Nondual Meditation: The Art of Letting Go of the Future

May 10, 2024

Those who want to experience true inner freedom are, whether they realize it or not, most likely hoping to have a spiritual opening that is powerful enough, deep enough, or long lasting enough, that it becomes a permanent state of consciousness. This is because we think the holy grail of the spiritual path is to have an awakening experience that becomes permanent – in short, an experience that sticks.

Unfortunately, this hope might be the biggest obstacle standing in your way. You see, we’ve been taught to think about spiritual awakening in the same way we think about everything else – as an accomplishment to be achieved. That model is faulty and all but guarantees you won’t find the fulfilment you’re looking for.

We’ve had spiritual experiences, maybe even powerful and profound ones that have lasted for a few moments, a few hours or even longer, but they always seem to disappear in the end, and then we get busy searching for more.

At some point along the way we decide we need to spend more time practicing long enough and intensely enough to have an experience so explosive that it shifts our consciousness into a permanently awakened state, so we go on a retreat. We have spiritual experiences, maybe many of them, perhaps very powerful ones, and yet they all eventually recede from awareness. So we go on another retreat, resolved to give it everything we have – determined to open so wide that we will never close down again.

This is what I did for over twenty years until one day something did happen – but it wasn't anything like what I was hoping for. I sat down to practice on the very first day of yet another ten-day retreat, and as I did I thought about how I was going to be more still, focused, intent, and receptive than ever before. I was ready for this one to be the big one that changed everything.

However when the bell rang to start the meditation, I realized that I just didn’t have it in me to work hard on another retreat. Initially I thought something was terribly wrong where I had lost my passion for spiritual freedom and enlightenment, but after a minute I realized that wasn’t it. The reason I didn’t have the energy to pursue more awakening experiences was because I didn't need any.

I was already convinced. I knew that the glory that I had experienced so many times before, had always been and always would be, the deepest part of me – even when I was not experiencing it directly. I didn’t need any more spiritual experiences because I already knew the truth of who I was and I didn’t need to be reminded.

I can’t tell you how free I felt. Imagine a moment of recognizing that everything is already perfect, always has been and always will be – because at the deepest level of your being you are always whole, complete, and full.

It was the best meditation retreat of my life, because I didn’t want or need anything from it. I was absolutely free to just sit hour after hour and be perfectly content with everything exactly as it was.

I spent hours simply absorbed in the experience of sitting still and watching the parade of thoughts and feelings pass by my mind’s eye. Occasionally my spirit would mysteriously lift into an unprompted experience of elation and revelation. Then it would gently return to just sitting. It was all perfect. I was sitting in a state of unbroken trust and contentment.

Consciously resting in the recognition that you are always already fulfilled, is nondual meditation. After that retreat, all I wanted to do was make that same magnificent relief available to others. I just wanted to teach people to trust life and let go.

The tradition of Advaita Vedanta tells us that we are always already free, whole and complete. From that perspective the idea of practice is an obstacle to realization because we tend to see it as an activity aimed toward a freedom that will only happen in the future.

I believe that the nondual meditation I teach is helpful – not as a practice designed to bring about a better future – but as an acknowledgment and celebration of the freedom and fullness that is always already ours.

On my retreats I always emphasize that the secret to awakening is knowing that what we discover in our spiritually heightened moments, is the truth of how things always already are. The goal of awakening is not to have an experience that sticks, it is to recognize that true freedom and fulfillment is our natural state of consciousness. Our spiritual experiences do not reveal a future possibility. They show us the way things already are.

An online community of inspired individuals dedicated to spiritual transformation and mutual evolution.
Become a member