Daydreaming and Practice

Daydreaming (from SUS07: Sutra Session (questions) 00:15:37.90 - 00:21:22.00)

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Ken: Okay. One more person. What happened when you did this? No takers? Yes.

Student: I started just daydreaming about a peripheral neutral ...

Ken: Ah, okay. You’re very good at running away. [Laughs] I should study with you. [Laughs] Okay.

So, now we have three different things going on. We’re going to do this again; we’re going to spend a little more time with it.
Breathing in, I experience the situation.
Breathing out, I experience the situation.
Now you’re not trying to change the situation or do anything about it. Just experience it. And one person starts daydreaming. Well when you start daydreaming, you’re not practicing. Now there’s nothing you can do about the daydream as long as you’re in the daydream. You’re in another world, but the daydream doesn’t last forever. It usually lasts for only a few seconds. And there’s this moment of recognition like “Oh, I’m daydreaming.” What you do at that moment is the most important thing in practice. At that moment when you say “Oh,” you come back to your practice, or you go on with the daydreaming; those are the two options. If you go back to the daydream you’re not practicing. If you come back to the practice you are. That’s it.

And so what practice consists of is making that choice each time. I come back, I come back, I come back." Now we’re working with an uncomfortable situation so this requires that you actually have the intention and are willing to experience that discomfort. And the reason that most of us are willing to do this is because we know that avoiding the discomfort creates even more discomfort later. So, we come back and at least we’re going to explore--experiment--experiencing the discomfort right now. So that’s what we do in this case.

And then the second gentleman, he said, “Oh that leads to this problem, which leads to this problem which leads to this problem.” And suddenly you’re seeing this whole situation in a very different light, right? Now, that can bring us a lot of understanding and insight that may very well be useful, but it’s a more subtle way of actually avoiding things. So what I would like you to experiment with is, “Oh, okay there’s that situation, yeah and there’s that one." And rather than keep following them she noticed that that’s happening. Just say, “What am I experiencing in my body when I open to this situation or open to all of these situations? What do I experience in my body?” I’d like you to explore that. Is that okay? Do you have a follow up question here.

Student: I think there’s a realization sometimes that the problem isn't really--there's not intensity to it but the intensity is coming from somewhere else.

Ken: Okay, so you go to where the intensity is and then go to the body. Okay. So what’s very important is that you end up in the body. Okay.

And then we have the third comment: this person is actually feeling the physical reactions associated with the situation. That was your experience, right? Okay because now we’re going to introduce the second step. The first step is:
Breathing in, I experience the situation.
Breathing out, I experience the situation.
The second step which evolves quite naturally out of the first one is:
Breathing in, I experience my reactions to the situation.
Breathing out, I experience my reactions to the situation.
Our reactions may be daydreaming. It may be following the sequence. It may be physical reactions. For other people there’ll be a whole bunch of emotional reactions.

What I’ve found here is if we’re going to work with this in the way that’s most fruitful, the best place to start is in the body. So we’re going to do this again. I want you to take the same situation that you worked with. We’ll do it a little bit longer. Last time we only did three breaths; we’ll take it up to five or eight. And what I want you to pay attention to is, how your body reacts. What happens in your body when you allow yourself to open to this situation. Any questions before we try this? You game for this? Okay. So let’s do this together.


The Carrot and the Stick

Pat: Well, I never expected to say this and sound so cynical, but maybe it's because right now I'm in the middle of chasing a lot of stuff to do with the war. But I'm a little suspicious because whether it's Christianity or Buddhism or any of this stuff--it just seems like you spent a lot of time these last couple of weeks about how we all have this buddha nature. We all have this capacity, and so much of Christianity is we all have the capacity to have this godlike quality. But yet the reality is ... as a human being what we have is maybe moments where we actually--if you're lucky--get to be awake; where you're lucky you get to have spiritual practice; where you're lucky you get to be compassionate, kind and all those things. 
But yet these traditions and these practices are set up to encourage to you to do it as a life time--yet constantly. Why don't we then teach that what we are going to get, or be or do are moments? Rather than teach that we should try and have 100 percent of spiritual practice. But by the way, you're probably only going to get five minutes. Because it's a set up to constantly feel like--and the truth is we're just a bunch of losing jerks [laughter] and I think we'd be better off if we started out with that premise. Because then every time you got five minutes, you'd feel like a winner.

Ken: That's basically as far as I'm concerned, the point of this chapter.

Pat: But the book starts out saying, "Oh, guess what, you know, you have buddha nature." Well the fact is maybe I do, maybe I don't. But most of the time I may have it within me, and I love that thing we talked about last week; it's always there, it's constant, you can find it. But in a way I might find it more often if my expectation is for five minutes in a lifetime. Do you know what I mean? We're always chasing this ideal rather than starting with the premise that we're violent jerks.

Ken: I agree with you. There's the carrot and stick approach, right? Now if you have a donkey--the carrot approach is you hold a carrot in front of the donkey. And the donkey starts to move towards the carrot. What do you do with the carrot at that point? You pull it further away. I don't like the carrot approach. Because the attention of the donkey is on the carrot--it's not in the present, it's on the expectation and you never get there.

Now the stick approach is a little different. The stick approach is you get a good solid stick and you whack the donkey on the rear. And the donkey goes, “This is not a good place to be, I need to do something,” so it starts to move. And once the donkey starts to move, you don't keep whacking it. It's totally different from the carrot approach. And so the donkey learns that if he relates to his present condition he can do something about it and then he is in a different state. He just has to keep walking, that's all.

And people say, why do you talk about all the difficulties? I talk about all the difficulties because referring to Joseph Goldstein’s point--it's the difficulties, the discomfort in our life which actually motivates us, causes us to do something. It's not the comforts that cause us to do something it's the discomforts, the struggles. "Why am I having such a hard time, I've got to do something about it."

And the difference between the two chapters [chapters 1 and 2 of Jewel Ornament of Liberation] could be described as this: we all have the potential to do something about it, but the opportunity to do something about it is relatively rare. Okay. And I think you're right, the opportunity is relatively rare, so when the opportunity arises, make use of it. Does that make sense to you?


The carrot and stick story also appears in session 4 of Awakening from Belief and in Bringing Practice Alive.

Approaching Meditation

Approaching Meditation (from SUS07: Sutra Session (questions) 00:56:53.00 - 01:02:54.00)

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A lot of people approach meditation as a place to recharge batteries and get calm, clear, feel good etc. etc. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's very, very helpful that way. But what I've tried to show you today is another possibility. And that is a way to actually practice living. We're actually practicing living by experiencing what is arising--not trying to do anything about it immediately, but actually experiencing it.

One of the other things I do alot--or do some of--is business consulting and you have no idea how often I have to say, "You're trying to implement a solution before you've figured out what the problem is." Something comes up and they just start doing something without taking a look at what the real problem is.

And so one of the things you can use this practice for is actually experiencing what's going on in you and you may have a much better idea of what the real problem is. And we heard that from many people when they said their relationship with the situation changed. And some said, "Oh this is just something--that's the way it is and I can experience it and I don't have to do anything about it." That's a very significant change in the relationship. And sometimes you actually see, "Oh, yes there is something I can do." So that's a second aspect to meditation--it's a way of practicing how to live and how to be in our lives.

There's a small danger here and I want you to pay careful attention to this. If we start using our meditation practice to work through problems, that's going to work for a while and then it's going to start to become a problem in our practice because we're going to be bringing this expectation of working through something. [sound of horn blowing] Oh, more distraction!

And eventually--and I'm trying to give you just a head start on this right now--we'll see that bringing that expectation of working through also creates a problem. It won't hurt at all for you to explore just opening to the situation without any expectation of working through it or changing things or figuring something out. That feels a little uncomfortable very often at the beginning, because there are a lot of things in our lives that we'd just like to solve and get rid of so we don't have to deal with them. But a lot of those things we can't and we may discover some very, very deep feelings in ourselves about--anger about why doesn't the world conform to my expecations more often. At least that's what I have, maybe nobody else has that one.

And through this we begin to come to another aspect of what mediation practice does. And again it's--one can put it as--it's a practice for living--it's about how to meet whatever arises with awareness and openness. So that we can actgually experience it because it's part of our life. What we're doing is practicing experiencing things completely. That may make very significant changes in our lives, but we can say that one way to approach this kind of practice is, "How do I experience my life completely?"

And in this sense we're very much like that NBA forward that I was telling you about, who's practicing, "How do I shoot this shot from here? How do I shoot this shot from here?" And you can go through all these situations in your life and actually practice, "How do I experience this completely? How do I experience this completely? How do I experience this completely?"

And then you may find that when you're going about your day something pops up and you know, because it's in your body, how to experience it completely. Because like that NBA player, when you've got two guys doing a double press on you and you've got one second or less to take the shot, you can't think, "How am I going to take the shot, do I remember?" It has to be so in your body that it just happens. And that's basically what we're doing in the meditation practice. We are practing this and experiencing this stuff over and over again so that When we encounter in our lives it just happens. It's not somthing that we have to remember or think, "Now what do I do here?" or that we've figured out what to do. We practice it so much that it just happens and that's the real purpose of doing this practice. Okay?
Thanks to Ann Braun for this transcription!


Short Meditation

 Short Meditation (from SUS07: Sutra Session (questions) 00:04:17.80 - 00:08:40.50)

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Very short periods of meditation. And I want to put the emphasis on very short. So what does this look like? One breath meditation, that's about as short as you can get, right?.
Then you stop. And you check, "Oh am I still sitting upright, have I gone to sleep. No. OK, that’s good. Let’s do another session of meditation."
And start. OK. So far, so good. And you do that and you may think I’m completely nuts here, but you actually do it this way so that you have the experience of being completely awake and in attention for that one breath. Okay.
Then you do that 10, 15, 20, 30, 50 times--it’s up to you--but do it more rather than less. This can also help you. Then, when you really feel that you can do one breath, you do two breaths.
Then you stop. You don’t have to get up or anything. You just stop, look around, refresh your body and then you do two breaths again. And you gradually build up.
And the point here is, you never give yourself a chance to fall asleep. Because when we do that repeatedly in our meditation, what we’re actually practicing is not meditating--we’re practicing being dull. And that is just as problematic as being carried away by your thoughts—the other sign of the coin. But we actually have to practice this.
I was hearing about this young NBA basketball player. I can’t remember his name. Plays for Oklahoma. He’s one of the top draft picks, but he’s playing in the bottom of the league because that’s how it works. But he’s working really hard--this is his rookie year
And after practice his coach came in and he saw this guy shooting hoops. And he would be standing on one place on the floor and shooting hoops. And he would just shoot from that one position until he could sink every one. And then he would move six inches to the right and do the same thing.
And what he was doing was making sure that his body knew how to shoot from every conceivable point on the floor. He was really working at his game and he’s already a really, really good basketball player. Okay.
That’s what it takes. If we want to practice meditation, it isn’t just sitting down and having a nice thing like that. It’s actually practicing attention. So you practice it. And it’s not enough simply to put in the time. Putting in the time’s very important but in addition to putting in the time we have to be getting the feedback.
Now for the basketball player it’s very easy to get feedback--did the ball go in the hoop or not--very easy. Meditation--it’s a little more difficult getting feedback. That’s why we have to do it very, very short so that "Okay, yes I was there." And then we do it again.
And people think, “Why would I do this?” So that’s my question for you. Why would you do this?
NOTE:  More on one breath meditation here



Knowing (from TAN02: Then and Now (class) 01:17:21.20 - 01:19:12.90)

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Student: Can you say something about about when you say to know, because we’re not talking about knowing.

Ken: We’re not talking about the understanding. We’re talking...

Student: The experience?

Ken: Ya, very much so. [Takes a piece of paper.] What do you see?

Student: I see a piece of paper.

Ken: How do you know it?

Student: Because I’m experiencing the thing in my eye that sees it...

Ken: I’m going to give you a Nasruddin story here.

One afternoon Nasruddin was at a friend’s place and they got involved in a very interesting conversation. Time passed and it grew dark and neither of them were aware of it. Eventually his friend said, “Nasruddin it’s dark, why don’t you light a candle? You’ll find some candles and matches in a drawer by your right hand.”

And Nasruddin said, “You fool, how can I know my right from my left in the dark?”

And that’s the answer to your question. [laughter] Okay?

Student: [inaudible]

Ken: You want me to repeat that? You can remember that?

So you work on that. How do you know your right from the left in the dark? What makes that possible?
In Germany we say: "Rechts ist da, wo der Daumen links ist." (Right is there, where the thumb is on the left.)



Resting - Listening

A feedback loop: a self-referencing system

From Janet Hathaway:

I found Ken's Monsters Under the Bed retreat (especially the first podcast) had excellent advice on meditation. It was extremely helpful for me. If you get a chance, you might enjoy listening to it, as it speaks to all of your questions, in detailed ways.

Meditation (from MUB01: Monsters Under The Bed (retreat) 00:35:07.00 - 00:48:10.00)

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Ken: Within what Claudia and George were both saying are two qualities which are extremely important in meditation. And actually in our lives, but we first begin to form a relationship with them, or many of us do, in meditation.

The first quality is resting. Claudia talked about resting in the experience of breathing. We just tried that for a few minutes. And some of you noticed that you barely start resting in the experience of breathing and the horse kicks you off its back. Just like that. What’s your your name?

Cathy: Cathy.

Ken: Cathy. I thought you were one of the Cathys! Yes, you’re the C, right? Ah. Okay.

So, you notice how what you say is your mind—I’m not quite sure what that is, so I may ask for some elaboration on this—but some thing jumps in and starts trying to control the whole process, telling you what to do. “Well, do this. Stand up. Sit down. Lean to the left. Lean to the right. Breathe a little more deeply.” And all of that stuff. How many of you in your meditation practice have this little commentary that goes on the background, “Okay, hey you’re not doing badly right now.” [Laughter]

“Now, just ease up a little bit there—you’re getting a little bit tense. Oh, cool, cool—that’s it! Just—oooh, nice move! Ah, a little dullness here, better sharpen it up. Oh, come on, you got lost in a thought! What kind of an idiot are you?” Anybody else have this?

I suppose that’s what you’re referring to as your mind. Ah, okay. Well, so you start resting in the experience of breathing, and most of us get caught up in thoughts immediately. This is where what George is saying comes in It’s very important.

We may not notice this at this point, but every one of those thoughts is actually a reaction to a physical sensation. People are looking like, “What?” It’s a physical sensation with an emotional charge, and we don’t want to touch it so what we do is we start thinking. This is why I said last night, and George reiterated this this morning, that the most reliable way to cut through the thinking process is to bring your attention to what you are experiencing in the body. And you say “Well, I came here to meditate. I came here to be quiet and peaceful. I didn’t come here to feel all the aches and pains and little stuff, you know, I just want to sit and just have a really quiet mind.” But it doesn’t work that way.

George also talked gave us some very, very useful pointers on sitting. I want to take it step further here. I said there are two important components to meditation. First is resting. The second one now comes in—listening. And this was implicit in what both Claudia and George talked about: You listen. Your body knows how to breathe. Can you listen to your body and let it breathe the way that it knows how? Or do you have some half-ass idea about how it should all be done. And you just go ahead and breathe that way?

You know the most difficult people I find to teach? Yoga teachers. Not all of them. But a good number of them have got so used to controlling their breath that they can’t actually let the body breathe. And it’s fair enough because in Hinduism/Yoga, it’s a different approach. And you learn to generate experiences through working with the body and working with the breath in ways. But they come to Buddhist practice and they sometimes find it very, very difficult because they can’t actually just rest and let the body breathe. It feels like everything’s going out of control.

Now, in that sensation of everything going out of control, there are a whole bunch of physical sensations. And that’s where you start in your practice. Okay, so, I feel like things are out of control, what am I experiencing physically? I feel like I am going to sleep, what am I experiencing physically? I’m feeling angry and upset, what am I experiencing physically? We do this over and over again.

In other words, you listen to the breath. You listen to the body.Your body will tell you how to sit. It will tell you when you are straining too much. It will tell you when you are slumping too much. It will tell you what it can do. It will tell you what it can’t do.

As you sit with the body, then you’ll find all of these different sensations. You listen to them very deeply, you will know how to sit. You listen to your breath and your breath will tell you when it’s out of sync with the body. And you will know, or your body will know, how to breathe. As you listen to all of that, you’ll find that you will know how to rest.

Resting in this way may feel a little different, because as Claudia said in her comments, there isn’t this sense of control that many of us are used to. And so, the moment we start actually resting, our emotional reactions to the lack of control start to arise, and now we just go through the same cycle again. What do I experience in my body?

And so meditation practice in this way of resting and listening is a dynamic process of adjustments in our posture, in our breath, in how we’re placing our attention. But the net result of all of those adjustments is an increasing sense of both rest and balance. That’s what we mean by such terms as shamatha. It’s not a case of just holding everything still. That just produces suppression and that generates other problems.

Rather, when sitting this way, practicing this way, we’re listening to our whole experience and finding a place of balance in it and resting there. Now, as we rest there, the place of balance will naturally shift because of all of the movements that George was describing. And so we find ourselves resting in a constantly moving balance.

Now as time goes on and we gain more experience and understanding, that becomes more and more subtle. So, from the outside, it will look like we’re doing nothing. But inside, we will sense this constant movement out of balance and then the adjustment to move back towards balance. And I’ve said on other occasions, it’s a bit like riding a bicycle. It doesn’t matter how fast you’re going on a bicycle, the bicycle is always moving a little bit from side to side. And you’ll find the same thing in meditation: It’s always moving a little bit. And the moment you try to hold it still, you actually stop the process. But if you just rest in this movement and keep listening and listening, you’ll find that the adjustments become smaller and smaller and you rest more and more completely.

Now, if you’re like most people, you’ll want to rest on something. And I ask you to remember, it’s turtles all the way down! [Laughter]


The Basics

Meditation / Practice

Motivation (Willingness)

Resting (Breathing)

The Body

The Central Practice

Meditation Walkthrough

First hand experience from Ken of what goes on in him when he is meditating. Describes also the basic technique of counting the breath to ten.

Meditation Walkthrough (from TNE02: There is No Enemy (retreat) 00:36:16.00 - 00:52:50.00)

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Primary Practice Benefits

Primary Practice Benefits (from BWM09: Buddhahood Without Meditation 00:33:28.00 - 00:49:01.00)

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It has certain practical benefits. ... So you tend to notice a lot more.
Of course, the practice Ken is talking about is this one. It has also the benefit of being very simple and easy.

P.S. Test Your Awareness: Do The Test


The Primary or Central Practice

Ken presents this meditation practice in many retreat talks calling it either the primary or the central practice. You'll also find a longish version posted here, presented in the context of a workshop on the Heart Sutra.

Here's a version of the instructions for the primary practice that I like very much :).

The Primary Practice (from WS01: Warrior's Solution (retreat) (revised) 00:22:28.00 - 00:29:53.00)
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The clip has a low sound volume and a high noise level. Below is another version with a noise filter applied.  It has less noise, but a higher volume. 

The Primary Practice (from WS01: Warrior's Solution (retreat) (revised) 00:22:28.00 - 00:29:53.00)
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The awareness practice I will also introduce this evening. Many of you have had this before. It goes by the name, the primary practice and it is a method of coming into awareness. There are four steps: focus, field, internal material, presence.

So right now, pick a focus for your attention, it can be anything. It can be your breath. It can be an external object. It can be an internal sensation, it doesn't matter. It's simply a focus. And when you move into focus, you'll feel a shift in your energy.

Now, let the focus, or your attention rather, expand to the field, the whole field of sensory experience: sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, all of them. And you'll probably experience another shift in energy.

And resting in that experience, now include all of the stories, feelings, evaluations, beliefs, and perceptual frameworks in you, all of your internal material, all that you can be aware of in the moment. Just include it all.

And now, drop any sense of inside or outside, there is simply the totality of experience that arises in the moment.

And you rest there.

And when the sense of presence diminishes, return to focus, and field and internal material and dropping inside and outside.

In this work, do not try to hold states. That is a form of practice, but in a certain sense in which we live and practice, it doesn't seem to be the best form of practice.  The better form is when you feel the quality of presence or awareness fading, diminishing, being lost in confusion or cloudiness--however you experience it--then move into that experience through the primary practice, through the four steps. So there's a constant returning and resting rather than a sense of establishing and holding.

Return and rest, and then return and rest.

And return and rest.

Another version:

Primary Practice (from ATP10: A Trackless Path (retreat) 00:23:22.2 - 00:30:00.2) (download into iTunes)
Well, I think I'm going to just spend a few minutes on Pat's question to Tom to start off with, and then do something a little different this evening. I think we did this in Montreal at some point during the weekend,  what we're calling the primary practice. This is the name a very good friend of mine gives it. It's a way initially of coming into the experience of attention. As it matures it's coming into the experience of awareness, and eventually is a way of coming into the experience of presence.

The method is the same for all three essentially. And as Tom was saying we begin by opening to everything we experience through our senses. And there are a couple of different ways you can do that. One is to select a visual object and rest in the experience of that object and gradually expand the visual field until you're including everything in your visual field. And then add hearing and touch, smelling and tasting. There's no particular order there. You could also start with sound.

Another way, which I've often done, is to start with the sensation of breathing which is primarily a kinesthetic sensation. And expand from that to include all sensory sensations. That's the first step. Then one opens to all internal the material which is what Tom was referring to as all the thoughts and emotions and stuff like that. They'll be beliefs and attitudes. All kinds of things. Many of them disagreeing with each other but you don't worry about that. You just open to all of them.

And then the third step;  as you work both those steps you begin to get the sense of a field of experience, some of which we generally call internal and some of which we generally call external. But it's all experience. And there's a field of experience and so we open to that field. And then we open our hearts to everything that is experienced in that field.

And many people find the notion of opening one's heart to things a little strange. But more than once I've asked a person who says, you know, "How do you do that?" So I'll take a meditation cushion being a nice, you know, endearing object. And say, you know, "Think of your husband or your wife. Open your heart." They usually have no problem with that. If they have a problem with that then I'm in trouble. But they open that. I say "Okay, now, here's this meditation cushion. Do exactly the same thing with that." And they go, "Huh." But that's what you do.

And so there's a shift into a different kind of experience at that point because you're very explicitly including an emotional component of attention, not just an intellectual or conceptual or mental component. And you can feel that because there's a deeper level of engagement.

When you can rest in that then you pose the question, "What experiences all this?" And when you pose that question, you'll experience a shift, and that shift is into the experience of awareness itself. What a lot of people will do is try to answer that question and that just plunges them straight back into conceptual thinking. You just ask this question. Experience the shift, and rest in the shift.

Now one can work these four steps slowly, building up stability in each one. And as you practice this over a period of time, it progressively deepens because one is building a capacity in attention through this practice. And one is also transforming the energy of experience of each of these levels into attention. So there's two different things going on. It's a very simple and yet very, very effective practice. Okay?

And another: 

This Clip (from TNE07: There is No Enemy (retreat) 00:00:50.00 - 00:02:48.00) (download into iTunes)

And here's a version with a slightly different twist and excellent sound quality.

Opening Practice (from SUS05: Sutra Session (questions) 00:12:46.00 - 00:20:24.00) (download into iTunes)

And here are portions of a transcript from session 8 of the Five Elements Five Dakinis retreat where Ken talks about the initial steps of the primary practice in quite some detail: 

Last night I talked briefly about the three kinds of meditation practices: the practice of presence or direct awareness, purification practices and energy transformation practices. Up to this point, the principle way we've been working with the dakinis, is as a purification practice. That is, developing a relationship with the dakinis, as a way of transforming the reaction chains associated with each element into the experience of presence. Particular emphasis on the aspect of pristine awareness associated with each element. And yesterday we moved from working with each dakini separately, to working through all of them and touching each of the centers in the body. 
So today, I want to shift the emphasis of the practice from purification, that is undoing the reactive patterns, to transformation of energy and from there movement into practice of direct awareness. Now some of you who have worked with me before are familiar with the practice we call ecstatic practice. But I think it's probably worthwhile to go over it again, particularly for people who haven't had that opportunity. So, if you just sit for a few moments. 
What ecstatic practice consists of is a way of opening to experience. And it can be done in a variety of ways. For today, just pick an object that's in your natural line of vision or something that's when you look straight ahead is just there. So you can pick the book besides Dick's knee. Let your attention rest on that. That step's called focus. You don't do anything with it, just let your attention rest there. 
And then, without moving your eyes, include in your awareness progressively more, expanding from that book. In my case, to include the floor, carpet, other objects around it, people, all the different clothes they wear, out to the walls and ceiling, windows, everybody in the room. So you see everything, all at once. 
When you do this you may find your attention grabbed by a particular object, maybe the color of somebody's shirt. That's equivalent of being distracted by a thought. What we do here is a little bit different. If you find yourself looking at something like that, then just begin again, expanding from that object to your whole field of vision. 
And as you become used to seeing everything in your field of vision at one time, at the same time, slowly move your head and your eyes so you can look around the room. But all the time, you're seeing everything. You're seeing both everything and every detail. So take it all in. 
Okay, relax your efforts. 
Now this is something you can practice when you're walking around. You can look at the river, see the whole river and every swirl and ripple and eddy. You can look at a tree and see every branch and leaf. You can look at a field, and see every blade of grass. And you can look at the road, and see every pebble. If you live in a city--a very good place to practice this, shopping malls. See everything. Go into a glassware store, so you see every glass and the reflection of every glass in every glass. 
One can take this a little bit further. So again, pick an object. Let your attention rest there, that's the focus. Let your field of vision expand to include everything. But now include everything you hear also. Sound of the river, sound of birds, sound of my voice, as well as everything in your visual field. And you can also include all the sensations you experience in your body. Sitting where you do, texture of your clothes, pressure of your body against whatever you're sitting on. You may find your attention just goes to that, in that case just expand back to include all the visual, all the sound. So you sit in the totality of your sensory experience. One can also include taste and smell. There is no editing here. One just includes everything. 
And now as you rest in your sensory fields, include all the internal material. All of the emotions, all of the stories, all of the beliefs, all the values, all the memories of the past, all the anticipations of the future, everything you're concerned about right now. Include it all as you rest in the field of sensations, for all your senses. Don't move from one to the other. You stay present in the sensations and the senses and include all of the internal material.
And there may be stuff pulling here and pulling there. Whenever you feel any of those tugs, expand from there to include everything. And we usually begin with the sense of inside and outside. Sensory sensations are out there, internal material is in here. But all of it's just experience, so drop any sense of inside or outside. There's just experience. 
As you include more and more, you may find your body tenses a bit. If you find that, just include the sensations of the tension. Maybe it relaxes, maybe it doesn't. But just include those sensations. Maybe there's fear or relief--other feelings come. Just include those. No inside, no outside. Just experience. 
And then pose this question, but don't try to answer it. Just experience the shift and ask, "What experiences all this?" There is a shift. Rest in the shift, including everything. 
The version I just gave you here is sometimes known as the primary practice. Because it actually works from the ecstatic practice but it actually includes the essential points of both mahamudra and dzogchen all in one very simple practice. 
Full transcript

And from session 2 of  A Trackless Path:
Now, the steps in the primary practice are four just to make it nice. The first one is, open to the experience of all sensory sensations. What we see, and the experience of seeing; what we hear, and the experience of hearing; what we touch, and the experience of touching. One can include smell and taste but those are usually fairly ephemeral. So unless one's sitting beside a garbage dump or a flower bed or something like that, then it would become quite vivid. That's the first step. And there are a couple of different ways of doing that, which I'll come back to in a moment.

The second step is to open to all of the emotions, all of the internal material: emotions, feelings and so forth. Stories, as well.

The third step is to open your heart to everything you're experiencing. Now it's very interesting--a little digression here--frequently when I say that people go, "Huh? How do you open your heart to experience?" And rather than give a long-winded explanation I usually ask them if they're in a relationship. And they say, "Yes." So can you open your heart to partner, your husband, spouse, whomever? They say, "Yes." I say, "Do that." And they go, "Okay." So now you see that cushion there, do the same thing. And almost everybody gets it. There is a way of just opening--and I'm not quite sure how to put it into words--emotionally, heartfelt way or something like that. But it isn't actually dependent on the object though ordinarily we think it's dependent on the object. You follow?

So people get that quite quickly. What this reminds me of is a passage I read in a book called Against Essentialism, which is a 200 pages of high level sociological theory, which is a sustained argument for non-self. And one of the things he [Stephan Fuchs] points out--and I just love this--we ordinarily think, you know, this is a thing. And it's glass or this gong or book and you are people. But what he points out is that peopleness and thingness doesn't reside in the object, it resides in the relationship.

How many of you know people who relate to, say, a flower or a garden or a car or even a rock possibly, as a person? You all know people like that? And how many of you have been treated by someone or other as a thing. So it's actually the quality in the relationship that determines peopleness and thingness. And this applies very much to this business of opening our heart to what we experience. Ordinarily we say, okay, we open our heart to people. Maybe pets too. But beyond that we don't go. But it's actually possible to open our heart to everything we experience. And it changes things. So that's the third step.

And the fourth step is to open to the experience of awareness itself. That is usually done by asking the question, "What experiences this?" When that question is asked a shift takes place and one rests in the shift. One doesn't seek to answer the question. One simply rests in the shift.

Among all these different versions of instructions for this practice, I hope you'll find one that speaks to you, as this is one of Ken's tried and true work horse practices for building capacity in attention.



Mantra (from FI 01: The Four Immeasurables 01:18:42.10 - 01:19:15.00)

(download into iTunes)
... It's great to work with these in your daily life, thank you for raising that up, yeah. If you memorize these and just go around saying them all the time, thank you very much for bringing that point up, and just learn them by heart, that's really good. And, so that way you keep the practice going through the day. Yeah.