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While the stages are taken from the book, The Mind Illuminated, I’m going to define them here as they relate to my practice.

I’ll define some of the later stages as I reach or approach them. This way I will be speaking from experience and within the context of my own practice.

Stages Diagram

Stages of Meditation

Stages Table

Stage Actions Mastered When
Stage 1
  • Setting a strong motivation to practice
  • Estabishing a daily meditation schedule
You have established a regular practice and very rarely miss a session.
Stage 2
  • Keeping attention on the breath
  • Learning to bring attention back to the breath when you realise your mind has been wandering
You are able to keep a focus on the breath for several minutes without the mind wandering
Stage 2+
  • Keeping focus and managing distractions well
see above
Stage 3
  • Not forgetting about the breath when distractions arise
  • Using practices such as "labeling" or "checking in" to help catch distractions
Rarely (if ever) forgetting the mediation object or falling asleep.
Stage 3+
  • Unbroken attention for many minutes
see above
Stage 4
  • Using introspective awareness (or mindfulness) to continously monitor the mind, while the mind watches the breath
  • Using this introspective awareness to manage distractions effectively
Distractions no longer push the breath into the background, or make the breath sensations fade.
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