Alan Watts’ Insane Guide to Meditation

recovery meditation alan watts richard recovering man

I love Alan Watts. He’s so refreshing and unpretentious in how he opens his Still the Mind: An Introduction to Meditation

“When a mountain stream flows out of a spring beside the road, and a thirsty traveler comes along and drinks deeply, the traveler is welcome.

“But the mountain stream is not waiting with the intention of refreshing thirsty travelers; it is just bubbling forth, and the travelers are always welcome to help themselves.

“So in exactly that sense I offer you these ideas.”

And can you imagine some self-help guru writing that today!?

“I am offering these words for your entertainment, and to entertain myself. I am not trying to improve you, and I really do not know how I would improve you,” he adds.

His approach is comforting in our world aimed at ‘fixing’ you.

The truth is there never has been and never will be a ‘hack’ to complete you.

There really isn’t an end-destination either.

Watts points out that we have lost the essence of life in our obsession to reach an end goal via meditation and spirituality, thereby losing the true power and meaning of the practice.

Below are 5 Anti-Tips from Alan Watts on the ‘practice’ of meditation:


“This,” exclaims Watts “is the beginning of meditation.”

We are infinitely complicated beings in a world in which we know suffering and corruption is rife.

No man can fix that in a day.

You can accept the reality that you are alive.

You know not why, just as no man knows the inner workings of the universe.

But you are blessed with the ability to feel.

“When somebody plays music, you listen. You just follow those sounds, and eventually, you understand the music.”

Given that Theoretical Physicists are now saying the universe is “like a symphony of vibrating strings” Watts’ approach has extra powerful resonance.

You are here to appreciate, feel and hear the music of the universe.

By accepting you are a mess beyond your comprehension, you are able to transcend your ego and accept the is-ness of being.


Getting bored during meditation was my first portal to my own internal spiritual realm.

I feel that pang of boredom all the time, and I am so fucking glad I do now!

That pang allows me to feel my ego, my shortness of attention, to witness the very interplay between by aim of implementing my own structure on reality (to meditate) with the actual reality of my lack of control (I get BORED!!!)

Watts advises that we need not judge ourselves for our boredom, but accept it as we are.

It is a meditation to explore the boredom itself.

“The feeling of boredom can be very interesting if you look into it.

“Simply watch everything going on without attempting to change it in anyway, without judging it… Just watch it. That is the essential process of meditation.”



“I may be sincere, but never serious, because I don’t think the universe is serious.

“…trouble comes into the world largely because various beings take themselves seriously, instead of playfully.”

Our seriousness comes from our fear of losing something, anything we fear losing, according to Watts, is not worth having in the first place.


Saying you practice meditation is like saying you practice breathing or eating or sleeping.

Watts is so eager to make this point because the word practice unfurls the notion of improvement and development.

Such notions are redundant in Watts’ approach for he steadfastly believes such a notion chains the mind to time.

Time is the opposite of The Present.

“In meditation a faster way of learning is of no importance whatsoever, because one’s focus is always on the present.

“Although growth may occur in the process, it is growth in the same way that a plant grows.”


When you think of meditation you envisage the silent Buddha, right?

That’s the image of seriousness.

Watts advises we focus on our breathing and exhale with a:

  • Hmmmm
  • Oooommmmm
  • Ahhhhhhh’

Pick whichever you like, or another you’re comfortable with.

Read: 3 Spiritual Truths the World Forgot

4 thoughts on “Alan Watts’ Insane Guide to Meditation

  1. Wonderful, wonderful post! You’ve nailed this perfectly, and I hope many see this. I’ve reiterated these points to so many I’ve encountered complaining to the difficulty of spirituality. It makes me want to shake them and say stop making work out of fun! This is about chilling out not dialing up! Watts makes me laugh, feel, think, not think, and generally get out of my damn head. It’s a rare day I don’t have a speech or a chillstep with his wisdom woven in reminding me to play. Thank you for this ❤️

    • Yeah, I totally agree, spirituality can really backfire when you start taking it too seriously! Thanks for the kind comment 🙂

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