Acem meditation

International Newsletter NO. 2 2006

From India to Norway to meditate
it strange to learn a Western form of meditation in India, Kaif does not see it that way.

Increased attention span
“Living in a multicultural and multi-religious society, with a Muslim background, I don’t question the origin of the technique. It is the quality of the meditation that matters. At the information meeting, I became aware of the psychological aspects of Acem Meditation, and my interest in this area was evoked. After having acquired some experience with different meditation techniques, I chose to continue with Acem Meditation on a regular basis, because it made me concentrate better, and my attention span was increased. Besides, it doesn’t leave a feeling of being indoctrinated about spiritual experience or romantic ideas about higher selfstates. Furthermore, increasing my psychological understanding has become more important to me, and I think this method stimulates self reflection and enhances insight”.

Continued on page 7

Kaif sailing the Oslo fjord

The Indian Himalayas Crossroads of Meditation Acem Taiwan 20 Years 40 Years of Inspired Work The Kind of Spirit to Support

Kaif Mahmood, 21 years old, came to Norway for his holiday for two reasons. He wanted to participate in three weeks of deepening retreats in Acem Meditation, and to undergo part of the leadership training to become an Acem instructor in India. Why? Isn’t his homeland, India, the cradle of meditation?
“I had tried, in vain, to find a method to improve my concentration and attention span in my studies, but did not come across anything that seemed appropriate or promising. In a Google search two years ago, I found Acem Meditation on the Internet, and decided to learn the technique, which I saw was based on a modern, scientific, nonreligious approach, and also encourages existential reflection.” At the time, Kaif was preoccupied with reading and searching knowledge about meditation and spirituality. He tried different methods, and while some people might find

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Acem Meditation Retreats

the areas we will visit.Acem Travels 2007 Friday 28 September . where the local people still have a traditional way of life. glasses. Shopping in Delhi Before returning home. silver. we will travel by cars into the mountains until we reach Gangotri (3048 meters altitude). there will be ample time for sightseeing and shopping in Delhi. at the banks of the Ganges in the foothills of the Himalayas. We will visit remote mountain villages. • Traditional lifestyles • Remote villages Into the mountains After the retreat. Torbjørn Hobbel in the middle of Ganges at Gangotri The guide The tour organiser and guide is Acem initiator Torbjørn Hobbel. who is the founder of Acem India and has an intimate knowledge of Indian culture. including quality clothes. Acem meditators from all over the world are invited to participate. Very good buys are available.  Acem Meditation Newsletter 2/06 English is the main language of the retreat. We will walk on mountain paths in rhododendron forests with views of some of the highest peaks in the world. art and silk. . For 25 years he has travelled in Uttaranchal. Group activities will also be conducted in Scandinavian languages. rarely seen by outsiders. where the goddess Ganga is said to have come down to Earth as the river Ganges. For more details: Please contact Acem International or visit Acem’s web site acem.Sunday 14 October The Indian Himalayas Meditative silence • Mystical mountains Trekking in rhododendron forests Meditation retreat The tour starts with one week of meditation at an Acem Meditation retreat in

but in Acem Meditation having a good feeling means little. This is a good thing. demons and similar psychic entities outside ourselves has waned. This is a choice that does not change anything. the hero comes to a number of crossroads where he must choose a path wisely. First crossroad Accept everything or reject what is undesirable? Naturally we would prefer pleasant meditations: a spontaneous activity that we can deal with. we can choose to stop meditating. That is when the really exciting things begin to happen. If you stand at this crossroad. Here are some of the crossroads we face. But ultimately. If we do not get what we want. we became responsible for what takes place inside us. without too much trouble. not as a spectator to the passing show. Meet- ing this part of the spontaneous activity with a meditation sound that we repeat with a free mental attitude is to create change. Acem Meditation Newsletter 2/06  . distraction. the right choice is to turn your awareness back to the repetition of the sound. unknown or incomprehensible. expressing the wonder of entering the unknown. From what happens to what you do. we repress. The other approach is to accept everything that appears. Excitement and pleasant feelings make life worth living. restlessness and bodily discomfort. we deny.Crossroads of Meditation By Carl Henrik Grøndahl Enchanted Forest. everything that happens inside us when we meditate is. Why take the chance that the enjoyable feelings may disappear when I resume repeating the meditation sound? Surely we need a good world to be in. including that which is disturbing. Oil on canvas by the most famous Norwegian painter. Granted. including our aggressive and depressive impulses. undesired. precisely. belief in goblins. Or we can get an extra good grip on the meditation sound in order to limit the influx of the spontaneous. Meditate actively. at times we project such things onto others. Third crossroad Accept that everything that manifests itself in the spontaneous activity is a part of myself – or insist that surely there are some things in my meditation that do not have anything to do with me? In modern times. No one else is present. Likewise it is in our meditation. nice thoughts and supportive feelings may well arise in the spontaneous activity of meditation. With the discovery of the unconscious. In the tales of our folklore. us. And good feelings are the solution of the times. Second crossroad Dwell on the spontaneous activity when it is exciting and full of imagery or turn our attention back to the repetition of the sound? Good ideas. What creates change—in Acem Meditation as in the rest of life—is what you actually do. Edvard Munch. pleasant images.

You are shirking. Something in our spontaneous activity appears that we do not recognise as our self. This crossroad resembles the previous one. there are many challenges. we begin to strive even more. Discovering this crossroad is an important step in liberating oneself from limiting influences. Fourth crossroad Keep certain kinds of judgements outside the spontaneous activity. Choosing the right way puts the metathought back where it belongs: it is a part of the spontaneous activity that has as little authority or weight to decide who I am and what I should do as any other whim or chance thought that passes by. get angry.) Carl Henrik Grøndahl is Artistic Director in Radio Drama. Since there is nothing I wish so much as to meditate in an unconstrained way. We do not even understand that we stand at a crossroad. accepted. with all the disturbance and uneasiness and sabotage that comes with doing so. Upon meeting a free mental attitude. This element of the spontaneous activity has a name: Metathoughts. Allow the visitor a little warmth and comfort. the source of our troubles resembles a strong authority figure that lays down the truth for us while we are struggling and are unable to cope. This is the way I am. Meet this part of ‘me’ with a free repetition of the sound rather than rejection. Then things begin to get knotty. rough. This is a small piece of what takes place in the spontaneous activity of the mind. this time we are not struggling with a rejected and quarrelsome child. And the metathoughts are quite tough guides. This ‘not-me’ is quite confounding: get rid of it! So we struggle with and get annoyed over this confoundedness. Carl Henrik Grøndahl  Acem Meditation Newsletter 2/06 . Let’s not remain so uncritical of the one that scolds and struggles and chases away. Sharing the experience with someone who is not under the influence of the judge can start the questioning process: Perhaps this categorical judgement is not the truth about me? It is not external: it is actually my own judgement over myself. but is this not the choice we made beforehand. messy. How in the world are we to free ourselves from their grasp and choose differently? Guidance provides good help. We have then chosen one way at this crossroad. With considerable weight and indisputability the judge passes judgement over me: “You are incompetent. Everything becomes unclear. with the world. and completely incapable… and we basically lack the space or strength or self-confidence to question this categorical judgement. a part of myself that is quite judgemental and does not like me. (See questions for reflection on the next page. or accept that everything that appears in meditation is part of the spontaneous in us. sitting there is peaceful. Something starts to work against the free attitude. But in contrast to the previous crossroad. We act as if something in the spontaneous activity does not belong to us. That which is undesirable within ourselves loosens its grip when it is listened to. or struggle. or give up. In other words. And so I see myself as one who is striving and struggling. Which means that I am really treating myself very poorly. They throw us along. Time passes quickly.Very well. let us call it ‘the not-me’. then this something must be from outside—something I surely do not want. the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK). don’t we? I sit down to meditate. They do not point out the way we are supposed to go. In Acem Meditation. the metathoughts dissolve. and exciting and liberating encounters that await us…at the next crossroad. with the spontaneous activity. For it states the truth. With my best intentions I would like a bit of uncomplicated free attitude for a while. The metathoughts are used to meeting combat and frozen attitudes. It not only admonishes me when I feel I have failed to master the performance of my meditation. the world is good. We scold ourselves. You are small. Who is it? Well. conflicts are not resolved through combat and struggle. With this stinging judgement in our ears. into the struggle. away from the free mental attitude. with a form of mature security and warmth. accuse or simply despair. It seems like someone is resisting me. met with a free mental attitude. The judgement makes us act in ways that cannot create change. The wrong one. Feel a little sympathy for the one we are harrying in ourselves. but also be aware of what it is like to be scolded. What does it mean to make the right choice at this crossroad? A good beginning may be to realise that what is disturbing me in my meditation is also me. with myself. but it pours its negative judgement upon me whenever my life does not go smoothly. when we sat down to meditate? We know that what appears inside is us. When we practise meditation. I sit in my meditation and feel dissatisfied—with my performance. Let us turn the alliance for a moment. and an initiator in Acem. I say to myself that what is expressing itself in my meditation in this unacceptable way is so undesirable that I cannot even entertain the thought that it may be me. If we cannot let go of the idea that what disturbs us must be combated and chased away. Rather. the victim of an injustice brought about by this outsider. a part of myself is cast out into the darkness and branded destructive. struggled against and chased away. stupid. This is when ‘the judge’ appears. we change very little.

featuring artists with excellent performances of traditional Chinese music. “The discussions during retreats may contribute to further self exploration. Reading philosophy and psychology does not in the same way help me grasp the deeper aspects of my own experience. song and dance. The highlights from the history of Acem Taiwan and Acem International emphasised the bonds between meditators in the East and the West. commonly shared across cultures. It was an unforgettable “Eastmeets-West” experience for every- one. will increase my self knowledge.Questions for reflection Based on Carl Henrik Grøndahl’s article “Crossroads of Meditation”. but also with the last day of Acem Travels’ tour of China. 3. Hong Kong and Taiwan. or are some things better left alone? Why? Try to base your answer on examples from your own experience.000 hours. what is a good meditation? What is a bad meditation? Why? Is there any discrepancy between your spontaneous subjective judgement and an assessment based on careful reflection? 2. The event not only coincided with the 40th anniversary of Acem International. Maybe it will also be a bit unpleasurable? If it helps me gain more insight.” Important life issues He is excited about what the three weeks of deepening retreats will be like. A central theme was sound. 1. and found it easier to use the group for his benefit. Acem Meditation Newsletter 2/06  . perhaps going into past unresolved issues. Is it important to get to know unpleasant parts of yourself. Alltogether the participants meditated 13. The next time. Sound is also a central element in Acem Meditation. with a variety of creative and deeply moving events. which. “I expect to be dealing with important themes in my life. and to discover more about my own psychology. he was not used to discussing his meditation experience in a guidance group.” Acem Taiwan 20 Years Summer of Meditation The 20th anniversary of Acem Taiwan was celebrated at National Taiwan University in Taipei on April 16th. During two months in the summer of 2006 Acem arranged 12 week-long meditation retreats. According to your spontaneous subjective judgement. it is worthwhile. and felt a bit shy about sharing personal matters with others. Can you recognise elements in your own meditation that you easily treat as if they were not a part of you? How do you usually treat them? How could you treat them better? Continued from page 1 Sharing The first time Kaif participated in one of the annual week-long retreats in India. he was more familiar with how the guidance works. Among the audience of 200 people. almost 80 came from Europe. hopeful- Kaif Mahmood ly.

In the 1960s and 70s. Dr. which were often centred around a guru personality with authoritarian traits and a spiritual or religious message. and Acem has centres and course venues in several countries in Europe and Asia. He became the leader of the organisation. there were only a handful of students. Personal experience One reason why so many people have devoted time and energy to work for Acem is the fact that the organisation has been more concerned with each meditator’s personal experience than with preconceived ideas about philosophy or spirituality. Regular courses and retreats were supplemented by deepening retreats of one. Acem’s approach contrasted sharply with most other meditation groups. Both in his professional work and in Acem. Acem cooperated with one such organisation. the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement. he is known as an inspiring lecturer and a skilful administrator. but too often empty ideals of cosmic consciousness and mystical states of mind. and also the Vice Dean and Dean of Education at the Faculty of Medicine at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. and on how meditation reflects our personality. the long hours of meditation (more than six hours every day) enable us to  Acem Meditation Newsletter 2/06 . In the long run. two or three weeks. On deepening retreats.Forty Years of Inspired Work By Tor Hersoug When Acem was founded in 1966. then a 20year old student of psychology. Today he is the head of Acem International. using meditation to cope with the real challenges of one’s everyday life is more inspiring than lofty. In 1995 began a new development in Acem’s approach to meditation. In the first years. Much emphasis was placed on the concept of a free mental attitude. and the cooperation ended in 1972. By helping us overcome inner tension. Acem developed its own user-oriented psychology of meditation. Holen is a psychiatrist. Forty years later. The initiative to establish Acem came from Are Holen. Acem Meditation paves the way for improved quality of life. but the differences became increasingly clear. Based on the experiences of thousands of meditators. Acem Meditation is taught in many countries around the world.

when a large number of instructors began to travel abroad with the specific aim of establishing a new Acem centre. Acem was a student organisation. which gradually developed into Norway’s largest. Its down-to-earth approach attracted the interest of a large number of people who might otherwise never have thought of learning meditation. it wasn’t at all evident that it was going to succeed.000 Norwegian kroner ($3200) to Acem International. but the basic driving force remains the same. All these countries have had regular course activity ever since and have long had their own instructors and. Spain and South Africa. and while half of the money will go to Acem Taiwan. with a mixture of local initiatives and support from Acem International. So far. Courses in Acem Meditation are given sporadically in many other countries. and its popularity on Norwegian campuses was so great that at times. and rental income has helped to establish an economic basis for the activities of the organisation. on the contrary. Acem has been able to acquire local centres in a number of countries. demand exceeded capacity. but from a genuine interest in the human condition and in the processes brought about by Acem Meditation. Acem’s greatest asset has been the dedicated work of its members. came the first wave of internationalisation. who have worked for several decades to build Acem in Norway and other countries. This enabled Acem to buy its first house in Oslo in 1976. He is well aware that Acem Taiwan has received much help and support from the international organisation. as well as retreat centres and office buildings later. the United Kingdom. Then. and this has made a great impression on India. one was often left with the impression of a lot of work with little result. Germany. from the second half of the 1970s. some of the space was rented out to others.” Steve Tseng explains why he decided to donate 200. regular activities have been established Steve Tseng exploring a Norwegian mountain cave Tor Hersoug is Director of Economic Research at The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise. But today Acem Taiwan has its own centre and its own instructors. For Acem. the most important source of income was the annual flea market. After the break with the TM movement. Their generosity has inspired others. Acem has never received much support from the government. Expansion and internationalisation In the first years. Arve and Karen Breen. while keeping course fees low. Tor Hersoug grasp subtle aspects of our existence and to bring about fundamental changes in the ways we relate to ourselves and the world around us. Acem began to expand into all layers of Norwegian society. The work has borne fruit. In the 1970s and early 80s. This was how Acem started its activities in Sweden. Mr Tseng learnt Acem Meditation in Taipei several years ago.000 Taiwanese dollars ($6200) to Acem in connection with Acem Taiwan’s 20th anniversary and Acem International’s 40th anniversary. in the case of Denmark and Sweden. Donations for Acem Taiwan and Acem International ”I have seen Acem Taiwan being built from almost nothing into a solid organisation. as well as large retreat centres in both Sweden and Norway. The dedicated members who spend much of their spare time working for Acem draw their inspiration not from high-flown ideas and visions. When Acem instructors went abroad for work or study. decided on the spot to donate 20. and it is only recently that donations have begun to play a role in the funding of the organisation. In addition. initiators. and an initiator in Acem. Economic basis From the beginning. This is the kind of spirit that I would like to support. At the beginning. they often spent their spare time teaching Acem Meditation. these are significant contributions in a period with many important challenges. Denmark. the Netherlands and Taiwan. the other half will go to Acem International. Still. and his wife Chunchen Lin is one of many active members who have contributed to making Acem Taiwan a mature and stable organisation. The second wave of internationalisation started in the second half of the 1990s. Much voluntary effort in refurbishing and redecorating helped to keep the costs low. Acem Meditation Newsletter 2/06  . ••• Much has happened since Are Holen and a few other students came together to establish Acem forty years ago.

But with 50 other people also Torbjørn Hobbel (layout). through the many social activities. which left me energised and more empowered to carry on meditating. including walking. I feel mentally refreshed and ready to start the day after meditating each morning. I took away a key message that the meditation is process driven and not goal driven. Course language: English. eating and discussion groups. with translation into Spanish. Led by initiator Sigrun Hobbel. gives more energy for work. studies and personal reflection. Contributors: Halvor Eifring (ed. Spain 31 Oct. It gives me perspective and stops events overtaking me and stops that feeling of being swept along by events. Most importantly. and 3 Nov. An introductory course in Acem Meditation will also be offered. a weekend retreat is an opportunity to practice long meditations beyond the 3-hour I was never far from someone else. I met lots of great people. is a non-profit organisation which helps people develop existentially by means of a mindful. the nice thing being that there was a good opportunity to talk with new meditators and very experienced meditators in between sessions. Norway Tel. there was plenty of time for meditation and for me to be alone and just ‘be’. on top of a hill inside a wonderful garden. reflective process known as Acem for meditation events .acem. further stimulating the processes induced by Acem Meditation. Course language: Chinese. Over the weekend. +47-23118700 Fax +47-22831831 Email: acem. The Alicante Airport is easy to reach from many European airports. and his style and approach was very informative and friendly. Course language: English. 2006 in Danshui. More energised after the weekend retreat “The peacefulness was stunning. within easy reach by metro from Taipei City. Scandinavia See www.acem.  Acem Meditation Newsletter 2/06 Check acem. near Apeldoorn. Led by initiator Halvor Eifring. 2006 in Castalla. Arrive when you wish between 31 Oct.acem.” Nick Tedstone.html to locate addresses in other countries. powerless to influence them. www. with guidance groups in Dutch. Eirik Jensen. I was initially daunted by the prospect of a 3 hour meditation but the time went surprisingly quickly and each meditation was accompanied by a small guidance group where you could discuss the experience with a trained instructor. Venue: Casa de Espiritualidad de las Obreras de la Cruz. near Alicante.acem. Many say they never really understood the potential of meditation before they tried longer meditations in Acem retreats. Folke Gravklev. a wonderful place in beautiful surroundings. Small guidance groups led by experienced instructors and evening lectures exploring the psychology of meditation help to optimise the NO-0202 Oslo. Taiwan 10-12 Nov. Anne Grete Hersoug. We were fortunate on this retreat to have a series of lectures by the founder of Acem. Reading The Netherlands 10-12 Nov.). Extended weekend retreat led by initiator Tor Web:www. Over the two and a half days there was a really well organised mix of activities. with modest fare prices. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend retreat. and often provides insights with long-term impact on one’s Go to www. 2006 in Eerbeek. Transport to the retreat will be arranged. Venue: St.Weekend Retreats Autumn 2006 For those who have learnt Acem Meditation. . near Taipei.acem. 9ACEM School of Meditation Head office: Postboks 2559 Solli. This enhances the meditation process. Benedict Retreat and www. a peaceful monastery near the picturesque village of Castalla. Venue: ABK-huis.