Blir man et bedre menneske av å meditere?

Meditasjon har blitt en hype – men hjelper det oss egentlig i hverdagen? Artikkelen «More mindfulness, less meditation» i The New York Times setter spørsmålstegn ved akkurat det.

The simplest definition of meditation is learning to do one thing at a time. Building the capacity to quiet the mind has undeniable value at a time when our attention is under siege, and distraction has become our steady state. Meditation – in the right doses — is also valuable as a means to relax the body, quiet the emotions and refresh one’s energy. There is growing evidence that meditation has some health benefits. What I haven’t seen is much evidence that meditating leads people to behave better, improves their relationships or makes them happier.

Consider what Jack Kornfield has to say about meditation. In the 1970s, after spending a number of years as a monk in Southeast Asia, Mr. Kornfield was one of the first Americans to bring the practice of mindfulness to the West. He remains one of the best-known mindfulness teachers, while also practicing as a psychologist.“ While I benefited enormously from the training in the Thai and Burmese monasteries where I practiced,” he wrote, “I noticed two striking things. First, there were major areas of difficulty in my life, such as loneliness, intimate relationships, work, childhood wounds, and patterns of fear that even very deep meditation didn’t touch.

Second, among the several dozen Western monks (and lots of Asian meditators) I met during my time in Asia, with a few notable exceptions, most were not helped by meditation in big areas of their lives. Meditation and spiritual practice can easily be used to suppress and avoid feeling or to escape from difficult areas of our lives.»

There is a difference between mindfulness meditation and simple mindfulness. The latter isn’t a practice separate from everyday life. Mindfulness just means becoming more conscious of what you’re feeling, more intentional about your behaviors and more attentive to your impact on others. It’s about presence — what Ms. Ingram calls “keeping quiet and simple inside, rather than having any mental task whatsoever.

The real challenge isn’t what we’re able to do with our eyes closed. It’s to be more self-aware in the crucible of our everyday lives, and to behave better as a result. That’s mindfulness in action.

Er du flink til å krangle?

Det kan være slitsomt og vondt å krangle med partneren sin, og for mange er krangling såpass ubehagelig at de ender opp med å stille spørsmålstegn ved hele forholdet. I artikkelen Are You Just Fighting or Engaging in “Conscious Combat”? kan vi lese at par som får til å bevare kjærligheten over tid faktisk kan krangle ganske ofte, men er flinkere til å gjøre det på en konstruktiv måte. Her er et lite utdrag:

The belief or expectation that “good” couples don’t or shouldn’t fight prevents us from admitting to each other (or even to ourselves) that we may need to learn to manage our differences more skillfully and perhaps make some changes in the process. Since change can and usually does involve stepping into the unknown and being at risk of losing something, there is a pretty high likelihood that there will be some resistance to taking this step.

The alternative to doing so is to deny, avoid, or bury unresolved differences, which inevitably does damage to the foundation and trust level, of the relationship. It also diminishes the capacity for intimacy that is available in the relationship. Unaddressed differences and emotional “incompletions” inevitably diminish the quality of a couple’s connection by eroding feelings of affection to the point where nothing but resentment apathy, and bitterness exist between them. Divorce or worse (a continuation of a dead relationship) is likely to follow.

cold glow

This form of conflict management or “conscious combat” typically involves the following guidelines:

A willingness to acknowledge that a difference exists within the relationship and to identify the nature of that difference.
A stated intention on the part of both partners to work towards a mutually satisfying resolution to the problem.
A willingness to listen openly and non-defensively to each partner as they declare their concerns, requests, and desires. No interruptions or “corrections” ‘until the speaker is finished.
A desire on the part of both partners to understand what needs to happen in order for the each person to experience satisfaction with the outcome.
A commitment to speak without blame, judgment or criticism focusing exclusively on one’s own experience, needs and concerns.