One of the principles of integral meditation and mindfulness is the bringing together of different, contrasting qualities within ourself into complementary wholes. In this article we will have a look at calmness and excitement.
For many people the experience of being calm or excited is very much an either/or proposition; either I feel excited in a non-calm, non-reflective way or they I feel calm in an inactive way.
What we are going to try and do in the exercise I outline below is to combining our capacity for ease, calm & relaxation with our experience of aliveness, excitement & engagement in life. We will do it in four steps:
1. Mindfully generating calm
Recall a time or a place where you have felt calm, at ease and relaxed. It might be a landscape that when you recall it helps you to connect to that feeling, or a time in your life when you really felt connected to the experience of calm. As you connect to that experience of calm, bring the energy of it into your heart and your body as well as your mind, so that as you breathe all three of these dimensions of your being feel connected to the calm.
2. Mindfully connecting to excitement
Now recall a time when you were enjoyably excited or exhilarated. This could be intellectually, emotionally, sexually, spiritually, physically or a combination of these. Connect to the memory, person or thing, allowing yourself to feel the excitement consciously in your body, mind and heart, noting the different ways in which these different parts of you experience the excitement.
3. Consciously combining the two
Having worked with excitement and calm separately, now work to mindfully combine the two; imagine being excited in a way where a part of you is still connected to a dimension of calm. Then emphasize the experience of being calm whilst at the same time inviting excitement, aliveness and engagement into that space. Become familiar with what it feels like to hold calm and excitement together in your body, mind and heart in a way where they are mutually enhancing and supporting each other rather than contradicting or fighting against each other.
4. Taking it into your daily life
With the experience of the above three stages you can then go about practicing bringing calm excitement into your daily activities, for example:
When you are in an emotionally charged conversation
When you are excited and want to prolong the experience in an enjoyable and sustainable way
When you feel your excitement is controlling you, you can emphasize calm to bring yourself back into benevolent control of what you are experiencing
When you feel your calm is moving toward inertia or boredom you can use your excitement to revitalize your experience
The overall goal of this exercise is to mindfully learn to derive more meaningful fun from our life and the experiences that we come across using this conscious combination of calm and excitment. What situation can you bring your own practice of calm excitement to today?