Meditation: An Intimate Act

April[Comments are permitted on this post.]

By April Resnick

Right now, for the next few moments, I am interested in talking about the act of sitting. That’s it. And for me, there is no way around it. Meditation is an intimate act. I have rarely heard it discussed in these terms. Still, it keeps showing up for me as an intimate act. Intimacy is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “marked by a very close association, contact, or familiarity.” When I first walked into a meditation hall I was looking for peace. What I found was contact, and it was not peaceful. I was looking for something “spiritual.” What I found was contact, and it was not spiritual. I was looking for something to ease my pain. What I found was contact WITH that pain, and it was not easy. I quickly discovered this was not a soothing act, but one that brought me intimate association with all the things I had dissociated from so long ago. I immediately had a choice: either pay attention or not. I could choose contact with my breath/body/mind/stimuli and its embodied nightmares, or not. It was as simple, and as vulnerable, as that. The choice continues to be this simple for me, up to this very morning’s meditation.

When I choose to sit still, quiet, unmoving…my body is vulnerable, biologically and evolutionarily speaking. Millions of years of violence and predation have taught us that when we squat, whether to shit or to meditate, we are exposed. There is no guarantee when I shit, or when I sit, of safety or comfort. Yet still I do it. My guard is down, my gaze is down, my sympathetic nervous system is dialed down and my parasympathetic system takes over. (This is why our stomachs churn and growl, why we burp, and why we fart during meditation. Our body has decided we don’t need blood supply shunted to our muscles to quickly run away from certain doom. So it sends blood to our digestive system instead.) When I sit I am, physically speaking, the perfect prey. The very simple physical act of sitting still, the choice to stay still and quiet, the choice to direct my attention solely to the breath is a biological act of bravery and vulnerability, every single time. This was my first contact, my fist act of intimacy. I made contact with vulnerability.

On some level that initial sitting down, whether solitary or in a group, becomes an act of trust. It can be trust in the environment, trust in the facilitator, even trust in myself and my practice. I may trust that no predator will leap out from his hiding place; that no teacher will allow my violation while I stay vulnerable; that regardless of what is going on around me or inside me, I will make the right choice between stillness and movement should the decision become necessary. There is no intimacy, close association, without this trust (or at least the illusion of it.) So when I sit, I extend that trust to others, to myself, to my practice. And I make contact with fear, and then I make contact with trust.

Once the sitting still is accomplished, the bodily sensations arise. I make the choice to allow myself contact with these sensations. Although it sounds elementary, this is no easy task. I am sure that I once experienced bodily sensation freely, as a child, before bodily dissociation during abuse was the only option for psychological (and perhaps physical) survival. But now, slowly, with each session of sitting I have been able to reconnect to my body in a way that does not evoke hatred, shame, self injurious behavior. I have let myself be vulnerable, let myself trust, and so then I am able to feel the sensation of clothing on certain areas of my skin without screaming. I am able to feel itches, tension, and pain in areas of my body that would have once caused violent self harming. The pulling away from these sensations still exists, but I am able to feel THAT in my body as well, long before they transition to sudden or violent reaction. Each session of sitting, although to different degrees, allows me safe contact, close association, familiarity with the bodily manifestations of being a human, a human struggling with PTSD. I am intimate, familiar now, with the havoc that still reverberates in my body after the abuse. Sitting does not make it less painful; sitting cannot erase the felt sense of the abuse that still arises. But, it does allow for safe contact, a full experience of that pain, rather than the habit of dissociation from it.

For me, intimacy, contact, the ability to notice and fully experience the detail—that is what is happening when I sit. Does it extend beyond the cushion, yes sometimes it does. Is contact always easy or pretty or nice or comfortable, no it is not. But, I am interested in contact, not comfort. Contact first and foremost. What that contact looks like cannot be the goal, but the contact itself must be. The very act of intimacy that happens regularly during my meditation, the ACT of contact itself, that opportunity for familiarity with this 5’ 4” carcass, that is my goal. Reclaiming an intimate familiarity for a brief moment, that was taken so long ago. What happens when I get up, when I stop sitting? I like to think perhaps the ability to allow contact with the rest of the details of my life. I would like to think that all of the time spent on the cushion allowing myself intimacy with the good, bad, and the ugly that shows up somehow makes it easier to allow similar contact in my daily life. I would like to think that the ability to allow intimacy that I am practicing while meditating just might extend itself beyond that brief practice. I think, maybe, just maybe, it is.

So I will sit. I will practice allowing contact with whatever shows up. And then, I will get up and go live my life, grateful to have had the opportunity to rediscover and cultivate intimacy with that very life. That is, for me, where it must start. Beyond that…I will just have to wait and see.

*

Sensitive to the Whole

I am reconnected to my body
In a way I must have been
When I was seven
Before eight years old
Hands turned cold
And I became frozen
Backed in a corner
Of myself
For survival
One by one pulled out
The cords that connected
Neurons to nerves
But now the stillness
The waiting and watching
The safety of silence
Has allowed a re-wiring
A warm humming of the living
That carries me out of that corner
— April Resnick

_____________

April Resnick has her BS in Nursing and is currently working on her Masters of Applied Meditation Studies. She has worked in the fields of surgery and labor and delivery as a nurse.  She is also a veteran of the USAF, who served on active duty, and as a reservist.  April has been meditating for 5 years.  She has instructed meditation at Penn State Abington, for staff, and Intercommunity Action Center, for adults in the Philadelphia living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  She is also a writer currently posting poetry to her blog www.sometimesihatemycat.com.   Her current area of interest is the intersection between meditation and creativity, as well as the use of meditation in the management of PTSD, and its practical application in the recovery from childhood trauma.

39 thoughts on “Meditation: An Intimate Act

  1. There are lots of ways to practice “sensory awareness”, “kinesthetic sense” and “intimacy” other than meditation, which are less painful and more secular; like modern dance, contact improvisation, Alexander/Feldenkrais technique, Bartenieff fundamentals, experiential anatomy, yoga etc.

  2. Very nice but it’s the off-the-cushion practices that interest me more these days more so because every person and their pet have jumped on the cushion. Also, I’m not very satisfied with the “sit lots” –> “something magic happens” –> “Suddenly life when not sitting is different” equation. Constructivists must surely have some ideas for the “something magic happens” box.

  3. April, thanks a lot for the courage to post this text here.

    I hope there will be more thoughtful responses than those from people who don’t care about what you wrote or those who make rash equations like “intimacy equals atman”.

    I find this text and some of your poems (I don’t know them all) are of the rare kind where something useful about meditation is translated to the reader. You have the rare ability to really say something about sitting. What I read is a phenomenological account of another humans experience (an experience which is totally alien to me) in a way so I can begin to make contact to you.

    For me, apart from you being a human becoming visible to me through your exposure – the courage to expose yourself –, the main point lies in your formulation

    […] I was looking for peace. What I found was contact […].

    Therein lies a decisive experience. Far too many people try to escape in trying to find peace (even if their peace is war & vengeance) and then call it meditation. Only few seam to find the gem which one finds in sharpening ones phenomenological edge and what change comes with this in everyday life.

    You say it clearly: It is about making contact – and that is exactly the opposite of flinching by taking in the soothing pill of pseudo-meditation. In fact in what you write we can find a very important differentiation between the narcissistic escape and separation from life on one side and a post-narcissistic integration of what constitutes human experience on the other.

  4. Reblogged this on PATRICK JENNINGS and commented:
    I have been working on a post for a while about meditation. What might be described as sitting along side ones bodily experience . Meditation as a pared down encounter with momentary experience. A minimally transcendent perspective on one’s experience as a human being. I say ‘Minimally transcendent’ because all formulations of what meditation might be are structured unavoidably as subject/object dichotomies. the moment we open our mouths. And (needless to say but I feel compelled to say it anyway) to sit is to sit within a very particular ‘world’ . Or better still as a ‘world’ extending infinitely in all directions and on all levels. For me this practice has been, from the beginning, a more or less painful experience of encountering the visceral manifestations of accumulated and for the most part unexamined distress.

    Anyway I’ve scrapped it (for now at least) in favour of this from April Resnick (Sometimes) reblogged from SNB.

  5. Sorry Glenn, April, reblogged to wrong site. please scrap and I will reblog to the non-buddhist. Thanks

  6. #1. Jonckher — I would counter that there is nothing “magical” about my description of my sitting practice or about the practical, and very real, reduction of my own PTSD symptoms. Although I would agree that meditation has not been a quick fix or a magic bullet, but one of many tools that I have used to help me decrease a very violent startle reflex, recurring nightmares, extreme stress response to particular physical stimuli and flashbacks. I would argue that these are very real biological processes that have been slowly changed…but not completely resolved. My husband is a Neuroscientist, and years ago did research and wrote papers about the very real brain changes that occur when a child is exposed to trauma. While these symptoms cannot ever be completely wiped out, they can be successfully managed. There is only just now some research being done about whether or not meditation can be used to this end. But from my own admittedly subjective and anecdotal experience…I would say, yes, perhaps. This in no way implies that my life is “magical” after sitting. But I do, very clearly imply, that I experience my life much more intimately…including the anxiety, fear, and vulnerability. I allow it in, even when it, and I, am not pretty for it.

  7. #2 Matthias — Simply, thank you. I am very much “in contact” with fear and vulnerability at this very moment. Not everyone will understand what I am talking about and that’s okay…good even. Those not suffering from PTSD might not understand, and I am genuinely happy that there are those out there not in need of help with its symptoms. I wish that for my own daughter, freedom from this particular suffering…although I am sure there will a different kind she will have to manage. But, yes you are correct in you assessment of what I was saying. Contact is the goal, not comfort. However, my contact with comfort, when It shows up, is experienced much more deeply as well. It is just that I try not to make an overt effort to conjure comfort. I try to sit when anxiety takes hold of me, not to relieve it, but to allow myself to experience it without distraction. I want to know anxiety, PTSD, intimately. Sitting right smack in the middle of it, letting it happen without running from it…now that is the trick. Anyway, thank you very much.

  8. Last sentences of second paragraph: “This was my first contact, my fist act of intimacy. I made contact with vulnerability.” Shouldn’t it read ‘…contact, my *first* act of intimacy’? Thank you for the unique post.

  9. Patrick — Thanks for reblogging. But keep working on your own article. I don’t want to make to many assumptions about your life or your practice, but it sounds as if you might have some experience with what I wrote about. I may very well be wrong, and probably am. However, I will assert that childhood trauma (of all sorts) will only continue to others, in the shadows, allowed because of its horrific truth and shameful taboo, unless more people speak openly about it, and its lifelong after effects. It is not easy, I could easily curl up in a ball and vomit as we speak. But voices are needed, voices that were silenced as children, voices that are slightly stronger as adults…perhaps assisted by meditation.

    If I am wrong in my assumptions, I sincerely apologize, but l would still love to read what you have to say on the subject of “painful” meditation, visceral manifestations of accumulated distress, etc…

    Anyway, thanks again.

  10. To all: apologies for any spelling/grammar errors in my responses. I am in the middle of managing family logistics on a very busy day. I will not have time to sit for very long in front of a computer until very late tonight, but I want to acknowledge any comments and respond as I can, even on the go. So any slack on typos will be much appreciated. Hopefully I can relay intent, if not with perfect content.

  11. My own vulnerability in sitting manifested–in the beginning–as self-consciousness. I felt that I was somehow “on display,” and that my posture-breathing-stuffy nose-farts, etc would evoke judgment from my sitting companions. For the most part, that has disappeared, except when my nose whistles! Several years ago I started sitting in public spaces, sometimes alone and sometimes with others. It was not always easy, which is why this post resonated with me:

    On some level that initial sitting down, whether solitary or in a group, becomes an act of trust. It can be trust in the environment, trust in the facilitator, even trust in myself and my practice. I may trust that no predator will leap out from his hiding place; that no teacher will allow my violation while I stay vulnerable; that regardless of what is going on around me or inside me, I will make the right choice between stillness and movement should the decision become necessary.

    That trust is pretty much constant now; I can sit in a public park without trepidation. Something happened in a sitting yesterday, however, that brought this issue of trust to mind. I open a space early two mornings a week for a drop-in meditation. The room is about 20 x 40, and it has a street entrance and a back exit that leads to a hall and shared bathroom space. The tenant next door can actually enter the sitting space from that hall if we leave the exit door unlocked, which happens often. But during this drop-in meditation time, few people are around.

    I sit with my back to that exit door. Yesterday, no one else was present, and 45 minutes into my sitting, I heard the shared bathroom door open, and then I heard the exit door open. This registered in awareness, and even a tiny flicker of fear arose… But I made the choice to remain still, as you mention above, and it all passed. I do not know who or what was behind me. The flicker of fear went out. Later–off the cushion–I kind of marveled at all that; I did not think of it as trust, but perhaps that is what it was

  12. Ha. Something just occurred to me… I always open the space up. Since I arrive first, I get to choose my location and orientation. I ALWAYS sit facing the entrance door at the back of the room. Maybe I am wary of a predator coming in the front door! Yesterday, it was the possibility of the back door that ignited a tiny fear!

  13. #10 & 11 Steve– Yes, that is the same fear that arises in me when I sit, to varying degrees. Which triggers a cascade of anxiety, sometimes flashbacks, etc…but still I sit. I suppose it ends up being an illusion of trust sometimes, but trust nonetheless.

    #1 — Jonckher — It just occurred to me, in reference to your stated preferred interest in what happens of the cushion. This IS what I am doing off the cushion. Speaking. For me, speaking in and of itself is a form of activism. Speaking when others would prefer I stay silent. Speaking about things that others would prefer never to hear about. Speaking, over and over and over, until others hear…and then perhaps listen…and then perhaps speak themselves…and then perhaps do something in their own little world to protect children…and then perhaps do something to protect children in the wider world. Speaking up is my activism, is my “off the cushion” engagement with social action.

  14. April, great post. This is such an important conversation to be having. Many of my first thoughts mirror Matthias’s. I also admire your courage, and I agree that this is your activism and cannot be separated from your practice in sitting. Initiating this discussion obviously also involves vulnerability and trust and is therefore part of your practice. Though I have nothing comparable to your specific experiences, I know in my own way the ongoing, difficult, painful work of healing. And by healing, I do not mean “peace and comfort.” And it is always ongoing. In addition to the kind of contact you mainly discuss, your work also promotes important contact between people. It’s interesting that this post has already brought in some new commenters.

    Borabosna #1: “…other than meditation, which are less painful and more secular.”

    I don’t see anything in April’s post to suggest that her objective is to avoid pain. Quite the opposite; my reading is that she is not attempting to avoid anything. And I see nothing in her practice, as she describes it, that is not secular.

  15. Borabosna #1 (I think I may have numbered some responses incorrectly)– Speaking about this practice in no way posits that it is the only way to practice intimacy. I am speaking about ONE of the ways I practice intimate contact. I, in fact, am a dancer and I use many methods in my life to practice “contact.” If you read through some of my responses you will see that I actually state that this is one tool in the management of PTSD symptomology, but not the only tool. That would be quite short sighted, and inauthentic, of me to suggest this is the ONLY way. However, I have been dancing much longer than I have been meditating and can say from my experience that while the dancing provides kinesthetic contact, it has not provided me the opportunity to sit still and quiet with anxiety, flashbacks, etc… Dancing did nothing to diminish an extreme startle reflex. It did help with body awareness, but that has not been the exact same thing for me as felt sense awareness. And Alan is correct…there is no spirituality in my practice. If I did not convey that correctly, then there are more articles to be written.

  16. #15 Alan — Thank you. Great clarification about healing vs. comfort. I think too often people conflate those two ideas/practices. When, in fact, healing can indeed be quite painful. For me healing has involved being comfortable with the pain, but certainly not comfort from the pain. If that makes any sense. I had comfort FROM the pain already during the abuse, and for many years after…and that kind of comfort was called dissociation. In fact it was much easier to shut down, turn off sensation, than it has been to reconnect. I can’t say I like the pain of healing, but I welcome the pain now, because it means I am not disconnected from the whole of life anymore. That is my experience anyway. Thanks for sharing yours.

  17. April- Thank you so much for this awesome post. It came across as very clear, down to Earth, and accessible. A lot of what is posted on this website is tough for me to understand due to the grammatical style and my lack of a highly educated vocabulary. Also, I did not find anything “spiritual” about it at all, which was very helpful to my comprehending what was written. Might I add that I’ve read through everybody’s responses and was very pleased with how you’ve conducted yourself. Especially with the first few responders. You come across as a very understanding and kind-hearted human. Emphasis on human. I’ll be looking forward to your future posts. Oh, and I LOVE the name of your blog! Take care!

  18. Hi April

    Thanks for your comment.

    You are right in your assumption. But the circumstances were different from your own. The abuse was violent physical abuse. It was practised in public as an integral part of the educational system. And it was pervasive in all aspects of the treatment of children outside of school when I was growing up, although less systematically (which often meant in unpredictable ways, more traumatic for the child in the end. ) I’m talking here about abuse resulting, for example, in fractured fingers and wrists, bruising to the body, broken ribs., bleeding from the nose. And, of course, severe psychological trauma, resulting from actual physical attack or the experience of having to witness it being perpetrated on others. Sexual abuse was widespread, but never affected me personally. There was no escape from violence once you left school by the way. The police took over from where the school teachers and priests left off, and with impunity.

    In one way I was fortunate. Since the abuse was perpetrated by those in positions of power and was politically sanctioned by the ‘establishment’ it was obvious to me from an early age that I was dealing with an ‘outside power’ . This led me to question existing conditions and freed me from obsessive self questioning at a time when I probably could not have coped with confronting my feelings head on.( Something I eventually had to do, of course.)

    Anyway, I’ve probably said too much. This whole issue is something I feel needs very careful thought and a way of explication that combines ‘personal’ experience with a critique of the structures of power and abuse within the family and in the wider society. Probably the best explorations are those that use language in imaginative ways–poetry, the novel, and a form somewhere between analysis and poetry or poetic language, what Camelia Elias calls ‘Epistemological writing’ and which she practices beautifully here Glenn’s Sutras of Flesh and Blood is another example of what I mean. And, of course, your own work as a poet.

  19. One more point,

    I think meditation is a good way of accessing unexamined experience. There is something about the way breath meditation connects with the body that seems to resuscitate forgotten memeories, in my experience at least( thats probably a danger for certain people. Its only one method , as you say there are others and a combination of ways is probably best)
    Heres the link to Camelia Elias, <a href=”http://cameliaelias.blogspot.ch/2010/04/mercy.html for anyone who is interested. just paste away! if it doesn’t work. I’m getting worse at this shit instead of better. Anyway I think the form of writing Elais practices here is a form that I can never seem to get near practicing myself. I think its the best way short of writing poetry.

  20. #17 Patrick — Thank you for sharing your experience. While the details may not be exact, the result of systematic child abuse in any form is often very similar. The devaluation of children cuts across all social/political/class systems. And, I do not think that you “said too much at all.” We have a voice as adults, that we did not have a children, and to spite much of society telling us to keep quiet (because it makes them uncomfortable and quite frankly they would have to actually DO something about it) we should speak for those who can’t. As far as I am concerned, societal discomfort is a great way to motivate action. And it’s the familial and other personal systems in our lives that are even more uncomfortable with our speaking out…which makes it even more courageous to do so. Yes, for me “breath meditation” has been a safe and productive way for me to observe the bodily manifestations of the after effects if abuse. But you are correct, it must be used in conjunction with other tools for the safety of those who may not be ready to address these things alone.

    (And don’t get me started on this idea that I have heard, even on this blog and has been said to me, that all you need is to let go of “self” to be healed. Such a dangerous idea for those healing from child abuse. From my experience, I know how to be “no-self,” and used the idea of no-self (although not in those terms) to justify harming myself. I have this idea I want to develop more, but it is the idea that IF the concept of no-self is to be of some use…we must first help survivors of childhood trauma regain a sense of self that was lost and then so carefully reintroduce the idea of no-self. I had to wrestle my “self” back from the abuse, before I could start breaking down the “self” in any healthy, safe way.)

    #18 — I will check out the link. Creativity (in writing) has indeed given me a way to talk about these things that seems more approachable and makes me more brave and willing to do so. The combination of meditation and creativity has become a powerful force in my life at the moment. And by force I do not mean magical or spiritual…I mean a force for courage, a force that supports the speaking and using my voice as my form of activism.

  21. April you have put into words part of what I have been feeling and wondering if I was just plain off base about my own meditation experience. I have never found peace in meditation. As a cancer patient, my internal malfunctioning, if that’s what it is, can never be cured and only managed. But the only point to managing is not to be somehow removed and peaceful but to enable me to engage more effectively in the causes I care about and to let whatever compassion I am capable of flow more freely to everyone I encounter in any way. But all that aside, what spoke to me the deepest was your clarity, directness, and vulnerability. As a hospice caregiver, I know that it is the only way be helpful at all to people at the end of life.

  22. April,

    Thanks for posting. I’m not going to articulate this well but I’ll crash into it – I think what you’re saying here is significant in terms of the contact idea. I feel like modern buddhism and a lot of practice is distraction – so people said here, meditation is so passe because everyone is doing it – but I think what they are doing is bullshit to a large degree. It’s the opposite. Read lots, make donations, sit meditation, hope it gets better. I think you’re doing something different in dealing with your own content in a direct way and understanding that there’s no clear perscription for this process because it’s different for everyone.

    Often I think it’s enough to sit (not Sit, just sit, or recline, or whatever provides space to slow down and take some perspective on things) and then deal (really deal) with content as it demonstrate itself to you, and this is harder than the mindless adoption of whatever practice is being most shouted about.

    If I met a doctor who had a pathos of “everything is cured by injecting lots of morphine then making lots of cuts” it would be a fair bet that he’d kill a lot of people instead of curing them. It’s the same with a lot of what goes on in this space. “Just sit / meditate / listen to teachings and you’ll ” – how can anything be universal to every single person?

    Thank you again for the post. I find it valuable.

  23. #22 Tom — Thank you. This week has definitely provided even more contact with vulnerability and fear. More than I could have guessed, would have asked for, and you are right that it has not been peaceful. It has, however, been important and valuable. I am so glad that this idea, this type of practice, is one that resonates with people. I am glad that it made sense and resonates with you as well. Thank you also for sharing your own vulnerable practice.

  24. #8 Mark — Yes you are absolutely correct, it should be “first” not fist. Oh that pesky humanity. Thanks so much for reading and for pointing it out. I hope people have read it as “first.” Although, fist might give it an interesting reading as well. 🙂

  25. #17 Eric — Sorry I am just now responding. Life gets busy sometimes. But I am so grateful for your kind response. I have felt similarly when I sometimes read posts, and more so the responses here. Although extremely valuable, sometimes I have felt like some of the discussions have been inaccessible to me. I read them, i just hold back a bit from jumping in sometimes. This has been a slightly terrifying week for many reasons, but that people are able to see their own practice (and some validation of that practice) in what I wrote helps more than you know.

  26. #23 Tomo — I love the idea of “crashing into” the discussion. It does seem like that is the only option sometimes, doesn’t it? Anyway, I don’t know if my practice is “modern” or “Buddhism” but it does seem to be slightly different than the bliss and peace that people think is supposed to happen. So many people in my life, when they find out I am a meditator, suddenly posit all sorts of super human ideals onto my practice. It is hard to burst their bubble that, my style at least, is not at all about being some “better” version of myself. It is about letting myself be right smack in the middle of whatever human mess presents itself to me, without flinching or running to distraction. I’ve done that, and for me it wasn’t living. I practice this way so I can live it, all of it, even when it is painful. I want the human experience. Perhaps because I deprived myself of that for so long. Who knows. Anyway thank you for reading. And, your comment about being human strikes a chord with me. One of my favorite quotes since starting my practice has been, “I am a human. Nothing human can be alien to me,” attributed to Terence.

  27. maybe it is time to recionsider an old post: The Myth of the Witnessing Mind, or: It’s Thinking all the Way Down

  28. #30 — Tomo: So sorry about being unable to comment. Unfortunately I do not have control over that, Glenn does. I will send him an email to see if he can fix this issue.

  29. #28 Sal — I would agree with Matthias’ request. Can you elaborate please? It is hard to dialogue appropriately when your point appears opaque. Trying to read into your comment would difficult at best. I think I have an idea what you might be trying to suggest…but my response would be based on an assumption, which would not be fair or respectful to this discussion. Thanks for reading.

  30. #28 Sal — P.S. My making assumptions about your comment would also be unfair and disrespectful to you. I will, however, check out the article and wait for you to clarify. Also…we’re you referring to the article in particular, or the discussion after? Thanks.

  31. A NOTE ABOUT MY REPONSES: I just want to let everyone know, should this discussion continue in the next few days, I will be out of town and camping in the mountains until late Monday. Any non-response on my part will be due to that alone, and not due to any disinterest. I will check in if i can, and then respond on Tuesday if necessary.

  32. Matthias, April, I will try to clarify.

    Maybe, just maybe, every “form” meditation takes, whichever it is, is just another “mental arrangement”, another form of thinking, no better and no worse than other possible “mental arrangements” (even the really ordinary ones). In this scope meditation is not a special field from where we could take an outstanding meaningfull sense (say, useful to live in a better way). Ordinary mind will be just as useful. Of course, it is perfectly possible that meditation could be that special place from wich we learn about ourselves (and this dicotomy is still perplexing for me).

  33. Thanks Sal for the clarification. There has been a lot of talk here about this and other topics regarding meditation. Often enough there has been a confusion what kind of actual practice is meant when somebody uses the word meditation. And often enough there has been a categorial confusion between phenomenological descriptions and other kinds of descriptive modes. For example the ideology which one is while practicing is a different field of description than the actual attempt to describe what one experiences. While the former informs the latter it is nonetheless necessary to gain finer insight in the latter and it is necessary to ask how the latter may be used to gain more insight into the former. Re your mental arrangements: Yes, it’s another form of thinking. But that is not the point about April’s text. At least not for me. She identifies her human experience to me. That is a certain kind of communication which refers to the actual incarnation one is. This might be a different mental arrangement than mine. But the point here is not, for me, to talk about the different mental arrangements but how these different mental arrangements might talk to each other.

  34. Ok Matthias. I think I understand you. One of my conclusions is that my perplexity is founded in the cofussion between those two “levels” you mentioned. I think your right in your distictions, a caraful recosideretion of them wiil be very useful for me. Thanks.

  35. It is very interesting how you describe meditation. I’m not certain if you are familiar with it, but you sound like an enneagram type 7. I have never experienced meditation this way, I am a six. My experience is one of safety. I suppose everyone’s experience is different.

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