By Turid Suzanne Berg-Nielsen
What it is
Existential contentment is neither complacency nor bliss. It does not entail the absence of adversity in life nor negative emotions and thoughts. It is not an emotion at all, more of an attitude – a sense of meaning and purpose, an anchoring when waters are rough. Contentment also allows for an openness to experience and acceptance of the pleasures and pains that the tides of time bring ashore.
And what does all this have to do with meditation? Everything.
How to do it
We start with closed eyes while being comfortably seated. Our attention is directed inward, away from all the trivial, annoying, or interesting distractions that easily leave our minds with an input overload. It is quieter on the inside. For half an hour we retreat from clamoring surroundings to encounter the inner world – which also has continents to be explored.
What to do after closing the eyes? With absolutely no strain whatsoever we repeat the meditation sound as learned at the beginner’s course (Holen & Eifring, 2013) – a neutral act performed with a neutral object, simple and straight forward, no abracadabra, nothing mystical or enchanting; just a plain way of granting the mind a rhythm that is different from the flustered pace of everyday life; just a way of letting the neutrality open the mind to enable it to hear the barely graspable hunches dwelling within.
The ease of the meditation act allows spontaneous thought to come and go. In between reproducing the sound, the mind may wander freely, wherever the wind blows. Most of our mind-wandering lies below the level of full awareness, but it is neither random nor pointless. The thoughts that emerge contain lots of emotional material (Fox & Koroma, 2018). Processing of the overload of impressions from our daily lives takes place, not before our eyes, but behind them. Whatever we do while meditating, we should not fall for the temptation to influence the flow of mind-wandering. Hands off, do not steer or manipulate which thoughts or emotions may pass by. Let the brain go where it needs to go, and that may be in another direction than we wish. Our conscious interference with the flow will hamper the processing. And without the processing, stress builds up.
What about rumination?
Having repetitive negative and depressing thoughts is called rumination. Such thoughts tend to monopolize the mind, leaving no space for anything else. It is almost like a labyrinth, once you get in, you lose the big picture and have no clue where to find an exit. What elements of Acem Meditation – an effortless, relaxing technique – can do anything at all with rumination?
The blue and orange circles are the spontaneous activity going on in the mind while we meditate. In this case, the meditator is ruminating,
Title: Existential contentment in the face of adversity – mitigating misery with Acem Meditation
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Published Date: Thu, 02 Jul 2020 11:25:44 +0000
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