Three-By-Three Meditation

I saw this meditation first in "Being Zen" by Ezra Bayda. It's useful for mentally active people. For example, a young man who was just learning to meditate was instructed to count from "1" upwards until his attention strayed and then start over. He struggled because he was capable of keeping the numbers going in his mind at the same time as his other thoughts. The kind of multiple focus of this meditation can help, as it leaves little room for mental commentary.

How to Practice

You draw 3 different aspects of sense input into your awareness at the same time and hold them for 3 breaths.

For example, you can bring awareness to the sensations of the breath (not thoughts about it but actual sensations, like the coolness at your nostrils), then bring awareness at the same time to the feeling of the palms of your hands resting against your legs or lap, then bring awareness of another physical sensation like sound - the ticking of a clock, perhaps.

You can use any three sense perceptions you like, but they can't be thoughts, opinions or emotions. They have to be physical. They're not hard to find - we're surrounded by them. You can use any combination like the air on your cheek or the pressure of your bum against the chair or cushion or the pulling sensation associated with a pain in your back, a sound like traffic, or birdsong, or someone snoring in the next room, a taste like any lingering taste from what you last ate or drank, a sight like a shape or shadow or colour. Choose any three at any time and use them.

Continue on, using different collections of sensations, for each round of three breaths.

By staying as focused on the actual physical sensations, we move into what is called 'experiencing'. Experiencing is being involved in life directly and not slipping back into the ideas, evaluations and opinions we spend so much time with. This expansion of awareness is similar to an exercise I describe to students who are learning to develop their psychic powers. I suggest that they look with their whole face and not just their eyes. This same sense of broadening perception applies here.

While developing psychic abilities is certainly a side effect of this type of meditation it has a much greater benefit - the capability you develop of being present in a greater sense with life, rather than being stuck in our more limiting mental worlds. It opens way more doors to you than simple psychic ability.

It may seem hard at first, as you skip from one sensation to another, but with a bit of practice, it gets easier. Try not to struggle to make all 3 things happen at once. They are already there. Relax instead, and stay alert to them. You may find it hard and then suddenly 'pop' open or it may take some time to get a feel for it. For some, it's easy, so don't try to make it harder than it is.