Monday, August 29, 2016

[Advanced] Six Words of Advice

In Tibetan, Six Words of Advice by Tilopa, translated by Ken McLeod.
  • Don’t recall - Let go of what has passed
  • Don’t imagine - Let go of what may come
  • Don’t think - Let go of what is happening now
  • Don’t examine - Don’t try to figure anything out
  • Don’t control - Don’t try to make anything happen
  • Rest - Relax, right now, and rest
This would be considered advanced in the sense that it is a "do nothing" approach, like the "just sitting" or "open awareness" style of Shikantaza in Zen, or here in the native style of Tibetan Mahamudra or Dzochen, "nonconceptual awareness".  Beginners often need to assiduously practice structured methods until the mind is stable and relaxed, but these are great pointers to what can be going on amidst the structure.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Vipassana or Insight Meditation - Mahasi Noting Style

Expanding on the post Noting Style of Meditation in 15 Seconds, the mind needs to be trained to be aware, in a kind of awareness of awareness kind of way, and within that, needs to be trained to relax.

As far as the awareness side, many styles can accomplish this but I feel the Mahasi style is one of the best as it tends to actually require one to do exactly what needs to be done.

From a companion site, here is a collection of instructions for the Vipassana or Insight Meditation style that we would call the Mahasi or Noting Style that is used in the Theravada Buddhist world (southeast Asia).

Monday, July 27, 2015

Noting Style Meditation in 15 Seconds

This comes from a stripped down version of noting practice that Jud Brewer, a neuroscientist, mentioned using with research subjects in the fMRI machine.  Apparently it worked decently in terms of aligning brain activity with what has been observed in advanced meditators.  Okay, start your timers:

Notice what is roughly predominate in awareness and label it, about once per second, as either seeing, hearing, feeling, or thinking.

That's it.

The structure there is based on the 6 basic sense "doors", which are the 5 traditional senses plus thinking.  Within the 5 senses smelling and tasting have been dropped for simplicity and because those don't tend to come up that often in formal meditation.

Notice that "seeing" is the note even if your eyes are closed, if your attention is on the visual field.  Same for "hearing" even if what you are hearing is imagined.

And if you are drawing a blank, you can note "don't know" or "blank".

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Personal Meditation Instruction

This blog is a contact point for personal meditation instruction with Eric Gatley, with sessions available over Skype. Reach me at

Meditation Techniques

The building blocks of awareness are practiced primarily through insight/mindfulness (vipassana) using so-called noting practice or body scanning, and concentration (samatha) using the breath or visual object or mantra or loving kindness.  Or just sitting in open awareness.  But you only need one or two techniques that work for you.  Within the basics of meditation technique, it can be useful to understand how to more fully experience the subtle movements of emotions.  This kind of awareness can lead to psychological healing.

Making Things Clearer

Some people may have questions about what exactly enlightenment is, or perhaps they have had an experience they would like to understand better. These topics are often shrouded in mystery. Perhaps I can shed some light on this kind of thing with some plain talk.

Overall Direction

In terms of reducing suffering in life, what has been most helpful to me, in order, has been meditation, that would be number one, as well as some skillful therapeutic use of psychedelics, and last but not least, years of psychotherapy. Each person comes with their own unique set of conditionings, but there is a basic direction to the path. There can be some relief at every point, but ultimately it does require engaging with this direction until there are significant results and the orientation of the mind has actually been changed.

The work is about training the mind metaphorically back to the original mind, one's true nature. There is an openness, a tranquility and a resilience that comes with this attention to awareness that I consider to be worthwhile. I believe anyone can develop a feel for this but realistically it does take some time to overcome years of conditioning. While I want to avoid overstating the case, what is possible for a good practitioner in just a few years time is fairly amazing. It doesn't have to take decades in a monastery, and the path can be surprisingly straightforward albeit bumpy at times.

I tend to be a fairly grounded person and in an overall sense I try to point people back to the basics. I feel that I see things relatively clearly and am not caught up in the dogmas that are often prevalent in these areas. Because of my extensive dabblings in various areas I bring a lot to bear on the various problems of life.

My Background

My path began as a child, realizing the inherent unsatisfactoriness of life and at some level beginning to look around for solutions. My first exposure to meditation was while reading Ram Dass' Journey of Awakening in 1978. Along the way I tried many things including large group awareness trainings like Avatar and the Sedona Method, experimentation with various drugs, years of psychotherapy, philosophy, self hypnosis, biofeedback, antidepressants, supplements, bookshelves full of books, tapes, etc.

For many years I was no more than a meditation dabbler until 2006, where at my first retreat I had a big initial awakening and this finally turned me into a committed seeker with a daily practice.

I ended up "getting it done" by way of techniques that derive mostly from Theravada Buddhism, although I am familiar with a half dozen major styles and techniques that all point in the same basic direction. I have comfort with both a pure technical meditative approach as well as more open awareness styles or a direct pointing nondual approach. I have practical experience with technical phenomenon such as [Buddhist jargon] cessations and jhanas, all the way to nirodha sammapatti.

"Eric Gatley focuses on helping people reap the proven benefits of mindfulness meditation--with no need to slog through the "woo" that is so often associated with the meditation world. Eric, who has a solid grounding in physiology, nutrition and the scientific method, takes a pragmatic, brain-based approach to helping people train their minds. His goal is to help people actually make progress and overcome mental afflictions such as anxiety, depression and stress--in other words, to learn how to be happy even in the midst of the ever-changing circumstances of life."
- j.g.