One day in April, when Arne Heimdal opened his e-mail account back home in Oslo, his mailbox was filled to the brim with letters from Spain asking about courses in Acem Meditation. He had been coordinator of Acem’s activities in Spain since 2001, but had never experienced anything like this, with several hundred e-mails in just a few days. What had happened?
It turned out that Acem’s founder, Dr Are Holen, had been interviewed in La Vanguardia, the biggest newspaper in the Barcelona area. The interview covered the whole back page, which according to locals is the most frequently read page in the entire newspaper. Dr. Holen had visited Barcelona a few weeks earlier to give a public lecture about scientific studies of meditation, including Acem Meditation brain research in which he himself had been involved. (You can read an English translation of the interview here.)
After publication of the interview, emails continued to pour in every day. Visitors to Acem’s Spanish web site increased to several thousands. With two assistant instructors living in Alicante and four Norwegian instructors travelling to Spain now and then, this boom in interest was going to be quite a challenge.
Luckily, the timing was perfect. Other Acem activities had already been planned for early May, including visits by several instructors from Norway. Now the programme was revised to accommodate all the requests for new beginner’s courses. In the end, ten beginner’s courses were provided in Barcelona during the first half of May, in addition to one course in Madrid and one in Alicante, plus some follow-up meetings in Barcelona. Altogether 442 people learnt Acem Meditation in Spain during this period. Thanks to a large number of volunteers from Spain and Norway, the great upturn in interest was handled in a highly satisfactory manner.
Other courses were offered in Barcelona in June and the beginning of July. More than 600 people learnt Acem Meditation in Spain in the first half of 2010, more than in any other country.
Also, no less than 22 new Spanish meditators decided virtually on the spot to register for Acem’s week-long international retreat in Norway in July, making the Spanish group the largest one on the course. Next year, therefore, Acem has decided to arrange a summer retreat in the countryside just outside Barcelona.
This autumn the interest continues unabated, and the new courses starting in October are filling up fast. In the future, more local instructors are needed, and for Acem Spain this is just one of a number of exciting challenges ahead.