When past, future, and fantasy are parts of the present moment
By Maria Gjems-Onstad Read more…
Explores meditative practice, experience and research. The bloggers practise Acem Meditation, but represent their own views here.
By Maria Gjems-Onstad Read more…
Memories are a central issue in therapeutic contexts as well as meditation. Both work to access memories that produce unconscious barriers in our lives, in order to let go of inner friction. In her book The Shaking Woman, the American novelist Siri Hustvedt refers to another book, by Joe Brainard, called I Remember. Every entry in Brainard’s book begins with the words “I remember”:
I remember that I never cried in front of other people.
I remember how embarrassed I was when other children cried.
And so on. While working with patients, Hustvedt observed how using the same technique automatically brings memories to the surface:
I meditate, think of ideas for a new project at work, and on what might be an appropriate present for my sister-in-law. I must remember to buy new screws for the garden chair. I learned a nice exercise for my abb muscles at today’s exercise session. Suddenly I am caught up in thoughts about a text message I am going to send to a former classmate and an invitation I must decline. How can I avoid offending her? And the meditation sound is gone.
The movie “A Dangerous Method” describes the founding father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, his then “crown prince” Carl Jung, their famous female patient Sabina Spielrein and the relationship between the three. It is a highly interesting movie. The script writer Christopher Hampton has pulled the trick of condensing these very interesting times on the eve of the 1st World War, when so many fantastical and eccentric persons flowed through Vienna and the salons where Freud and his pupils hung out, into five distinct characters in the movie. They play out a fascinating drama between them, uncovering dark forces and strong desires in the human mind in the process.
In his recently published autobiography, the Indian psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar reflects on the nature of the psyche, drawing on his own life and the lives of his clients:
‘The unconscious may be more like an elephant which you can’t really control and which is mostly good-natured. It is not the headstrong horse of Freudian imagery which can be controlled with difficulty by the rider, the conscious part of the mind. The elephant is much stronger than the mahout [the driver of the elephant] and goes where it will though the mahout can nudge it in certain directions. There is certainly no point in getting into a fight with the elephant, a fight the mahout is sure to lose.’
By Thor Udenæs
The unconscious is beyond our control, but still has an active presence in our lives. It influences our thoughts, feelings and actions.
A typical everyday meditation session is largely spent working through daily residues. In a half-hour meditation, the first twenty minutes or so of spontaneous activity generally relates to day-to-day matters such as work, relationships, and problems or challenges, though it can also include elements of sleep or bodily sensations.
In the last ten minutes or so there is often a transition towards processing so-called ‘life’s residues’ – in other words, more fundamental structures in the personality. This phase is often marked by inner restlessness: concrete thoughts or images give way to more diffuse and unclear spontaneous activity. The unconscious takes over, in that spontaneous activity begins to influence the way we meditate.
Interview with Eva Skaar
– Art and meditation enable one to become more open towards the unconscious. Both give expression to voices that are not easily heard in our habitual everyday routine. Many artists receive inspiration from meditation, says Eva Skaar, Norwegian painter and instructor in Acem Meditation.
Eva Skaar’s exhibition in a well known Oslo gallery this autumn was a great success. People agree that her paintings have become brighter, more open, using a wider range of colours. She herself attributes some of the changes to her meditative process. After 14 years she stillpractices Acem Meditation twice a day, half an hour each time.
– Both art and meditation are related to intuition, she says. ‑ They are not something that you produce or understand with your head. You have to throw yourself into the process. Striving to achieve specific results will get you nowhere. You have to let go of your conventional conceptions of what is good and bad and create a space for your own spontaneity.