clearspace-Simon Cole counsellor, trainer, meditation teacher, author
~ Many people look for a way of meditating which does not imply any religious connection or have recourse to arcane theory or practices.
~ For many in the West it is appealing to be able to practise meditation using an approach which derives from their own culture and is grounded in Western thinking and philosophy.
Four elements combine to create the method of the Clear Space Meditation Path:
Mindfulness as "compassionate and non-judgemental awareness of the present", the definition given by Jon Kabatt-Zinn;
Empathic prizing of the presence of another, as contained in the core conditions of person-centred therapy expounded by Carl Rogers;
The insights into 'being in relation' revealed by Martin Buber in his seminal work "I and Thou";
'Felt-sense' as expounded by Eugene Gendlin and set out in his ground-breaking work on awareness and focusing.
Clear Space uses all of these elements to create a meditation path which resonates with human process in ways which form the basis of the Western approach to personal growth and psychological therapy. It is not 'a therapy' itself, but it works therapeutically and so can be complementary to any of the several hundred identified approaches in present use. Since each of the elements from which it derives is an aspect of being human and not the product of any therapeutic or societal intervention, and because the root of any change arises from the meditator her/himself, its contribution to ongoing therapeutic work is beneficent and non-conflictual.
Without implying a structure to a regular practise of the Clear Space path, it is possible to identify 'stages' in the meditator's experience. Whilst those experienced in meditation from other traditions might recognise similarities to the Buddhist states of shamatha, sheshin, prajna, jnana, the Clear Space stages are not derived from these nor intended to parallel them. We could identify them as:
~ an awareness of the present as simply now, grounded and centred in a physical sense of our being and held by the rhythm of our breathing;
~ a sense of 'me and myself' growing out of a perception of a clearing space, which is both around and within the meditator, who can start to feel her/himself as both figure and ground;
~ an empathic 'sitting alongside' awarenesses as they arise for the meditator, who is able to hold a sense of their own presence together with the presence of their awareness and reach out towards the indistinct edges of their consciousness;
~ a merging of the meditator's sense of themselves as their awareness, with the clear space of their presence in the now, which is often accompanied by a shift in their perception of themselves in their world.
The Clear Space path, in focusing on the facilitation of process rather than the achievement of a state, lends itself to a vision of human living which is in constant adjustment to a changing world, and a realisation that an equilibrium will always be disturbed and need to be re-established in the course of an individual's journey through life.
Stillness in Mind... "not your typical meditation book"
(Changemakers Books, 2014) : www.stillnessinmind.com
Trainings for practitioners and students can be found here.