decades. Awakening is the invitation, not the dance.
Don’t worry about who’s doing it, and why it doesn’t make any sense from a certain point of view. Who cares? It works.
The holidays tend to at least temporarily grab our focus. There are a lot of lights and colors, activity and anticipation, wishes and fears. Perhaps we tend to get anxious or depressed at this time of year. One way or the other, few of us are unaffected by the cyclical drama of the first days of winter.
Humans are social beings, and society is constantly conditioning us. We, in turn, are conditioning, affecting everyone and everything around us in a more direct and powerful way than most of us imagine. We turn our backs on our spiritual path to our own peril. This thing isn’t offered to everybody. And typically it doesn’t stay where it’s not regularly welcomed.
I was reading something by Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi this morning. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj is my guru, and Ramana is my spiritual godfather. They are both excellent dispensers of sound advice. And the primary advice both of them give us over and over and over again is, “Wake up!”
If you want to fix the world, first wake up and find out if it really needs fixing. If you want to relieve the world’s suffering, first wake up and find out if there really is suffering. And on and on and on. Don’t point your finger at what needs changing outside; turn your attention around and see what’s not changing inside.
Waking up is one thing, and clearing up is another. Waking up is the invitation to the dance, but the real dance is abidance and embodiment. When Ramana and Maharaj tell us to “wake up,” they are really telling us to wake up and follow up. Ramana did most of his following up in solitude and silence. That wasn’t my situation—and I bet it’s not yours either, if you’re reading this.
That wasn’t Nisargadatta Maharaj’s situation either, although he tried to make it so. He thought he should renounce the world, wander the forests, wake up, and then wander the forests some more. He left his family and did just that for awhile.
However, a fellow pilgrim encouraged Maharaj to go back to his own story and inhabit it.. That’s what Maharaj did—he went back to selling cheap cigarettes and corrupting the health of his neighbors. Go figure.
He’d made the wise, if unromantic decision to renounce his thoughts instead of the world. He turned his attention onto his attention—what he called “focusing on the I Am,” and woke up in three years flat. It took me twenty-four, but Maharaj had a much keener focus than I did. He wasn’t drunk.
Clearing up is the process whereby Awakeness begins to embody us, not the other way around. It isn’t about clearing a non-existent Fred up, it’s about clearing the patterns of Fredness out. And to clear our character out of a given unit takes real dedication. It’s not a “paying your dues” situation, or about earning anything. The truth is far more direct and practical than either of those. Here it is:
In order to stabilize, to move into real abidance, your attention has to pay a lot of attention to your attention.
It worked for Maharaj. It worked for me. Does it sound crazy? Doesn’t matter. It’s still what you gotta do.
You say there’s no one there to do it? Fine. Get the thing that feels like you to help You. Get the unit to do things it’s not keen on doing. See the rub already?
Everyone wants to wake up, but I find that very few truly want to clear up. I was the same way—I get it.
When I first joined AA, after I had been around for maybe two or three months, I felt like everyone should be treating a fount of wisdom like me as if I were five years sober. Was I not the smartest guy in the room, regardless of the room I was in? So why should a smart and special guy like me need to wade through years of this lower-level nonsense in order to get a little respect around this joint?
A year or two down the road, my approach to spirituality would be much the same. This is the advantage of being a unique character—you don’t have to do the stuff every one else has to do in order to get what everybody else is trying to get. Good luck with that.
And just so you know, as a teacher I don’t talk to anyone who isn’t smart. What we’re doing is a form of jnana yoga, the yoga of wisdom, and most people are simply not drawn to it. It’s intimidating for everyone who doesn’t find it fascinating. Really, really smart people are the norm here.
After I woke up, I didn’t want to clear, I wanted to be clear. I wanted to graduate before going through school. And heck, why should a special guy like me have to do any sort of practices in order to (apparently) achieve greater clarity and stability? Didn’t the world owe me at least that? Weren’t practices passé anyway?
I went shopping until I found me a teacher who said I needn’t bother with any of that stuff. And so I didn’t do any of it. And I went backward. Fast. I went backward until I got so depressed that I was forced into Plan B, which was ordinary people’s Plan A!
I once again began to read, to meditate, to at least try to be a little mindful of the moment and the unit’s activities within it. I confess that I prayed, and I wasn’t injured by it. And everything turned around. I only report my experience here; yours could be quite different. Or not.
Ramana’s message this morning, and Nisargadatta’s once I got to him, were the same. Commitment means time. Not just “quality time,” but time-time, clock time, the employment of consistency and duration. If you’ve had an awakening experience and you’re not doing any sort of practice, the odds are extremely high that you’re moving backward (re-identifying with the body), while ego is telling you that you’re doing great.
Egos are good at that. And I’ve never yet met an ego that wouldn’t lie to get what it wanted.
Since the ego’s false analysis means you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do when you don’t want to do it, it tends to be where we cast our vote. As a general rule, that won’t work. I know there could be exceptions to this rule, just let me state that I’ve never met one, and that my experience extends to include a long list of spiritual teachers I’ve talked to over the years.
Those of you who are employing time and consistency paying attention to attention will see surprising calm and clarity start to show up in your actions and reactions, regardless of what your thinking is doing. It can’t not; that’s the law. It’s a dream law, but it’s a dream awakening of a dream character, so what the heck. I’m only interested in what works, not the why of it.
Speaking of thinking, the mind can be slow in coming around to this new view of the world and the One who’s viewing it. That’s been the case for me. Crazy thoughts still show up in my head, but only every day. It used to be every minute—that’s a lot of progress for a guy like me. And you know what? I could not care less about crazy thoughts. I don’t feed them with the food of my precious attention, and pretty soon they wander off to bother someone else. Someone who’s not alert.
They can fly in, but they can’t roost here, because I don’t believe them. I don’t trust them. These days I don’t even really listen to them, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to weasel in. That’s why, after all these years of clearing, I still do practices.
Frankly, most of what I do now takes place in one-on-one and group sessions as part of this teaching; that’s a constant clearing practice for me. I not only don’t do all of these every day, but whole days pass where I don’t do any of them. There has been a fundamental change here, and things are not as they once were.
For students, I recommend that they choose from the Practice Menu below, find out what they like, and then go for broke. Most people will probably use two or three, but they need to make one of them their Accountability Practice. What I mean by that is that when we find ourselves not doing our priority practice, we don’t lie to ourselves about it. We start where we are, and move forward, never looking back.
- I still do The Sense of Being Meditation prior to going to sleep on a very regular basis. It’s a great way to end the day and my secret internal Efficiency Agent.
- I still use a mantra—the one in the Unborn, Unbound, Untouched video below–if I find myself confused.
- I still Stand As Awareness all day, every day.
- I still do different variations of Shifting Practice for fun and profit. It never, ever fails.
- I still do Attention Practice with clients, and occasionally on my own just to see what comes up. I have never once done this practice and had it fail to take me significantly deeper than I was when I started.
- I still do inquiry all day, every day. I don’t even have to think about it anymore; it just happens by itself; it’s a way of life. Here are a few you can try. You notice you have a strong opinion about something. Stop and ask yourself, “Is that true?” Another: “Who’s asking that?” Another: “Can you find the one who’s making that statement?” And on and on and on.
Byron Katie’s The Work is very skillful; I highly recommend it. I did a lot of it, but only for most days for five years. I’m not sure how reliably effective it is in actually waking people up, but it’s marvelous for clearing.
- I still read voraciously. I want to know what my guru, and godfather, and all the rest of my spiritual tribe had to say throughout history, and how they said it. Why should I reinvent the wheel when I can stand on the shoulder of my teachers? That’s what teachers are for.
And even if it’s self-serving for me to say this, it’s still true: Personally, so to speak, I never got stable until I hooked up with a real-live, face-to-face and heart-to-heart teacher. Other than one time, all I could afford was group work. Turned out it was enough. Who knows? Your mileage may vary.
- I listened to a ton of audio and watched a fair amount of video back in the day. I still listen to philosophy, spirituality, science, and history via The Great Courses through Audible.com. For those of you who feel drawn to employ this teaching, I strongly recommend your listening to my videos and podcasts. If not me, then find another teacher to give high priority to, give their work your attention and devotion, and listen to them until you get what you want—which is No-thing.
The less I know, the clearer I Am. Yes, on one hand I Am omniscient, but on the other I am clueless. Nothing can exist without My observing it, but I don’t know what it is that I’m looking at. I can tell you that I Am, but I don’t know what I Am. The Absolute Is everything, but ultimately It knows nothing. It doesn’t even know I Am.
There are numerous practices I can suggest for you, but the best one for you is the one you’ll actually do. When you look at the list below, please recognize that you’re looking at a menu, not a to-do list. You can always come back for another meal tomorrow.
As your attorney, let me remind you that it’s not against the law to watch any of these videos, or listen to any of these podcasts more than once. All podcasts are also available on iTunes.
These are the practice recordings I recommend you become familiar with. Good luck.
Should we practice or not? video
Should we practice or not? podcast
Practices for clearing-video
Practices for clearing-podcast
About The Sense of Being Meditation-video
About The Sense of Being Meditation-podcast
Falling Into the Sense of Being-video (30 minute instructive guided meditation.)
Falling Into the Sense of Being-podcast
Deep Attention Practice: The Experiential Heart Sutra-video
Deep Attention Practice: The Experiential Heart Sutra-podcast
Shifting Practice (long version)-video
Shifting Practice (long version)-podcast
Shifting Practice (short version)-video
Shifting Practice (short version)-podcast
Unborn, Unbound, Untouched–Day to Day Centering “Mantra”-video
Unborn, Unbound, Untouched–Day to Day Centering “Mantra”-podcast
Searching for Your Source: Instant Clarity-video
Searching for Your Source: Instant Clarity-podcast
Standing As Awareness–video
Standing As Awareness–podcast
December 10, 2015 @ 9:22 am
Thank you for this wonderful post
I choose the awakened state of being
You gave me the tools
Now it is time for the experience
December 10, 2015 @ 9:27 am
Hi, Carol. There’s the commitment. Good for you!
December 10, 2015 @ 4:08 pm
Thanks, Fred. This is very helpful how you’ve laid it all out.
In the past, when things have been going the ego’s way, practice was not a high priority. As things have been rough for the ego for awhile now, practice has become my lifeline, the focus and center of my day. It certainly pays off over time, with increasing clarity and wisdom. But it also is a great source of comfort in the moment. I love the expanding sense of warmth and connection that the practices bring.
December 10, 2015 @ 10:45 pm
I’ve been afraid to ask this question, but since you seem so brave and open I thought I’d ask it anyway. Do you have any advice for people like me who are on the path of awakening (for a long time) but are hindered by mental problems such as clinical depression or bipolar disorder? Does the mental and physical burden go away after awakening? Do people give up their medications? I’ve noticed that most teachers don’t address this issue which is one reason I ask for your take.
I’ve been following your posts for a while which I find very helpful, thanks so much for your work, I appreciate it.
December 11, 2015 @ 12:47 am
Hi, Steve. I’ve said in two posts that I have a mild case of bipolar disorder. It was worse when I was younger. It’s a unit thing. “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” said Jesus when the Roman’s demanded payment of taxes. He shocked by paying. It was a unit thing. Same with this. Give the unit what it needs.
I know other teachers say other things, and I think that’s just fine–for them. I noticed a long time ago that I didn’t get in trouble every time I drank or skipped my meds, but that every time I got into trouble I’d been drinking or skipping my meds. I don’t do the former, and I do do the latter.
I’ve been told I should be able to drink since awakening. I don’t believe it. The unit is alcoholic. No matter what’s happening in its head, that body is still alcoholic. It cost them nothing to say that, but it would cost me everything if they were wrong. We’re not trying to prove anything; we’re just trying to live in alignment with What Is. You do what’s right for you; it won’t stop you from waking up–I promise!
December 12, 2015 @ 4:24 pm
Thanks so much Fred for the thoughtful response. I’m glad to know that I’m not alone.
December 13, 2015 @ 10:34 pm
Fred’s reassuring has been an anti-depressant for me. I guess I got to the place where I could hear Me (in Fred) that I am the One that can recognize and offer that assurance, and then let my dream have a story of reassurance. That “order” seems to work, along with honoring the experience of craving reassurance (or maybe more accurately – just being told what to do!). I went through so many anti-depressants and periods of trying them, and then not, and then back, etc. Right now not. The last couple of years the time and effort I have given to a duality that is within non-duality actually feels like something is working. The pill thing just represented for me I guess that there was something other than me! There’s still totter right next to the teeter, but I don’t seem to be actually falling into the totter. For example, still EVERY day I don’t want to get out of bed, after 10-12 hours of sleep. But that story doesn’t go downhill, and just the “who is” can start now and I get confused at WHAT the question is about, and a sense of humor in its wake. As I notice a lot now, this article is synchronous with how I even wanted to respond to it, and you Steve. I don’t even see the time and energy (quite!) so heavy as the things they were before. More Arising on Its own, and less m a k i n g it happen! Love You Guys!
December 16, 2015 @ 11:57 pm
I love you, too, Mike. All is well. Promise.
December 16, 2015 @ 5:35 am
Hello Fred and Steve. Fred, I’ve just found you and want to thank you for the way your enjoyment makes this so enjoyable. You and Paul Hedderman are my favourite teachers. Yay for the ex-alcoholics!
Steve, I have trauma issues and it seems to be taking me longer to get this to stick, but I realise that the history of the unit needs to be attended to, while at the same time understanding that the trauma history is attached to the unit ,,, and I’m not *just* that. Be compassionate with what’s been given to you. I try to stand beside it and help it if I can, the same as I would anyone else.
December 16, 2015 @ 11:53 pm
Hi, Tina! Thanks for writing, and welcome aboard!
December 11, 2015 @ 12:33 am
Hey Fred! This is a great post. I like the bit, “These days I don’t ever really listen to the crazy thoughts, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to weasel their way in. That’s why, still to this day, I do practices.” Great piece of wisdom. Finding both self-enquiry and the attention practice to be really effective, I just need to stay consistent and stop identifying with the mind which has just been going in circles about everything. Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement.
December 11, 2015 @ 12:40 am
Hey, Dave! Good to hear from you! Carry on!
December 13, 2015 @ 10:12 pm
Busted again! Jeeze, Fred, you have a secret window in my house somewhere? Seems like it. OK, I’ll get back to The Work. And, humble thanks, too.
December 16, 2015 @ 11:57 pm
May 25, 2016 @ 10:42 am
Thanks…Just wanted to say that the shifting practice long version podcast links to “Deep Attention Practice: The Experiential Heart Sutra (Nonduality, Advaita, Oneness)”. Can you correct this?
Searching for your source podcast link (I had to search a little for this): http://s50.podbean.com/pb/11eec4298692b8719efd6a748ca6482c/5745b992/data2/fs177/794983/uploads/Searching_for_Your_SourcewwwMP3Fibercom1.mp3
May 25, 2016 @ 12:47 pm
I’ll check this. Thanks.
April 23, 2017 @ 9:15 pm
Just listened to the Bubble of Self Reflection and the Sense of Oscillation, Free Will and Separate Self.
April 23, 2017 @ 9:26 pm
Ah yes, I hope the lady from satsang watches the Bubble video.
May 9, 2017 @ 9:40 am
Just read this. It doesn’t take long for clarity to show up. I am so grateful for all the opportunities this website and your YouTube videos present for Oneness.p. The shift is so perceptible and the smile invades my entire being. Calm and tranquility settle in and I Am once more.
Thank you Fred.
Talking this Thursday. YAY!!
May 9, 2017 @ 9:49 am
Thank you, dear. I’ll see you Thursday!♥
Letter from the Field: Joyce Is Shining – Awakening Clarity Now by Fred Davis
May 9, 2017 @ 4:25 pm
[…] read this (The Practice Menu). It doesn’t take long for clarity to show up. I am so grateful for all the opportunities […]