“Mindfulness has unparalleled psychological and health benefits,” says Stephan Bodian, author of the new book Beyond Mindfulness. “It can make you happier, improve your health, increase your concentration, and enhance your overall well-being. I show people that happiness is something you already have, can discover, and develop, not something out there in the distant future, that you need to constantly expend effort to achieve.”
Bodian warns of the “witnessing trap”—where people become adept at “doing mindfulness” but have difficulty living life in a more spontaneous and intimate way. To avoid the witnessing trap (and the other pitfalls of mindfulness) and achieve a natural state of relaxed openness, spontaneity, and ease, Bodian recommends a variety of guided meditations that introduce and help people reach a state of awakened awareness. Here are some of the pointers he offers:
Rest in the stillness: Beneath all the drama lies the ground of being that’s eternally awake and undisturbed by the ups and downs of life. Connect with it directly.
Discover the “I AM”: Prior to all the identities—“I am smart/stupid, I am lovable/unlovable, I am attractive/unattractive”—lies the simple declaration “I am.” Follow this statement back to its source.
Let it be: Most meditation aims to manipulate the mind in order to induce some special experience. In true meditation you welcome everything just as it is and lay bare your naturally enlightened state of openness and ease.
Experience the inherent perfection: Without consulting your thoughts, ask yourself, Is anything missing from this moment right now? What you find may be a revelation.
Rest in the gaps between thoughts: Generally the mind is filled with thoughts and feelings. But every now and then a natural pause or gap appears that effortlessly reveals an inner spaciousness. Practice resting in the gap.
Dissolve the boundaries of the body: Ordinarily we think the body stops at the skin, but this is just an arbitrary distinction. The body is actually boundless and includes everything.
Realize that the separate self is just a construct: If you look closely at what you take yourself to be, you find that it’s just a collection of stories, memories, thoughts and beliefs, without any abiding substance. See through the self-construct, and let your suffering be a thing of the past
Who is experiencing this moment right now?: You say, “I think, I feel, I see, I know” but do you really know what this “I” refers to? It can’t be the body or the brain, because those can be the objects of experience and so can’t be the experiencer. Discover the answer to this question, and you free yourself from the burden of a lifetime.