Alfred I. H. Chien, Professor of Sports Psychology

The President of Acem Taiwan is a renowned authority on sports psychology and a well-known personality among the island’s sports enthusiasts.

Alfred Chien is deceptively modest. Even at the time when he was learning Acem Meditation in Taipei 16 years ago, he was a soft-spoken man who asked simple questions. It was not immediately apparent to someone meeting him for the first time that he was Taiwan’s leading authority on sports psychology or that he was an accomplished professor who often appeared in the newspapers and on radio and television. In the words of the old Chinese proverb, “A True Man does not reveal his worth. ”

Dr. Chien has been President of Acem Taiwan since its foundation in 1986. Since that time, he and his team have often invited Acem instructors from Scandinavia to give lectures and courses in Taipei. On several occasions, he has made the long journey to Scandinavia to participate in retreats and seminars, and so have a number of his fellow countrymen. Just last spring, Dr. Chien opened Acem’s new premises in central Taipei, a place that he refers to with a smile as an oasis of silence in a city of noise. This coming spring, Acem Taiwan, in collaboration with Acem Travels, will hold its second weeklong international retreat near the idyllic village of Puli.

“Acem Meditation has taught me how to listen to my body, ” says Dr. Chien. “By closing my eyes and letting thoughts and feelings pass freely, I can relax my body and become more aware of it. In my work, I often have to pay close attention to the needs of others, but I have recently come to realize that I have to maintain a balance between my own needs and the needs of my associates. For my personal wellbeing, and for the sake of my wife and my sons, I have to draw the line somewhere. Acem Meditation has helped me to relax when I need to and, at the same time, has made me more effective in my work.”

In the literature of Ancient China, one often encounters tales of sages who try to escape from the duties of officialdom but who, because of their universally recognized abilities, are eventually persuaded to serve the state. In a similar way, Alfred Chien never applied for a job in Taichung, but for several years there, he was in charge of Taiwan’s most prestigious college of physical education. He never sought office in the Ministry of Education either, but he spent five years there as the Director of the Department of Physical Education. In both cases, he was persuaded to accept the posts, though he had initially refused. Two years ago, the same thing happened again after he had returned to his teaching position at National Taiwan Normal University. He now serves there as the Dean of the College of Sports and Recreation.

Because of the stress of his everyday life, patience and quiet persistence are now his most valued qualities. Acem Meditation, he says, has helped him to achieve a more harmonious balance between the responsibilities of his work and his private life. At a recent public lecture entitled Acem Meditation, Another Way Out of Stress, Alfred Chien was one of the speakers.

As part of his work, Professor Chien has taken an interest in the use of relaxation techniques to benefit athletes. He believes that they can maximize fitness by meditating either before or after training sessions and that they also perform better if they meditate before competitions. He knows, from his own experience, that meditation can reduce stress and improve a person’s performance.

Although Dr. Chien comes from a culture with a long and established meditative tradition, he has chosen to learn Acem Meditation, which originated in Norway. In essence, he made this choice because most traditional meditation techniques are meant to confirm some religious tenet or metaphysical system. Acem Meditation goes beyond the boundaries of conventional religion and is based on an open attitude that does not presuppose a specific world-view. The focus in Acem, says Dr. Chien, is on the physiological effects and the long-term psychological process.

Some of Dr. Chien’s associates expressed alarm when he first told them about his meditation. The Chinese word for meditation can also be used to refer to political demonstrations. He chuckles to himself as he says, “That was before the lifting of martial law in Taiwan, and my friends were afraid that I might have to go to jail!

Acem International Newsletter No. 1 2002