The Power of Not Knowing:
Spacious, Non-Conceptual Awareness
Open to the vast possibilities of the dharma, with Martin Aylward.
A different way of being
In this online course, we will get underneath our usual mind operations, to explore dimensions of not knowing like non-conceptual awareness, embodied presence, and a spaciousness of being that allows us to be both intimate with and independent from whatever's passing through consciousness. These are ways of tending to and caring for experience rather than merely trying to understand it.
Sign up today for ongoing access to the course, which you can study at your own pace.
The freedom not to know
"There can be a great freedom in allowing ourselves to not know and learning how to put down the apparatus of our usual knowing. And in finding a fuller and more fluid and freer relationship with life.
I'm delighted to invite you into this adventure to go beyond old certainties and worn out ideas, to come alive in the power of not knowing, to walk this path of liberation together." —Martin Aylward
Come and see for yourself
You may be an experienced seeker who has read the right books, taken the best courses, sat many retreats, and yet you’re still looking for something. Maybe you think you know what that something is. You may be a novice, and perhaps you’re looking for a path that will work for you, for a map of the journey ahead, or even an adventure.
Either way, perhaps what’s really needed isn’t more knowing, more books, more teachings, more techniques, but the permission to trust your own experience, to trust this present moment in the knowledge that you don’t actually know what this is and what will happen next. This is when we really open up to life. This is when we really get out of our own way and allow life to live through us. This is where the magic happens.
An expert guide
Martin Aylward has been exploring the dharma for over 30 years in the Insight Meditation tradition and many others. He has intimate experience of this often mysterious terrain and is an ideal choice as your guide through it.
12 in-depth meditations
This is a meditative journey of opening to the mystery of non-conceptual, spacious, embodied experience. Each unit contains two guided meditations that help you open to the dharma, and integrate new understandings into your life.
Trust your own experience
We're going to put preconceptions aside and see what unfolds as we explore awareness. This means taking responsibility for our own practice, and following a path that is unfolding uniquely in our own lives.
An antidote to information overwhelm
This is not about learning a raft of new concepts or received ideas. It's more like clearing the path of obstacles and fixed ideas so that spacious, non-conceptual awareness can come to the fore.
A different approach
There can be a great freedom in allowing ourselves to not know; learning how to put down the apparatus of our usual knowing; and in finding a fuller, more fluid, and freer relationship with life.
A carefully crafted program
We will explore different dimensions of not knowing over six units. There'll be meditations, reflections, contemplative exercises, and ways of integrating these understandings into the wider spheres and activities of our lives.
Sometimes we can get the impression from Buddhist teachings (or at least develop the impression) that awakening is about our life being a problem to be solved rather than recognizing it as a vast and extraordinary mystery to be embraced, to be engaged with, to be expressed, and lived with. The six units of this course explore different dimensions of engaging creatively, fruitfully and insightfully with experience.
Each unit contains around 50 minutes of video guidance and around 30 minutes of reflective activities. You are free to study at your own pace and will retain access to the course after completion.
Unit 1: Impermanence — Non-Conceptual Awareness
Learning to drop below the usual describing, defining, and narrating of experience in order to really inhabit what's happening.
Unit 2: Spacious Awareness
Learning how to abide in a mind that is, by its nature, vast, wide open, and easily able to contain, recognize, and explore the various content that comes and goes within it.
Unit 3: The Sense of Self
Who do I think I am? Who do you think you are? We'll be exploring identity through a range of inquiries much wider than the dichotomy of simply "there is a self" or "there isn't a self"; being a somebody or being a nobody. We'll find varied ways to explore and express the different senses of identity with which we live.
Unit 4: Loving What Is
How to tend to and care for experience rather than just seeking to understand it. We will do this with reference to the essential holding offered by life that's always inviting us into its embrace.
Unit 5: Modes of Unconsciousness
Exploring the different ways we tend to go unconscious and how material that may have been hitherto unconscious starts to bubble up into awareness in the context of spiritual practices. We'll find ways this material can be skillfully recognized, worked with, digested, metabolized, and resolved.
Unit 6: Uncertainty
Looking at the uncertainties built into life—the uncertainties of our own lives, the uncertainties of life itself—serves as an invitation to live within the vagaries of world. It's an opportunity to abandon our attempts at certainty, to relax our anxieties about imperfection, and to show up in the midst of our uncertain existence. If we do this, we'll find ourselves able to live more fluidly, more freely in the life we live.
Aged 19, Martin left for India with a one-way ticket and no luggage. He spent most of the next four years in Asian monasteries, retreat centers, and ashrams where he developed a formal meditation practice based on vipassanā (Insight Meditation). Martin has also studied and practiced with various Buddhist teachers and traditions, including the Vajrayana practices of Mahamudra and Dzogchen.
Since 1995, Martin has lived with his family in Southwest France. He co-founded Moulin de Chaves in 2005, a residential retreat center where he lives and teaches. Martin is also co-founder, with Mark Coleman, of the Mindfulness Training Institute. He is a visiting faculty on the MSc in Mindfulness-Based Interventions at UCD, Ireland.
Martin recently published Awake Where You Are: The Art of Embodied Awareness (Wisdom 2022), a practical, accessible guide to fully inhabiting our sensory experience as a foundation for awareness.
Martin Aylward is a wise and inspiring teacher who simultaneously manages to be entertaining. He has had a very positive effect on my own practice, as well as on my teaching Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation for Law Students workshops at Stanford Law School. —Thomas Fenner, Deputy General Counsel, Stanford School of Law.
No-one I know can hold deep wisdom and the messy realities of modern life at the same time as well as Martin does. Martin is an inspiration to my own practice and my work and I owe him a great deal. —Rohan Gunatillake, Director, Mindfulness Everywhere; Creator, Buddhify app; Author, Modern Mindfulness.
Martin is an exceptional teacher and mentor. His deep knowledge of the mind combined with practical teachings and use of inquiry consistently invites us home to our own infinite spring of wellness and peace. —Eleanor Coleman, independent animation producer and distributor for television and cinema.
Martin’s wisdom, authenticity, empathy, and compassion speak volumes about his incredible skill as a teacher. I feel very fortunate to have had Martin shining a light on my path. —Jim Grabb, former World No.1 tennis doubles player, 2-time Grand Slam Doubles Winner, French Open (1989), US Open (1992).
Explore Moulin de Chaves
Take a tour of the beautiful retreat center in Southwest France where this course was filmed.
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