A friend of mine recently sent me a link to an article from the business magazine Inc., with the title “Sit. Breathe. Be a better leader.” Since she knows that I am a meditator, she asked me: you probably already know this, right?
The article explains how meditation has helped some American leaders to improve life quality and relax, but also deliver more at work. Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s biggest hedge fund, meditates. Steve Jobs was also often associated with meditation. According to the article:
Among entrepreneurs and business leaders, meditation is an increasingly popular seated practice that encourages alertness in the present moment, a pause to relax and focus, and, ultimately, a recentering to lead better.
By Torbjørn Hobbel
In recent decades the interest in body yoga has increased enormously all over the world. In much the same way as the word “meditation” may refer to many different techniques that vary significantly both in method and results, the word “yoga” can also designate many different things.
In order to get a clearer view of the complicated yoga landscape, it may be useful to examine basic differences in how one practises yoga, and the framework within which one understands this practice. Acem’s central focus is on meditation, and a basic parameter is therefore to what extent various forms of yoga are conducive to meditative practice. These are issues it may be useful to consider if one wishes to combine Acem Meditation and yoga in a mutually complementary way.
Turid Suzanne Berg-Nielsen
Imagine the following advertisement: “Pamper yourself with an Acem retreat and meet dreaded parts of yourself”. One thing is certain: it would be a quiet, peaceful retreat with very few participants! But is it true that when we close our eyes, turn our attention inwards and Acem-meditate, they’ll emerge from the deep, dark inner corners of ourselves – the awful self-images, like ghosts from our childhood (because that’s where they usually come from)? The answer is yes and no.
To meditate is to open doors inwards. If we have feelings of inferiority hidden deeply away in some inner closet, we may stumble upon them when we meditate.
Psychological maturity has a lot to do with how we handle unforeseen encounters with aspects of ourselves we like the least. Correspondingly, psychological immaturity or stagnation can manifest itself in the various ways we avoid just such confrontations. Why is this the case? Doesn’t it contradict much of popular psychology to cling to positive thoughts about ourselves and others? On the other hand, is there really any point in seeing our own shortcomings eye-to-eye?
Brodmann Area 47, in the prefrontal cortex, is the brain area that most specifically characterises meditative activity, but only in techniques using an open, relaxed focus of attention.
Imagine yourself lying in the grass in the forest on a pleasant summer day. You feel the warm wind, the grass tickling your legs, you hear insects buzzing nearby, you see the sunlight shining on millions of green leaves in the branches overhead. You experience a thousand little things all around you.
Then change the scene: You are now at work, preparing intensively for a meeting with your boss and several customers in an hour’s time. Co-workers try to stop by for a chat, your phone receives text messages, and it is raining outside the window. But you are not aware of any of this; you concentrate solely on the task in hand, excluding almost everything else going on around you.
Wandering inside our area of mental freedom
By Carl Henrik Grøndahl
The free mental attitude is a central concept in Acem Meditation. But what is it? Let us wander along a few paths and see what we meet.
The free mental attitude is not a feeling – neither of wellbeing nor of complete calm. Not a state, either. The free mental attitude is related to action, the way we do something: sense, think, speak, act.
The first time we take the wheel of a car, we probably do not drive with a free mental attitude. We are unable to conduct a lively or thoughtful conversation at the same time. The requisite mental resources are not yet available. Inexperience, a lack of confidence and a consciousness of lurking dangers all serve to close off the mind. It takes training and practice to master the technicalities sufficiently well to navigate the traffic effortlessly while simultaneously talking about the riddles of existence. Only then are we able to perform the act of driving with a free mental attitude. Of course new situations may still arise that are beyond our control, in which case we are drawn outside the area where we can act with a free mental attitude. We become irrational and may do stupid things.
By Turid Suzanne Berg-Nielsen
Sitting down and meditating may seem very straightforward: simply close your eyes and repeat a meaningless sound in your head. A natural question is how this uncomplicated act can lead to both deep reduction of stress and psychological growth. The answer, unfortunately, is rather more complex. Briefly, when you meditate, you activate both an ability to act and a sensitive receptiveness along with freedom of thought. These mental activities are normally regarded as difficult to combine. This article describes how they co-exist during Acem Meditation.
When you Acem Meditate, you develop the ability to perform an act irrespective of what is going on inside you. Admittedly the act is simple: merely the free repetition of a sound in the mind. However, after only a few minutes’ meditation you may discover that your head is full of potential distractions which draw your thoughts away from the sound. Such is the nature of meditation. Sooner or later, however, you usually find your way back to the sound and recover the ability to do what you are supposed to do without too much effort.
By Monika Wirkkala
“The sextant helped me determine my position at sea. I was at an unidentified position in the Pacific, with no captain, and still I could find my way. But I had no map of my inner self, nor any course through life.”
It is easy to identify with the main character in Carsten Jensen’s novel We, the Drowned. He navigates unknown waters with ease, but experiences great uncertainty when it comes to his own life. What does he wish for – from everyday life, his career, relationships and the private realm?
Meditation is not about wishing. The repetition of a meditation sound, effortlessly and with an open mind, does not mean choosing a specific direction for ourselves. Meditation does not involve pursuing an objective or a goal. Rather, it brings us closer to the ongoing spontaneous activities in our mind, and to the resonances they generate.
By Thor Udenæs
The unconscious is beyond our control, but still has an active presence in our lives. It influences our thoughts, feelings and actions.
A typical everyday meditation session is largely spent working through daily residues. In a half-hour meditation, the first twenty minutes or so of spontaneous activity generally relates to day-to-day matters such as work, relationships, and problems or challenges, though it can also include elements of sleep or bodily sensations.
In the last ten minutes or so there is often a transition towards processing so-called ‘life’s residues’ – in other words, more fundamental structures in the personality. This phase is often marked by inner restlessness: concrete thoughts or images give way to more diffuse and unclear spontaneous activity. The unconscious takes over, in that spontaneous activity begins to influence the way we meditate.
by Are Holen MD PhD, founder of Acem
This text is from the book Acem Meditation – an Introductory Companion.
‘Meditation’ is a generic term as broad as, say, ‘sports’, covering a diverse range of practices using different methods and aiming at a variety of objectives.
Central aspects of the meditation phenomenon are outlined below, with the purpose of identifying the shared and differing characteristics of various meditation practices and putting Acem Meditation into perspective.
Øyvind Ellingsen, M.D., Ph.D.
The free mental attitude of Acem Meditation involves, on the one hand, a supple, effortless repetition of the meditation sound and, on the other hand, a free and accepting awareness in relation to impressions that appear during meditation. Acting to bring about this free mental attitude is a process. In our daily lives, this process provides breathing space for unprocessed experiences from the day. At meditation retreats, it helps to loosen the grip of undercurrents in our personalities.
The free mental attitude of Acem Meditation is an attitude of acceptance. Thoughts, bodily sensations, moods and evaluations are allowed to enter the mind. We let them appear and disappear in our mental awareness, neither avoiding them nor actively pursuing them.
This accepting attitude is a central and effective element in psychological processing. Like the ‘free-floating awareness’ of psychoanalysis, it allows associations to come and go without censorship. A supple, accepting attitude reduces psychological defence mechanisms and repression: we are more ready to accept and take in whatever is on our minds. Difficult themes that we have suppressed become accessible for processing.