JoAnna Hardy returns to share discussion and guided practice around imbibing choiceless awareness in the present moment.
In this unique Dharma talk stemming from the Insight Meditation Society’s Retreat for Ages 18-32, JoAnna Hardy offers a potent guided practice for opening to the state of choiceless awareness. From there, she discusses the connection between anxiety and excitement, before opening to audience questions on sleep, metta, imagery, and dropping thoughts.
This talk from JoAnna Hardy was originally published on DharmaSeed.org
Choiceless Awareness Practice
What is asking for your attention right now? Exploring this question, JoAnna Hardy offers insight into moving from focused identified attention to the boundless state of choiceless awareness. After laying the groundwork for the clear seeing which choiceless awareness imbibes, she skillfully flows into a guided practice for sitting in this present view, noticing the arising and passing of phenomenon.
“It’s choiceless because we’re allowing ourselves to sit back and not have to actively create anything. It’s a watching, a knowing, a seeing. Then we get this really beautiful view of how phenomenon changes, and we don’t have to do anything.” – JoAnna Hardy
Joseph Goldstein describes the bare attention of choiceless awareness, on Ep. 112 of the Insight Hour
Openness, Anxiety & Excitement (33:33)
Where are you right now? Turning back to Dharma discussion after a spacious meditation around presence and awareness, JoAnna invites listeners to recognize the power of moments where we are clear and open, rather than focusing on what needs to be changed. From here, she shares a personal story from her childhood outlining how the base energy for both anxiety and excitement are actually the same.
“Instead of only noticing what’s wrong, what I need to fix, change, or excavate—what’s going okay, what’s fine? Pay a lot of attention to those moments when you take multiple breaths and there isn’t a hinderance present… It’s a cultivation to learn to appreciate that, because we’re so used to heightened states of experience that when there’s actually peace and ease, it can feel really unfamiliar.” – JoAnna Hardy
RamDev shares boredom’s connection to nonduality, in Ep. 72 of Healing at the Edge
Spring opens the Dharma session outlining the Tibetan Prophecy of Maitreya Buddha – a future Buddha who is said to incarnate out of compassion, healing the world through spreading universal love and teaching metta. Offering contemplations around how we navigate love, kindness, romance, cynicism, recognition, and attachment in the modern world, Spring explains how our main problem is that in our quest for love we are searching for it outside of ourselves.
“Metta is more than sentimental love, more than ordinary affection or warm feelings. The Pali word literally means friendliness, but this kind of love is without desire to possess. It’s not attachment. It’s open-hearted, it’s generosity. It doesn’t seek anything in return. Metta doesn’t exclude anyone. It’s like the sun that shines on everyone.” – Spring Washam
Spring Washam illuminates Buddha’s Way to Freedom, on Ep. 92 of the Guest Podcast
The Potential of Loving Ourself (12:12)
Emphatically sharing that it is a lie and confusing to hate oneself, Spring reads moving poems from Derek Walcott and Thich Nhat Hanh about the potential of truly loving yourself. Uprooting judgment and the destructive voice of the inner critic, she helps rekindle a powerful recognition of our innate inner radiance. Relaying personal stories, she reflects on the transformational and healing aspects of metta (lovingkindness).
“The self-judgement, this cruelty, the inner-critic that we wake up with that’s our drumbeat all day long commenting on everything, the constant monologue—in some way I think that our path and our healing comes from transforming this. We have to. It’s a lie to hate the self, it’s a form of insanity. It’s like hating the Buddha.” – Spring Washam
For more Spring Washam on Buddhism & loving yourself, tune to Ep. 87 of the Guest Podcast
Questions & Answers (41:00)
Next, JoAnna welcomes the audience into a question and answer session diving into topics like mindfulness and sleep, metta versus mudita, patterned imagery arising in the mind during spiritual retreats, and if dropping thoughts is a bypass.
“If what I’m staying with has an edge of compassion, an edge of interest, an edge of energy—then I’m gonna stay with it longer and have a better opportunity to really discover what’s there.” – JoAnna Hardy