By Turid Suzanne Berg-Nielsen
Existential contentment is neither complacency nor bliss. It doesn’t entail the absence of adversity in life nor damaging feelings and ideas. It shouldn’t be an emotion in any respect, extra of an perspective – a way of that means and goal, an anchoring when waters are tough. Contentment additionally permits for an openness to expertise and acceptance of the pleasures and pains that the tides of time deliver ashore.
And what does all this must do with meditation? Everything.
How to do it
We begin with closed eyes whereas being comfortably seated. Our consideration is directed inward, away from all of the trivial, annoying, or attention-grabbing distractions that simply go away our minds with an enter overload. It is quieter on the within. For half an hour we retreat from clamoring environment to come across the interior world – which additionally has continents to be explored.
What to do after closing the eyes? With completely no pressure in any respect we repeat the meditation sound as discovered on the newbie’s course (Holen & Eifring, 2013) – a impartial act carried out with a impartial object, easy and straight ahead, no abracadabra, nothing mystical or enchanting; only a plain means of granting the thoughts a rhythm that’s completely different from the flustered tempo of on a regular basis life; only a means of letting the neutrality open the thoughts to allow it to listen to the hardly graspable hunches dwelling inside.
The ease of the meditation act permits spontaneous thought to come back and go. In between reproducing the sound, the thoughts might wander freely, wherever the wind blows. Most of our mind-wandering lies under the extent of full consciousness, however it’s neither random nor pointless. The ideas that emerge include plenty of emotional materials (Fox & Koroma, 2018). Processing of the overload of impressions from our every day lives takes place, not earlier than our eyes, however behind them. Whatever we do whereas meditating, we must always not fall for the temptation to affect the circulate of mind-wandering. Hands off, don’t steer or manipulate which ideas or feelings might move by. Let the mind go the place it must go, and which may be in one other course than we want. Our aware interference with the circulate will hamper the processing. And with out the processing, stress builds up.
What about rumination?
Having repetitive damaging and miserable ideas is named rumination. Such ideas are likely to monopolize the thoughts, leaving no house for anything. It is nearly like a labyrinth, when you get in, you lose the massive image and don’t have any clue the place to search out an exit. What components of Acem Meditation – an easy, stress-free method – can do something in any respect with rumination?
The blue and orange circles are the spontaneous exercise occurring within the thoughts whereas we meditate. In this case, the meditator is ruminating, with offended and revengeful ideas, or possibly the alternative: self-accusations, feeling unworthy and shameful or having countless worries concerning the future. Notice the black line surrounding this troublesome content material, it locks it in, representing the damaging labyrinth. The mild blue outer circle comprises the ideas which are past the edge of consciousness. So, what occurs with this gloomy preoccupation once we Acem–meditate?
When we sit right down to meditate, we could be burdened, discouraged, and really feel that we’ve got no free psychological perspective in any respect. Don’t fear about it, simply repeat the sound with none pressure, and the free psychological perspective will come alongside. And this perspective helps us regulate the repetition of the sound in the direction of much less striving. There is a pleasant interdependence between the 2, the sound and the perspective: The neutrality of the sound helps us receive a free perspective, whereas the repetition of the sound with no free psychological perspective is kind of nugatory. The mixture of the 2 transfers a level of neutrality to the enclosed space within the thoughts, the place the damaging ideas are quickly thriving. The mixture turns into a tender corrective to the damaging pondering – and mark my phrases – this occurs by itself with out suppression or avoidance of the damaging ideas. The mild, straightforward, versatile repetition of the sound completed with a broad-minded, receptive, and open perspective – that’s our instrument. We play that instrument whereas we hearken to the sound we’re taking part in.
The impact of this “music” additionally units different processes in movement. Notice within the determine under that the free psychological perspective has coloured the interior circle pale inexperienced the place it was once orange, the content material of spontaneous ideas. Sad or offended ideas should still be current, however their “shading” has modified, they’re much less intense, much less all-consuming, much less agonizing. With the expectation that every one damaging ideas ought to go away, there will likely be a disappointment. But if we see that they won’t essentially disappear, solely have an effect on our conduct to a lesser diploma, then we’ll actually admire Acem Meditation. Like all good music, it doesn’t erase however mitigates the ache.
Like all good music, it additionally opens up thoughts and coronary heart. In the determine under, the black line has turn out to be dotted, permeable. The labyrinth of damaging pondering opens up. And what seeps via the cracks into consciousness? The peripheral ideas, the divergent pondering that has dwelled within the
outskirts of our consciousness, ideas, and concepts that aren’t written in capital letters and fly in our face however whisper softly in our ear – various ideas to the damaging ones. It may very well be one thing like: «Ok, I may need a sense of inferiority, in any case, I’m used to that, having had it since childhood. But does that basically must cease me from doing what I wish to do with my life?»
Mainstream psychology typically claims that the answer to damaging pondering is management. However, management and suppression of psychological contents drain our power and infrequently work in the long term (Eifring, 2019). Battling an undesirable a part of ourselves creates an interior battle. Civil warfare typically brings extra loss than acquire, even when it happens beneath the pores and skin. Handling our personal damaging ideas and troublesome feelings with acceptance doesn’t resolve all issues however is a greater start line for behavioral change. Acceptance doesn’t imply we’ve got to love one thing we don’t like; it doesn’t imply we’ve got to welcome one thing which is undesirable. It is simply acknowledging that it’s there. Acceptance is possession.
Whether the ideas are troublesome and damaging or invigorating and helpful, they’re a part of us. “Spontaneous forms of thought enable us to transcend not only the here and now of perceptual experience, but also the bonds of our deliberately-controlled and goal-directed cognition; they allow the space for us to be other than who we are, and for our minds to think beyond the limitations of our current viewpoints and beliefs.” (Fox & Koroma, 2018). There wouldn’t be a lot creativity with out negativity. Where would artwork, literature, music, or drama be if we must always censor all damaging ideas? If we attempt to manipulate the spontaneous circulate throughout meditation and even observe it with a aware thoughts, we’ll lose the circulate. If we attempt to blacklist ideas we are not looking for, we may also lose the nice concepts, the brand new ideas, and the afterthoughts of on a regular basis episodes that assist us digest impressions and course of feelings. Negative ideas could make us admire extra the nice issues we’ve got; they’ll make us psychologically extra mature, and so they make us extra empathic with others when they’re down. We can not all the time have the nice with out accepting a portion of the dangerous. And that’s what life is about, isn’t it? When adversity comes alongside – which it all the time will, it additionally sparks reflection. What is the that means of this, how can I’m going on, what shall I make of this, how can I stay my life otherwise? Existential contentment might evolve from such reflections – with a bit of assist from a silent repetition of our impartial sound.
Eifring, H. (2019). The energy of the wandering thoughts. Nondirective meditation in science and philosophy. Oslo, Dyade Press.
Fox, Okay., Koroma, M. (2018). Wandering alongside the spectrum of spontaneous pondering. Dreaming, meditation, mind-wandering and well-being. ALIUS Bulletin 2.
Holen, A. & Eifring, H. (2013). Acem Meditation. An introductory companion. Oslo, Dyade Press.
Top photograph: Ommund Øgaard