Does Acem Meditation give more efficient data processing?
Posted on June 18, 2017
Do humans have an individual free will and a distinctive inner voice? Or is this core of liberal humanism lost in conflicting inner voices?
Traditional liberal humanism is today challenged according to Yuval Noah Harari in his book ”Homo Deus”. Our free will can be manipulated in many ways and within us we can at any time register a multitude of different voices. So how can citizens vote, customers always be right and everyone trust in their own inner convictions? With the gradual development of ”the internet of all things” this global, soon all-encompassing network can soon know us better than ourselves and take control over our decisions.
Because in Harari’s mind the challenge is all about getting access to the relevant data, gathering them through the network and processing, analyzing and making the right decisions based on them. And all this can be done better by the system than by ourselves.
But let us not give up the human ability of processing the relevant data in our life so fast. Harari discusses this in relation to two selves - the Experiencing and the Narrative Selves. With background from practicing and teaching Acem Meditation for some decades, I will add a third - the Acting Self - to the discussion.
The Experiencing Self is more or less the same as what in literature and psychotherapy has been called ”the flow of consciousness”. It is the spontaneous stream of sensations, emotions and thoughts which at any time flows through the mind. It is not linear, but associative; it is not conclusive, but full of differences and often even incompatibilities. And it is certainly not a distinctive inner voice giving a clear direction for what to vote, buy or do in life.
The Narrative Self is how we try to make the best out of this inner chaos by composing stories of our life and choices of attitudes in different contexts. The stories are formed by our experiences, but form in turn which experiences we take in and which we ignore because they do not fit into our identity stories. Still the stories can change - from one day to the next, and in what experiences that are included and excluded. In short - our narrative self is the closest we come to a distinctive and stable inner voice, but it is really not very reliable.
The Acting Self is an element in Acem Meditation which may make a difference in this discussion. The relation between the Experiencing Self and the Acting Self is the core element in this methode for relaxation and human growth. Different meditation techniques can relate to the Experiencing Self in different ways. They can try to control it - f.ex. by seeking positive and avoiding negative thoughts and emotions. They can observe it - by registering the content and possibly analyze and understand it. Or they can as far as possible avoid interfering in the stream of consciousness from the Experiencing Self. Acem Meditation is probably the most cleancut example of the non-involvement approach. This is achieved by engaging the Acting Self in repeating a meditation sound in an unrestrained way while the stream of consciousness can come and go as undisturbed as possible. Without engaging the Acting Self in this activity it would - through the ideals of the Narrative Self - easily become involved in trying to control the activity in the mind.
Let us return to the idea that the computer (and ”the internet of all things) is a more efficient data processing unit than the human mind. This is most certainly true for certain kinds of tasks like analyzing the trafic pattern in a city or the attitudes expressed via social media on a certain day and place. But it is not - and will maybe never be - true for the pro-cessing of the events happening in our own life. Examples may be business before exams or deadlines at work, conflicts we are involved in, loss of someone close to us or dramatic events like terror og nature catastrophes.
In the first place the computer system will not have access to all the personal relevant data in such a situation. Second - data processing will in this context mean to let the stream of consciousness in any given situation pass through the mind and let the mind itself process and work through the emotions and thoughts which come. And this ”working through” is not an intellectual process, but rather in creating an open field for this to happen.
Harari is right. The shifting focus and associative charachter of the Experiencing Self is no good guide for voting, consuming or making decisions in life. Neither is the Narrative Self so with its investments in telling the stories of my life in certain established ways. For good life decisions even a certain sensitivity is needed. Harari’s formula is knowledge = experiences + sensitivity. Sensitivity means two things, he says. First to pay attention to your experiences. And second to be open to let new experiences and permit them to change your views, behaviour and even your personality.
In our Acem context we could say - the free flowing stream of consciousness in meditation allows our conflicting impulses to pass in our consciousness, releasing pressure, opening for new ways of thinking and gradually landing on some kind of conclusions we can be peaceful with. And which can be adopted by our Narrative Self as the story for now about this part of our life.