A practical guide to experiencing natural awareness—an effortless and spacious state of resting in the depth or our being.
Do you recall, as a child, being enthralled by a drifting cloud, a rain-soaked leaf, a wandering ladybug? Or suddenly having a sense of timelessness, contentment, and ease? If so, then you've already had a taste of natural awareness.
Known and revered in many traditions as a complement to focused mindfulness training, natural awareness transcends even these wondrous childhood moments. Some describe it as a profound “awareness of awareness”—an effortless, boundless state of resting in the depth of our being.
For those new to meditation and experienced meditators alike, these 72 “mini-chapters” guide you on an in-depth odyssey into natural awareness, illuminated by many simple and enjoyable insights and exercises. The Little Book of Being invites you to explore:
The spectrum of awareness practices, from focused mindfulness to flexible mindfulness to natural awareness
How classical mindfulness and effortless natural awareness enrich and shape each other, and how to practice both
Three ways to move into natural awareness—relaxing effort, broadening awareness, and dropping objects
A treasury of “glimpse practices” to spark natural awareness anytime, in just a few moments
How to bring this way of “simply being” into your daily life, into your connection with others, and into the world
“At first natural awareness may seem far away, just a whisper, but then it will begin to grow and expand and permeate aspects of living. Over time we may feel more peace, more connection to ourselves. We may find ourselves taking life a bit more lightly. We may feel a sense of relaxed ‘beingness’ throughout the day, and when we do get caught in our dramas, we may find ourselves moving out of them quicker than we imagined we could.” —Diana Winston
“The Little Book of Being offers new and experienced meditators reliable guidance on the practice of natural awareness, as well as classical mindfulness. Helpful, accessible, and humorous, it makes meditation an inviting adventure while also setting realistic expectations.” —Guy Armstrong, author of Emptiness: A Practical Guide for Meditators; guiding teacher, Insight Meditation Society
“Without ever becoming precious or dogmatic, Diana Winston shows how natural, or non-dual, awareness emerges within the continuum of mindfulness practice and is an antidote to the trap of excessive striving. The book is a testament to her years of experience and is a treasure trove of elegant, accessible meditations. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to free their heart and mind.” —Christopher Germer, PhD, author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion; co-developer of the Mindful Self-Compassion program
“In a clear and encouraging voice, Diana Winston points out how the shift from noting what is happening to the more spacious awareness that it is happening relaxes the mind and body into a state of okay-ness, bringing natural compassion and deep well-being.” —Sylvia Boorstein, PhD, author of Happiness Is an Inside Job
“Diana Winston lives and breathes the clean, clear air of mindful awareness and brings a great deal of experience and skill to the table. The practical, accessible, and doable tools and techniques, meditational tips and pointers, and plain ol’ wisdom here have helped me discover, recognize, and recover who and what I am—and what we all genuinely are at the level of our very best selves. I believe this will certainly help you, too, release the buoyant little buddha within and live the miraculous life you want and need.” —Lama Surya Das, author of Awakening the Buddha Within: Eight Steps to Enlightenment; founder of the Dzogchen Center and Dzogchen Retreats
“Diana Winston’s wonderful new book, The Little Book of Being, combines the authority of her long and deep practice with her engaging conversational voice—for everyone from beginners to long-time meditators.” —Susan Kaiser Greenland, author of Mindful Games and The Mindful Child
“A rare combination of deep, clear, and accessible wisdom, The Little Book of Being is a
gem filled with fantastic reflections, practices, and teachings that will nourish new and experienced meditators alike. Written with an engaging freshness, this book reminds us of what we know, love, and regularly forget—the natural awareness that is our very essence.” —Tara Brach, PhD, author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge
“The Little Book of Being is a lovely, simple, wise, and helpful book. It is filled with down-to-earth practical wisdom, wonderful tools to free the heart, and a perspective of self-kindness that we all need.” —Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart
“The Little Book of Being is more than little, and more than about simply being. Diana Winston offers us a big idea about . . . a state of mind we may sometimes call presence—or a ‘natural awareness,’ in her terms—that research suggests boosts our immunity, reduces inflammation, and can even slow the aging process. Even more, her wise and accessible teachings offer us practical tools for becoming more fully aware and cultivating the clarity and tranquility that arise when the mind accesses this open, receptive state. Take in these powerful ideas and bring more well-being, equanimity, and connection into your life!” —Daniel J. Siegel, MD, clinical professor and founding co-director, UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center; executive director, Mindsight Institute; author of Aware: The Science and Practice of Presence
“Crafted with kindness, The Little Book of Being offers a wonderful invitation to the realm of natural awareness. Weaving clear, concise instruction with encouragement and personal anecdotes, Diana Winston leads us in the direction of a meditation practice free from judgment and striving. Through exercises that point toward short glimpses of natural awareness, we can learn to experience relief from the patterns of our habitual mind.” —Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness and Real Love
“Breaking new ground, this wise and elegant book, The Little Book of Being, is a wonderful guide to the important next stage of mindfulness practice: natural awareness. These down-to-earth essays and short glimpse practices are wisdom bites that are just the right size to enjoy a delicious taste of natural awareness whenever you like. Highly recommended!” —Loch Kelly, MDiv, LCSW, author of Shift into Freedom
“This is a phenomenal book about mindfulness—and self-acceptance, joy, love, and the natural wisdom and goodness inside each one of us. . . . Each page is full of loving wisdom, plus practical suggestions for living with ease in harmony with oneself and others. Diana Winston combines tremendous clarity with warm-hearted friendly support. Wow, really a gem!” —Rick Hanson, PhD, author of Buddha's Brain
“Using tools from across the Buddhist traditions, Diana Winston defines a ‘spectrum of awareness’ in language that is simple and compelling. This teaching helps us recognize, generate, and rest in various states of peace and ease. Diana’s insights and clarity provide a clear path to natural awareness. The book is highly creative and innovative, and it will be a source of wellness for many.” —Bonnie Duran, DrPH, professor, University of Washington School of Social Work; leadership team member of the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute
About the Author:
Diana Winston is the director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA Semel Institute’s Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) and the coauthor, with Dr. Susan Smalley, of Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness (DaCapo, 2010). She is a well-known teacher and speaker who brings mindful awareness practices to the general public to promote health and well-being. Called by the LA Times “one of the nation’s best-known teachers of mindfulness,” she has taught mindfulness since 1993 in a variety of settings, including hospitals, universities, corporations, nonprofits, schools in the US and Asia, and online. She developed the evidence-based Mindful Awareness Practices (MAPS) curriculum and the Training in Mindfulness Facilitation, which trains mindfulness teachers worldwide.
Her work has been mentioned or she has been quoted in the New York Times; O, The Oprah Magazine; Newsweek; the Los Angeles Times; Allure; Women’s Health; and in a variety of magazines, books, and journals. She is also the author of Wide Awake: A Buddhist Guide for Teens (Perigee Books, 2003) and the audio program Mindful Meditations, and has published numerous articles on mindfulness. Diana is a member of the Teacher's Council at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Northern California. She has been practicing mindfulness meditation since 1989, including a year as a Buddhist nun in Burma. Currently, Diana’s most challenging and rewarding practice involves trying to mindfully parent an eight-year-old. She lives in Los Angeles.
For more information, visit dianawinston.com and marc.ucla.edu.