This page contains recordings of guided meditations and dharma talks. It will be updated as new recordings are made!
Recordings can be downloaded. Please share freely with credits where appropriate.
Pause to Notice Experience
3 minutes, no previous experience required. Simply pause and notice what is happening in your experience.
A series of guided meditations intended to gradually introduce the meditation technique. The basic practice is to bring attention to a particular object or scope of sensory experience (e.g. external sounds, or all body sensations) and then anytime you notice that attention has moved away, be glad for the moment of awareness, then gently bring attention back. Using this simple technique there is a progression of meditation objects, beginning with everything in the present moment (sounds and body sensations), to all body sensations, to the breath throughout the body, to the breath at one location.
This is a guided mettā meditation where we direct kindness and friendliness to six different recipients. We send kindness to ourselves last. To practice mettā, we can use a number of simple phrases repeated silently, as well as visualisation and awareness of body sensations/emotions. It is a transformative practice that has the potential to help us move through difficulty and form better relationships with ourselves and those around us.
This is a similar but longer version of the mettā practice.
Right Effort, Metta, Self-compassion
This is a recording taken from a Pragmatic Dharma Club class at SF Dharma Collective. Here we first consider how to create the intention to practice with Right Effort, treating each meditation as an act of kindness and trying to move the mind gently and without forcing. Then we move on to a guided mettā practice using visualisation and phrases to generate the intention of goodwill. Finally we move to a self-compassion practice, holding any difficulty or suffering that we feel gently and with kindness.
This recording is just the Right Effort part of the above.
Relaxation and the Breath
This meditation emphasises relaxation of body and mind through placing attention on the breath and noticing any sense of relaxation, stillness, or peacefulness. There is a reinforcing relationship between placing attention on the breath and relaxation: when the mind is more calm attention is more likely to be stable, and when attention is more stable qualities of calm and stillness are cultivated.
Clarity of Emotions
This 26 minute guided meditation focuses on making contact with emotional-type body sensations. There is a strong emphasis here on observing these feelings with acceptance, compassion, and curiosity. It begins with śamatha by watching the breath to cultivate calm and clarity, then moves to finding somewhere in the body with neutral or pleasant sensations as a ‘home base’ — somewhere to return to at any point the emotions are overwhelming. The second half of the meditation explores if there are any emotions or feelings that are strong or prominent and invites the meditator to watch these with clarity by investigating the specific qualities of the sensations felt in the body. By allowing those sensations to be there without pushing them away or holding on to them, the sensations and emotions can be felt without being a problem.
When doing śamatha (calm abiding) practice in the style of The Mind Illuminated (TMI) we are working towards both stable attention and bright, open awareness. If we have only attention, we can get pulled into thought or sleep without realising. This 17 minute meditation uses a variation of the checking in technique from TMI to get a sense of what having more peripheral awareness feels like and to gradually increase the clarity, brightness, and openness of awareness. This practice will be of most value to practitioners working with Stage 3 and 4 of TMI.
Thoughts and the Thinking Process
This 26 minute guided meditation that explores one way of seeing thoughts and the thinking process. This is an insight practice that is intended to increase clarity of this specific part of experience. Here we look at how thoughts often appear as either mental images or mental talk, finding where they are located in space and the felt sense of experiencing these different kinds of thoughts. We are unconcerned with their content, seeing them as a process of the mind that doesn’t need to be stopped or controlled but instead can just be allowed to happen without pushing away or holding on.
Note: this meditation doesn’t include any śamatha/samadhi/concentration practice, so you may want to add this yourself at the beginning.
This is a longer version of the Thinking Process meditation that includes śamatha practice at the beginning.
Four Step Transition to the Breath
This 16 minute practice moves from an open awareness of sound and body sensations to the breath at one location by gradually refining the scope of attention. This allows for a relaxed way of easing into the practice. While we gradually narrow our scope of attention we allow all other sensations to be in the background. This practice is adapted from the four step transition in The Mind Illuminated.
Scanning the Body for Subtle Sensations
This recording provides some ways into the Stage 5 practice of The Mind Illuminated. In this stage, you can use the subtle sensations of the body as a way to increase sensory clarity. By looking for sensations that are hard to find and at the edge of your sensory range, it heightens the degree of sensory clarity, which then increases the overall power of mindfulness. This practice is best done once there is some stability of attention so that it is relatively easy to stay with the sensations in the body. You may find that at first this is tiring and leads to dullness or vagueness, but over time and with repeated practice it is likely to help increase the degree of sensory clarity.
Kindness to Experience
In this meditation you will greet whatever appears in your sensory experience with kindness and acceptance. This helps to cultivate kindness and compassion. It also provides a way of looking that can greatly reduce any aversion, restlessness, or agitation. Through radical acceptance and welcoming of all experiences there is the possibility to open to whatever is present, helping us to feel profound love and wellbeing, or be able to handle difficulty without trying to escape. Two versions with similar content but different durations of 25 and 40 minutes.
Watching the Mind
In this meditation, we experiment with stepping back from the meditation object to observe the movements of the mind. While watching the breath, it is sometimes possible to hold attention on the breath very gently and then zoom out slightly to get a wider field of view. This enables us to observe how the mind moves at different times – what kinds of distractions pull attention away, what is happening in the background of awareness, and whether there is other mental or emotional content that has not yet become fully conscious.
Calm and Clarity
To put meditation in very simple terms, we are trying to cultivate both calm and clarity. If we can balance, and then increase, these two faculties, we will be able to go deeper into our meditations. Settling the mind in the quality of calm allows us to reduce the rapid movement of the mind and helps us to steady our attention. Clarity allows us to know what is happening in each moment, bringing brightness and vividness to experiences. Being aware of both of these qualities allows for reaching deeper states of calm while also navigating any potential obstacles.
Listening to Internal and External Sounds
In this meditation, you will approach thoughts as sounds by 1) listening to external sounds, 2) listening to internal sounds (Shinzen Young calls this “mental talk”) and then 3) listening to both internal and external sounds together. Here we try to listen to rather than speak this internal dialogue, treating it like a radio that has been left on, and observing the beginnings and endings of each different sound event.
After settling the mind through bringing attention to the breath, we then work with clinging. This is clinging in the Buddhist sense: the push and pull of the mind towards and away with sensations and experiences. This clinging leads to attachment and causes suffering. Here we work with first observing what is present in experience and how the mind moves towards or away from certain experiences. Then we see if we can relax this clinging through relaxing the movement, releasing any tension in the body, or through welcoming and accepting the sensory experience. This meditation is highly influenced by Rob Burbea’s dukkha (method 2) instructions in Seeing That Frees.
This practice is commonly called choiceless awareness, but it is actually more about intentionally directing attention but to whatever objects appear. The choiceless part is that the objects that arise will come on their own, without you deciding what they are. In this practice, after a period of stabilising the mind, you notice if there are any strong distractions that repeatedly or powerfully pull attention away. When these arise, direct your attention to that distraction, but particularly to the feeling in the body to which it is associated. Look closely at the sensations in the body. Stay with it until either it goes away (return to the breath) or some other strong distraction comes up (go to the new distraction). This is an insight practice that allows you to investigate what is arising and look at it closely. Try to keep all the movements of attention intentional, knowing where you are directing attention.
Breathing into the Body
Right Effort and Joyful Effort
This talk is from a Day of Practice Retreat on 4 December 2021. I talk about right effort, how to measure progress in meditation, the possibilities of practice, and joyful effort. This draws on teachings by Tucker Peck, Rob Burbea, and Śāntideva.
(apologies for the poor audio quality)
These recordings are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence. You can freely remix and share these for non-commercial purposes, with attribution where appropriate.
These recordings use singing bell samples from Kasper.