How can we really address the issue of awakening as lay people caught up in our day-to-day activities? Joseph Goldstein has come up with a plan: “The nine-minute-a-day turbo-charged path to enlightenment!”* It consists of three 3-minute meditation sessions throughout the day, based on the following exercises: 1) Who is knowing? 2) Breaking Identification with the Body and 3) As the Thought Arises… He writes about it in the current Insight Newsletter for the Insight Meditation Society.
Session 1: Who is Knowing?
During the first three-minute session we simply sit and listen to sounds, in whatever surroundings we find ourselves. It makes no difference whether we’re on a noisy street or in a quiet room. As we open and relax into the awareness of the various sounds, we ask ourselves a question, “Can I find what’s knowing these sounds?” Clearly, we’re aware of them. But can we find what is knowing? When we investigate, we see there’s nothing to find. There’s no knower, even though knowing is happening.
This seems a very straightforward way of loosening and hopefully breaking the identification with the knowing as a knower. All that’s going on is just hearing. There’s no ‘I’ behind it. No knower can be found.
So that’s the first three-minute exercise: listen to sounds, see if you can find what’s knowing them, and then explore the experience of not being able to find a knower, even though knowing is still there.
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* He’s also quick to point out “that nine minutes a day by itself wouldn’t be enough. It needs to be built on the foundation of a daily meditation practice, together with the cultivation of the first strand of Right Understanding mentioned earlier: the awareness that our actions have consequences. If this nine-minute-a-day program is combined with other aspects of a daily practice, then I believe it can really enliven our understanding of how to apply the teachings in the midst of a very busy life.”