Compare: Awareness of Awareness vs. Do Nothing vs. Awareness of Breath

Tommy Toys, modified 18 Days ago.

Compare: Awareness of Awareness vs. Do Nothing vs. Awareness of Breath

Posts: 23 Join Date: 11/30/20 Recent Posts
Didn't find a proper comparison, so wanted to ask everyone who've done those awareness practices - What different effects do they have on you? Do you find one method more effective (at certain stage)?  Do you do a combo?

My personal favorite is awareness of awareness (open attention). It seem to get me the farthest in terms of experiencing "emptiness, like space".

Each method defined as ...
* Awareness of Awareness: Simply focus on that "I'm aware" (non-verbally). When attention wanders, focus back on "I'm aware".
Experientially, as the mind settles down I become acutely aware of "experience" as a whole (while been aware that I'm aware).

* Awareness of Breath (eg. in Dan Brown's Mahamudra): Focus intensely on the awareness that co-arises with each in/out breath.  (With the awareness itself in the foreground, and in the background the sensations of breath which awareness reflects)
Experientially, I felt like looking into a mirror where the mirror clearly reflects each detail of the breath. (w/ some other content like sound but not zoomed in).

* Do Nothing (Shinzen ver): Simply sit. Let go when thought/emotion arise. Let go of "let go" if necessary.
Experientially This seems (subtly) different from awareness of awareness, as often I would be in the moment of various sensations without explicitly aware of being aware. Further, there's also this really interesting sensation of "nowhere to stand" - the mind constantly struggling to find a frame of reference to observe. 
​​​​​​​I found this quite fascinating.
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Stefan R, modified 18 Days ago.

RE: Compare: Awareness of Awareness vs. Do Nothing vs. Awareness of Breath

Posts: 45 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
All should lead you to the same destination. Each uses different landmarks en route. 

Eventually, each method should collapse into the other. 

I used awareness of breath early on. It's good. Gets you seeing co-dependent arising in sharp detail on a very easy to access thing. 

I've never believed in the "do nothing" approaches. Seems very deceptive. But I understand what it's getting you to do. I think it might be a linguistic trap for some people that might encourage indifference or negate lived experience. It just seems like a slippery instruction. Kinda like telling someone learning art to just "make art". 

And now doing open awareness. It's good stuff, probably giving me the cleanest insights and life-changing perceptions. It'd be careful with the phrase "being aware of awareness". It's another linguistic trap that unnecessarily complicates what is really happening under the hood. 
Tommy Toys, modified 17 Days ago.

RE: Compare: Awareness of Awareness vs. Do Nothing vs. Awareness of Breath

Posts: 23 Join Date: 11/30/20 Recent Posts
I used awareness of breath early on. It's good. Gets you seeing co-dependent arising in sharp detail on a very easy to access thing. 

I've never believed in the "do nothing" approaches. Seems very deceptive. But I understand what it's getting you to do. I think it might be a linguistic trap for some people that might encourage indifference or negate lived experience. It just seems like a slippery instruction. Kinda like telling someone learning art to just "make art". 
Just to confirm we're referring to the same thing.  Awareness of breath you referring to, is not focusing only on details of breath (i.e. anapanasati) , but have this extra awareness of being aware in the foreground and breath in the background, correct? 

Re - "do nothing", my understanding is that it's not quite do nothing as the name suggests. By telling you to "let go whatever thought / emotion comes up", the intention is to keep a certain level of awareness. Yet awareness is subtle enough that it gets you into a deeper relaxation state that could be harder for open awareness exercise. E.g. if I do open awareness, I found myself sometimes fall into trap of trying to constantly hold a visualization of "self being aware", rather than a thin layer of awareness.
And now doing open awareness. It's good stuff, probably giving me the cleanest insights and life-changing perceptions. It'd be careful with the phrase "being aware of awareness". It's another linguistic trap that unnecessarily complicates what is really happening under the hood. 
What's the linguistic trap you're thinking of? Is it similar to the visualization trap mentioned above?
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Stefan R, modified 17 Days ago.

RE: Compare: Awareness of Awareness vs. Do Nothing vs. Awareness of Breath

Posts: 45 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
RE: awareness of breath. As long as there's an anchor, it's in that wheelhouse. The breath anchors the larger experiential field. You become aware how awareness "splits off" into becoming aware of other things in the experiential field while keeping the focal point on the breath. It wouldn't be like Anapanasati or Anapana, which is just breath-focused, no. It's the middle ground between object awareness and open awareness. IIRC: it's like level 7 in TMI when Culadasa instructs students to maintain attention on the breath, and awareness on the background/foreground split. 

The fact that there's "more to" the "do nothing" approach reveals its linguistic-trappy nature. Each to his own. I think it's liable to certain meditative confusion. I saw it first hand in my father who has been "doing" do nothing meditation for a while and surprisingly... getting nowhere. And the second you start to elaborate on what "doing nothing" is, you might as well have given some clearer instructions, to begin with. But that's just my 2c!

The linguistic trap of "aware of awareness" mistakes the co-dependent nature of awareness with the thing it is aware of. It tends to reify awareness as an all-ground or some blank canvass onto which perceptions arise; or reifies perceptions as things that happen out there, where the awareness "latches onto it". Awareness/perception is like the classic Mitch Hedberg bit: "My belt holds my pants up, but the belt loops hold my belt up. I don't really know what's happening down there. Who is the real hero?". Who is the real hero here? Is there a real hero? Are we making an assumption about cause/effect, before/after, etc? emoticon
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spatial, modified 11 Days ago.

RE: Compare: Awareness of Awareness vs. Do Nothing vs. Awareness of Breath

Posts: 609 Join Date: 5/20/18 Recent Posts
I've practiced all of these and they all seem to lead to the same place. Each one seems to make more sense at a certain time. When I meditate nowadays, I generally just sit and let my mind decide which technique it feels like using at any given moment. It's a relief to be able to do that right now, after so long of obsessing over the differences between techniques. I would suggest picking one and following it religiously, until it teaches you what it needs to teach you.
What I'm beginning to see in my practice is that 'awareness of awareness' is a consequence of non-conceptuality / intuitive knowledge, not something that you strive for (though sometimes it may be handy). When working in ill-will, in not having expectations in what will be observed and in not analyzing what is happening, but simply living it and just being attentive to the micro-movements of the mind regarding the attractiveness / repulsiveness / indifference. There it happens that the attention simply turns on itself, that it is not necessary to push attention into attention. Although sometimes I do use it to get out of some mental loops or daydreaming. Kind of the difference between noting and noticing. 
 

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