Revealing Awareness

Awareness Before Seeing 

Douglas Harding, a British philosopher invented simple, direct access experiments using the senses. These hacks have become known as ‘the headless way’.

Public Face / Private Space

When we look around at people we see their public face. We all have a public face and we see ours when we look in the mirror. However the magic happens when we notice our private space. The only time we see our public face is maybe for 1% of the day – in the mirror. What do we see for 99% of the time? We each look out of a private space – clear, transparent, spacious and open to the world.

We regularly talk about our public face, but when and how do we talk about what we really experience, from the inside out – our spacious view out.

In the moment of noticing the spacious view, you have found the real you.

headless - I can't see my face on this side of the mirror

Can you see your own face?

The Directions:

  • Can you see your own face? (without a mirror)
  • Have a look and sense the space where we imagine our face to be.
  • You may see a shadow of a nose in a big wide open space.
  • Relax back and notice the big wide open space, where your head should be.
  • Notice the outer expanses of the space in all directions. Where is the visual edge of experience?
  • Visually, from our inside view it’s difficult to notice where the sense that ‘I exist’ ends and the world begins.
You have found the emptiness, spaciousness, the void, the mystery, of you own being. Or simply put: awareness
  • This ‘private space’ is neutral. Have a look.
  • It’s like a parallel space that’s always here. Even with thoughts and emotions this neutral private space is there.
  • And we are there! It’s not like a dead space, because we are there, noticing it. We seem to be the space and noticing it at the same time. Have a look.
headless - I can't see my face on this side of the mirror

Further exploration

The Directions:

  • Put your arms out forward, where you can see them
  • Slowly, slowly bring your hands back, behind the head
  • Notice how this brings focus to the private aware space – as your hands start to disappear into the great void (the wondrous space where your head is).

Richard Lang at the Portland Insight Meditation Center, Feb 2018
On YouTube: 

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“So What!”, you say

Ha ha.   Yes, so what!

With practice and growing familiarity, this spacious place is accessible, at will. Imagine what it would be like to be able to access spaciousness whenever you want. Like when you’re aware of feeling low, anxious, or frustrated… blink… Spaciousness. Or you’re aware of boredom… blink… Spaciousness. Or you’re aware of being over-excited… blink… Spaciousness. Or you’re about to go into a meeting or give a public speech… blink… Spaciousness. Or you’re feeling existential angst1… blink… Spaciousness

Thoughts and feeling don’t disappear, but now they have space to move, room to give. Calm equanimity becomes partnered with feeling. Maybe only for a moment. And once we know its possible, moments can be strung together.


“I still don’t get it!”

We can be so familiar with our sense of self that we overlook this essential presence, that we call our self; and we also miss how good it feels to be resting back in our presence. Read more : I AM Here!
  1. This could be the pressure of human existence as one catch-all feeling, or it might be a rejection of life as it is (due to mental, emotional or physical pain)... With the desire to change our lives there comes a subtle self-loathing - we are not good enough the way we are. We know that our approach to life could be different. This sets up the subtle self-loathing / self-shaming that I’m referring to as existential angst. When I can see this and realise that it is not who I am, I can again step back into the Spaciousness.

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