Episode 019:


Spontaneous Thinking

Meet Shinzen Young, a long-time instructor of mindfulness, author of The Science of Enlightenment, and now co-director of the “Science-Enhanced Mindful Awareness” or SEMA Lab at the University of Arizona. Shinzen is Jeff’s OG meditation teacher. He is both a scholar of comparative mysticism and a highly creative designer of strange and beautiful (and practical) meditation techniques.

In this episode, instead of trying to banish thoughts, we drop into a “global unfixated state” and allow creative images, words, and associations to unfold spontaneously. Both Shinzen’s exposition and his guided practice are quite precise, which makes for a lively discussion afterwards. If you’re patient and able to trust what Shinzen is pointing to, it can lead to genuine insight. Thinking can shift from something rigid and constrained, to something more free-flowing and intuitive and even wise.

This matters. For Shinzen, the best of humanity comes through via our creativity and intuition. In his words, we can train ourselves to “let nature take over.” Shinzen himself demonstrates this at the end, when he comes apart during an emotional discussion of Japanese Noh theater. Much good stuff on the “deep mind”, subconscious processing, and the better angels of our nature.

So: here we go … like “seaweed in a tide poodle”!


By letting activity and rest come and go without preference … the mind can flow as nature flows. And therefore it can understand the nature of nature, which we call enlightenment.

*coming soon*

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