The Answer Lies Within
What Is the Relationship Between the Science of Meditation and the Practice of Human Rights?
Roundtable In Observance of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Friday, 24 October 2008; Noon—1:30 p.m.
How Can the Science of Meditation Affect the Practice of Human Rights?
Dr. Eileen Kalaamaala Ain, LCSW, CYI
I was surprised when asked to speak on the relationship between the science of meditation and the practice of human rights for the working group sponsored by the Spiritual Dimensions of Science and Consciousness on this last day of the CSVGC-NY's Week of Spirituality.
Words are not my usual communication medium at the UN. I usually play the flute, sing and do harmonic tunings, but they do not state the message needed for The Answer Lies Within, today's program. We are here to share personal reflections of the meaning of meditation practice for understanding the complex and inspiring relationships between meditation, human rights, the UN and our planet. First though, I want to sound my tuning fork to vibrate on G, a universal frequency. (Sound continues for the next 30 seconds.)
I was never taught meditation or sought the process out; my introduction was literally to be put in a small room full of foreign packages with Chinese characters, and in the back of this room was an alter with beautiful objects and fruits. I didn't know what to do. A woman doctor walked in quietly and told me to "sit and breathe" in tones I barely understood, and then she left.
I was in a fourth-generation acupuncturist's office in New York City's Chinatown, and there only out of desperation. I had a virus in my eyes that made them look like beefsteaks and the alternative treatment to steroids was acupuncture. I didn't know which scared me more, but an instinctual voice said internal healing energy would be more helpful than drugs with side effects.
My first moments were total bewilderment and then tears flowed, lots of tears. I lay still, sorry for just about everything that I couldn't put into words. I can still taste those bitter tears and remember starting to feel a liberation as though an exodus was occurring with the walls of my heart opening. I remained terrified looking at the alter, since I had been trained to not worship idols. So, here were my beginnings of a meditation practice, which now sounds almost simplistic, regarding a process that is complicated, messy, difficult and ultimately joyful...a continual struggle and acceptance to loop the self with cosmic energy.
I kind of liked doing the practice, in an non-rational way, for my job was only to be still —unheard of in the frenetic world surrounding me and emboldening the chaos within me. Yet, I had to sit if I wanted to see as I was told the needles weren't going to do it all. Within a couple of months, my eyes got better. My friendship with Dr. Chen has grown over 30 years as we help each other through life's vagaries and laugh at our first meeting. After learning some Western way, she admits that she would not again put a patient into a room as she did with me to begin meditation. I tell her I remain grateful that when I met her she was not yet acculturated.
So what happened after those first experiences? The good news is that I liked to meditate in some way and practice yoga—that too gave me a sense of wellness, although judgments about being an "oddball" began to permeate my peers. After all, I wasn't in India or doing drugs. And, as a vocalist I had to use my breath, but I had not yet made any connections between OM sounds and universal vibratory fields.
Oddly enough, back then in my practice as a music therapist—which was supposed to be behaviorally oriented for funding sake, although I was trained psychoanalytically (go figure)—I started each session using breathing practices, solely for the purpose of making a stronger voice, with glimpses of the reality that I was in energetic fields and resonating. Yes, we were all resonating and people were getting better and energized. Consciously sounding tones and energetic vibration appeared to be the key variable for healing.
Somehow I also knew that writing about energy fields on clinical notes would put me out of a job, so I didn't write about it. I just kept doing it. I realized that the times I didn't do this "sounding process" the sessions lacked interactional energy. There was no way to measure this then; the equipment was too crude and expensive, and the ethics of doing so with live patients was reprehensible. So, I shared what happened with only a few persons.
Life goes on and in my healing studies meditation became a requirement. To meditate in this way felt forced and labored, shearing through patterns and religions that appeared unrelated. Yet, the experience was all part of my psychic mix that I didn't accept or like, and I was again becoming aware of my deep conflict. My music though soared free and I was drawn back to my experiences winning a National Endowment for the Humanities a few years before. Then, I started the study of how the limbic system, sound and healing went together. I didn't easily connect with what I was researching, and believed that the life of a suburban housewife would end all of this nonsense. But for good reason that didn't happen quite that way.
I continued my yoga practice, within which meditation is a key component. I worked with words and sounds for which only the breath was the guide. That was reliable enough—only using breathe. I tried again to move on, and found that with all my experiences racing sailboats, social events and relationships, the same thing would happen: the inexorable painful split emanated from the unconscious. Thus, I needed to address deep emotions and behaviors that kept me ungrounded.
Meditation helped me in not so subtle ways. While meditating, I could quiet myself, lose some angst, and think through complex situations. Moreover, I needed to feel myself become integrated as I chose to become a mother and to complete my doctorate.
Why I meditate here at the UN, with our group and so many others, is that I truly believe that what we energetically set in motion and the intentions we have—and our awareness of them—affects the daily workings of the UN. Dag Hammarskj÷ld knew this when he wanted the meditation room to be for everyone.
During these past few years, my practice came to focus on imaged and imbued vibrational fields. As in the physics of string theory, these vibrations develop harmonies. This natural order, rather than randomly produced particles, attracts a key note, a grounding tone with a starting and ending node.
Internal meditations are alive and vibrate, and shift to become loosely corroded fields if lacking the energy of harmonic vibrational forms. In their purity, these natural vibration forms attract a key tone and harmonics that move into a progression of sound to provide a metaphor and physical reality for human rights and practices within ourselves and at the UN.
So now I will sound the Tibetan Bell and this vibrational field reminds us of order, beauty and harmony and that we care for the energy of those persons in harmonic resonance of nations and support their work. So, please stay in the sound, the vibration and when this oscillation fades, so does my talk, with you actively participating in meditation in your own way. (Loudly sound the bell into the microphone.)
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