The Neutrogena Shampoo Meditation (Retreating into Silence, post 3 of 10)
The style of meditation we did is called Recollective Awareness, or sometimes referred to as Reflective Meditation. Jason Siff has written a book explaining the premise in more detail, called Unlearning Meditation . (It was also determined on our retreat that it needs some branding work, a process that I started on this very retreat; I even gave it a new name. More on that later.)
Basically there are three elements to the approach:
- Journal about your experience, by recollecting and reflecting on it
- Talk about it (always optionally)
*The meditation itself is unguided and largely unstructured, within a loose overall structure. You start with the intention to meditate, and that’s how you know you’re meditating. You start with an intention to be kind and gentle towards yourself, and then you see what arises, with the intention of being curious and interested in what comes up, and where it leads. As your mind takes flight, your body or breath or any other sort of usual “coming back to place” in meditation is available to you, “as a perch” (metaphor credit: Josh Summers) and you remain with complete choice. You simply let your experience lead you, and you practice being receptive to it. However, if it becomes too charged, or if you aren’t interested in a thought or a topic or a feeling, you can turn your attention to something more neutral. And then let yourself by carried to something else.
In sum, this approach to meditation is designed to be more sustainable than other forms that are rigid, rule-based, prescriptive… ones that often make you, the meditator, feel like a failure if you don’t quite “do it right” all of the time. However, this approach also acknowledges that you may wish to return to your normal style of meditation, and an interlude or occasional experience with RAM may give you more compassion to yourself in your usual practice. It may feel unconventional, playful even.
In reading Jason’s book, I kept thinking of the Neutrogena shampoo from the 90’s. The product targeted those who might be feeling like their favorite shampoo wasn't working quite the same any more. That they used to have a beloved hair product, and recently haven’t been happy with the results. Try Neutrogena, for two weeks, and then return to your favorite hair product and you’ll find it works like new again! (Or, you might just decide to stay with Neutrogena indefinitely, and that’s OK too.) It may have been gimmicky; it may have had a placebo effect…. but it had appeal. It was an interesting concept, and so was this practice.