Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Acedia: Spiritual Apathy

"Acedia is a state of listlessness or torpor, of not caring or not being concerned with one's position or condition in the world. It can lead to a state of being unable to perform one's duties in life." - Wikipedia

I'd read about Acedia before. It's a condition that is often associated with the solitary spiritual life of monastics and hermits. It has often been confused with slothfulness - but, more recently, it has been "diagnosed" among those who live in an environment with reduced human contact, or among those who rarely interact with others.

I never thought of myself as a solitary mystic in classical terms - but I have to admit that much of my spiritual life, as such, is kept very personal and I rarely share my thoughts about spiritual matters except in this blog, or in my personal journals. Hence: the solitary spiritual life.

Acedia is a horrible condition. I'm not sure I'm over it - but last weekend I felt its full impact. I was listless, sleepy, achy, very disheartened about a lot of things in my life. My job, my spiritual practices, my household tasks. Everything seemed empty of meaning.

On Sunday afternoon I wandered over to Promontory Point and sat by the lakeshore and read some Psalms and from a little book of thoughts and meditations written by Henri Nouwen. It helped a little.

During a moment of clarity from within the cloud of despondency I began to consider that perhaps my Acedia was coming as a symptom of my TM practice, as a purging of negative thought patterns from deep within my subconscious mind. TM does a good job of reaching into the deepest crevices of the the subconscious mind and dredging up all the negativity so that is can be dissipated. The analogy I've heard Maharishi use is that of stirring up the dredge at the bottom of a still lake. The mind becomes calm during meditation and the stored deeply sub-conscious emotions and fears rise to the surface.

This explanation seems logical to me - and being aware of that possibility has helped me regain a little more focus and energy in my day to day life.

It definitely seems that practicing TM is having a cleansing effect on my mind and this will only have a good outcome and will release my mind from any negative conditioning that has accumulated over my lifetime..

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