The journey within is conducted through silent contemplation. This state is the state within the ego states themselves – this silence is the empty space within which no aspect of any of the ego states is dominant. It may be considered that this process is actually accessing that part of us which is not at all apparent to us, and this state is, of course, greater than the sum of our ego states parts, and basically, is the unifying force that enables balance to be established. This aspect dwells within all the inanimate and animate states of the universe, and is the life force creating everything including, the universe. An interesting way of considering this is that this life force creates the universe, rather than the universe creating the life force, and through silent contemplation we can begin to develop an acquaintance with the life force within, and allow this force to create the natural balance, which is our default position and situation. Permission for this to occur is granted through the submission of silent contemplation in which the ego states are rested and the channel is then open to receive the healing life force energy for the purposes of rebalancing.
This energy is actually the glue that binds the ego states together and ensures a level of harmony, meaning and purpose within our lives. This energy ensures that there are no internal detachments, dissociations, splitting, decompensation and disintegration within the ego states within the personality, however, it is important to recognize that ebbs and flows are inherent to the system of balance itself and like the weather system, highs, lows and degrees of instability are necessary and integral to the system itself, and certainly, the ego state system is no different.
Chronic contentment doesn’t lead to the search for contentment and it is this search which represents the journey of life itself.
The reason why silent contemplation is so important for the development of sustaining and healthy inner relationships, is that the initial conditioning has taken place primarily at the pre-language state of development. In this way then, the mother has communicated a lot of information to the developing embryo through a complex mix of hormones associated with thoughts and feelings and sounds towards the unborn baby, and this communication is carried on immediately after the birth in the form of bodily contact, eye contact, facial expressions, body movements and vocal sounds. Basically, the information that is transmitted concerns the child’s status within the world in regard to love, value and recognition. Interestingly, these three emotional needs remain the primary emotional needs throughout life, and are the primary focus of attention in relationships counselling and indeed, in individual counselling. Intra-actional Analysis suggests that before we can work with a couple in regard to relationship difficulties there is a need to work with each individually concerning the quality of the love, value and recognition that they direct towards their individual self, and at an ego state level we would explore the relationship between the Parent and Child ego states, because any difficulties at the individual level in this regard is merely projected into the relationship itself, and therefore, can’t be fully dealt with at the relationship level. These difficulties can only really be dealt with at the intra-relationship level.
You cannot truthfully love and accept and trust others around you if you cannot extend the same to yourself, and conversely, you cannot solve relationship difficulties unless you focus on your own inner relationships, because the quality of your external relationships reflects the quality of your intra-relationships. Typically it is the case that the inner relationship difficulties are projected out and not owned by the individual and others around are blamed for the perceived deficiencies.
The truth is that we can only ever prefer change in the others around us, because we have, in actual reality, no control over the behaviour of others, all we ever have is a preference, and the only control we ever have is over our own inner relationships, and even this depends upon us surrendering control through silent contemplation and allowing the force to bring healing and stability to return us to our natural state of ego state balance, When this oneness with our ego states and the life force occurs, simultaneously and inherently, oneness occurs with all inanimate, animate states of our perception, and the illusion of separateness is laid bare.
If the mother and father and significant others communicate love, value and recognition they are teaching the child to be able to satisfy these needs for themselves by developing and strengthening the Nurturing Parent ego state, if, on the other hand, they communicate the opposite, then the Critical Parent ego state is strengthened instead, and a core belief develops which is, typically, that they are “unlovable”. This of course is literally true as the non-nurturing parents have demonstrated, and in this case the child’s Compliant Child ego state will be developed in an attempt to attract the parent’s and significant others, love, value and recognition. However, again, whether this is provided is only a preference, once again, on behalf of the child and so, in reality, the only way the individual can be sure of experiencing positive regard is through the inner Nurturing Parent over which they have a degree of control. However, typically, once again, the Nurturing Parent is under-developed because of the poor quality external interaction with the significant others, and so this underlines the importance of the inner journey of silent contemplation, because this is the only way to open the channels to provide for the flow of the energy of unconditional love which is necessary to strengthen, develop, stabilize and sustain the ego state system.
I would recommend Martin Laird’s book “Into the Silent Land” as preparation for the journey and once again, it is necessary to highlight that the silent meditative practices are not necessarily religiously based, although they can be, of course, but what most practices have in common is the submissive stilling of the mind and the opening of the heart to allow for the inflows of energy for the rebalancing.
So, the important point is that it doesn’t matter whether the period of silent contemplation is through prayer or mediation, because all opportunities for silent moments of contemplation are opportunities to develop an inner awareness of the meaning and purpose of your life through the development of inner acceptance, approval and unconditional love. It is only through this inner understanding and acceptance that we can truly sustain meaningful relationships with others.
So, the journey within, or the journey into the silent land, is about the embracing of opportunities for silent contemplation for the re-unification and rebalancing of the Ego State System through an increasingly deeper appreciation and association with that part of us that provides vast amounts of unconditional healing, unifying love and acceptance, in other words, the ultimate “I’m OK”.
This journey is not undertaken through the ego states themselves, although it begins there, and so it is necessary to still the internal chattering of the ego states, in order to become acquainted with that part of us deeply inside that does not have an ego representation in the world around us. This part has been identified through the ages by various terms including, of course, universal love and forgiveness, and is probably best exemplified by considering that the space within, the space in between objects, the silence in between words, the tiny space of time in between breath exhalation and breath inhalation, the space between one musical note and the next, and the tiny space in between internal thoughts when one thought dissolves and the next arises, is objectively everything, while the world as represented to us through our ego states, is subjectively nothing.
So, the quest through the various contemplative exercises is to experience “yourself” in a silent and contemplative way in order to experience the love and acceptance that not only unifies and nourishes the ego states, but provides you with knowledge and awareness
about your true identity and purpose, as opposed to the commentary about our place in the world as told by our ego states. It must be remembered that “you”, as a representation of your ego states, is a creation of the significant others within your life as defined by the nature of your core belief system, and as such, this is a created representation of who you are and how you fit into the world, rather than a true reflection of your identity. So, the set of constructs provided for you through your interactions with significant others is not a true representation, but is merely a collection of projections, which, in sum, formed the core belief system underlying your personality. To discover your true identity, your meaning and your purpose it is essential, therefore, to take the inner journey into the silent land, leave behind your ego states and wait submissively in contemplative silence with an open heart.
Set aside ten minutes, or so, morning and night for the journey, and as well as leaving behind the ego states, leave behind the expectations as well, you are not concerned about the quality, or otherwise, of your experience, you say to yourself that you are just prepared to allow yourself to be passive and open.
During this period of silent contemplation there is a decrease in beta waves, during which, the brain stops processing information as actively as would be the case in a non-meditative state. The frontal lobe of the brain, which processes reasoning, planning, emotions and self conscious awareness, decreases activity significantly as well, and the parietal lobe, whose function is to process all the sensory information concerning you within the world around you, also dramatically slows down. The thalmus, which is considered the gatekeeper of the senses, also demonstrates much reduced activity during meditation, and the reticular formation, which is responsible for the reception of incoming stimuli in order to ready us for response, dramatically powers down, and this, of course, has significance for suffers of anxiety conditions such as, PTSD.
Meditation affects our brains in a similar fashion to exercise, in that there is a loosening of the connections of the neural pathways, and in particular, the neural pathways that connect the medial prefrontal cortex with the bodily sensations and fear centres of the brain. These neural pathways are desensitized in meditators, and so they don’t tend to react as strongly to the same triggers that caused strong fear previously. When we meditate we weaken the neural connection and we tend to process triggers in a rational, rather than instinctual fashion. It has also been demonstrated that meditators increase their creative capacities, and as would be expected, meditators demonstrate a greater capacity for empathy and compassion.
So, just spend ten minutes morning and evening, at times which suit you best, and begin by adopting an accepting, submissive, non-judgmental awareness, in which all thoughts are gentle reminders to return your focus once again to the moment, or, in the case of breath awareness, attention is returned to the breath. The breath awareness technique simply involves sitting in a comfortable position with a straight spine with your eyes closed and with your focus upon your breath.
Simply pay attention to the breath as it moves in and out of your body and consider that your body is being breathed, rather than you breathing your body. Feel the air moving in and out of your nose and notice how your body moves with the breath. Use thoughts as a reminder to return to the breath once again, and certainly during the initial stages of meditation thoughts will rise and fall frequently. When you are paying attention to a thought you are not paying attention to your breath so simply and quietly return your attention to the breath. As the thoughts rise like bubbles through water let them go gently and use each thought as a reminder to return to your purpose of being aware of and following the breath.
This awareness involves following and feeling the breath through your nostrils and being aware of the rise and fall of your chest and diaphragm. With practice you will be able to maintain focus longer, and your thoughts will not be so insistent and persistent, and the action of breathing will involve the rise and fall of the diaphragm, rather than the chest, as you follow the waves of your breathing, staying with the in-breath and remaining fully focused for the out-breath.
Remember that one of the purposes of your mind is to create thoughts, and so in your awareness you acknowledge this, and be grateful that you have an indication now and a reminder to return to your task, that of awareness and focus on breath. Practice breath awareness for ten to fifteen minutes daily for at least a week and you will notice a change within, which will then give you the motivation to pursue this further and deepen your awareness. Additionally, you can practice breath awareness incidentally and opportunistically such as, when waiting in line, waiting in office areas, or in similar situations where nothing is demanded of you except to wait.
Jon Kabat-Zinn described Mindfulness as the process in which you pay attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. He said, as others have, that Mindfulness is not a belief system, but rather, Mindfulness describes a way of noticing our thoughts, physical sensations, sights, sounds, smells all in the present moment, which is really the only moment we have at any one time. This is the space in-between the past and the future, and every given moment, and certainly, the moment is always the most important moment, because it will be, at some stage, the moment before the moment of our deaths, which, for all practical purposes, is unknowable, and so every moment is of absolutely vital importance.
Mindfulness skills may sound simple, however, because our minds are constantly searching for inputs, information and meaning from many different sources at once, to stay absolutely focused in the present moment is challenging and takes practice. Intra-actional Analysis considers that Mindfulness is the engagement of the Adult with the Free Child ego state, in that the individual is focused upon living in and experiencing the present moment, without judgement and the subscription of meaning. A client suggested to me recently that “Why does everything, action etc have to have meaning” why can’t we, in other words, passively experience the present moment and morph within it. This is the challenge of Mindfulness and in this sense then Mindfulness is meditation in every sense of the word.
Kabat-Zinn provides the example that we might look around the garden and think “That grass needs cutting or the vegetable patch needs weeding”, whereas, the young child will be in the same place but say “Hey – come and look at this ant!” In this way then, Mindfulness is noticing what we don’t normally notice, because our minds are clouded by thoughts and concerns about the future, or the past, and typically, we think about what we need to do, or we ruminate over that which we have done. Mindfulness can be described as choosing and learning to control our focus of attention, by merging with the environment around us, again leaving our ego states behind as we attempt to perceive and experience the world around us in a non-judgmental way.
As soon as we start to classify, judge, reason etc, then we are back in the ego states, once again, and we know now that the ego states carry inherent potentials to falsely represent the world around us. So, by becoming more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations, from moment to moment, we give ourselves the possibility of greater freedom and choice.
When we garden, for example, or go for a walk, we tend to be preoccupied with thoughts of what we have to do in the future, what we have done in the immediate, or more distant past, worrying about future events, or flashes of remorse about past events, but typically, we are not focusing upon the actual gardening tasks (selecting the weed, feeling the stem in our hands, noticing the resistance as the weed is pulled from the ground, and following the path of the weed into the pile on the path beside the garden. Or, even though we are walking, we are not experiencing the rhythm of the action itself, hearing the birds above, noticing the changing light patterns on the trees around us, monitoring our body sensations during the activity. If thoughts intrude during any of the activities it is best to notice these first, and then gently return to the task or activity itself. In meditation, consider that a thought is merely a reminder to return to the focus on your breath, nothing more and nothing less. These actions are creating the space within which in turn allows for the reunification and rebalancing of the ego states.
This article interviews practitioners and discovers their favourite ways to meditate
An excellent resource in relation to body scan meditation – it is important to realize that meditation is not one size fits all
Very interesting article on how meditation calms the body and heals the mind.
Discusses meditation as the intimate act of getting to know yourself and establishing relationships with yourself.
This is a highly informative article that focuses upon the three dimensional nature of meditation, in that the meditative act is a totally encompassing experience at the sensation level.
Discusses three meditative procedures for the beginning meditators.
This article was originally published in the Scientific American and looks at the neuroscience of meditation
An excellent introduction to Carl Jung and his perception of the self.
Tips on how to train a wandering mind as the precondition to deep meditation.
Here are five tips to encourage and motivate the beginning meditator.
Discusses that meditation doesn’t have to be formal and structured, but can be successfully integrated into your everyday life.
Some more simple tips to encourage the beginning meditator.
If you need more evidence as to the benefits of meditation then here it is.
Still further motivation and inspiration.
A nice article about the usefulness of mindfulness meditation.
Interesting information relating to mindfulness meditation
A short exercise to induce calmness.
Five tips for living in the present moment.
Read about three key mindfulness practises that induce calmness, compassion and happiness.
Further evidence for the link between mediation and anxiety reduction.
An excellent article on breath awareness meditation instruction.
A short article about self compassion and the necessity to have this before one can show compassion to others.
A thirty second awareness technique explained.
A very interesting self discovery relaxation technique.
Briefly discusses mindfulness, religious and traditional meditation.
This is a very thought provoking article.
Further helpful tips.
Still further tips for the beginner.
Further evidence for the benefits of meditation.
Another thought provoking article.
There is no doubt that Prince Charles is a fascinating and misunderstood person.
More on Mindfulness.
This article tells you how to really breathe.
The power of meditation.
Further evidence as to the power of meditative practice.
How and why you need to sit in silence.
The mindful revolution – Time Magazine
How does mindfulness impact on depression?
A very simple guide to meditation – must read
Basic meditation instructions
No excuses – another basic meditation guide
Further evidence for the impact of meditation upon depression
A lovely article about Buddhism
More evidence for the benefits of meditation
Thought provoking article about biocentrism and connectedness
Meditation may be better than medication for depression and anxiety