Mindfulness: The Awareness


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Chris Logan's picture

Hi All -.
Shinzen Young's Five Ways Manual
is really great!
I learned about it after signing up for Shinzen's blog
Also, I use Shinzen's the five online meditations from this Tricycle retreat.
First rate materials for opening doors to new worlds, in and out.
Many thanks to Shinzen Young, and to Tricycle!

raymondtovo's picture

Thanks Chris . Please don't make this a science , measurements are limited to the limitations of the self that is observing, full of error. Consciousness it is not measurable . The teachings are above and beyond the grey mater and will always be a mystery .Neuroplasticity is the latest catch phrase for what the brain does to grow and to adapt to changing situations.Synaptic transfer is chemistry. It is a form .........Emptiness.

Chris Logan's picture


raymondtovo's picture


Chris Logan's picture

Thanks again, Shinzen. Fine lectures/presentations and superb guided meditations. I hope Tricycle will keep these on for many years to come. I would like to be able to purchase a CD of all of your presentations and guided meditations for this retreat. I already have many of your meditation CDs from your web site. Thank you.

Chris Logan's picture

I wrote the above this morning and now I am annoyed, and really turned off to see that Tricycle (or who?) turned my words (guid** medi*****ns and medi*****n cd*) into a commercial advertising link for another person or entity. Tricycle, please reply to apologize and to confirm that you have corrected your procedures so that this will not happen again to posts from a reader.

Emma Varvaloucas's picture

Hi Chris,
I'm sorry, but I'm not sure what you're referring to. We certainly haven't gone in and changed anything in your comment. Here's what it looks like to me:

Thanks again, Shinzen. Fine lectures/presentations and superb guided meditations. I hope Tricycle will keep these on for many years to come. I would like to be able to purchase a CD of all of your presentations and guided meditations for this retreat. I already have many of your meditation CDs from your web site. Thank you.

Is that how it is supposed to read?
Emma V.

Chris Logan's picture

Thank you, Emma. Perhaps the way it appears on your screen is different from the way it appears on mine. On my screen *now* the above quotation by you of my prior post has the terms "guided meditations" and "your web site" in hyperlink text on my screen. When I click on them they go to pages of advertising things related to those terms. I wonder if this is a new phenomenon of the web -- or has Tricycle allowed this as part of it's advertising plan. So: just to be clear: in this post, I am not including any hyperlinks, so if the reader sees hyperlinks in my posts, the hyperlink is caused by another person, not by me.

In any event, Emma and Tricycle, and Shinzen Young, thank you for keeping this excellent set of Shinzen Young retreats on your web site now and into the future!

tdmarx's picture

Hi Chris and Tricyle,

I am very familiar with the phenomena you are referring to, and it most likely is due to a malicious malware which takes words such as those and turns them into links to various affililiate offers, the purchase of which by unsuspecting persons, leads to a commission on the part of the malware perpetrators.

I do know what I am talking about as I work in Internet security, part time.

So this has nothing at all to do with Tricyle, and all to do with malware on your machine.

The problem, unfortunately Chris, is this type of malware is difficult to remove. Of all the free REPUTABLE malware removal products out there, well your best resort is to Malwarebytes Anti-malware...

If you are lucky, it MIGHT be able to remove it..

But this is something you need to take care of right away...

Good luck.

Tom Davidson-Marx

Chris Logan's picture

Thank you so much. I had a good computer expert remove the malware. I really appreciate your recommendation of anti-malware programs too. Best wishes.

shin's picture

Very clear and helpful I found at many levels. The 'just note gone' piece is quite timely as well, since I periodically work in the area of death, dying and bereavement. The realization that cessation does not equal annihilation has profound implications for how we live and how we die.

with metta
shin (sorry, I didn't steal Shinzen's name--it's part of an old dharma name : )

Shinzen Young's picture

Hi Shin,

Glad you found that article useful. Apropos of your work with death, dying and bereavement, here are a couple resources you might check out.



Keep up the good work,

SallyB's picture

Hello Everyone
I'm a little late in arriving, but I am also having difficulties accessing the film feed. May I ask someone to help me please? Many thanks.

Emma Varvaloucas's picture

Hi SallyB,
Without further information on what troubles you're having, it's difficult for us to help via the comments section here. If you contact our support services (support@tricycle.com or 1-800-873-9871), they will be able to help. Hope you can watch the videos soon!
Best wishes,
Emma Varvaloucas

danbarnes80's picture

Hi, Is there a schedule, or is this catch as catch can?

bujinin's picture

I was wondering the same thing, I am guessing that there will be a new teaching once a week for a total of 4... I am also wondering if it is possible to download and save the video teachings and guided meditations.


Emma Varvaloucas's picture

Hi Dan & Bujinin,
Here's the retreat schedule (there's 6 teachings plus 6 meditation videos this month instead of the usual 4 teachings; each of the teachings listed below comes with a meditation video):

September 4th - Session 1 - Mindfulness: The Awareness. How mindful awareness is defined in various systems.

September 10th - Session 2 - Mindfulness: The Practices. How mindful awareness is cultivated in various systems.

September 17th - Session 3 - Mindfulness: The Path (Part 1). How mindful awareness reduces suffering and elevates fulfillment.

September 20th - Session 4 - Mindfulness: The Path (Part 2). How mindful awareness facilitates self knowledge, positive habit change, and a spirit of love and service.

September 24th - Session 5 - Mindfulness: The Translation. Can the English word mindfulness be used to translate different Buddhist concepts?

September 27th - Session 6 - Mindfulness: The Possible Revolution. Forces that could facilitate and forces that could impede a global mindfulness revolution.

Bujinin, the video teachings and guided meditations will be available on the Tricycle site indefinitely, so you will always be able to watch them as long as you have Internet and are a sustaining or supporting member. Unfortunately, it's not possible to download the videos.

Best wishes,
Emma Varvaloucas

zipport's picture

Emma, I've logged in, but cannot access the guided retreat. I get a picture, but it does not turn on. Please advise. Thank you,

Emma Varvaloucas's picture

Hi Zipporah,
So sorry to hear that you are having trouble. What happens when you press the play button—does it send you an Error message from Vimeo? If so, this happens to me once in awhile. Usually if I refresh the page a couple of times and try again, it starts to work (after a couple tries). If this doesn't help, I'm afraid that the problem is beyond my basic computer knowledge, so the best thing to do in that case is to contact our support services at support@tricycle.com or 1-800-873-9871. Please let us know if you still can't get the video working.
Best wishes,

danbarnes80's picture

Thanks so much!

Shinzen Young's picture

Thanks for your quick replies to folks for troubleshooting, Emma!

marshall_carole's picture

Thank you, Shinzen, and an observation: When I followed your direction of bringing my attention to the nasal area, I started to get a headache. I decided to switch it to observing the coming in and the going out of the breath at the stomach and that felt much better. I don't know if anyone else had that experience, but I thought I'd mention it since it could help others. Also, I noticed that attending to the stomach area made my sitting posture feel much more stable. Carole

Shinzen Young's picture

Hi Carole,

Different people may prefer different locations for breath focus.
Some people prefer to focus at the nostrils because it can develop a sharp, laser-like concentration. Also it can lead to interesting experiences known as nimitta. However, other people find focusing on the nostrils to be problematic, either because it seems too subtle and limiting or because it causes tension/headache, as you experienced.

Some people like to focus on the breath at the abdomen or chest. They find that approach more mellow and grounding, as you reported. On the other hand, some people find that if they focus on breath in those core body regions, they start interfering with the breath or begin to experience anxiety around their body’s physiology.

For the above reasons, many mindfulness teachers (including myself) give people the option to focus in whatever way seems comfortable and natural.

On the other hand, some teachers insist upon a “one-size-fits-all” approach. That’s usually because there’s something about their overall system that makes a certain form of breath practice more appropriate than others. For example, if the ultimate goal is to scan attention through the body detecting subtle phenomena, then initially focusing at the nostrils makes sense because it develops a laser-like, high-resolution flavor of concentration. This is the usual approach in the U Ba Khin tradition (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ba_Khin). On the other hand, if you’re interested in penetrating whatever salient sensory experience might come up (but defaulting to an easily detected and soothing sensation when nothing else is salient), then focusing at the abdomen makes sense, as is done in the Mahasi tradition. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahasi_Sayadaw).

Literally dozens of distinct ways of working with the breath have evolved within the historical sweep of the Three Vehicles. Find what works for you. But if a teacher asks you to do it in a certain way, you have the right to ask why. Any competent teacher should be both able to and happy to explain the underlying reasons. (This is a general principle applicable to any questions about techniques.)

All the best,

bujinin's picture

Thank you Emma, the videos both worked today (September 5th) I re-watched the teaching and was able to experience a most enjoyable guided meditation. I did call the 800 number and they said they were unaware of any difficulties with the website. Happily, what ever the situation, it seems to have corrected itself...

Again Thank you Shinzen for your clear and concise thoughts and explanations. The guided meditation was well done, the wind sound was pleasant. I eagerly look forward to the rest of the sessions.


Emma Varvaloucas's picture

Hi Bujinin, glad it all worked out!

Raja Hornstein's picture

Thank you Shinzen for your clarity, wisdom, and calm presence. Pardon me for a psychoanalytic and also, perhaps, zen question. When you were talking about how the habit of mindfulness takes over so that there is no observing self left, I immediately thought that in that case there is an unconscious observing self, but still an observing self. I think this is an area where psychoanalytic thought has something to contribute to the Buddhist perspective.
In eagerness for the next teaching,

Shinzen Young's picture

Hi Raja,
It is sometimes said that getting the right questions is at least as important as getting the right answers. So the good news is, you’ve asked a good question. The bad news is, I don’t think I’m capable of really answering it. By really answer, I mean give an answer that would satisfy a hard-nosed scientist. So the best that I can do is to offer you two things. The first is a conjecture that I cannot back up with specific and detailed evidence. The second is a claim for which I have experiential confidence (but which to many may seem enigmatic, if not utterly irrelevant).

First, the conjecture:

It is probably the case that consciousness arises sequentially, i.e., preceding each conscious experience, there are many layers of subliminal/subconscious/unconscious processing. At what point and under what conditions do we say that a percipient self is present?

Part of the problem lies in the enormous ambiguity of the word “self.” If by self we mean sakkayaditthi, the perception of “self as thing,” then self is dependent on intrinsic nebulosity and viscosity in the underlying neuronal circuits. On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that there are more primitive levels of “self” that are not perceived as a thing. A beetle probably has some sense of self but I doubt that it involves any perception of substantive personhood or fundamental separateness.

So much for conjecture. Now for what I’m confidence of:

The Ultimate True Observer is Goneness. (For details, check out Chapter 8 Section 5 “Just Note Gone” pp. 95-99 of my manual http://www.shinzen.org/Retreat%20Reading/FiveWays.pdf or my article “The Power of Gone” in the current issue of Tricycle.)

Keep up the good work,

Jeff C's picture

Hi Raja,
I will quote Ken WIlber, who I believe sums this up nicely:
"You can already feel some of this Great Liberation in that, as you rest in the ease of witnessing this moment, you already feel that you are free from the suffocating constriction of mere objects, mere feelings, mere thoughts – they all come and go, but you are that vast, free, empty, open Witness of them all, untouched by their torments and tortures.

This is actually the profound discovery of… the pure divine Self, the formless Witness, causal nothingness, the vast Emptiness in which the entire world arises, stays a bit, and passes. And you are That. You are not the body, not the ego, not nature, not thoughts, not this, not that – you are a vast Emptiness, Freedom, Release, and Liberation." - Ken Wilber, No Boundary

JOYCIE's picture

Thank you. This presentation on the teachings of mindfulness has been very helpful.

ranni's picture

The first video on mindfulness was very helpful. I appreciated the explanations of various definitions and have often wondered about the "arising of the past" and whether that could be considered relevant. Thank you for the thoroughness of your approach.

Shinzen Young's picture

Hi Ranni,

Here’s what I can say about the arising of the past: As a sensory event, it always happens in the present. Moreover, it can only come up through one or a combination of mental image, mental talk, and emotional-type body sensation. (See Chapter 1 “The Way of Thoughts and Emotions” pp. 21-24 of my manual http://www.shinzen.org/Retreat%20Reading/FiveWays.pdf.)

If an arising of the past is greeted with deep mindfulness, it will be experienced Completely. It is then simply the razor’s edge of the absolute Now—paper thin and feather light. In other words, it no longer extends into time at all! That’s a moment of freedom. Freedom not only from the past, but from the future and the (relative) present. In other words, freedom from time itself. For most of us, this is going to take a lot of practice but it’s certainly worth investing the time. As T.S. Eliot says “only through time, time is conquered.” : )

(Check out p. 5 here: https://www2.bc.edu/john-g-boylan/files/fourquartets.pdf and TS Eliot himself reading it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xDpueV1U8k)

All the best,

ulrich.gerndt's picture

great start! what i love about shinzen is his "no bells and whistles" down-to-earth, well structured approach and way of teaching.

Supernaut1978's picture

Thank you for your clear and concise definition of Mindfulness. When you've been doing this practice for a little awhile it's helpful to have definitions like yours for yourself as well as for others. I also enjoyed the mindfulness meditation video, especially with the sounds of the wind through the trees, very peaceful. I look forward to the rest of this months teachings.

bujinin's picture

After watching the first video, I attempted to watch the guided meditation and got a "sorry" message, subsequent attempts to view the 1st video resulted in the same "sorry" message??? I attempted to use a different browser (explorer rather than fire fox) and couldn't log on to Tricycle at all.



Emma Varvaloucas's picture

Hi Bujinin,
We're sorry to hear that you're having trouble with the retreat! I've forwarded your comment and email address on to our support services. In the future, the best way to handle technical difficulties is for you to contact them directly via either email (support@tricycle.com) or phone (1-800-873-9871). They will be able to handle your concerns promptly.
Best wishes,
Emma Varvaloucas

bujinin's picture

I have enjoyed the attention to clarification of the definition of mindfulness. An operationalizable definition works for me, concentration, sensory clarity and equanimity. I look forward to further discussions on each of these components, exploration explanation of practices that enhance each of them and allow them to work together and of course a deeper understanding the whole concept.

Thank you for a clearly defined beginning.