Why I use 6R Meditation

October 12, 2015

Yesterday I listened to Tim Ferriss’ podcast with Jocko Willink.  It’s a great interview (recommended!) and I can’t wait to dig into the references.  But there was one question Tim asked in response to Jocko’s concept of “detachment from a situation” that I felt didn’t get a great answer.

The question was:  How do you teach a silicon valley tech-jockey the skill of detachment?  Jocko’s teaching method is to “put them under extraordinary pressure where to fail to detach from the situation… would result in failure.”  This doesn’t seem like something I’ll easily translate to my world.  But then I realized:  I’ve been practicing and applying a technique for just this kind of detachment for the last 6 months, and it works like a charm.

In March of this year I learned the “6R” technique from Doug Kraft’s pamphlet Beginning the Journey.  The practice came from the teachings of the American Buddhist Bhante Vimalaramsi, and it’s known by the name “Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation.”  But don’t get bogged down in the names — 6R is sufficient.

The power of the 6R method is in its almost NLP-like algorithm:  Every time a hindrance comes up (a distraction that grabs your attention, a craving, a song going through your head), you 6R it:  recognize, release, relax, resmile, return to the object of meditation, and repeat.

Please notice how trite and ridiculous this sounds.  Then bear with me:

Most meditation techniques have the recognize, release and return steps.  However in 15 years I’d never encountered a technique that has the “relax” and “resmile” steps.  These are the game-changer.  Not only does this make for more stable meditation, but it translates directly to life in the real world.

Half a day after my very first 6R session I was in a meeting at work.  In the middle of an interchange, I recognized that I was lost in thought… then went on to release the thoughts, relax, resmile… and returned to the conversation.  Except that now my mind was cleansed and ready to fully attune with the person I was talking to.  Now I was seeing the conversation from more angles – witnessing it from a detached perspective.

Over the past 6 months the same experience has happened thousands of times and gets stronger every day.  In a 30-minute meditation you might 6R 20-40 times.  Every time you do it, you’re building the habit.  Just as lucid dream training creeps from waking life into your dreams, this habit creeps from your meditation into daily life.

Doug Kraft’s book Buddha’s Map is also a great read — it demystifies the esoteric higher states of Buddhism.  Imagine Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but interleaved with instructions to duplicate the author’s journey.



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