Existential contentment in the face of adversity – mitigating misery with Acem Meditation – The Meditation Blog

By Turid Suzanne Berg-Nielsen

What it’s

Existential contentment is neither complacency nor bliss. It doesn’t entail the absence of adversity in life nor damaging feelings and ideas. It isn’t an emotion in any respect, extra of an angle – a way of that means and objective, an anchoring when waters are tough. Contentment additionally permits for an openness to expertise and acceptance of the pleasures and pains that the tides of time convey ashore.

And what does all this need to do with meditation?  Every little thing.

Tips on how to do it

We begin with closed eyes whereas being comfortably seated. Our consideration is directed inward, away from all the trivial, annoying, or attention-grabbing distractions that simply go away our minds with an enter overload. It’s quieter on the inside. For half an hour we retreat from clamoring environment to come across the internal world – which additionally has continents to be explored.

What to do after closing the eyes? With completely no pressure in anyway we repeat the meditation sound as realized at the newbie’s course (Holen & Eifring, 2013) – a impartial act carried out with a impartial object, easy and straight ahead, no abracadabra, nothing mystical or enchanting; only a plain manner of granting the thoughts a rhythm that’s completely different from the flustered tempo of on a regular basis life; only a manner of letting the neutrality open the thoughts to allow it to listen to the barely graspable hunches dwelling inside.

Spontaneous thought

The ease of the meditation act permits spontaneous thought to return and go. In between reproducing the sound, the thoughts might wander freely, wherever the wind blows. Most of our mind-wandering lies beneath the stage of full consciousness, however it’s neither random nor pointless. The ideas that emerge comprise heaps of emotional materials (Fox & Koroma, 2018). Processing of the overload of impressions from our day by day lives takes place, not earlier than our eyes, however behind them. No matter we do whereas meditating, we must always not fall for the temptation to affect the circulate of mind-wandering. Arms off, don’t steer or manipulate which ideas or feelings might go by. Let the mind go the place it must go, and that could be in one other route than we want. Our aware interference with the circulate will hamper the processing. And with out the processing, stress builds up.

What about rumination?

Having repetitive damaging and miserable ideas is known as rumination. Such ideas are inclined to monopolize the thoughts, leaving no house for anything. It’s virtually like a labyrinth, when you get in, you lose the massive image and haven’t any clue the place to seek out an exit.  What parts of Acem Meditation – an easy, enjoyable method – can do something in any respect with rumination?

The blue and orange circles are the spontaneous exercise happening in the thoughts whereas we meditate. On this case, the meditator is ruminating, with offended and revengeful ideas, or possibly the reverse: self-accusations, feeling unworthy and shameful or having limitless worries about the future. Discover the black line surrounding this tough content material, it locks it in, representing the damaging labyrinth. The gentle blue outer circle accommodates the ideas which are past the threshold of consciousness. So, what occurs with this gloomy preoccupation once we Acem–meditate?

Making music

After we sit right down to meditate, we could be harassed, discouraged, and really feel that we’ve got no free psychological angle in anyway. Don’t fear about it, simply repeat the sound with none pressure, and the free psychological angle will come alongside.  And this angle helps us modify the repetition of the sound in the direction of much less striving. There’s a good interdependence between the two, the sound and the angle: The neutrality of the sound helps us get hold of a free angle, whereas the repetition of the sound with no free psychological angle is kind of nugatory. The mixture of the two transfers a level of neutrality to the enclosed space in the thoughts, the place the damaging ideas are quickly thriving. The mixture turns into a smooth corrective to the damaging considering – and mark my phrases – this occurs by itself with out suppression or avoidance of the damaging ideas. The gentle, simple, versatile repetition of the sound achieved with a broad-minded, receptive, and open angle – that’s our instrument. We play that instrument whereas we take heed to the sound we’re taking part in.

The impact of this “music” additionally units different processes in movement. Discover in the determine beneath that the free psychological angle has coloured the internal circle pale inexperienced the place it was orange, the content material of spontaneous ideas. Unhappy or offended ideas should still be current, however their “shading” has modified, they’re much less intense, much less all-consuming, much less agonizing. With the expectation that every one damaging ideas ought to go away, there can be a disappointment. But when we see that they won’t essentially disappear, solely have an effect on our habits to a lesser diploma, then we are going to actually respect Acem Meditation. Like all good music, it doesn’t erase however mitigates the ache.

Like all good music, it additionally opens up thoughts and coronary heart. In the determine beneath, the black line has turn out to be dotted, permeable. The labyrinth of damaging considering opens up. And what seeps by means of the cracks into consciousness? The peripheral ideas, the divergent considering that has dwelled in the

outskirts of our consciousness, ideas, and concepts that aren’t written in capital letters and fly in our face however whisper softly in our ear – different ideas to the damaging ones. It may very well be one thing like: «Okay, I might need a sense of inferiority, in any case, I’m used to that, having had it since childhood. However does that basically need to cease me from doing what I want to do with my life?»


Mainstream psychology typically claims that the answer to damaging considering is management. Nonetheless, management and suppression of psychological contents drain our vitality and rarely work in the future (Eifring, 2019). Battling an undesirable half of ourselves creates an internal battle. Civil struggle typically brings extra loss than acquire, even when it happens beneath the pores and skin. Dealing with our personal damaging ideas and tough feelings with acceptance doesn’t remedy all issues however is a greater place to begin for behavioral change. Acceptance doesn’t imply we’ve got to love one thing we don’t like; it doesn’t imply we’ve got to welcome one thing which is undesirable. It’s simply acknowledging that it’s there. Acceptance is possession.

Existential contentment

Whether or not the ideas are tough and damaging or invigorating and helpful, they’re half of us. “Spontaneous types of thought allow us to transcend not solely the right here and now of perceptual expertise, but additionally the bonds of our deliberately-controlled and goal-directed cognition; they permit the house for us to be aside from who we’re, and for our minds to assume past the limitations of our present viewpoints and beliefs.” (Fox & Koroma, 2018). There wouldn’t be a lot creativity with out negativity. The place would artwork, literature, music, or drama be if we must always censor all damaging ideas? If we attempt to manipulate the spontaneous circulate throughout meditation and even observe it with a aware thoughts, we’ll lose the circulate. If we attempt to blacklist ideas we don’t need, we may also lose the good concepts, the new ideas, and the afterthoughts of on a regular basis episodes that assist us digest impressions and course of feelings. Destructive ideas can make us respect extra the good issues we’ve got; they’ll make us psychologically extra mature, and so they make us extra empathic with others when they are down. We can not at all times have the good with out accepting a portion of the unhealthy. And that’s what life is about, isn’t it? When adversity comes alongside – which it at all times will, it additionally sparks reflection. What’s the that means of this, how can I’m going on, what shall I make of this, how can I stay my life in another way? Existential contentment might evolve from such reflections – with just a little assist from a silent repetition of our impartial sound.


Eifring, H. (2019). The energy of the wandering thoughts. Nondirective meditation in science and philosophy. Oslo, Dyade Press.

Fox, Ok., Koroma, M. (2018). Wandering alongside the spectrum of spontaneous considering. Dreaming, meditation, mind-wandering and well-being. ALIUS Bulletin 2.

Holen, A. & Eifring, H. (2013). Acem Meditation. An introductory companion. Oslo, Dyade Press.

Prime photograph: Ommund Øgaard


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