Meditation: Entering the Liminal Zone

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An excerpt from Beyond Mindfulness

When you wake in the morning, you may notice a brief period when you’re between sleep and waking, when you’ve left the dreams of the night but haven’t yet entered into the identities and plans of the day. The gap may be extremely small, but if you pay attention you can catch it and prolong it.

This gap has an unknown quality, perhaps a sense of openness and nakedness; it’s a kind of liminal zone where you still don’t know exactly who or what you are. You may feel afraid of this openness and tend to rush back into the known, to check your smartphone or open your computer to remind yourself who you are. Instead, just lie still and be open to the unknown.

Resist the temptation to be someone once again. Allow yourself to be no one; allow your mind to be empty of thought, unfurnished, until the identities gradually filter back in. Notice the space between your identities and the awareness of them. Notice if a similar gap appears at other times during the day, an empty space that you may have ignored before but can now lean into and prolong. Continue to open to the openness.

Introducing Awakened Awareness

The distinction here may seem like a subtle one, but it has far-reaching implications. If you don’t need to maintain spacious awareness, you can relax and let it happen on its own, rather than practicing it as if it were a skill. If it’s self-existing and self- sustaining, you can begin to explore your relationship to it. One of the primary problems with mindfulness practice is that the mind may co-opt it and turn it into a mental observation exercise, a kind of faux mindfulness. Ultimately, this “mind fullness” becomes laborious and mechanical and undermines your innate tendency to be authentically, spontaneously present, which is the actual purpose of meditation.

By: Stephan Bodian


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