Meditation on No Preferences
Carol Perry , March 2009
A guided meditation to bring insight into
how we construct dissatisfaction and suffering.
Settle into your meditation posture and become aware of
the body, so that you can observe the body responses when
you hear the words.
I have no preference for talking over silence.
Stay with what happens in the body as you receive these
I have no preference for alert over dull.
Stay with what happens in the body as you receive these
I have no preference for happy over sad.
Stay with the body as you receive these words.
I have no preference for calm over restlessness.
Stay with what happens in the body as you receive these
I have no preference for doubt over certainty.
Stay with body as you receive these words.
I understand that the basis for dissatisfaction and suffering
is a fixation on appearances.
I see that preferences are the condition of the self arising,
for where there are preferences there is the self that
holds the preference.
You can include any preferences that you a fixating upon
as an exploration of dissatisfaction and suffering.
printable Guided Meditation on No Preferences (24kb
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An Introduction to Meditating on Sound
(to be read prior to the meditation)
Our experience is informed by our sense doors. Putting
our attention onto the contact at a particular sense door
can be an interesting and calming way to meditate. It
can be one’s primary focus of meditation or one
of many points of interest that arise during a particular
This is one way of using sound as a focus for meditation.
I invite you to sit still somewhere and just listen. It
doesn’t matter how much noise you hear.
Just listen and notice what else happens. Just listen
and be with what this process brings up.
If you can’t just listen, what replaces or interferes
with listening? How does this change over time? What else
Where is the sound? It may be internal or external. Where
does it seem like the sound is being picked up?
Are there any preferences or movements of mind within
listening? Does the attention stay with sound or does
How does the body, mind or feelings respond to certain
sounds? Are certain sounds accompanied by visions, labels
or emotions? Does this change?
While listening is happening, is anything being missed?
These are some questions that you may ask yourself during
or after the sit, if you wish.
Sometimes, questions or interests arise during the sit.
Sometimes it is helpful to ask them of yourself after
Sometimes the act of listening can be relaxing, calming
or unifying for the heart-mind and points of interest
may not arise much at all.
Using Sound as a focus for meditation
(to be read during the meditation)
Construct your usual meditation posture. Check the base,
the points of contact. Belly, spine, shoulders, hands,
face. Ensure you feel balanced and at ease.
Take attention to the breath, or to a place of familiarity
or stillness in the body.
Once there is a sense of ease and being settled, open
the attention outward to sound.
Be there for all sounds.
Allow the sounds to be registered. One may focus on a
particular sound, or on an overlay of many. You may pick
up all sounds equally, or you may have preferences. There
may be responses to the sounds.
Images, labels and sensations in the body may arise. Feelings
or other responses may arise.
Open up to it all.
Just listen. And be with all that arises with listening.
The sound may be internal, external or a mix.
The attention may wander… and then after a time
Sounds may land on your attention, or attention may reach
out for sound.
There may be no sound... just listening.
Other occurrences may take over from sound.
Just be there, receiving.
After a time, move the attention back to the body or breath
or place of sitting. Open your eyes and be in the room
for a time before moving.
Reflect on the experience of being with sound.
printable Guided Meditation on Sound (24kb
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in Nature - Seeing with New Eyes
Bobbi Allan, Stillness in Action Retreats
(This meditation has been written by me, based on others’
meditations sourced from now-forgotten places)
In our daily lives our brain decodes patterns of experience
into concepts that in turn shape the nature of our perceptions.
Sensory data emerge up into our brain cortices’
lower levels and then are molded by secondary influences
from the upper cortical layers. The cortex seems to have
an innate push to sort, select and sequence bits of data
to make sense of what it is experiencing, moment by moment.
The concept of self is one such molding influence of this
sorting process. Under ‘normal’ conditions
we continue to see self as separate, as clearly defined.
But when these usual inputs and reinforcements of our
top-down concepts are undone (as in meditation practice,
or while being immersed in the natural world) we can begin
to see more clearly that we all share a fundamental connection
to each other, that we are all patterns of emergent life.
The Buddha refers to the ‘delusion of the separate
self’. Albert Einstein calls this sense of separation
an “optical delusion of human consciousness”
that imprisons us. He says “our task must be to
free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle
of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the
whole of nature in its beauty.”
We are born of nature. We come into the world as sensory
beings; the truth of our senses is not overlaid with stories
and concepts. Our most trustable truths are our immediate
sensory experiences. The time you will spend in nature
during this retreat will help you return to the simplicity
of sensory ways of thinking and relating with which you
were born. Engaging with our senses in nature is a very
immediate way to connect with the truth of immediate experience.
Begin by walking around the environment in a relaxed and
open way until some place or aspect of the natural world
attracts you. You may feel as though, by opening to following
what attracts you, you are being ‘led’ to
a place. This is simply your intuitive senses coming more
to the foreground than your ‘rational’ brain.
Engaging with the Senses
Once you have found 'your place' sit of stand or walk
around slowly in that place. Allow your senses to fully
engage with the place.
What can you feel - reach out and touch some things -
do they feel soft or hard, sharp and spiky or smooth......or......?
How does you body respond to the different touches? Is
your sense of touch heightened if you close your eyes?
(Make sure it is safe to close your eyes.)
Look around - what colours can you see.....what shapes
and patterns? How does your body respond to each different
thing you see?
Listen - what sounds can you hear......are they high pitched
or low, far or near, rhythmic or staccato, or......? How
does your body respond to each sound?
What can you smell - how would you describe each scent?
How does your body respond to each different scent?
Is there anything in this place you can safely taste?
Be cautious - many plants are poisonous to humans - don't
taste anything unless you are quite certain it is safe
to put in your mouth. If you do taste something, what
sensations are there in your mouth, where in your mouth
do you taste this particular taste....how does your body
respond to it?
Remember that the oxygen you are breathing in is produced
by the trees and plants around you, and that the carbon
dioxide you are breathing out is being breathed in by
the trees and plants. Spend some time in the mutual flow
of breath exchange.
Now begin to notice movement. At first you might notice
the movement of trees, bushes and grasses in the wind.
If you are near water, you will notice the movement of
Notice the changing patterns in those movements, the responsive
to the wind, to the flow of water.
Now widen your awareness to include the shape of the landscape
around you. Notice the shape of hills, the indents of
the gullies and creek beds. They were not always this
shape. They have been moving, dancing with wind, water
and sunlight for millennia - changing shapes and patterns
in response to upheavals deep in the earth, to extremes
of hot and cold, to the rise and fall of sea levels, to
shifting weather patterns. Probably where you are sitting
now was once under water, or may have been part of a mountain
range, or once covered in ice.
The shape of the land has been influencing the weather
patterns and flow of water, which in turn determine where
the trees will grow tallest and thickest, where the grass
will be lush or sparse, where animals and humans will
build their houses.
Bring your awareness back to the movement around you -
the wind in the trees and grass, perhaps the flow of water.
Notice the movement of light, the shortening or lengthening
of the shadows, or the changing light as clouds cross
the sky. You may also notice the movement of birds or
insects or other animals. Perhaps your clothes or hair
are moving in the wind. Notice movement inside yourself
- your heartbeat, small movements of your body.
Perhaps you may begin to make small deliberate movements,
in response to the movements in and around you. Perhaps
you will find yourself dancing.
Perhaps you will simply continue to sit still, dancing
invisibly with life.
Playing with Perspective
Try playing with shifting your perspective. Focus on an
object at eye height, about five to ten meters in front
of you – perhaps a tree trunk or a leaf. For a minute
or so, use a sharp focus so the object is in the foreground
and other things are background. Then shift focus so that
the ‘background’ is the focus and the ‘object’
less important. After a while, look around again with
a ‘sharp focus’, honing in on specific things,
as though you were ‘spotlighting’ them. Then
shift again, to a ‘soft focus’, getting an
impression of the whole scene.
(You might consider what sort of ‘gaze’ one
uses most in life and in meditation. Gently recall something
you experienced in one of your (indoor) sitting meditations.
Then consciously ask yourself “What else was happening?
What else was around the edges, or in the back-ground?”
In meditation play with ‘sharp’ and ‘soft’
focus in exploring thoughts. If you find yourself intently
focused on a particular experience – you might gently
enquire, “What else is happening?” Consider
that when an experienced tracker is tracking an animal
or plant they are mainly using soft focus. Sharp focus
and soft focus both have their place. Experiment with
both so you can skillfully use both.)
Big Sky Seeing – this works best
if you have an expansive view to some distance
Let your gaze become very soft and somewhat unfocused.
Allow the edges of your vision to extend sideways, upward
and downward, so that you are taking in as much of the
scene around you as possible - as though you have vista-vision.
Remember to let the gaze be unfocused, the eyes soft and
Now begin to imagine that conscious awareness is actually
infusing and filling the entire area that you are seeing.
The space of pure, clear knowing has expanded in all directions
to become as large as the expanse of your vision.
After holding that impression for a few minutes, begin
to sense that conscious awareness also exists behind,
above and beneath you, beyond the area of your vision.
Conscious awareness is now encompassing the space all
around you. Conscious awareness has become identical with
that space, receiving and knowing all objects and phenomena
that appear and disappear within its expanse.
Within this space you can feel your body and breath, and
be aware of thoughts or sounds - all of it arising in
this big space of conscious awareness. Any movement -
inside you or outside of you - any sound - inside you
or outside of you - is taking place within the Big Sky
of mind. Is there a distinction between ‘inside’
What is it?
If not intensified sky,
hurled through with birds
and deep with the winds of homecoming.
printable Guided Meditation in Sound (44kb
top of page
of the rising and falling of the breath
Listen to these instructions and use them to help develop
mindfulness of the movement of the breath
Loosen up any tight clothing or other constrictions
Allow yourself to be as comfortable as you can either
lying face up or preferably sitting on a chair or cushion.
When you sit ensure that your back, neck and head is upright
and straight in a dignified and relaxed posture.
Make the resolve that, for the next 20 or so minutes,
you will endeavour not to fidget or move unnecessarily.
Also make the resolve that for the period of this exercise
you will not be too concerned about future goals or anything
other than being here now and bringing your attention
to the primary object of your attention.
If you wish you can close your eyes or if they remain
open let their focus be diffuse. Begin by bringing attention
to your body as a whole, lying or sitting there and be
with your body and its physical sensations. As you bring
attention to your body let go of tightness and allow physical
relaxation to occur. If you wish, you can briefly let
awareness scan throughout your body finding tension and
letting it go. You can also be aware of your breath in
general and with every out breath it is as if your body
relaxes and lets go of tension. With every out breath
your body seems to become more and more relaxed yet, if
you are sitting, you are able to maintain a dignified
and upright posture.
As you let go of tension it is as if awareness of bodily
experience becomes clearer and sharper. As your awareness
becomes clearer notice the movement of your breath in
your body. As best you can, be aware of the movement as
physical sensations in your abdomen. If you can’t
feel the movement in your abdomen be attentive to the
movement in your chest. You may also feel the movement
in both your chest and your abdomen.
Do not force your focus, rather let your mind be open
and sensitive to what is happening. As you relax into
awareness your mind naturally becomes more focused or
concentrated. The breath is not forced in any way neither
purposely slowing it down nor hastening it up. Allow the
breath to be natural. It may be short, or long, shallow
or deep. Whatever the nature of the breath, acknowledge
it as it is and let it be. Let your self be accepting
of the breath as it is without judgement that it should
be other than the way that it is.
Do not be concerned if thoughts, emotions, sounds or other
experiences pull your attention away from your breath.
Acknowledge these experiences let them be and let them
pass away. Do not struggle with anything. When they pass
away merely bring awareness back to the breath. Let the
breath be your anchor. If it seems as if many experiences
are occurring at once allow your mind to be open and receptive.
However, let the movement of the breath in your chest
and or abdomen be your primary focus and other experiences
be on the periphery of your open awareness. Sharpen your
aim and as best you can be notice the entire process of
the breath. Paying steady attention to the beginning middle
and end of the rising movement and the beginning middle
and end of the falling movement.
As the abdomen rises you can note or say to your self
“rising”.. As the abdomen falls you can note
“falling”. If there seems to be gaps in the
breath at the beginning or end of each movement bring
your knowing awareness attention to a touch point, such
as the sensations in your buttocks or legs as they connect
with the base of your cushion or chair. Be with those
experiences in open and concentrated manner, and note
these experiences according. You could note “touching”
“touching” or “pressure” “pressure”
or whatever seems to be appropriate.
Let your attention be consistent on a moment to moment
basis staying and being with each and every subtle nuance
with a curious and open mind. Sometimes it may feel as
if the breath is just a flutter far off in the distance.
Other times it may feel as if the changing sensations
are up close and like an enormous drum skin stretching
backwards and forwards. The sensations may be tight and
hard or they may be long and stretching. Whatever the
experience allow it to be… with an open, curious,
kind and accepting mind. Stay with, meet and join these
experiences directly and powerfully. As you meet and greet
the experience of you breath in an open and accepting
manner is as if the experience of the breath and the knowing
of the breath are not separate. The knowing or the breath
and the experience of the breath are one. There is only
now and this experience.
There is just one breath at a time. If your mind goes
of into the future or back into the past notice and if
you want you can note it as “thinking thinking”
or “remembering remembering” and then come
back to NOW. Being connected and anchored with one breath
at a time.
Just one breath, here now.
Rising falling rising falling.
Being here, being whole with the breath. Just one breath
at a time, with an open yet a focused mind joining and
connecting mind and body.
Just this. Here now. Being with the breath your body may
become relaxed your mind may become very peaceful. Your
mind and body can become connected and integrated. Your
experience is whole, here and now.
You may choose to continue being present with your breath
or you may now choose to change your posture and go about
your daily activities.
If you choose to go about your daily activities do so
attentively and with clear comprehension of the purpose
and suitability of your actions. Be with and participate
with your daily activities with graceful commitment. At
times throughout the day or in the future you can be mindful
of your breath. In this way mindfulness of breath can
be an anchor back to the present moment and the freedom
that can be found here and now. Slowly open your eyes,
if they are closed, stretch your body and participate
with the world in a wise and mindful manner.
printable Mindfulness of the rising and falling of the
breath (28kb MSWord.doc)
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Meditation on Three Kinds of Joy
In the Buddhist teachings there are three kinds of Joy.
These can be cultivated to bring a deeper sense of joy
to one’s life.
Pamojja is a gladness or delight which arises when we
cultivate wholesome mind states such as generosity, love,
compassion, sincerity, kindness and leading an ethical
life. This kind of joy also arises when we receive something
unexpected such as a gift or some type of award or recognition.
This type of joy is likened to a breeze blowing across
a lake causing gentle ripples.
Sukkha is a joy arises from within. It is a happiness
that comes from concentration and calmness of mind. It
is often experienced in meditation retreats or as a spontaneous
arising of happiness. The simile that is used to describe
sukkha is that of an artesian spring where the underground
water bubbles up from deep within and overflows into a
deep well or pond.
Mudita is one of the Four Divine Abodes and as such is
boundless. It is the happiness and joy we feel for the
success of others.
This guided meditation uses imagery to evoke past situations
where you have experienced a situation that brings joy.
Remembering can be as potent as the actual experience.
To begin, place the attention on the breath. Stay with
each breath fully and completely until you feel calm and
settled then read or have someone read these meditations
to you. Inhabit each one fully and deeply. Allow a few
minutes of calm focussed concentration on the breath between
Meditations on Opening to Joy
Let a time come into your awareness when you received
a gift you were delighted to get but had not expected.
It may have been your birthday or some other occasion.
Remember how you felt: happiness, delight, joy or another
positive feeling. Let your being fill with these remembered
Bring to mind a time when you were generous. Perhaps it
was a gift to a friend or to someone in need, to a charity,
a gift of money, time, or friendship, or a smile to someone.
The Buddha said take gladness and inspiration from the
fact of your generosity. Notice the joy you felt, the
happiness you experienced. Notice the feeling of well-being.
Remember a time when you were kind to someone, an act
of kindness. Inhabit that experience. Feel the joy in
that experience, in that act of kindness. Feel the joy
Now remember a time when you had actually experienced
letting go of something you had been holding on to. It
could be a situation, a person, or an opinion or view.
Something you actually let go of. Perhaps you can experience
the sense of relief that followed this letting go. And
then the happiness that followed, the freedom you felt.
Now let a time into your awareness of an insight you have
had. It could be an insight into an aspect of oneself
or into the teachings of the Dharma, perhaps during a
retreat or after a retreat or in daily life. Something
you saw clearly, with different eyes. And let yourself
connect again with the joy and happiness that came with
that insight and clarity.
Reflect on a person or situation in your life that you
are grateful for. Invite an image of that person or situation
into your awareness. Fully experience this gratitude in
your heart and in your body and mind. Feel the energy
Now open to a time when you felt joy in the success of
a friend or family member. Remember how wonderful you
felt for your friend. How you shared their delight in
their own happiness. Notice the feelings of joy within
And lastly, open to an appreciation of your life with
all its joys and sorrows. Let whatever arises be there.
There is room for everything in your life. Allow yourself
to experience feelings of gratitude towards yourself for
all that you have done in your life for both yourself
and others. Allow this appreciation to arise and be here.
I invite you to experience gratitude for all your successes
and for all your failures which are just stepping stones
to greater wisdom and compassion. And now allow yourself
to open to and feel love and gratitude to others who have
helped you on your journey.
To end this meditation slowly return to the breath and
sit quietly for awhile being aware of the inbreath and
printable Guided Meditation on Three Joys (32kb
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