Non-dualistic thinking can be so complicated that some people use psychedelic drugs to experience it.
Still, it can be as simple as how you alter your behavior after reading this article.
While you won’t reach Nirvana through the course of this discussion, you will expand your mind in a way that is also going to hurt your belly.
You can’t learn non-dualistic meditation without unlearning dualistic thinking.
The latter is the most challenging part.
We strip away all labels, life experiences, and egos in this process.
Nirvana: a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth.
- What Is Non-Dualistic Thinking?
- What is Non-Duality Meditation?
- What Are The Benefits of Non-Dual Awareness?
- How Do You Practice Non-Dual Mediation?
What Is Non-Dualistic Thinking?
Non-dualistic thinking, in its simplest form, scrapes away every single layer of duality that can possibly exist.
There isn’t good or bad, top or bottom, front or back, pain or pleasure, rich or poor, front or back, criminal or hero, dog or cat, day or night.
There is just “What is.” Moreover, “What is.” will NEVER be a question. It’s a statement.
There isn’t even a yesterday or tomorrow. There’s just the consciousness of now.
Furthermore, “now” isn’t even allowed to be confusing because to have confusion, there has to be understanding.
Let’s look at some moments an average person might have experienced some level of non-duality.
- A surfer catching the perfect wave, feeling at one with the ocean
- A traveler soaking in the first sight of the Grand Canyon, feeling immersed in its beauty
- An astronaut in space, where up and down don’t exist, and they are just conscious of “What is.”
In every moment of life, there is just “What is.” (Yes, this will be said a lot. Strip a layer of duality off of your feelings about that.)
Advanced Non-Dualistic Thinking
Even as a writer, the research for this article has poked at some uncomfortable spaces.
At the advanced level of non-duality, you must accept that you are not seeing the room you are in right now as an observer. You are part of the room. You are the room. The room is you.
You are no different than the phone in your hand or the computer screen you are looking at while reading this.
EXAMPLE: Let’s look at the ocean. The ocean has various forms of waves. When a wave forms, it is still the ocean, right? The wave is the ocean, and the ocean is the wave.
Now, take a step up to realize you are also the ocean, and the ocean is also you. Everything is just a state of being and consciousness.
If Nirvana had a slogan, practitioners would wear t-shirts reading “The Universe is ONE.” Everything is connected to consciousness, and everything is consciousness.
To challenge your thoughts even more, wrap your head around this – there isn’t even life and death in a non-dualistic philosophy.
The convenience for believers is that if you don’t understand it, you just need to practice it more. You can’t even say they are wrong because right and wrong don’t exist. There is just “What is.”
What is Non-Duality Meditation?
Spiritually, non-duality can be really hard to wrap your head around. It might even seem to fly in the face of the religion or God you believe in.
Practically, we can use non-duality meditation to remove the layers of ego, feelings, and biases to just be present in the moment and one with the universe.
When you sit down for non-duality meditation, your ongoing goal (because there is no “end”) is to strip away everything you believe yourself to be so you can find your true self.
EXAMPLE: As you read this, you accept or reject these words based on a lifetime of experiences that shape who you are in a dualistic world. You feel either fat or skinny, pretty or ugly, smart or dumb, etc.
Can you strip away any label and judgment of yourself or this article to be at one level of consciousness with the lamp that lights the page?
What Are The Benefits of Non-Dual Awareness?
We were born into a dualistic world.
Your parents told you either you were a good sleeper as a baby or a human alarm clock with your infant cries.
As you grew up, you were a “good kid” or a “troublemaker.” You were either a good student or an average student.
When we take a step back from everything and everyone that attempts to define us and reject any notion that we are anything but who we are in the realm of consciousness, it’s quite liberating.
You begin to believe you were not born INTO this world; you were born OF this world, exactly like the flower that grows from the garden. In fact, you are the flower, and the flower is you, and both of you are the Universe.
Benefits of non-dualistic awareness include:
- Reducing stress in your life
- Removing anxiety about “what might happen” tomorrow or down the road
- Erasing pre-conceived notions we have about ourselves and those around us
- Not letting the past define us in any way and not allowing the past to cast shadows on people around us
You can’t even try to get to consciousness because consciousness is already here. Right now. All around you.
Practical Examples of Dualism in Our Daily Lives
1. Think of the annoying colleague you will go out of your way to avoid. You would sooner belly flop into the janitor’s closet than be cornered by Karen telling you about her cat.
AGAIN. When you hear Karen approaching, you are in a dualistic mode. Based on your past experiences, you are annoyed and willing to go to extreme lengths to avoid what you believe to be true.
2. You are stuck in traffic and still have to get to Starbucks. You are going to be late for work. Ahead of you in traffic, you notice an Oldsmobile with two older adults in it.
Duality kicks in, and you assume they will hold up traffic because “Old people drive too slow.”
3. Checking the screen of your ringing phone, you see your mom calling. You send it to voicemail because you “literally can’t” right now with your mom.
You believe she will nitpick about your relationship, job, and the most recent outfit you wore to a family dinner.
So many instances in our lives start with the possibility of non-duality, yet we consistently collapse into duality, judgment, labels, and egos.
Can you commit to ONE day of non-judgment or labeling? How about one hour?
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How Do You Practice Non-Dual Mediation?
The beauty of practicing non-duality meditation is you can’t do it wrong. It’s a lively mental activity on a consciousness journey, unlike traditional meditation, which can be more of a calming activity for a greater sense of presence.
Our lives are defined by the reality we perceive. If you and I were sitting next to each other right now, we would be looking at all the same things.
Yet, we would have two different realities based on ego and such. We have attachments and emotional glue.
Non-Dualistic meditation aims to remove any attachment or judgment.
Option 1: Fundamentals
Let’s start easy. Sit as you would for any meditation. Close your eyes, control your breathing, relax your muscles (don’t forget the jaw and tongue!), and just… BE.
- When thoughts come up, do not judge them.
- Don’t judge yourself if you do judge them.
- Just let them be as much of consciousness as the floor you are sitting on.
Option 2: Dream a Little Dream
By this point in the article, some of you think this is a bunch of bologna. Let’s explore this intermediate exercise – think of your last dream. Look at the colors, the scenery, the “normal” things, and the extraordinary.
Likely when you had this dream, you were in a dark room sleeping, right?
- So why does your dream have light in it?
- Why can you see all the colors so clearly?
- Why, at no point in the dream did you say, “Wait, this is bologna. Brad Pitt isn’t riding a unicorn while avocados dance in the background.”
You just accepted it for “WHAT IS.” It is in our waking state we dismiss or reject “What is.”
Option 3: The Headless Way
There are many layers of this philosophy coined by Douglas Harding and several ways to do exercises that support it.
At the root, you have no head. Have you ever seen your head? “But I look in the mirror all the time!” Yes, you see a reflection, reversed, illuminated, or shadowed by things. You have seen a perception of your head.
One starting point of The Headless Way is the Pointing Game.
- Point at 3-5 things around you and notice their color, texture, size, abilities, etc.
- Then point a finger at yourself. You don’t see a head. What do you see? Just the finger in front of you?
- A flash of your face as you perceive it to be at that moment? A color of light reflecting a mood? A feeling of embarrassment, silliness, or elation?
As one reviewer said on the Headless Way website, “There is nothing at the end of my finger. Nothing there but the entire universe.”
These experiments can be holistically enlightening or emotionally exhausting. It’s not a one-stop shop to accept that you are at one with the refrigerator.
While a buzzword these days is to be the “best version of yourself,” this is one way to look inward and outward simultaneously and see how the universe is connected, yet the universe is everything. You are the universe.
Practically, you can at least remove judgment from certain aspects of your life. When you encounter something or someone that often triggers you, remove all labels and judgment and let it be “What is.”