Guided Meditation with Alan Watts

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Well now, the easiest way to get into the meditative state is to begin by listening, if you simply close your eyes and allow yourself to hear all the sounds that are going on around you.

Just listen to the general hum and buzz of the world, as if you were listening to music, don’t try to identify the sounds you’re hearing, don’t put names on simply allow them to play with your eardrums and let them go.

In other words, you could put it let your ears hear, whatever they want to hear don’t judge the sounds, there are no as it were proper sounds or improper sounds and it doesn’t matter if somebody coughs or sneezes or drops something, it’s all just sound.

And, if I am talking to you right now, and you are doing this, I want you to listen to the sound of my voice just as if it were noise, don’t try to make any sense out of what I’m saying because your brain  will take care of that automatically, you don’t have to try to understand anything, just listen to the sound.

As you pursue that experiment you will very naturally find that you can’t help naming sounds.  Identify them that you will go on thinking, that is to say talking to yourself inside your head automatically, but it’s important that you don’t try to repress those thoughts by forcing them out of your mind because that will have precisely the same effect as if you were trying to smooth rough water with a flatiron. You’re just going to disturb it all the more what you do is this as you hear sounds coming up in your head.

Thoughts you simply listen to them as part of the general noise going on just as you would be listening to the sound of my voice or just as you would be listening to cars going by or – birds chattering outside the window, so look at your own thoughts as just noises and soon you will find that the so-called outside world and the so-called inside world come together. They are happening, your thoughts are happening just like the sounds going on outside and everything is simply happening, and all you’re doing is watching it now.

In this process, another thing that is happening that is very important is that you’re breathing and as you start meditation you allow your breath to run just as it will, in other words, don’t do at first any breathing exercise but just watch your breath.

Breathing the way it wants to breathe and the notice the curious thing about this, you say in the ordinary way I breathe because you feel that breathing is something that you are doing voluntarily just in the same way as you might be walking or talking but you will also notice that when you are not thinking about breathing your breathing goes on just the same.

So the curious thing about breath is that it can be looked at both as a voluntary and an involuntary action you can feel on the one hand I am doing it and on the other hand it is happening to me and that is why breathing is the most important part of meditation.

It is going to show you as you become aware of your breath that the hard and fast division that we make between what we do on the one hand and what happens to us on the other is arbitrary so that as you watch your breathing you will become aware that both the voluntary and the involuntary aspects of your experience are all one happening.

Now that may at first seem a little scary because you may think well am I just the puppet of a-happening the mere passive witness of something that’s going on completely beyond my control or on the other hand, am I really doing everything that’s going along?

Well if I were, I should be God. That would be very embarrassing because I would be in charge of everything, that would be terribly a responsible position, the truth of the matter as you will see it is that both things are true, you can see it that everything is happening to you and on the other hand you’re doing everything.

For example, it’s your eyes that are turning the Sun into light, it’s the nerve ends in your skin that are turning electric vibrations in the air into heat and temperature, it’s your eardrums that are turning vibrations in the air into sound and in that way you are creating the world, but when we are not talking about it when we’re not full of philosophizing about it then there is just this happening, and we won’t give it a name now.

The Quiet Mind – What Makes Meditation Universally Appealing?

Then when you breathe, for a while just letting it happens naturally and not forcing it in any way you will discover a curious thing that without making any effort, you can breathe more and more deeply, in other words supposing you simply are breathing out and breathing out is important because it’s the breath of relaxation  as when we say a sigh of relief so when you are breathing out you get the sensation that your breath is falling out dropping, dropping, dropping out

The same sort of feeling you have as if you were settling down into an extremely comfortable bed and you just get as heavy as possible and let yourself go and you let your breath go out, in just that way and when it’s thoroughly comfortably out and it feels like coming back again you don’t pull it back in you let it fall back in, letting your lungs expand, expand, expand until they feel very comfortably full there then once again you let it fall out.

So in this way you will discover that your breath gets quite naturally easier and easier and slower and slower and more and more powerful so that with these various aids, listening to sound, listening to your own interior feelings and thoughts just as if they were something going on, not something you are doing, but just happenings and watching your breath as a happening that is neither voluntary nor involuntary you are simply aware of these basic sensations.

Then you begin to be in the state of meditation, but don’t hurry anything, don’t worry about the future, don’t worry about what progress you’re making, just be entirely content to be aware of what is, don’t be terribly selective in a particular way, say I should think of this and not of that just watch whatever is happening you, you, you.

Alan Watts