What Is a Mindful Glimpse?


One of my main techniques for connecting and experimenting with effortless mindfulness is through what I call mindful glimpses. Many people have told me that this is one of the simplest, most elegant, and effective ways to learn effortless mindfulness.

A glimpse is a type of shifting, letting go, dropping, or stopping to allow a natural clarity and connectedness to emerge. Glimpses are the initial effortless effort of opening, surrendering, resting, or turning awareness around to find our open mind and open heart. They are “micromeditations” or “rest stops” where we can refresh or reboot our whole body-mind system.

A glimpse is not an insight from our conceptual mind; it is the direct experience of the essential peace, love, and wisdom that’s always been here. It is a paradigm shift, an identity shift, a shift of consciousness to a new view and a new you that feels true. In Tibetan Buddhism, glimpsing is sometimes called “flashing on awakened heart-mind.”

A mindful glimpse is similar to a Zen koan, a simple inquiry that can’t be solved through logic and that takes you out of your conceptual mind and small self. Unlike a koan, a glimpse does not start with thinking. It starts with awareness unhooking from thought.

The effortless mindfulness glimpses I offer in my books can be done with eyes closed or open anytime during your day. They initially take from ten seconds to ten minutes to do, but they shift you into a new operating system that allows you to enjoy their continuous benefits. The primary way of practicing effortless mindfulness is small glimpses, many times.

You can see glimpses as invitations to pause and shift your awareness, to have a chance to taste the peace beyond conceptual understanding. Several of my students have told me that dropping into one small glimpse has been as life changing as going on a long meditation retreat. I have found that different glimpses work well for different people depending on their learning styles.

So if one glimpse in this book doesn’t click for you, no worries. Just keep reading and try the next one. When we do traditional sitting meditation, it can take a long time for the mind to settle. In contrast, here’s an example to give you the direct experience of the immediacy of a glimpse.

GLIMPSE: Wordless Awareness

  1. Allow your awareness to move from reading these words to hearing the sounds around you.
  2. Now shift from hearing sounds to an interest in the open, objectless space all around.
  3. Rest into this alert, wordless awareness.

It’s often effective to record the mindful glimpses you like best in your own voice, at a pace that seems right for you. Then listen to your own voice lead you home.

This post is an adapted excerpt from my book, The Way of Effortless Mindfulness.

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