Moving Beyond Mindfulness To Enlightenment

with Stephan Bodian

The Question

Mindfulness has permeated our modern lives, and with good reason—it’s been proven to boost mood, reduce stress, improve health, and maximize performance.

But in our achievement-oriented culture, the practice of mindfulness can feel laborious and mechanical, like one more task on your endless to-do list. What if you could let go of effort and struggle and relax back into the happiness and ease that is your birthright—and is always readily available to you?

If you’re frustrated your with meditation practice, feeling too ‘effortful’ this episode is for you.

Our Guest


Stephan Bodian

Meditation Teacher and Spiritual Author

Stephan has studied intensively with great masters in the nondual wisdom traditions of Zen, Dzogchen-Mahamudra, and Advaita Vedanta, including 10 years as a Buddhist monk.

He began his practice with Shunryu Suzuki, author of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, and spent a decade studying Advaita with the European teacher Jean Klein. In 2001 he received Dharma transmission (authorization to teach) from Adyashanti.

Stephan has been teaching the transformative power of awareness for more than 40 years. His ground-breaking guidebook Meditation for Dummies  helped bring mindfulness to the mainstream, and his book Wake Up Now provides a comprehensive road map to the journey of spiritual awakening.

His books include Beyond MindfulnessWake Up Now, and Meditation for Dummies.

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The Talk

Stephan Bodian spent 10 years as a monk in America, pursuing enlightenment through a zen mindfulness-based approach. After a decade of practice he gave up. He couldn’t awaken from the practice and didn’t feel like the guidance to ‘sit more’ would work.

Just a few months after leaving the monastery he had a radical awakening out in the real world. This led to a deep enquiry into the nature of awakening and his book Beyond Mindfulness which speaks about the drawbacks of the effortful practice of the mindful approach and instead encourages meditators to pursue a direct approach to awakening.

The direct approach aims to take you beyond the mechanics of being mindful and open you to the non-dual dimension of being, where the separation between self and other reveals itself to be a painful but seductive illusion.

Once you realize this new way of seeing, you’ll learn how to move beyond mindfulness into awakened awareness and discover that the love, compassion, wholeness, health, and happiness you’ve been seeking were there all along.

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The Questions

  • Can you talk about your experience as a monk for ten years, leaving and then awakening in the real world?
  • What did this experience teach you about mindfulness and the nature of awakening?
  • Can you describe the mindfulness and direct approaches to meditation?
  • What are some of the challenges with the mindfulness approach?
  • How much of a problem is ‘witnessing syndrome’?
  • Why do you think meditation is so popular vs the direct approach?
  • How is the direct approach distinct?
  • Is there a specific kind of meditation you can do to invite this type of experience back into consciousness?
  • How do you know you’re doing it wrong or the mind is interfering?
  • How can we be sure the mind isn’t trying to mimic awakened awareness?
  • If you have an open field of awareness how do you focus on specific objects?
  • One of the benefits of the direct approach is that there is this ontological shift in awareness from a discrete individual to totality. And this shifts our sense of struggle. Life comes through you.
  • What do you mean by ‘there are no enlightened people, just enlightened moments’?
  • What are the most common pitfalls people fall into with the direct approach?

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