Relaxation and achievement
In his thesis, Dr Solberg showed that Acem Meditation reduces stress and increases relaxation in the body. Pulse rate reduction was more pronounced in meditators than in people who rested without meditating. This effect was reinforced during long meditations. Dr Solberg demonstrated that the relaxation achieved during meditation differed from the relaxation obtained during rest. Meditators had higher initial levels of melatonin, suggesting that this hormone plays a central role in the relaxation process.
Most of the studies relate to the performance and recovery of sportsmen. One study showed that elite marksmen who practiced Acem Meditation achieved better results in competitions than marksmen who did not meditate. Another study indicated that marathon runners who had practised Acem Meditation for six months had reduced the negative impact of stress on their immune systems. Runners who practised Acem Meditation also showed less physical fatigue (as measured by post-exercise lactate levels) than either those who did not meditate or those who practised another relaxation technique called autogenic training.
“I have always been interested in psychosomatic medicine,” Dr. Solberg explains. “Until now, most stress researchers have explored what generates stress or how to measure stress. The next logical step – how to get relief from stress – has been less well understood. Investigating the effects of Acem Meditation is one way to obtain insights into relaxation processes.”
That the scientific community shows a growing interest in meditation research does not surprise Dr. Solberg. “One reason is the increasing number of people practising meditation. For example, 55,000 persons have learnt Acem Meditation, and a considerable number of them find it useful in their daily lives. Furthermore, modern brain scanning techniques have made it possible to visualize relaxation processes in the brain, making it easier to study the effects of meditation. Finally, with the increasing cost of health care in most countries, more emphasis is now being placed on prevention and a healthy lifestyle, and Acem Meditation contributes to both.”
The long period of research has itself been like a long meditation for Dr. Solberg: at times frustrating and challenging, but also stimulating and rewarding. The work has inspired his own meditation, as he continues to optimise the effects of meditation on his own life and on the people around him.