A practical guide for experiencing natural awareness—an effortless and spacious state of resting in the depth of our being.
Do you recall, as a child, being enthralled by a drifting cloud, a rain-soaked leaf, a wandering ladybug? Or suddenly having a sense of timelessness, contentment, and ease? If so, then you've already had a taste of natural awareness.
Known and revered in many traditions as a complement to focused mindfulness training, natural awareness transcends even these wondrous childhood moments. Some describe it as a profound “awareness of awareness”—an effortless, boundless state of resting in the depth of our being.
For those new to meditation and experienced meditators alike, these 72 “mini-chapters” guide you on an in-depth odyssey into natural awareness, illuminated by many simple and enjoyable insights and exercises. The Little Book of Being invites you to explore:
• The spectrum of awareness practices, from focused mindfulness to flexible mindfulness to natural awareness
• How classical mindfulness and effortless natural awareness enrich and shape each other, and how to practice both
• Three ways to move into natural awareness—relaxing effort, broadening awareness, and dropping objects
• A treasury of “glimpse practices” to spark natural awareness anytime, in just a few moments
• How to bring this way of “simply being” into your daily life, into your connection with others, and into the world
“At first natural awareness may seem far away, just a whisper, but then it will begin to grow and expand and permeate aspects of living. Over time we may feel more peace, more connection to ourselves. We may find ourselves taking life a bit more lightly. We may feel a sense of relaxed ‘beingness’ throughout the day, and when we do get caught in our dramas, we may find ourselves moving out of them quicker than we imagined we could.” —Diana Winston
Winston (Fully Present), director of Mindfulness Education at the UCLA Semel Institute, offers helpful tools for meditators of all experience levels who "can't seem to soften and relax in meditation," or who simply want to freshen up their traditional meditation practices. In 72 short chapters that at times feel padded and repetitive, Winston defines and redefines natural awareness practices ("keeping focus on awareness itself rather than on the things we are aware of") that can enhance traditional meditation or even provide "quicker access" to states of awareness, ease, or contentment. Winston intersperses valuable "Glimpse" exercises made up of a prompt and meditation questions. For example, Winston advises sitting among nature and engaging sights, sounds, and sensations before beginning a mediation that asks, "Who is aware? Can I sense the awareness that is the knowing expansion?" While Winston will lose some readers with overly meticulous categorization of different types of awareness, she also discusses better-known, more informal meditation techniques, such as "focused awareness" and "flexible awareness," that will appeal to novice meditators. Helped along by anecdotes about her own experiences and meditation breakthroughs, Winston's concise, easy-to-follow examples of how to cultivate a more self-compassionate meditation practice will appeal to meditators of all levels. \n
It’s not everyday that a book starts impacting and changing your experience of life AS you are reading it. This book does that - in spades.
I’m still a bit new to mindfulness practice. Started with Sam Harris’ Waking Up app back in May 2019. The approach utilized in that app I credit with the practice of mindfulness sticking for me and becoming a well loved daily practice.
This book has brought a lot of additional insight and depth of experience to my practice already. I’ll be getting a physical copy as well, which I anticipate will be well worn before the end of 2020. I’m also going to take her advice and record some of the “Glimpse” practices to utilize both during formal sittings and throughout the day.
Diana’s language and approach really helped unlock for me what some of this has been pointing to all along.