This week the writing is a bit different. The motivation behind this lies in some thought I have been giving to differences in the path of development we all walk. I find that everyone’s methods of self understanding and development are different and their stories of how they got there fascinating. It is one thing for me to write you a How-To guide for dealing with difficult emotions or a list of the top ten meditation methods but it is entirely another to share my own methods and trials with you. My goal in sharing the following is to encourage you to seek your own direct experience, your own truths, and the things that work for YOU.
If in sharing I can inspire you to try something differently or approach your own thoughts in an alternative way, then I have done my job. I would like to share with you a method of mental processing and meditation which I have developed over a decade. This process is the way I discern, understand and clear out things which I find to be particularly difficult. I am a person driven and inspired by my visual sense, so my word choice and descriptions involve a lot of visualizations and creation of scenes within my mind. The language I use to describe these things are crafted for my own understanding, built in a way that suits me the best. So you may find the narration geared toward the visual aspect simply because that is what I am most in tune with. I encourage you when trying this process to find your own language, that which honors what senses are strongest within you. If you are really in tune (pun intended) with your auditory sense then adjust the exercise. This practice was something I created without really intending to create a practice around it. It began as a way to slow my thinking when I was feeling overstimulated and has evolved into a precise series of actions and thoughts I utilize almost every time I encounter an emotion I am curious about or find myself perplexed by my own reactions.
This method mimics sensory deprivation methods most people familiar with Joe Rogan or isolation float tanks will recognize. The difference here is obviously there is no suspension in water, noise and light are still available to you if you need it. It is as simple as opening your eyes again. There is a convenience to this, however that does not mean this is an easy technique to cultivate. I had been using this method to self soothe for years before I realized the meditation application of it and sometimes I still have trouble. Take your time with this, there is no reason to rush. The best way to avoid being frustrated is to avoid placing your expectations on an experience. You are not seeking to replicate the experience I share with you. You are simply looking to bring your awareness to your own thoughts.
The practice is brings like most meditation:
Go into a quiet and fairly dark room in which you will not be bothered.
Find a position to sit which is comfortable but in which you will not drift off to sleep.
Putting on noise cancelling headphones. I use something that covers my ear entirely.
Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breathing.
After a while when I feel my heart rate slow down I begin to bring my awareness to the darkness and silence I have created internally and externally. As I sit in that comfortable place I slowly reach toward that which is troubling me. As I touch upon those ideas, feelings or memories, I practice active non judgement. I am simply an observer in what my mind kicks up while still keeping my awareness on the original thought. The purpose of this is not to daydream, it is to bring attention to something that is causing you difficulty and in your observation to find what sort of things it is connected to and why. I approach this time with curiosity and that seems to serve me best. On occasion I fathom something strange, sometimes frightening, but I do my best not to withdraw from the experience. I try to allow the moment happen and simply observe. By far the most powerful piece of this exercise is to simply allow yourself to space to experience. That is often the area that requires the most practice. After a set time, 20-30 minutes, I normally write my impressions down, doing my best not to paste judgement on to those things.
My results are often visual images. Sometimes even complex stories come up. By following the rabbit trails within my own mind I often not only find the source of what troubles me, but a sense of closure and calm after this practice. What follows are my reflections on some difficult feelings I encountered this past weekend and the images and story I found in the process. It is presented in a stream of consciousness writing style which was written after a thirty minute meditation. Writing is also a large part of my process, something I connect to as a way to process and create understanding, and I often document my perceptions after a particularly intense or meaningful session. The writing for me is the synthesis stage of this process. The purpose of all of this is to reflect my inner world to me in an external way. It is a bit fractal-like in it’s application really. I liken it to standing over your own shoulder while reading a book that you wrote. You are the creator as well as the observer of the moments. It is about cultivating mindfulness and a way to slow down in times of stress.
In the next post I shall share some stream of conciseness writing which came after this exercise. I would love to hear about your own experiences using or modifying this tool.