In meditation, as in dance, we can be in a free flow, allowing our impulses to be expressed lightly and freely. But the more the free flow is allowed expression, the more clearly we notice the friction that makes it challenging for us. More training and practice may then help us get past the obstacles. Besides, to reflect over, share, and exchange our experiences of obstacles may give us the necessary motivation to go on when we encounter friction.
It feels good to be in a free flow. When we dance, we let rhythm find expression through the body. In synchrony with the movements of our partner, we let the impulses and improvisation be expressed during the dance. In meditation, being present in the repetition of the sound, softly and lightly, with a minimum of mental activity, is sufficient to give our attention a focus, without stopping the spontaneous flow of thoughts in our mind.
The effortless, minimal activity provides increased freedom in the mind and opens us to a free flow of spontaneous activity.
When we are truly absorbed in the activity, the flow is spontaneous, and spontaneous activity that may be provoking and challenging is also stimulated. We may notice it directly either as clear thoughts: “This isn’t the way it should be, I’m not good enough”, or “dancing/meditation isn’t good for me”. Or, the friction may be accompanied by more diffuse moods: boredom, restlessness, or bodily discomfort and disquiet. Both experiences tend to reduce our motivation for the activity, and may eventually lead to withdrawal from it.
If we don’t understand the process we are in, disruption may be the result. In Acem, this is why there is an emphasis on sharing meditation experiences and reflection: was the meditation difficult at times? What was going on with you at that point? How did it feel to go on with the repetition of the sound while you had these thoughts, feelings, or bodily sensations? Take your time, describe what it felt like. Do you recognize other situations in your life associated with similar challenges?
The three Rs
Using open questions to explore your own practice will always stimulate beneficial reflection. Insight and skills that create more free flow – in dance, meditation, and otherwise – develop gradually over time. One cannot make up one’s mind to dance with elegance, or meditate with a free mental attitude, in all kinds of situations. On the other hand, one can make a decision to make use of the three Rs that are available as tools in the process of maturation and development:
- Regularity brings us back to the challenge of trying out new perspectives in our practice.
- Reflection over our meditation practice and experiences together with other meditators helps us see ourselves with new perspectives.
- Retreats combine long meditations and guidance groups for reflection over meditation in a wider perspective, which intensifies the entire experience.
Translation: Anne Grete Hersoug. Copy editor: Ann Kunish