Recently I was thinking about some close friends who are younger than I am, raising families, with busy lives in the world. I could appreciate that it might be quite some time before they would be able to sit a long retreat. So I started wondering if there was a way for people in those circumstances to integrate some kind of meditation technique into their daily activities that could really touch the transformative power of the practice. On longer retreats it’s easier to access meditative depths, but when we’re otherwise intensely engaged, it can be quite a challenge.
So the question then arose: how can we really address this issue as laypeople caught up in our day-to-day activities? Quite spontaneously a nine-minute-a-day plan came to me, a way to “turbo-charge” our ongoing practice by doing three short meditations a day, each three minutes long.
Session I: 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 noknower, 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.