Natural Meditation: A Guide to Effortless Meditative Practice

Natural Meditation: A Guide to Effortless Meditative Practice

by Dean Sluyter
Natural Meditation: A Guide to Effortless Meditative Practice

Natural Meditation: A Guide to Effortless Meditative Practice

by Dean Sluyter


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There’s no trying in meditation.

Just as water runs naturally downhill … just as leaves float naturally to the ground … we can all settle naturally into meditation. Not trying, just allowing—not doing, just being.

The key is effortlessness. Whether you’re a complete novice or you’ve “tried it before,” if you can breathe you can meditate. Guided by veteran teacher Dean Sluyter’s easy-going, down-to-earth approach, you’ll test-drive a variety of meditative “vehicles,” such as breath, sound, the senses, the sky, and the simple sense of “I,” and discover which ones fit you best. You’ll find all the practical tips you need for adapting these methods to your daily life, even for a few minutes a day on the subway or in an office cubicle. And as your life opens to deep happiness, clarity, peace, and creative energy, you’ll be inspired to keep on practicing—naturally.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399171413
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/24/2015
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 691,234
Product dimensions: 5.47(w) x 8.24(h) x 0.71(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Dean Sluyter (pronounced “slighter”) has spent a lifetime learning authentic methods of natural meditation from Eastern and Western sages and sharing them with thousands of students, including prisoners, tech innovators, filmmakers, high-school students, and entrepreneurs. He has completed numerous retreats and pilgrimages in Tibet, India, Nepal, and Europe, and for decades has led workshops throughout the U.S.

Read an Excerpt

1. Meditation for the Rest of Us

Please try this:

Turn your head to the left. See whatever you see.

Now turn your head to the right. See whatever you see.

OK. You saw two different views, but what remained the same?

Now scrunch up your shoulders into an awkward position. Feel whatever you feel.

Then drop them back into a comfortable position, and feel whatever you feel.

Two different feelings, but what remained the same?

What always remains the same?

Please recall leaning forward to blow out the candles on (let’s say) your seventh birthday cake. There were the glowing flames filling your visual field . . . their warmth against your face . . . the sound of your family shouting, “Make a wish!” . . . the smell of sugary icing and melting wax . . . the feeling of being inside a highly excited seven-year-old body.

Now recall hanging out with friends at seventeen. All the sights and smells and sounds were different: maybe cigarettes . . . beer . . . pizza . . . wisecracks . . . loud music. You had a different voice, and you were in a different body, one with hair in new places and prone to recurring storms of sexual arousal. Your range of emotions was very different, with levels of sarcasm and romantic desperation unknown at age seven. But what remained the same?

And now please recall the last argument you were in. Recall eating dinner yesterday. Falling asleep last night. Opening this book a few moments ago. Different, different, different. But what remains the same?

Here’s a hypothesis:

No matter how much our experiences change, one thing always remains the same: the presence of an experiencing awareness, which we call “I.”

Running through every moment of your life, whether you’re perceiving your senior prom or your retirement party, is that one thread—the conscious presence that’s there to perceive it all, the sense of an awareness or “I,” the simple knowingness by which all these impressions are known, right now and always. It’s just yourself, and it’s self-evident.

Now, do you have one special I-awareness to experience the view to your left and a different one for the right? Is there one for the awkward feeling when you scrunch your shoulders and one that takes over when you relax them? Clearly not. (To confirm that, scrunch up one shoulder while you leave the other one down.) So it’s also self-evident that it’s the same awareness, the same I that experiences everything, at every moment and at every age, even as the body, thoughts, and feelings incessantly change. Awareness is the constant; everything else is variable.

No one had to teach you this I-sense. It was there before you knew your name or knew you were a boy or a girl. It’s there as the silent witness of your dream adventures and your waking adventures, and it’s there whether you’re depressed or happy, agitated or tranquil, so sick you can’t remember how it felt to be healthy or so healthy you can’t remember how it felt to be sick. You don’t have to do anything to create or maintain it. In fact, see if you can get rid of it.


So here’s the method . . . the meditation:

Rest in the I-sense.

That’s it.

Just bring your attention to this always-present experience of being aware. Don’t worry about the things you’re aware of, which come and go. Since you don’t need to hang on to this I-sense—since you can’t get rid of it—there’s little or nothing to do. You can sit or stand, walk or lie down, with eyes open or closed. You don’t have to push away thoughts; they come and go, and the I is there to perceive them. You don’t have to relax; relaxation and tension come and go, but you remain as their silent witness, unchanged by either.

Please do this for a few moments right now, just resting in the already-present I-sense. After a while you’ll “stop.” That is, you’ll start reading again or go on to do something else . . . but of course the I-awareness will be perceiving that as well.

Why is this important?

Please imagine a perfect moment—whatever that would be for you. You’ve just surfed a thirty-footer off the north coast of Maui . . . or crushed the LSAT . . . or hit the jackpot in Atlantic City . . . or enjoyed a delicious dinner at an excellent restaurant with a lovely new romantic prospect. You’ve got money in the bank, none of your body parts hurt, and you’re having a great hair day. There’s a feeling that we can only describe as . . . Ahhhhhhh!

But then the next wave knocks the wind out of you, you swallow water, and you scratch your face all over the bottom . . . or you’re not sure you want to go to law school after all . . . or you lose all your winnings at the craps table . . . or you get a weird call from your date the next morning . . . or that itchy patch of skin is flaring up again, or you’re depressed again, or you’ve got that annoying insurance commercial stuck in your head.

How long does ahhhhhhh ever last? The problem is that it’s always dependent on so many shifting, changing circumstances, from your date’s mood to the surf report. It’s all (as Paul Simon sang) slip slidin’ away.

What has probably brought you to this book is the suspicion that somehow there’s an inner ahhhhhhh that doesn’t depend on your luck, your accomplishments, your health, or anything else, and that it can be found through meditation. Your suspicion is correct. I’ve seen people find that ahhhhhhh after losing everything in an earthquake, or while they’re serving a thirty-year sentence in a prison where they don’t even have the luxury of a private toilet stall. And I’ve seen people find it in the comfort of the suburbs. Anyone can find it, because it’s the overlooked nature of our own basic awareness, the I-sense that everyone has and no one can get rid of.

There’s just one hitch: it’s hard to believe it can be that easy.

It’s like computers. Before 1984, most people thought of them as powerful in some vague, mysterious way, but forbidding, weird, a little scary. Computers were something for a different kind of person to operate, an alien breed of supergenius science geeks. And, in fact, most computers back then did run on arcane “line commands” or “dot commands”: to indent a paragraph, you might have to type something like “.x703.” The screen displays were blocky, squint-inducing green characters on a black background, always in that same clumsy typewriter font.

Then Apple introduced Macintosh, the easy-to-use “computer for the rest of us.” In the ads, its squat, upright shape and its gently rounded edges made it look like R2-D2, the cutest little robot in the galaxy. Off to the right was the newfangled point-and-click mouse thingy, with its tail in a gentle curve. In black letters on a soft-white screen was a sentence of just one word, ending with a period but starting with a grammar-defying lowercase letter. And, impossibly, it was written in a cursive font, like the handwriting of a warm, chummy, understandable human:

Oh! Computers could be friendly. They could be like humans. They could be for humans, regular humans, the rest of us, the ungeeks, the non–rocket scientists. We could do this.

The aim of this book is to welcome you, with the same kind of hello, to user-friendly meditation: meditation for the rest of us. Despite its growing popularity, many people still think of meditation as powerful in some vague, mysterious way, but forbidding, weird, a little scary. It’s for a different kind of person, an alien breed of—hmmm, let’s see—maybe monks who live austere lives of grueling concentration, or maybe touchy-feely Californians who listen to tinkling chimes while they eat granola and massage one another with crystals, or maybe just people with some kind of extraordinary commitment that the rest of us lack.

Actually, those stereotypes contain a grain of truth. Most approaches to meditation are, we could say, either “hard” or “soft.” The hard methods do require a lot of concentration, a struggle to control thoughts and “tame the mind.” They’re like bitter medicine; you hold your nose, gulp it down, and hope you’ll eventually feel better. The soft methods might involve some feel-good visualization or trippy New Age music or efforts to cultivate only happy-face, positive emotions . . . even if it kills you. This approach is like sweet, syrupy medicine that may be popular (“Kids love it!”) but doesn’t do much for you.

But these two seemingly opposite approaches have something fundamental in common. They’re both unnatural. Something inside us understands that, and rebels against their artificiality, which is precisely why sticking to them does require extraordinary commitment. As a result, I meet a lot of people who tell me that they’ve tried meditation, but (guilty eye-roll here) “I had trouble sticking to it” or “I guess I just don’t have the discipline.”

Good news: you’re not the problem.

If we eliminate both the hard and the soft, the two unnatural approaches, what’s left? Natural meditation—as natural as breathing, walking, laughing, or being the I that you already are. This is meditation for the rest of us. As you’ve seen, it’s straightforward. There’s no straining to concentrate, or cop a “spiritual” attitude, or imitate someone else’s lifestyle. Because it’s natural, it’s easy to learn and do. Meditation is supposed to make life smoother, less stressed, more friction-free, more like open sky, less like sand in your bathing suit. If the process of meditation itself makes you more stressed, then (as De Niro says in Raging Bull) it defeats its own purpose.

“But I’ve tried to meditate, and it was difficult.”

The key word here is tried. What, exactly, were you trying to do? Please spell that out; put it into a sentence. If you try to lift your chair with one finger or try to fly around the room, it’s very clear what you’re trying to do, and that it’s something difficult. Whatever it was you were trying to do in the name of meditation, you don’t have to do. It was just some misunderstanding, or some unnatural meditation instruction, that led you to believe you had to do it. As you’ll see, meditation is not doing, but being. And being is effortless—it’s unavoidable.

Effortless doesn’t mean watered down. I didn’t make up this stuff; its pedigree is long and distinguished. I’ve had the privilege of training directly with some of the pre-eminent teachers on the planet, and I’ve applied what I’ve learned from them seriously (though not solemnly), sometimes on retreats for months at a stretch. I’ve observed its effects in my own life and in other people’s lives since the Johnson administration. I know it works.

We’ll take it step by step, and we’ll go at a relaxed pace. I’ll introduce a number of specific natural meditative techniques, and you’ll develop a sense of which ones you most strongly gravitate toward. We’ll discuss the points of practice as well as the results of practice as they begin to surface in daily life. Your questions—that is, the questions that people have asked repeatedly over the last umpty-ump years—will be answered.

As with learning to tie your shoes, it might seem a bit puzzling at first, but with a little practice and encouragement, pretty soon it’s a matter of “Oh yeah . . . this!” and then you do it almost without thinking about it. I suggest that you try the methods in the sequence presented, as the earlier experiences prepare the ground for the later ones. But ultimately feel free to use whatever resonates for you, whatever you find helpful, and don’t worry about the rest. Take your time. When you feel you’ve really connected with one of the methods, there’s no need to rush on to the next. Any one of them can provide rich growth for days or years.

We’ll draw on several wisdom traditions without being locked into any one of them. One of my first teachers was fond of saying, “The knowledge that is in the book remains in the book”; it’s in the living that these teachings prove out. So I’ll illustrate many of the points with stories of my own thrills and spills and those of others. Stories are fun, but they also help keep things grounded in actuality rather than drifting off into academic theory or spiritual fantasyland. There’s no need to go woo-woo. The actuality of this stuff as it unfolds in your life is deeper than any woo. It’s Whoa! It’s Ahhhhhhh!

I’m writing this on the little deck in my garden, occasionally serenaded by a mockingbird or buzzed by a hummingbird. Feel free to imagine that you’re sitting here with me on a lazy afternoon, that this is where our sharing takes place.

I think there are many people who feel pulled toward meditation but are held back by the notion that it lies on the other side of some narrow door, and that passing through the door requires a lot of work, or study, or discipline, or belief, or ceremony, or money, or finding the one “right” teacher or technique out of a bewildering array of choices. But I can promise you that the door is wide open and easy to pass through. By the time you finish this book, in fact, you’ll see that the door is everywhere. You’ll feel thoroughly at home doing one simple, crucial thing: relaxing into the rich silence at the center of your being. And you’ll discover that it heals and nurtures every area of your life.

2. Unexpect the Expected

Here’s a conversation I’ve had about a hundred times, in various forms, when meeting a new acquaintance at a social gathering:

NEW ACQUAINTANCE: “So . . . what do you do?”

ME: “Oh, I write and I teach meditation.”

NEW ACQUAINTANCE: “Meditation? Jeez, I could never do that. I can’t concentrate to save my life.”

ME: “Me neither.”


NEW ACQUAINTANCE: “Have you tried the shrimp?”


“So . . . what do you do?”

“I write and I teach meditation.”

“Meditation? Boy, that must take a lot of discipline.”

“No, not really.”


“Have you tried the shrimp?”


“Meditation? I’m not the type—too fidgety.”

“Actually, I’ve taught a lot of fidgety adolescents and convicts. They do fine with it.”


“Have you tried the shrimp?”

I don’t try to push these conversations any further, not being a pushy guy. (And besides, I want to get to the shrimp before it’s gone.) But the fact is that many people have preconceptions about meditation that have little to do with the reality of the thing. And when new evidence doesn’t square with our old opinions, we’re often more comfortable sticking with our old opinions. (That’s certainly true, for instance, in politics.)

So, when you’re trying to communicate what something is, it’s often easier if you first eliminate what it isn’t. Imagine trying to teach someone to ride a bike, someone who’s convinced it requires them to wave their arms around wildly. Or imagine going to a play and bringing your own program, one you’ve made yourself, based on what, for some reason, you think you’re going to see. Onstage, the action may be unfolding beautifully, but if you keep looking down from the play to your program and trying to reconcile the two, you’re going to get confused. “Wait a minute . . . where’s the part where Hamlet meets Juliet?”

I invite you, then, to burn your program—to unexpect the expected.

If you never meditated before opening this book, your program is based on what you’ve heard or read or speculated. Burn it, please. If you’ve done other forms of meditation, your program is also based on whatever you were taught (or thought you were taught), and whatever you ran into while practicing it. In that case . . . burn, baby, burn. What we do here will be simpler and easier than what you did before; if you try to filter the new stuff through your memories of the old stuff, it’s going to introduce needless complications.

In either case, to help you burn your program thoroughly, let me point out some of the most common expectations. All of them, as you’ll see, turn out not to be true of natural meditation.


Meditation is hard.

It requires you to concentrate and make your mind a blank.

It requires a spiritual attitude. (Whatever that is.)

It makes people passive and apathetic.

Meditation can be done only by mellow, relaxed people. (Can you see the backward logic of this one? It’s like saying only people with a full tank can stop for gas.)

There’s only one right meditation technique.

You’ll have to master lots of meditation techniques.

It takes a long time to get results.

It’s not for you because you _______________________. (Fill in the blank: have kids, work nights, play football, play the stock market, whatever.)

It conflicts with your religion.

It’s only a form of relaxation, like getting a massage.

It won’t help your problems.

It will magically and immediately solve all your problems.

To meditate, you need silence.

To meditate, you need a mantra.

To meditate, you need to be a vegetarian.

You need to believe in karma, or dharma, or some version of Eastern philosophy.

You need a guru.

You need a cushion.

You need solitude. (As you’ll see, meditation can be a great workplace skill.)

You need to sit in a difficult position.

You need to sit with your eyes closed. (Even that’s not necessarily true.)

We could go on. So whatever concepts you may have picked up along the way, please just drop them for now. Don’t take my word that they’re mistaken. Just burn your program and see what actually happens on the stage.

That’s called the scientific method, and it’s what great sages, both Eastern and Western, have advised for centuries. Socrates roamed the streets of Athens, engaging people in probing dialogues that systematically deconstructed their stale concepts till they fell apart; then they could look with fresh eyes. Seng-ts’an, the third Zen patriarch, said, “Do not seek truth; merely cease to cherish opinions.” Both the Old and New Testaments are filled with prophets saying, “Lo and behold!”—that is, “Look and see!” And the Buddha said:

Do not believe a thing because many repeat it. Do not accept a thing on the authority of one or another of the sages of old, nor on the ground that a statement is found in the books. . . . After examination, believe that which you have tested for yourselves.

Part of the problem is the word meditation. That’s a big word—four syllables. It sounds as if the thing it describes must be a big, arduous task. And everyone has their own associations with the word, whether it’s bells and incense or stained glass and organ music. When you drop all those associations, what’s left? If it were up to me, I’d do away with that word entirely, but then what would go on the cover of this book? The Tibetans have a much smoother, mellower word for it: gompa. And they’re so clear that it’s not about gritting your teeth and banging your head against the wall of your cave that they have a saying: Gompa ma yin, kompa yin. “Meditation isn’t, acclimation is.” It’s so simple and natural that there’s ultimately nothing to do; it’s just a matter of acclimating to doing nothing. I know, that’s hard to believe . . . till you get a little taste and you lo and behold it for yourself.

It may also be a bit less unbelievable if you have a sense that the person saying it has some kind of qualifying background, so I suppose I should mention that I’ve been at this for most of my life. When I was five or six I started asking the deep life questions that most kids ask—but I never stopped. By the time I was seventeen, I was in full exploration mode: hanging out in San Francisco with the local Zen masters, dancing with the Sufi masters, chanting with Swami Bhaktivedanta at the Hare Krishna temple, and singing and dancing through the Sabbath with Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and his joyous band of hippie Hasidim. Hey, it was 1967, and San Francisco was a seeker’s feast.

My early, brief forays into Zen turned out to be instructive in a backhanded way. I’d always been a fidgety type (like those adolescents and convicts), and the Zen teachers expected me to sit motionless, like a Buddha statue, for long periods. If my nose itched or my knee ached, I had to tough it out. I was also supposed to be doing some very intense concentration, which, again, is not in my bag of tricks. To this day, I have great respect for the sit-like-a-rock stillness of Zen practitioners, but I could see I wasn’t going to be one of them.

So I moved on, and I found teachers who showed me that there are ways to meditate that are more suited to the rest of us—natural, relaxed, human ways. They showed me that we don’t have to impose stillness on the body and mind. We are the stillness that underlies body and mind, the innate I-sense that just needs to be noticed. For some years I practiced Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, then moved on to explore Vajrayana Buddhist methods with a number of lamas, the devotional approach of Bhakti Yoga, and the penetrating self-inquiry of Advaita Vedanta. I went on pilgrimages and long retreats in the United States, Europe, India, Nepal, and Tibet.

Several of my teachers encouraged me to teach, which I did, from Los Angeles to Philadelphia to New Orleans (where one of my talks was drowned out by an early Mardi Gras parade) to Iowa to Las Vegas. I landed in New Jersey for a few decades, where I raised a family, taught English and meditation at a top-drawer prep school, and volunteered as a chaplain (aka meditation teacher) at a maximum-security prison. On and off I’ve led courses and workshops at conferences, universities, yoga studios, and retreat centers throughout the U.S.

My life has been very, very lucky. I’ve had a chance to learn from sages in a variety of traditions and to identify the distilled essence of their teaching: simple, natural nondoing, the delicious ease of just being. I’ve practiced it through easy times and hard times, including serious illness, romantic crises, and the deaths of people closest to me. And through my teaching, I’ve had a chance to see that it works just as well for teenagers and grandparents, valedictorians and grade-school dropouts, indie filmmakers and corporate samurai.

Now, when we say “It works,” what do we mean? What does it do? Certainly relaxation, energy, mental clarity, patience, centeredness, freedom from stress and various dependencies . . . all those benefits do tend to accrue. But they’re really symptoms of something bigger:

The way you experience your life in each moment is transformed.

What exactly is that like? Well, rather than create a whole new set of expectations, we’ll explore that in detail as you start to practice and your own experiences naturally unfold. I want you to test it, to lo and behold it yourself.

For now, though, we can say this:

Remember, when you were a kid, the feeling of being “in trouble”? Dum-da-dum-dum! That sinking, overwhelming, all-is-lost feeling of hopeless, inescapable, irredeemable doom? This is the opposite . . . permanently.

Or we can say this:

Perhaps you’ve had the frustrating experience of trying to get some gadget or appliance to work. You keep punching different buttons in different combinations till suddenly, “D’oh!”—you realize you skipped Step 1: “Be sure power cord is connected to wall socket.” We’ve been trying to get our lives to work, but we’ve skipped Step 1. We need to connect to the power source: our basic beingness, our unmoved awareness, our real self. Then a whole lot of frustrated punching of a whole lot of buttons drops away.

And we can say this:

Gradually—and sometimes not so gradually—that inner ahhhhhhh we spoke of grows clearer and clearer, and abides longer and longer. One day it becomes like a light that’s so steady it can never go out, so brilliant it pervades and illuminates every bit of your life. Then people give it names like awakening, transcendence, enlightenment, self-realization, moksha, nirvana,hashra’ah, fanaa, the kingdom of heaven within.

But don’t let the exotic names throw you. What they point to is the core of your own being, more intimate than your own breath, more natural than the flow of these words through your consciousness right now. It’s just been temporarily overlooked. Our project together is to stop overlooking it.

3. Meditating on a Single Breath

In Chapter 1, we learned to rest in the I-sense. Now let’s explore another very simple yet potent technique. As with all the methods we’ll be learning, I suggest that you first read the instructions in a leisurely, unhurried way, lightly imagining yourself doing what’s being described. Then put the book aside and do it. Afterward, you can look over the instructions again. Don’t worry about whether you’re remembering everything you read, or doing it “right.” When little kids play their made-up games, or great jazz musicians play their improvised flights, they don’t worry about doing it right, and that’s what makes it right. In any case, after one or two cycles of read/do/read/do, you’ll have it down.

Sit comfortably. For now, don’t worry about your exact position, or whether you’re on a chair, couch, or cushion (or on a park bench, or a beach, or . . .). It’s best not to sit in a rigidly erect posture and not to slouch; be somewhere comfortably between the two.

Close your eyes.

Lightly scan your body from the inside, and notice whether there are any parts that want to be loosened up somehow. You might want to do a few neck rolls in each direction, shrug your shoulders up toward your ears and then drop them, maybe twist your trunk to the left and to the right.

Then, just sit for a little while, letting everything be however it is. There’s nothing for you to do about anything.

Now, take a single breath, in and then out.

(Of course, you’ve been breathing all along without necessarily noticing it. But now consciously take a single breath.)

Don’t worry about whether it’s deep or shallow, long or short—just a regular, natural breath.

Easily pay attention to what it’s like—what you experience—as you breathe in.

Now pay attention to what you experience as you pause at the end of the in-breath. . . .

Now pay attention to what you experience as you breathe out. . . .

Now pay attention to what you experience as you pause at the end of the out-breath.

That’s it. You’re done.

Seriously, you’re done. Just by leaving off focusing on outer matters for these few brief moments, by using just a single breath to lead your attention into this more inward space, you’ve done something quite significant. Out of the millions of breaths you’ll take in this life, you’ve taken one consciously. You’ve thoroughly inhabited one. Most people go through the day without doing that, and many may go through a lifetime without doing that.

You’re done.

Take your time opening your eyes.

Or . . .

Or you may not feel like opening your eyes just yet. You may notice that there’s something that makes you feel like staying here, something naturally attractive about this inward direction.

If so, fine. Now take a single breath, again inhabiting it fully: paying easy attention to the in-breath, the pause at the end of the in-breath, the out-breath, and the pause at the end of the out-breath. Now you’re done.

Or . . .

Or in case you still feel like staying put, now take a single breath . . .

And now . . .

And now . . .

Just taking a single breath.

Please note what you’re not doing. You’re not “practicing deep breathing.” You’re not “concentrating on the breath.” You’re certainly not “counting breaths.” How can you count when you never go past one? It’s always right now—never yesterday or tomorrow, never one second ago or one second from now—so you can never take more than a single breath. Anything before this breath is just a memory: that is, a thought. Anything after this breath is just anticipation: that is, a thought. We don’t have to make a big deal about “nowness.” There’s nothing mysterious about it. It’s the most ordinary thing in the world; in fact, it’s all we have. We’re always just taking a single breath, but now, for a change, we’re paying attention to it.

As you take this single, present breath, notice where you feel it. Do you feel it only in the lungs? Do you feel it in your diaphragm? Do you feel it in your nostrils? In your throat? Your ribs? Your toes, somehow? The top of your skull, somehow? Not that you “should” necessarily feel it here or there. But notice what’s actually felt, not just your offhand idea of it. Breathing is not just an idea. It’s your experience. It’s your life.

As we take the single breath, we’re not trying to concentrate . . .

Not trying to clear the mind . . .

Not trying to block anything out . . .

Not trying to feel anything special . . .

Not trying to manipulate our experience in any way. We’re just experiencing the breath, and whatever else happens or doesn’t happen is fine.

Sometimes the breath may naturally become very deep and full, sometimes so light and subtle that it’s barely perceptible. Sometimes the pauses at the end of the in-breath and out-breath may become quite long. Perfect. Just be with it, aware of it, however it is. You’re the observer, the passenger, not driving, just along for the ride in the vehicle of breath.

Don’t worry about the body getting enough oxygen. Because any settling down is spontaneous and not manipulated, even if you feel you’re barely breathing it’s fine. Thousands of people over thousands of years have safely logged millions of hours in this barely-breathing state.

As you breathe, awareness of sounds and other sensations will naturally be there. Thoughts and feelings will come and go. That’s all fine—let them come and go. If at any point you realize that you’ve been off on some long train of thought, it doesn’t matter. The moment you realize it, you’re already off the train. That trip is already a memory, and your only concern is the single breath now.


Excerpted from "Natural Meditation"
by .
Copyright © 2015 Dean Sluyter.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

1 Meditation for the Rest of Us 1

2 Unexpect the Expected 10

3 Meditating on a Single Breath 78

4 Naturally 24

5 Meditating on Sensation 32

6 Fine Print (Outer) 35

7 Meditating on the Heart Center 57

8 Fine Print (Inner) 62

9 Meditating on Sound 80

10 First Glimmers 96

11 Meditating on Vacancy 720

12 States 727

13 Meditating into Sleep 133

14 The Myth of Monkey Mind 137

15 Meditating on Self and Other 748

16 Retreating Forward 163

17 Meditating on Love 167

18 Advanced Glimmers 178

19 Meditating on Sky 194

20 Tips and Flashes 799

21 Meditating on I 222

22 The Door Is Everywhere 244

Acknowledgments 252

Photo Credits 254

Index 255

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“The book is extremely well written and joyously entertaining.”
—Publishers Weekly
“With sparkling clarity and wit, Sluyter's ten suggestions lay out the practical essentials of the path. My suggestion is: listen to this guy.”
—Lama Surya Das, author of Awakening the Buddha Within
“Dean Sluyter clearly presents simple but profound ways to live one's life consciously and skillfully. He teaches that the source of universal truth not only rests in the heart of every one of us, but is the essence of what ultimately brings us true happiness and freedom. This is a wonderful book with rich wisdom and deep insight.”
—Rabbi David Cooper, author of God Is a Verb
“No matter what your religion (or lack of it), this book shows how to live the kind of life people ache for. It turns out to be pretty simple.”
—Jane Cavolina, co-author of Growing Up Catholic
“Equal parts inspiring, quirky, fascinating, and fun … CINEMA NIRVANA will make you look at film and faith in a new light.”

 “Sluyter is the movie guru I have longed for. He mines deep spiritual wisdom from classic films with tremendous humor and grace. Virtually every page contains jaw-dropping insights and laugh-out-loud surprises.”
–Lama John Makransky, Prof. of Buddhism and Comparative Theology, Boston College

“Dean Sluyter has one of the freshest voices in spiritual writing today. From the common ore of pop culture he extracts the gleaming diamonds of dharma-wisdom. Take this jolly ride with him and you'll never see movies — or your own life — in the same way again.”
–Lama Surya Das, author of Awakening the Buddha Within

“Entertaining and thoughtful in turn, Cinema Nirvana compels you to watch the movies in the way a buddha might see them.”
–Stephen Batchelor, author of Buddhism Without Beliefs

“If you spliced together DNA from Quentin Tarantino and the Dalai Lama, you'd get Dean Sluyter and he'd write this amazing book.”
–Michael Gelb, author of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci

“From its opening title straight on to its finale, Cinema Nirvana is original, amusing, and on the ball. It will help you stay awake at the movies and dream more in real life.”
–Kate Wheeler, author of Not Where I Started From

“Dean Sluyter's Cinema Nirvana is flat-out brilliant. I have lived with these classic movies and these core teachings my whole adult life, yet I constantly felt blown away by the freshness and richness of the dharmic connections Dean perceives in every scene.”
–Lewis Richmond, author of Work as a Spiritual Practice

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