June Greetings from Jonathan Foust: Effortless Awareness, Fresh Photos and More



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  Little fuzzballs are roaming the Potomac. I’ve seen baby geese and mergansers and am waiting for the Great Blue Herons chicks to start exploring the riverbanks. The fox has come by more often, no doubt looking for more protein for her little ones and soon the baby owls in the woods will start testing their vocal chords. Snakes are on the move and the fish are jumping.   As Tarzan said to Jane, "It’s a jungle out there!"   I hope this spring and summer season brings you a new sense of aliveness and delight.   spacer-25

Effortless Awareness

"I’m really confused," a woman said in a class a few years back. "When we meditate, are we supposed to concentrate or are we supposed to relax?"   I paused and took a breath. I never heard the question put that way. After a few moments I had the answer and smiled.   "Yes."   Meditation instruction can be quite confusing. Jason Siff, in his book "Unlearning Meditation," http://www.tricycle.com/community/unlearning-meditation-what-do-when-instructions-get-way put it well when he said that any tradition you train in, you can find another tradition that gives you the opposite instruction.   * Eyes closed? Eyes open? * Palms up? Palms down? * Breath at the nostrils? Breath at the belly?   I find it helpful to think of meditation in stages.   The first stage is about arriving. This has a willful quality. You guide your attention back to your ‘anchor,’ whether that be breath, sound, feeling, mantra, compassion.   The second stage is about noticing. As the observer, you notice what is flowing. You notice your relationship to the cascade of sensations, thoughts, emotions and states of consciousness that arrive and fall away.   The third state is about being. You inquire into what it means to simply let it all be, just as it is. You rest in awareness itself.   Meditation training spans this vast terrain, from techniques that help you focus and drill into the here-and-now, to methods that help cultivate a sense of the witness to specialized instructions for opening into presence.   I have found that as my practice develops and I become more aware of what is here and how and I’m holding it, there is a profound question that helps me determine the quality of attention I might cultivate. That question?   "How does this moment want me to be with it - right now?"   I find that if I’m wound up and tight, I find balance by relaxing and softening. If I’m scattered or reactive, a concentration practice helps me gather my attention again.   Oftentimes we think of meditation as concentration. In this culture, learning how to sustain attention on one object is an important aspect of training the mind.   But perhaps it’s more about seeking balance. Sometimes that calls on us to cease effort and explore what it means to simply rest in presence itself.   You might enjoy this talk I gave at the Spring IMCW Vipassana Retreat entitled "Effortless Awareness."   This talk explores what can happen when you turn your attention to rest in awareness itself.   You’ll learn about the practices that help you arrive in the here and now, how to set optimal conditions for your practice, techniques for turning your attention to awareness itself and how awakened awareness cultivates an awakened heart.      

Upcoming June Events

June 1:

Evening Class at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington Learn More

June 8:

Evening Class at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington Learn More

June 15:

Evening Class at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington Learn More

June 19-28:

500-Hour Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training: Guiding Kripalu Meditation and Advanced Asana Learn More

June 22:

Evening Class at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington Learn More

June 29:

Evening Class at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington Learn More    

Fresh Photos

  Flox follow right on the heels of the Bluebells.   1 spacer-25 It's a banner year for spiderwebs.   2spacer-25 Party on!   3 spacer-25 Parents shepherd their little ones to safety on a remote island on the Potomac.   4 spacer-25 Vibrant spring growth.   5 spacer-25

Video Clip

  Here’s another “Five Breaths / Five Scenes” video for you, this time featuring Spring goslings. Due to popular demand, I’ve lengthen the inhalation and exhalation to five seconds.      

The Still, Small Voice Within: Meditation, Focusing, and Intuition Training

August 16–21, 2015 Sunday–Friday 5 nights Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health   How do you really "know" something?   I've had a life-long fascination regarding the relationship between meditation and intuition.   That’s what this five-day residential retreat is all about. I've been leading variations of this for about twenty years and have some to trust more and more in the cultivation of 'kinesthetic intuition,' the bodily felt sense.   Kinesthetic intuition is the slowest to develop but the most reliable. It's the 'gut feel,' 'knowing something in your bones.'   Intuitive inquiry is pragmatic. It will help you decide what car to buy next, but it will also help you look directly at who and what you truly are.   For all levels.   Albert Einstein said, "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it." To climb out of any rut, resolve problems, or sense your path from a new perspective, you have to shift your awareness. This retreat is designed to immerse you in practices that generate such a shift.   Vipassana (insight meditation) teaches you to pause and recognize what is present, allowing you to see with increasing clarity into the nature of things. Focusing is a tool that trains the mind to investigate what arises from the field of direct sensation, offering access to wisdom and compassion. Combined, these two techniques generate a unique in-depth experience of awakened heart and mind.   Through practice, talks, presentations, exercises, and discussion, you dive into self-inquiry and develop skills to carry with you for the rest of your life.   Recommended listening: Jonathan Foust, Body-Centered Inquiry: Meditation Training to Awaken Your Inner Guidance, Vitality and Loving Heart CD set.   Note This retreat is intensive and may preclude other activities. Much of the retreat is held in social silence.   CE Credits This program is eligible for * 26.5 credits for Athletic Trainers (BOC), $30 additional charge * 26.5 credits for Yoga Alliance (YA), $30 additional charge   kripalu-event-june   spacer-25

Latest from the Blog


The River from Above

Five Breaths, Five Scenes: Goslings

Being, Doing and Q/A

Kripalu and the Berkshires

Meditation, Resistance and the Practice of Compassion

How to Ask the Right Questions

Effortless Awareness (Retreat Talk)

Taking a Break from the Nest


Open Focus

Can you feel or imagine the space between your forehead and the back of your head?   When you try that, you may notice a certain internal shift.   There’s something here about the perception of space.   One of my challenges as a photographer is to train myself to see the space around objects. When I do that, a new view opens up.   Open Focus meditation is a modern form of ancient practices that can help you perceive space and the form inside space.   That sounds a little abstract, but the technique can be quite powerful.   If you’d like to try it, check out the following guided mediation I led at the IMCW Spring Retreat.   If you feel a little ungrounded or disoriented during this meditation, you might turn your attention to feel your hands and feet, or even momentarily open your eyes.  



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