A Window is Where the Wall is Absent

The life impulse to express and to connect arises in me and in all of us. This blog is a celebration of these life impulses. Please feel free to join in the conversation or to just visit. There is a Family Photo Album beneath the posts so you can "meet" my family and I. Welcome!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Pointers point


out of the mind
into free fall.

Pointers are a very different use of language from the normal usage.

Pointers point outside of thought, not further into it.

Pointers are words that lead to freedom from words. 

A pointer that I have found to be very helpful is the question:  Where is my attention right now?

The capacity to "see" the mind and notice what it is attending to is an astounding capacity that tends to be underused.  When this question/pointer arises ( "Where is my attention right now?") and I'm honest with myself, the answer is often:  My attention is fixated primarily on the thoughts in my head.  My attention is on thoughts of me-and-my-life and on thoughts of me-and-what-will-happen-to-me. My attention is lost in ruminations about past and future.

Surprisingly, it can be a joy to see this stuckness of attention on the "me".  Watching the mind-shows called "past and future" and "me"  is so much better than being in them. It becomes increasingly obvious that attention, through conditioning and habit, tends to gravitate again and again back to past and future thoughts about this image called "me".  Through this gravitational pull of habit, attention repeatedly becomes lost in the trance of thought.  It's so freeing just to see this dynamic of attention as it occurs!

Pointers break the trance.

They redirect attention.

Another pointer is the question:  What gives rise to the thought 'I am' ?

Resting in this question, "What gives rise to the thought 'I am' ?"... can take awareness into a felt sense of the aliveness that gives rise to the thought 'I am.' 

Both Bob Adamson and Eckhart Tolle, and many others, have said-  let the pointer do its job.  Let the pointer take awareness into the silence.

Nisargadatta had one pointer from his teacher and he spent every waking moment with this pointer for three years, and the shackle of the mind fell off.

Bob Adamson has said that staying with one single pointer is all that is needed to fully realize freedom.  There are many powerful pointers, he gave one example of such a pointer:

What is wrong with this moment
unless you think about it?

This is also the title of Bob's first book.  Every time I ask the question, "What's wrong with right now?" and pause...the mind-bubble pops.  Every time I ask the question, "What's wrong with right now?" and pause...there is the quiet shock of  THIS-ness, where absolutely nothing is wrong. Awareness jumps off the diving board from mind to no-mind.  Awareness leaps from the finger pointing at the moon to the moon itself. Awareness notices what's closer than any word or thought.

Today there is a wealth and explosion of beautiful pointers, like a huge flock of magnificent birds, flying across the internet and in many books.  I am so grateful!  My intention is to go deeply into a small number of pointers, such as the ones mentioned in this post, and to let them clear the mental suffering as it arises.  Whenever any suffering is undone, the burden is less for all.

Thank you to all my friends on the blogosphere who have shared liberating pointers.  The pointer is similar to  a koan or paradox that bursts the boundaries of the mind. 

If you have some favorite pointers, please feel free to share them in a comment.

There are so many great blogs out there, and I will mention one in this context because nearly every post is titled "Pointers." If you haven't had the pleasure of checking out "Radiance of Being" (Rodney Stevens), you may want to click on this link:


tom sullivan said...

Thanks for this inspiring post !

I honor your frankness and serious aspiration.

Colleen Loehr said...

I'm happy to see you Tom- thanks for commenting!

Alton said...

Hi Colleen and friends:

Calling them pointers is a good way of characterizing them.
I have been using them for many years.
They surely help bring the mind back into being here now.

Here are some I've used and still use.
What is being witnessed.
Attention, pay attention.
Constantly witnessing 'I" or that "I Am".
What am I noticing. Noticing.
Be here now.
"I Am".

I notice that when my mind is wondering and some noise occurs,
it brings my attention right back to the present.
I was wondering if some random sounds appearing every so ofter could
be another pointer that we create to stay present. Maybe a timer that goes offer every couple of


Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Alton,

Thanks for sharing these pointers- I have found some that you mention to be helpful too. There is a great 10 minute audio meditation by Charlie Hays on the 'I am' that I listened to the other day through a link on his 'Only Being' blogspot.

Sound, as you point out, can also break the thought trance and bring consciousness into contact with present reality. Maybe a Zen wrist watch that would chime every so often would be helpful....

Thanks for your comments! Aloha, Colleen

Colleen Loehr said...

Correction: If interested in accessing 12 minute audio meditation on 'I am' go to
and look at post from 5/27/10 which has a link to the audio meditation by Charlie Hayes. His blog is called, There Is Only Being. I found the meditation to be powerful and I plan to listen to it again.

Alton said...

Hi Friends on this blog:
Another way of viewing pointers is cognitive centering devices.

One good one, that in my view can increase holding on to the presence many times faster, is this.
Sit opposite a partner in a chair or on the floor, if you are able to do the lotus or seiza posture.
Look your partner in the eyes and only blink when necessary. Some enlightened beings do not
blink at all as per U.G. Krishnamurti.

There is a synergy to this process of more then two.
If one gets lost in thoughts or loses focus, their eyes will move
off point to the right or left, down of even close. When noticed the partner
can gently tap the other person on the toes. Of course take your
shoes off. (ha)
My wife will only do that with me for one hour on my birthday, which
is coming up again Nov. 30th.
We did this process on the Arika 40 day retreat in Mexico 35 years ago.

And if you want more intimate sharing try Tantra.

Great blog Colleen.

Best wishes,

Diane AZ said...

I find pointers fascinating. The Sailor Bob one has been a favorite. Another is to ask "Is it true?" as in Byron Katie's Work. And lastly to ask "who?" as in who is afraid or nervous or embarrassed, since there is no separate person who could have those feelings.

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Alton,
Thanks for your comments.

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Diane,

I also love the pointer from Katie, "Is it true?". I have worked with the question "who" to some extent. A few times I have asked myself "who is miserable?" when feelings of unhappiness arose and I was delighted and surprised to discover that I was not miserable... there was just a miserable story in the head causing miserable feelings to arise- but there was in fact no miserable person. Then I found myself feeling pretty comfortable and at peace with all the miserable thoughts and feelings...which tended to drift off when I didn't become reactive to them.

I'm glad you reminded me of asking the simple question "who?" as various mind-states arise. That is an excellent pointer that I had forgotten about.

I hope you don't mind me saying so, but I understand that you have been blessed with the greatest of all possible pointers- the appearance of a new human being in your life! A new born baby is the greatest of all life's koans. Enjoy! And thanks so much for your comments.

tom sullivan said...

Hi Colleen, I recently posted on Untruths something called Three Words Striking the Vital Point. As I see it, this is an unusual 3-step pointer.

It has been translated in numerous ways but, it is mainly the structure of it that I think is relevant to your post.

First, it points to "the Essence or Nature of Mind," or whatever label you choose.

Next, it urges one to "decide on this unique state;" to commit to "It."

And finally, to continue with confidence that this "Essence can liberate whatever arises". In other words, it encourages us to "stick with It, come what may" - as did Nisargadatta.

In the context of your post, it's not so much the wording that's of interest, but the dynamic structure of this 3-pronged "pointer."

Colleen Loehr said...

Tom- Yes- I love the post you are referring to on your blog, and there does seem to be a kind of "trinity" or three-pronged pointer that is somewhat parallel to the structure of pointers discussed in the post on this blog. Kind of a synchronicity! Thanks for pointing this out...mmm "pointing" this out (no pun intended :)).

Layla Morgan Wilde said...

I see you're a fan of my pal Nothing Profound. So glad to have stumbled here, but then again there are no accidents. Walls and windows are rich in metaphors and I love photographing them.

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Layla,

Yes, I love Nothing Profound's blogs. It seems like he falls through a hole in the world and then comes back with glittering jewels.

I checked out your website and enjoyed the stunning photos! I like the way you use a window shape in some photos, like we're looking more deeply into the flower being photographed. You also have lots of good book reviews and recommendations- I'm glad to seeing your reading Carl Jung! I haven't read much of his writing, but I'd like to.

I've always loved windows and doors and I was looking out the window one day when it occurred to me that a window is literally nothing at all. I suppose when it's closed you could say it's clear glass. But when it's open there is absolutely nothing there. It's made out of the absence of the wall. Funny how nothing is so wonderful. I might free associate more...but it's time to run to Jack's baseball game. Thank you so much for visiting. Colleen

rose duncan said...

Once again I'm curious, what is your meditation practice? Perhaps not the place to discuss this, but I find it interesting reading about this and also all the comments. I'm sure we'll be discussing this soon, perhaps in person.

Alton said...

Hi rose and everybody:

I know you were asking the question about
what is Colleen's meditation practice and I am probably
being obnoxious to jump in and tell you about my current
practice. I've concluded after over 30 years of diligent
meditation practice, that I can make many times the progress
if I work on basic concentration. Of course I got this idea
from Sayadaw ujotika and adapted it somewhat.
Check out my blog about concentration practice
and a device that I constructed.
Click my photo on this blog as a member and you will be directed to it.

Colleen. It is OK to delete this offering if you feel that
is it out of order.


Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Naomi,

Great question. I like Charlotte Joko Beck's definition of meditation as "essentially a simplified space."

When we sit quietly doing nothing with no particular agenda, life reveals itself. It's a strange uncharted place, the place of just being without trying to get any place or change anything. The focus on "getting to the next thing" relaxes. There is something incredible about every single moment of our lives, and we're apt to lose touch with this when we're rushing around in an endless succession of mundane pursuits.

But to get away from ideas about meditation to the "practice" of meditation, what I actually do is sit quietly many times a day, usually for a few minutes, but sometimes longer. I am drawn to sitting quietly, I love it, it's not something I "make" myself do. Often I look at a cloud outside the window or a plant on the desk or whatever.

What is helpful while meditating is a quality of effortlessness. We have a natural love of ease. Awareness is effortless. Being alive is effortless. There is a noticing that life is living "my" life quite well and I can therefore relax.

There's a blog I like called "Just Rest." For me meditation is a profound resting. Relaxation is an openness and expansion of awareness. Like the aperture of a camera that lets in more light when it is dilated, when the mind and body relax and awareness opens, the peace within wells up. You can't "make" it happen, but you can be willing for it to happen, you can stop blocking it through tension and striving.

It's a great question Naomi and I'm glad you asked. I love to bring a few words into the quiet time to help ease the mind and point attention within, that's where the pointers can be wings.

I'm interested in hearing more about your own meditation practice. Meditation is to me one of the few activities that isn't goal oriented or future oriented, it's the simplified space of being with what is as it is and not asking it to be different. The fact that we are inseparable from all that is becomes a vivid reality in the non-striving and openness of meditation.

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Alton,

I agree that shamatha and concentration meditations can be very helpful, especially in helping to calm mental agitations. When I feel scattered I sometimes like to do a concentration meditation, such as japa or gazing at a candle flame. Once the mind has settled down a bit I like to let awareness expand rather than stay constricted in a narrow focus of concentration.

I think you know more about concentration meditation than I do, and you have more experience with meditation than I do. You clearly have a passion for meditation and it's good to trust your sense of what is the best approach to meditation for yourself at any given time. Meditation is a huge topic. I feel it is best for each person to trust their own sense of which approach to meditation is best for them at any given time.

My meditation teacher, Stephan Bodian, said that he didn't even call meditation "meditation" any more; he just calls it "sitting quietly."

Thanks for your comments Alton.

Alton said...

Hello everyone:
Previously before this blog on Pointers, I used the words Practice Themes.
Because of this terrific blog I will use the metaphor Pointers.
Today I am using the following: Now That. Every sensation that I am experiencing is Now That.
This pointer tends to keep me more in the present time and that is
surely my goal.
When I space out with discursive thinking and notice it I say to myself,
G-TINT which is an acronym for, good that I noticed thinking.


Colleen Loehr said...

I like the pointer Now That, and the acronym G-TINT. Thanks Alton.

There was an error in this gadget


'Sailor' Bob Adamson (2) "character" (1) "me" (1) A.H. Almass (1) abandonment (1) abundance (1) addictions (1) Adyashanti (1) Ajahn Sumedho (1) Alan Watts (2) Albert Einstein (1) alchemy (1) alienation (3) alignment (2) aliveness (1) allowing (1) anatta (1) anger (1) Annette Nibley (1) Anthony de Mello (1) anxiety (1) apathy (1) apology (1) arguing (1) argument (1) Aristotle (1) Arjun Ardagh (1) Ashtavakra Gita (1) attention (4) Authentic Heart (1) authenticity (1) Awakening Joy (1) awareness (13) awareness aware of itself (1) Babies- the film (1) Background Field (1) being (14) belief (1) belonging (1) blame (1) blogosphere (2) boredom (1) breathing (3) Buddha (2) Buddhism (1) burdens (1) busy day (1) Byron Katie (1) Challenge Day for Teens (1) Chameli Ardagh (2) Chinese proverb (1) clarity (1) clutter (1) complaining (2) conflict (2) confusion (2) consciousness (4) consent (1) control (1) criticism (1) cup (1) current (1) Cynthia Bourgeault (1) David Carse (1) David Foster Wallace (1) David Lipsky (1) David Loy (1) death (3) deeper self (1) depression (1) discontent (1) documentary (1) doer (1) Dr. Patricia Gerbarg (1) Dr. Richard Brown (1) Dr. Vijai Shankar (1) drama (1) dream (1) e.e. cummings (1) ease (1) Echart Tolle (1) Eckhart Tolle (22) effortless (1) effortlessness (2) ego (8) emotions (1) emptiness (3) energy (1) equanimity (1) essence (1) Everyday Enlightenment by Sally Bongers (1) experiments (1) expression (1) Facebook (1) family (1) fear (3) feelings (6) fire (1) form (1) Franklin Merrell-Wolff (1) freedom (3) Gabriel Rosenstock (1) good (1) gratitude (1) guilt (2) happiness (3) harmony (1) heart (1) Heart Sutra (1) hero (1) home (1) honesty (2) Huang Po (1) Hubert Benoit (1) Huffington Post (1) I am (1) identity (1) impermanence (1) inauthenticity (1) insanity (1) insignificance (1) integrity (1) internet (1) Jack Kornfield (1) Jack Loehr (1) James Baraz (1) Jan Frazier (3) Jane Hooper (1) Jean Klein (1) Jeff Foster (2) John Wheeler (2) Joseph Campbell (1) joy (2) judging (1) Karate Kid movie (1) kindness (1) koans (1) liberation (1) life (10) life flow (1) life situation (1) light (2) looking (1) love (2) Magritte (1) Marcel Proust (1) Mark Matousek (1) marriage (1) Mary Oliver (3) meaning (2) meditation (2) Mick Jagger (1) mind (8) mirror (1) moods (1) Mooji (1) motivation (1) Mukti (1) my son Christopher (2) naming (1) Naomi Shihab Nye (1) narcissism (1) Nathan Gill (1) nature (1) Never Not Here (1) New York Times article (1) Nisargadatta (3) no-thing (1) no-thought (1) not knowing (1) noticing (2) obesity (1) oneness (1) openness (1) pain (4) paradox (2) paranoia (1) Paul Hedderman (1) Pavel Somov (1) peace (2) Pema Chodron (1) planet (1) play (1) poem (1) poetry (1) pointers (1) power (1) presence (4) present moment (1) pretending (1) problems (4) procrastination (1) projection (1) psychiatry (2) qigong (1) quietness (1) quotes (1) R.S. Thomas (1) Ralph Waldo Emerson (3) Ramana Maharshi (2) Raphael Stoneman (1) reading (1) reality (5) relationships (1) relaxation (1) release (1) repression (1) resistance (1) respect (1) rest (1) ripples on the surface of Being (1) Robert Adams (1) rocks (1) Rodney Stevens (1) Roger Housden (2) Rumi (1) sadness (1) Sailor Bob Adamson (1) samsara (1) Sara Exley (1) Scott Kiloby (1) searching (1) seeing (1) seeking (2) self (2) self-compassion (1) self-indulgence (1) separation (2) Sharon Ebert (1) silence (3) sound (1) Source (2) space (1) specialness (1) spirituality (1) Stephan Bodian (1) Steve Carrell (1) story (4) straw-into-gold (1) Stuart Schwartz (3) suchness (1) suffering (7) suicide (1) surrender (1) Tao Te Ching (1) the two dimensions (1) Thich Nhat Hanh (1) thinking (1) Thomas Keating (1) Thomas Merton (1) thought (5) Tim Freke (1) time (1) Tony Parsons (1) transformation (2) trees (2) true nature (5) true self (1) Trungpa Rinpoche (1) trust (1) trying (1) unconsciousness (1) Unmani (1) Vicki Woodyard (1) wealth (1) Weird Al Yankovic (1) well that never runs dry (1) well-being (1) William Blake (1) Wizard of Oz (1) work (1) writing (1) You Tube (1)


Translate blog posts

Google-Translate-Chinese (Simplified) BETA Google-Translate-English to French Google-Translate-English to German Google-Translate-English to Italian Google-Translate-English to Japanese BETA Google-Translate-English to Korean BETA Google-Translate-English to Russian BETA Google-Translate-English to Spanish
Powered by
Grab this Widget

About Me

My photo
Greetings and welcome to this blog.

My Kids

My Kids
Mary (14), Chris (15), Jack (9)







Greg and Colleen

Greg and Colleen

Cluster Map

Networked Blogs

View My Stats