At first glance, the title, Extraverted Meditation, would appear to be a contradiction in terms. Typically, extraversion is understood as an individual’s dominant orientation to focus on the outside world, particularly as pertains to relationships and the opinions of others. In contrast, meditation is generally viewed as an introverted practice that deeply withdraws from the sensations and influences of the outer world.
In Jung’s time, when East truly began to meet West, particularly as regards spiritual practice, he warned that the extraverted orientation of the Western psyche was ill-suited for rapid wholesale adoption of Eastern meditation practices. Nonetheless, as he himself encountered the depths of the collective unconscious, in the visions and active imagination he documents in The Red Book, he practiced yogic asanas to ground his ego.
In fact, despite the almost total focus on the brain of modern Western psychological research, the bottomline focus and interventions prescribed by most Western therapists come straight out of Tibetan mindfulness and Yogic meditation practices.
These are the assignments given to ego to still the central nervous system into a state of calm. Nonetheless, the reigning mantra and New Year’s resolution from most people is, “I have to get back to my meditation.”
The power of outer world events, particularly in the time we are in, is impossible and perhaps inadvisable to fully screen from one’s attention. This, coupled with the dominant extraverted orientation of Western civilization, undermines the coveted but under-practiced aspiration to meditate. How can the Western psyche, perhaps even the world psyche, adapt the powerfully beneficial practice of meditation in the flux of such an unsettled outer world?
The key, as in all meditation, is to begin with focus on the body. If the goal of meditation is detachment from the ill effects of outer world sensory impressions upon the sanctity of the self, the body can be seen as the central registry of all sensory inputs.
All of our senses receive input through the physical body. Our thoughts, with their associated emotions, register in the body as well. Thus, active inner attention to the body in outer activity and interaction is a valid playing field for meditation.
Place the index finger of one hand upon the wrist of the other hand. Keep awareness upon the index finger experiencing the sensations within itself as it meets the solid boundary of the wrist. Notice the vibration of touch.
Shift awareness exclusively to the wrist. Notice its sensations of being touched. Feel the vibration of being touched. Alternate awareness slowly from toucher to touched. Now, allow these two distinct perspectives of touch to merge into a single vibratory union of touch, union of self.
Carry awareness of body into the world. Open to an image in the media. Notice its vibration; study its energy. Shift awareness to the body. Notice its impact upon the heart, upon the muscles, upon the breath. With awareness, restore the body’s organs to calm. Release all clenching; intend deep peace. Embrace the integrity of self in calm vibration.
Return gaze to the outer image, notice its vibration, its intent. Return awareness to the body. Notice any impact of image upon inner vibration. Restore the integrity of calm vibration. Repeat dual attention until outer image is completely neutralized, your inner vibration a steady flame.
Interact with the world. Notice the impact on the body in encounter with other. Use awareness to calm the heart, unclench the muscles, and silence the mind. The mind is silenced with awareness focused on body sensation, intended to calm.
Notice the words, the emotional intensity, the intent of the other. See the vibration of the other’s motive. Notice the inner impact of that vibration upon one’s body. Choose to maintain one’s inner vibration of calm. Use the breath to steady the body. Use intent to maintain inner calm, with attention given to where the body feels impacted. Dissolve into love of the oneness of everything.
These are some suggestions for extraverted meditation. Allow every moment, whether innerly or outerly focused, to become a meditative opportunity. Gradually expand the oneness of self with the oneness of everything. “Got to keep those vibrations, vibrations a happening to me…”
Good good good, good vibrations!
Check out Brian Wilson’s live enhanced Good Vibrations from his album Smile. Notice the South African insert.