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A Meditators Handbook
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A Meditators Handbook

Dorian Wallace, MT-BC

I teach a syncretic, non-theistic approach to mindfulness that aims to better understand our inner experience through investigating three marks of existence: impermanence, suffering, and non-self. Many teachings and practices approach our perceived reality through a framework of communion with oneself and others. By building a greater understanding of time, space, and consciousness as a whole, we can succeed in emergent transcendence. This course aims to teach the fundamental concepts and techniques of insight meditation to foster support and community for a lifetime of practice and investigation.

Mindfulness is not limited to the wealthy.

Courses run for two weeks (10 days) M-F from 10 am ET / 7 am PT.

I teach individual meditation courses as well. All classes are online.


For booking details, connect with me at

Table of Contents

Why Meditation Is Important

Meditation Fundamentals

Setting the Space For Meditation

Remember To Breathe

Insight Meditation


10-Day Course Outline

Suggested Reading

Mederi Music

About the Author

Why Meditation Is Important

The only thing we truly know is the existence of our own consciousness. Everything else may be a complete hallucination. In the simplest sense, consciousness is the ability to feel, perceive, or be aware of our internal or external experiences. The dynamic complexities of consciousness have been studied, observed, and debated for millennia by philosophers, contemplatives, artists, and scientists. Yet its true nature remains unsolved, continuing study and investigation from experts and amateurs alike.

What if there is one vast consciousness with many components happening at once? Could several different consciousnesses exist independently? How capable are machines of consciousness, and, if so, what are the ethical implications of that? How do we define sentience in other species, and what moral principles must we follow to ensure their protection and autonomy? Philosophers are currently exploring concepts of self-awareness, or “awareness of awareness.” New developments in the study of memory, thoughts, emotions, and perception present some exciting work in contemporary neuroscience. Artists explore consciousness in ways that science and philosophy cannot. Some contemplatives suspect the presence of a universe-wide consciousness. We might conclude that with such a broad continuum of study, research, and contemplation (with so many unanswered questions), we just aren’t asking the right ones.

Evolutionary psychology indicates that consciousness comes as a solution to one of the critical issues within our nervous system; a high volume of information is continually processing. The brain has developed ever more intricate mechanisms for the deep processing of a few selected signals, and the eventual outcome of this was consciousness. By separating the mind into different realms of the conscious and unconscious, we have adapted to using essential parts of the intellect for survivability while storing more traumatic memories deeper within. The issue comes from our current model of civilization. We do not experience the same struggle for survival that our ancestors did. Our brains are not required to store traumatic memories for mental preservation in the same way they used to. Such deep traumas continue to manifest in ways that continue to cause our suffering, even years later. Our own suffering is transferred onto others, creating an endless cycle of perpetual misery. We have trapped ourselves in our own prison.

Suppose the scientist's role is to investigate the universe. In that case, the philosopher's role is to examine ideas, and the artist’s role is to explore the imagination; the contemplative’s role is to study oneself. Meditation offers us an instrument through which to take on this task. The process begins by observing our own perceptions. The brain is essentially a repository of information kept hostage by the knowledge created inside it. We know what we know. That is, we know only what we know. When we authentically understand how we perceive our surroundings, our interpretation of reality can begin to transform. This deep introspection can provide us with a glimpse into our own minds. Rather than attempting to alter unchangeable situations, we can significantly impact the environment around us by improving ourselves first. We can indeed find balance, and that equilibrium is yet another reason why meditation is so important.

There are two broad categories of meditation techniques: focused (concentrative) and open monitoring (mindfulness or insight).

Concentrative meditation involves the deliberate focusing of attention on a chosen object, concept, or mantra. Concentrative meditation aims to calm the mind and deepen its meditative condition. A concentrative technique is suggested to prepare mindfulness work and its potential use in moments of anxiety, stress, or loss of concentration.

Mindfulness meditation involves methodical, non-reactive observation across the spectrum of experience from moment to moment. Mindfulness meditation aims to understand the nature of reality authentically, the fundamental essence of suffering, and the causes of suffering. Mindfulness utilizes an in-depth analysis into three realms: impermanence, suffering, and non-self.

Many different meditation techniques, strategies, methodologies, and other forms and traditions do not fall neatly within this categorization within these two general definitions. These definitions are simply a way to explain meditation practices in general terms.

Meditation is said to be a path to wisdom, so what is wisdom? Wisdom does not inherently come from formal education. Having “street smarts” does not necessarily mean one possesses wisdom either. Is it age? Is it experience? Can wisdom be defined? Let us attempt to do just that.

Wisdom is the practical perception of certain qualities: qualities like sound thinking, compassion, knowledge, awareness, self-transcendence, and non-attachment. According to the Buddha, there are three specific types of wisdom: wisdom gained by listening to others, wisdom gained through theoretical understanding and scientific observation, and wisdom dependent on real direct experience. These are such wise words! By authentically listening to others, we have the opportunity to bear witness to another person's pain and authentically understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their own frame of reference. In philosophical thinking, we have the chance to expand our perspectives on culture, principles, and ethics, concepts, and many other areas of metaphysical ideas. A scientific mindset is a constant quest of scraping through the absurdities to reach an empirical understanding of reality. Exploring expression and emotion can create a deeper understanding of meaning. Direct experience aids our development of practical approaches to how we interact with the environment around us.

Mindfulness meditation involves four fields of observation: observing the body, observing physical sensations, observing the mind, and observing mental content. When we examine our perceptions, feelings, and impulses, two main insights emerge. One is the realization that all things are impermanent. Everything is continuously changing, arising, and passing away like a wave in the ocean splashing on a rocky shore. Whether it is something as simple as an uncomfortable numbness in your leg, or something more severe like grieving a loved one's death, these sensations continually shift and alter. Instead of unwittingly resurrecting them, we can develop healthier coping techniques by just observing them arising and passing away naturally. The other insight is the awareness that everything is interdependent, the nature of cause and effect. All concepts are bounded by space and time, formed and expressed according to their setting, form, and purpose. All physical experiences, created and embodied by their environment, configuration, and sense, are connected in space and time. When a phenomenon is detected, it may manifest several experiences rather than a function of its components only. As we understand this interconnectedness on an experiential level, we can begin to examine our relationships within communities and the wider society.

Meditation allows one to understand our unconscious choice of suffering. We often crave reality to be something that it only cannot be. Consider your relationship with your parents, your child, or a close friend. Have you ever experienced annoyance over a personality trait that one of these individuals possesses? And if so, how has this annoyance impacted your relationship with them? Has it ever grown into something more significant than a mere nuisance? Has this engagement ever caused a relationship to deteriorate ultimately? Was it worth it? This is not to suggest that we should accept disrespectful interactions, social injustices or fail to attempt any constructive effect on societal progress. This indicates that we have a choice in how we engage with the world around us. Can we influence change in others? Yes. Can we alter their behaviors? No. Can we reconstruct our neural passageways of perception? Absolutely. By engaging in this concept, we stand for more nourishing opportunities for everyone and lead the growth transition.

The Self, or Ego, like many other cognitive experiences, is a continually evolving phenomenon. Consider who you were ten years ago. Have you changed, or are you exactly the same? If you have changed, do you recall the precise moment, or was it a more incremental transition? Is there anything left of your old self? Who will you be in 100 years? Will you even be alive? Imagine dipping your hand into a flowing river and gently lifting it out. If you were to place your hand back into the river in the exact location, would it be the same water you feel? Expand this concept to a period of a year, or a century, or millennia. Eventually, the water will cease to exist altogether.

The ultimate goal of meditation practice is to get in tune with ourselves and our surroundings. We each carry our own qualia, something only the individual can understand, namely, in how we see the world from our own perspective. Through individuation, the process of bringing the unconscious into consciousness, we will ultimately enter a holistic state, an evolutionary path to being a whole human. Meditation is not a replacement for medical or psychiatric treatment. There are specific chemical imbalances and healthcare needs that we must utilize to ensure our health and wellbeing. Meditation can offer a type of mental fitness to expand our consciousness and understanding of our place within this universe. It can help us find comfort in those unanswerable questions and develop communication skills with our fellow humans.

May you be happy!

May you be peaceful!

May you be free from suffering!

May all beings be happy!

Meditation Fundamentals

Setting the Space For Meditation

There are four primary postures (technically five) for meditation: sitting, lying, standing, and walking, which includes two general variations. For our purposes, we will be focusing on sitting.

Lying down increases the probability of falling asleep, while standing and walking can strain our attention. Sitting is the most useful posture to develop for beginning meditators. It allows us to remain observant and intentional and enables our mind the space to process information quietly. Choosing a posture that is comfortable for an extended period is critical. We must make sure that our body is at ease yet alert to maintain calmness.

Consider what is best for your physical condition when choosing where to sit. A cushion is perhaps the most common meditation tool, although one can also use a chair or a bench. The only true “rule” to follow is to choose an object to sit on that you can comfortably sit upright while avoiding the temptation to sleep.

Practicing in an indoor space is ideal for beginner meditators, even if only in the corner of a bedroom, as this presents a buffer for potential outside distractions. We intend to create a space that is as minimal as possible, allowing in only natural light, with little or no decorations. Clothing should be loose and comfortable, as well as a blanket or other type of fabric. The aim is to be as comfortable as possible to allow for a more in-depth examination of the self.

To summarize, we should sit for meditation, whether on a cushion or chair. The room should be dimly lit with only natural light and little to no decorations. Clothing should be loose and comfortable.

Learning a comfortable sitting posture that works for you and limiting surrounding distractions is key to a good meditation session.

Remember To Breathe

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe deeply and naturally. When you find that your mind has begun to wander, simply return to the breath, bringing awareness to the breath, breathing deeply and naturally.

This simple exercise, which seemingly involves little effort, can quickly become one of our meditation practice’s most challenging aspects. Many beginner meditators find how quickly our thoughts can drift, both disturbing and revelatory. This is why we cultivate a meditation practice, to become mindful through direct experience of our inner distractions, aspire to be consciously present in the here and now, and not lost in the past or future. No matter what happens regarding our physical body, consciousness, perceptions, sensations, or reactivity, we can take sanctuary in our breath, stabilize, grounding force, and utilize it as our anchor. This practice does not mean you have to try to interrupt your thoughts; simply bring awareness to your inhalation when you become aware that your mind is drifting, and the mental content can become grounded, even if just for a moment.

Breathing is a pillar of holistic meditation practice. The flow of air into and out of the lungs allows gas exchange with our internal system to generate oxygen and filter out carbon dioxide. All vertebrate respiration consists of regular cycles of inhalation and exhalation through branched airway systems leading from the nose to the alveoli. There are many underlying processes in the respiratory system, including yawning, coughing, and sneezing, and the role of vocal expression and other emotional signals regarding the human activity. We meditate to begin to understand our breath’s use to regulate ourselves when the mind is scattered, or our emotions are unsettled. Over time, we can develop new neural processes by taking time to breathe deeply by gaining access to a deeper consciousness that unites the body to our inner perceptions.

Specific breathing patterns have been found to correspond with certain moods, certain conditions, and individual states of being. Historically, breathing has been equated with a life force. The Latin word spiritus, translates to breath or spirit. Practitioners of various disciplines and backgrounds have reacted to this phenomenon by conceiving diverse strategies of manipulating the breath to either preserve or alter a specific mood. In mastering deep breathing, one can generate, authentically, a sense of inner harmony, if even for a moment, bringing strength to our mind and body and cultivate a general state of health and well-being.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe deeply and naturally. When you find that your mind has begun to wander, simply return to the breath, bringing awareness to the breath, breathing deeply and naturally.

Remember to breathe.

Insight Meditation

Insight meditation (or Vipassana) is a fundamental component of mindfulness practice, the quality or state that applies the maintained awareness of stimuli, developing a nuanced subjective understanding of transcendence and ecstasy. It is the foundational technique of all forms of Buddhist meditation and is understood as the method developed by Siddhārtha Gautama himself. The intention is to strengthen our consciousness to gain more awareness, more profound wisdom and ultimately achieve inner liberation.

Recognize that our anterior experiences powerfully shape our emotions, our motivations, and our choices. These memories are preserved in our unconscious and manifest in many complex forms. Consciousness stems from our biological systems, yet we hold no substantial understanding of how and why it has evolved. We still acknowledge that it exists, though, as we experience consciousness daily. Because we all have consciousness, mindfulness is something every human being can generate, apply, and improve. However, we often require guidance on how to channel mindfulness on occasion, as there is an inherent difficulty of balancing oneself while living in contemporary society. We can apply the insight meditation practice here.

The Threefold Mindfulness Meditation Path offers a concrete structure for developing a meditation ritual, with three simple steps and a postscript: calming the mind, observing the mind, analyzing the mind, followed by loving-kindness reflection. Employing this basic outline, one can attain a fuller, more examined life and generally more mindful way of being.

The general technique of insight meditation occurs in the form of body scans, beginning with the fontanelle. The fontanelle, or ’soft spot,' is a soft membrane gap at the top of the head between the cranial bones that allows for rapid shifting of the skull in an infant as the brain develops. Through initiating paying attention to any sensations that may occur at this circular region on the top of the head (tingling, coolness, itching, etc.), we begin to develop the body's awareness. We start with a downward awareness movement, noticing any sensation that might occur, working part by part and piece by piece, not missing a single part. Observe each sensation objectively, as it is nothing more than what it is. If it is itchy, that is simply what it is. If it is coolness, that is simply what it is—nothing more and nothing less. We are merely observing the sensations as they arise. Work all the way down from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet. When you have reached the feet, simply begin scanning upwards, from feet to head. When you become conscious that you have lost your focus or that your mind has drifted, simply return to your breath. The breath is the anchor of us. It's our cornerstone. When you feel centered, just go back to the body scan where you left off.

Through becoming more attuned to our somatic experiences, we become more attuned to our unconscious mind. The unconscious consists of processes of mind that transpire spontaneously and are not readily accessible to introspection. Objective body observation can infer that suppressed sensations, habitual judgments, subliminal biases, conditioned responses, and deep compulsions are the root of much of our self-doubt and lack of accountability.

Instead of interpreting our feelings of worry, isolation, and grief as the presence of outside influences, mindful living examines these events as inevitable phases in the natural inner processes of human maturation and development. Through this process, the conscious unites with the unconscious. The deep-felt distractions of an individual’s past are, over time, consolidated toward the functioning whole.


Loving-kindness may be the most abstract and radical of the meditation practices discussed in this writing. It is entirely self-generated rather than self-calming by natural means or the objective observation of rising and passing sensations.

This meditation is the cultivation of kindness, compassion, and solidarity. The practice consists of repetitive mantras such as "may you be happy," "may you be peaceful," and "may you be free from suffering" directed at beings that may or may not be mentally conceived. The practitioner steadily expands their loving-kindness regarding the individuals toward which it aims. At first, the practitioner focuses on oneself, then loved ones, followed by individuals that we are indifferent to, then to enemies and rivals, and ultimately all beings. Centering on empathy symbolizes a desire to liberate individuals from suffering, while loving-kindness centers on wishing to obtain joy. Loving-kindness is simply a healthy wish for all beings.

A meditation practice’s ultimate intention is to harmonize with oneself, our innermost and external world, our metaphysical connection to the preconscious, our relationships, and our material conditions. It offers a kind of mental fitness to deepen our understanding of our position within the cosmos. It can help us find consolation with the unanswerable mysteries of the universe and establish a holistic relationship with all living beings.

May you be happy!

May you be peaceful!

May you be free from suffering!

May all beings be happy!

10-Day Course Outline

Ānāpāna (Mindful Breathing)

Day 1

Begin deep, natural breathing, bringing attention to the sensations on the nostrils.

Day 2

Begin deep, natural breathing, bringing attention to the sensations on the triangle area behind the nose.

Day 3

Begin deep, natural breathing, bringing attention to the sensations on the area above the upper lip and below the nostril.

Vipassanā (Insight Meditation)

Day 4

Downward body scan, part by part and piece by piece

Day 5

Upward body scan, part by part and piece by piece

Day 6

Simultaneous symmetrical scanning

Day 7

Full body sweep

Day 8

Pierce through the body

Day 9

Pick a point

Mettā (Compassion Meditation)

Day 10


May you be happy!

May you be peaceful!

May you be free from suffering!

May all beings be happy!

Further Reading

Mederi Music



  1. to heal, cure, remedy
  2. to amend, relieve

Mederi Music is the private practice of composer, pianist, music therapist, and teacher Dorian Wallace. I seek to create a safe environment for inner reflection and emotional development to support people in examining their behavior and practicing coping techniques to help them overcome difficulties in a more healthy way. We can comprehend the existential complexity of mortality, freedom, responsibility, and meaning by refining our intuitive understanding. We can uncover our authentic selves by cultivating differing perspectives regarding humanity, existence, consciousness, and the entire universe. Mindfulness is a road that leads to wisdom. You have begun your journey.

About the Author

Dorian Wallace, MT-BC, is a composer, pianist, board-certified music therapist, and educator based in New York City. His work addresses socio-political issues and philosophical concepts, often incorporates improvisation. He has collaborated with artists such as Bonita Oliver, John Sanborn, Paul Pinto, Pamela Z, Charlotte Mundy, Frank London, and Nicholas Finch, to name a few.

​Dorian is a co-founding artistic director of Tenth Intervention, a progressive new music collective exploring the nexus of social justice and community engagement through contemporary music. He currently serves as Risk Management and Accountability System (RMAS) Arts Program Coordinator at Rikers Island Correction Facility. Dorian spearheaded the New Music Organizing Caucus, a labor advocacy organization confronting systemic inequities in contemporary classical music. Dorian's Mode is a podcast he hosts that fosters discussions around music, art, creativity, politics, psychology, and philosophy, among other things. He has performed for political figures such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jarvis Tyner, Angela Davis, Gerald Horne, Blade Nzimande, and Sing In Solidarity.

Dorian is a sought-after dance accompanist in New York City, having played for Martha Graham Dance Company, Doug Varone and Dancers, Juilliard, New York University, Columbia University, and many others. He also teaches Music for Dancers and the Mark Morris Dance Accompaniment Training Program at the Martha Graham School.

Dorian received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Therapy from Montclair State University, where he studied with Drs. Brian Abrams and Michael Viega. He interned at the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine and the MJHS Hospice and Palliative Care and completed Level 1 training in Guided Imagery and Music from the Atlantis Institute for Consciousness and Music. Dorian facilitates music therapy and mindfulness meditation programs at Rikers Island, the American Humanist Association, About Face, Footsteps, and his practice, Mederi Music.

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