What is Serene Impulse?
Serene Impulse is a meditation technique. In my opinion it is the overall best meditation technique. However, my experience with glaucoma, intraocular pressure and years of teaching meditation to FitEyes members and discussing a wide variety of meditation techniques with them leads me to conclude that Serene Impulse is, by far, the best meditation technique for anyone with glaucoma or other eye health concerns.
and where can I learn how to do it?
Unfortunately, at this time, I don't know. I will try to update this answer if or when I have more information.
Someone asked me, on the FitEyes email list, the following question about Serene Impulse.
Would it be possible for you to give a thumbnail sketch of the approach taken in Serene Impulse meditation? I have been holding back from trying it as there is no information about it on their website and I would like to know more before talking to one of their representatives and beginning to spend money on it.
I have worked my way through a number of meditation, relaxation & trauma recovery techniques over the past 14 years, and while I have gone through some big changes, no method has been helpful for my primary goal of calming my stress response, and some have been harmful. One of my conclusions has been that it's very much different strokes for different folks in this area, depending on many different factors. If I had a little bit more information about this Serene Impulse I might be able to tell whether it's likely to "land" for me or not.
Here was my reply:
Like you, I had been meditating diligently for 14 years before I learned Serene Impulse and I did not feel I had made much progress in calming my stress response, either. So I can relate to what you said.
I clearly remember one day before an important business meeting. I was nervous, so I spent 20 minutes meditating prior to the meeting to calm down. It did absolutely nothing to help me! And it was clear that the years of meditation up to that point had also done nothing to assist me in dealing with that business meeting in a more calm, less stressed manner. At that point I still believed that it was my fault, and that I simply wasn't meditating well enough.
Serene Impulse changed everything for me. It provided the pathway to not only calming my stress response, but to radical personal transformations of the type I had almost given up hope of ever achieving.
I'll offer a sketch of the method or technique. In doing so, I will make some comparisons. Sometimes I feel apologetic for being critical of any type of meditation. I like to support meditation in general. But my personal experience is that changing from one form of meditation to another changed my life. Therefore, to honor my own life experience, I am, at times, critical of things that didn't work well for me.
Serene Impulse is a technique of embodiment that creates harmony and coherence in one's mind and physiology. (I think it is the best technique for heart rhythm coherence, but that's only one of many benefits of the Serene Impulse practice.) It is easy and comfortable. It's a pleasurable practice. It doesn't require straining or concentrating. It can be practiced almost anywhere at any time. Unlike most meditation practices I am familiar with, Serene Impulse is meant to be integrated into activity. It can be done while gently stretching or while walking. Eventually it can be done while exercising, running, working or conversing with others. I'm doing it right now.
It's a fun, pleasant and relaxing technique. However, it is not simplistic or dumbed down. It is a very advanced technique that will take one as far as they wish to go. After almost ten years (I think) of practice, Serene Impulse is as fascinating as the first week I learned it. The practice remains a rich, playful exploration of life. It doesn't get old or stale.
In Serene Impulse you learn to feel life energy dancing inside you. You said:
"One of my conclusions has been that it's very much different strokes for different folks in this area, depending on many different factors."
Yes, everyone is different.
Many of the popular meditation programs offered in the modern world, however different the techniques may be, suffer from a common flaw. They have been packaged for the modern world and the teaching techniques have been made presentable or palatable to the mind of the average consumer. (Additionally, they are targeted at an average, not an individual.)
The thinking seems to have been that the core technique of the meditation should be retained, but most any other part could be altered or discarded. (I've heard many gurus say things similar to this when they come to the West to introduce a new meditation. Western scientists tend to say the same thing and they also create meditation techniques based on this idea of reductionism and isolation of a few "active ingredients".) We know it's a bad idea for food / dietary supplements. Why should we expect it is a better idea for meditation?
As vastly different as the meditation techniques are, and as different as the physiological responses they produce can be, the magic is not necessarily in the technique. I'm not saying the technique isn't important -- it is. One of the things I love about Serene Impulse is the technique itself. But reading, studying and practicing a technique, no matter how good that technique, is unlikely to do anyone much good.
Most of the popular meditation programs offered in the modern world are taught as a step-by-step program. I call them "packaged" programs. (Now that I think about it, they are like packaged foods -- less healthy than the real stuff.)
A linear, step-by-step, pre-planned* instruction program with a beginning, various levels and a fixed duration (which is how the modern world expects most things to be taught) will often rob the student of the magic of meditation. I think that is probably what happened to you.
The magic of Serene Impulse is largely the teaching and learning method employed by it.
The proper teaching approach is probably more important than the technique, although, after my experience with Serene Impulse, I would not settle less than both a great technique and a great teaching approach.
Serene Impulse's unique teaching/learning method is best explained by analogy -- it's like building a jigsaw puzzle. In this process, we know what the picture will be. For the puzzle, it's shown on the front of the box. For Serene Impulse, the teacher clearly understands exactly how the student will be meditating when the student fully learns Serene Impulse -- that clear picture exists. However, there is no fixed or rigid step-by-step process. To build the puzzle, you can pick up any piece and start there. It is similar with Serene Impulse. The student can start where they are most comfortable, and the teacher works with them from that point. With a jigsaw puzzle, you can connect a few pieces to the starting piece, keep expanding in a certain direction, go in another direction or even set that (larger) piece aside and start building a separate piece.
Exactly this approach is possible in learning Serene Impulse too. It requires working one-on-one with a teacher who knows how to let the student work in the individual way that is comfortable for them, but also knows how to gently guide them toward completing the puzzle correctly. Serene Impulse teachers will tell the student that they cannot do it wrong. That is true. You cannot do it wrong when you are working with a Serene Impulse teacher.
It requires a very accomplished, very dedicated teacher to make this learning process possible. Obviously, it is impossible to learn this way from a book, a video, a website or any other published format. Only the human mind can convey this experience to another human mind using this method.
This teaching method is the real magic of Serene Impulse. I wish I could write a lot more about it, but it is late here -- plus you only asked for a sketch. Based on the little I have written, I hope it is obvious now why one is only able to learn Serene Impulse from a qualified teacher. And, given that, it seems to make perfect sense to me that one's first step in learning more about Serene Impulse should be to have a no-obligation talk with a teacher. The Serene Impulse program offers this at no cost.
"If I had a little bit more information about this Serene Impulse I might be able to tell whether it's likely to "land" for me or not."
My recommendation is to talk with a Serene Impulse teacher. In my mind, Serene Impulse will "land" for you (or anyone) because that's the magic of the teaching method. It meets you where you are, it progresses along based on what emerges from inside of you, it honors your experiences, and it builds on your strengths while accepting your deficiencies. Every single one of those unique factors is woven into every single instruction the teacher gives you and every single step the teacher helps you take. No next step is taken except on the basis of your personal experience with the prior step. No two students follow exactly the same steps. The jigsaw puzzle analogy really is an apt one.
Learning Serene Impulse is easy and comfortable. But you can expect to be challenged too. Serene Impulse is about real personal growth. At some point, it will force you out of the status quo and over a threshold. Sometimes the student has to be pushed over that threshold. Again, this requires a personal relationship with a teacher. Without a sold relationship with a teacher, most people will simply quit or give up at these critical points. Those are the exact points where one has the most to gain.
P.S. Based on the ground-breaking glaucoma research by Dr. Murray Johnstone, and speaking strictly as a patient, I realized that Serene Impulse is the most important thing I can do for the health of my eyes. Having said that, I must also say that Serene Impulse is not, and cannot be offered as, a treatment for any medical condition. Don't learn Serene Impulse because you expect it to cure (or treat) a medical condition. (A Serene Impulse teacher will refuse to teach you if that's your reason for learning.) Learn it for stress management or personal transformation or spiritual growth or increased happiness or to reach your full potential as a human being or for many other reasons. Stress management alone is enough justification to learn Serene Impulse. Anything else it may do for you is just a bonus.
P.P.S. Learning meditation is not the same thing as learning a set of facts or learning “book knowledge.” I will let ordained Catholic priest and monk Thomas Merton explain it in his words. In this usage, the word contemplation is synonymous with meditation. He said:
The only way to get rid of misconceptions about contemplation is to experience it. One who does not actually know, in his own life, the nature of this breakthrough and this awakening to a new level of reality cannot help being misled by most of the things that are said about it. For contemplation cannot be taught. It cannot even be clearly explained. It can only be hinted at, suggested, pointed to, symbolized. The more objectively and scientifically one tries to analyze it, the more he empties it of its real content, for this experience is beyond the reach of verbalization and of rationalization. ~ from New Seeds of Contemplation
- a synonym for pre-planned is premeditated. Using that word in the sentence above would be so punful. If one learns to meditate via a pre-meditated meditation teaching program, the important stuff pre-dates such a learning situation; one has been robbed of many experiences of discovery that come from within oneself during an authentic teaching/learning experience. In Serene Impulse, the real teacher is inside you, and that teacher doesn't appreciate a pre-meditated, pre-packaged teaching program. (But it does appreciate a proven support system, which is what the Serene Impulse teacher provides.)
That concludes my prior email response to the FitEyes member. However, I am sad to say that it is not possible, at this time, to simply call up a Serene Impulse teacher and get a free consultation like it was at the time I originally wrote the above. Apparently, the Serene Impulse organization needs to figure out how to market their unique approach to people in the modern world.