i have lately been pondering this meditation thing. It has always seemed an anathema to my entire being, and the absolutely last thing I would ever consider. But the very reason causing me to view meditative practices as torture (albeit more artistic and subtle manners of torture) is perhaps the reason I would be in dire need of them. The crux of the matter is, how would I even begin, when I feel such an aversion to meditation’s most basic principles? My immediate awareness is constantly moving from one thing to another, in a seemingly unconnected and incoherent pattern. Physically, I can’t stop moving; if the only part I can move is a finger, then I’m frantically moving this finger.

In waldorf school, I used to pace. During recess (and free time in kindergarten), I moved around in circles. My worry was that, when transferring to new classrooms between grades, there wouldn’t be enough space outside the building to pace in circles during recess. I used all sorts of tricks during lessons, when I wasn’t able to pace. One was to track the movements of the arms on my wristwatch. Another thing was to be constantly writing down all words that were said — that is, a kind of fake writing. I used a finger to write on my upper legs, on my other arm or on some item, furniture or fabric. The same technique was very useful during car rides. I also used to obsessively observe patterns and count intervals over and over again. Read every word I could find written, over and over again. (Since the written word isn’t very prevalent in waldorf schools lower grades, this method couldn’t be easily applied. But there are always written words to be found, even where conscious effort has been made to remove them. Labels, tags, and so forth. Pens and crayons — even the anthroposophically approved crayons — had labels with text and numbers. Very rudimentary from an intellectual perspective, but better than nothing at all.) I don’t know how to sit on a chair, but luckily for grown-ups they’re mostly free to misbehave. I don’t need as many techniques, because I’m not required to sit on chairs in an orderly manner.

Also, and this may be the most significant difference, the medications unavailable to children with big-pharma-scared parent(s) are suddenly available. We’re now able to sleep, to be sufficiently awake when supposed to (hyper-activity can often be a frantic attempt at elevating the level of wakefulness) and to avoid falling into the dark void of depression — with the aid of pharmaceuticals, the world is doubtlessly a better place than I could ever have expected it to be when I was a child. However, in the end, I must ask of myself what it is I really want, and whether there are alternative ways through which it may be possible to achieve the same, or similar, goals.

On the other hand, meditation and all such practices scare me. There’s that inner resistance. It’s not only that I feel it is “not for me”, as it were, it is that I sense I’d mentally resist it, like I resist falling asleep even when I don’t wish to be resisting it. I don’t even know of anything but resistance. It happens unconsciously, without my willing it. I feel my relationship to my very own wakefulness (and to its opposite) is neurotic. When George Costanza yells “serenity now, insanity later” it always strikes me as potentially true, even plausible, actually — although for obvious reasons I’ve never really attempted to examine the causal strength of that supposition. Serenity seems too much like dying.

So — what should I read? I doubt I’d find any use in stuff about seeing auras and purple 9-petalled lotus flowers and the similar. Not from shutting my eyes and imagining the sound of waves on a Caribbean shore or the twittering of birds in the forest either. (I do, however, find something attractive in Charlie Citrine’s mediation over a lamppost.) I don’t particularly need the higher worlds or the company of archangels. But I do need to extend my ability to focus.


8 thoughts on “meditation

  1. I ditt fall: Fokusera på armbandsklockans sekundvisare EN MINUT vid SAMMA tid VARJE dag i en vecka. Nästa vecka, gör samma sak men fokusera på navet som visarna är fästa vid. Tänk BARA på det du ser under denna tid. Inte på ärkeänglar, auror eller hundar. Bara på sekundvisaren. Hör av dig när du lyckas.


  2. Nu för tiden har ju inte en endaste människa armbandsklocka ;) inte jag heller. Jag har bara klocka i mobilen och i datorn. Men jag borde kunna komma på något liknande och prova.

  3. Materialistiska stadsbor utan huslig kompetens har knappt ett kök, än mindre en köksklocka. I och för sig, jag fick en knallrosa och mycket plastig Hello Kitty-kökstimer av min mor i julklapp. Perunakello som det heter (ett av få ord jag lärt mig på finska). Potatisklocka. Men Kello Kitty är lite för glammig för att förknippas med potatisklockor. Annat var det med morfars Remington. Den höll i minst ett halvt sekel. Diskmaskinens klockar är också digital.

    Man kan säga en sak, och det är att om all teknik plöstligt dukar under, kommer vi andra bli beroende av (kanske inte bara vita) medelålders män med armbandsur. Helst sådana där gamla mekaniska saker. Helst batterilösa.

  4. Have you read Simone Weil “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies”? (Usually found in the book called in English ‘Waiting on God’). In only 9 pages she makes an extraordinary analysis of the purpose of ‘schooling’ as developing the power of attention, yet the process she describes could be a form of meditation! No angels, auras, fairies, etc!
    Might be of interest to you.

  5. No, I haven’t — thanks for the tip!

    It’s quite fascinating, though, that since I wrote this post, which was only 6 months ago (to the day, in fact), I think I have experienced some kind of change; perhaps even to the better (although it is awfully difficult to tell without proper perspective). I think I am better, now, at deciding on a focus and retain it through will. (Obviously, in my case, ‘better’ is relative. I’m still not good at it.) Interestingly, too, is — and this is a very powerful transformation (in the way that I really notice it) — that my interest in photography has changed how I behave, I don’t rush through nature like I did. I’m attentive to things I didn’t even notice before. It’s a whole new way of being attentive, and of focusing on certain impressions. It’s not meditation, but it’s meditative. It’s a rather nice way to experience being fully in the moment — because, then and there, one can’t think about anything else than colours, how the light falls, composition, and so forth. It’s the picture that is important only; not the intellect jumping from one thing to another to another. The only artform I was ever interested in was writing. But maybe I needed a non-intellectual complement.

  6. I think your attentiveness is what makes your photos so magical. The colour you capture is wonderful. THere is vitality in it.

    I once sailed through the archipelago from Tallinn to Stockholm and remember the subtle quality of light seen in the background to some of your pics. Such as the ones taken on the island.

    Simone Weil is a very interesting writer, a real ‘one-off’, there is no-one else at all like her. She has been co-opted by the religious brigade but religious/mystical experience was only a tiny part of her oeuvre. She wrote far more on politics, oppression and liberty, history, justice, etc, occasionally looking at scientific methodology, maths, anthropology, – a whole raft of subjects.
    Her book ‘The Need for Roots’ is a ‘meditation’ on how to build a just society. When she wrote it she was working for De Gaulle and the Free-French in London during the Second world war.

  7. Thank you! The archipelago has a very special light. It is very very light — it’s almost like everything pales to white during the hours around noon, because of the stark light (probably reflections from the sea contribute a lot). Like at night, although then everything is, obviously, shades of grey. Later in the afternoon or evening, the colours ‘return’. Paradoxically, the extreme lightness — which should be anything but subtle (the eyes hurt!) — causes a certain impression of subtleness.

    Those are very interesting topics, indeed. I saw, right now, that Albert Camus appreciated her ‘The Need for Roots’ too. She seems to be the perfect author to look for in thrift-shops — translated to Swedish but few of her works have been reprinted recently. (I also notice she had a renowned Swedish translator.)

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