Renowned psychiatrist and disaster survival expert Dr Are Holen is driven by the desire to improve our quality of life, writes R. Gowri
"Here are three novel techniques to help you de-stress," writes MORE, an American magazine "for women of style and substance". One of the techniques they recommend for those who want to "chill out" is Acem Meditation, because it does not ask you to empty your mind, but allows thoughts and impressions to come and go freely. This "makes this Norwegian verson much easier for some people."
A group of young students also sought new views of the world. They were convinced that man has an inner potential for change. In the beginning, they looked to the East. There they found meditation, but soon discovered that Eastern ways were not always suitable in the context of Western culture and psychology. So what would be left if the religious element were taken away from the meditation technique? They discussed, experimented, tried things out, and did research. On 27 January 1966 they established Acem as an organisation.
It started with an experience. The last half of the 1960s was a period of open exploration, with large cohorts of young students from the post-war generation entering universities, seeking to change the world with their utopian and revolutionary dreams and ideologies. The people who started building Acem had come across a method that challenged inner dogmatism and narrow-mindedness – a sound-based meditation that facilitated change.
Sound plays a central role in many forms of meditation, including Acem Meditation. What is it about sound that stimulates relaxation as well as psychological and existential processes?
As an air traffic controller in Karlsruhe, Germany, Benjamin Kartal has a stressful job. "I always have to think plan a, b, c and d. I need to be flexible. If I'm not, I'll build up anger and frustration. My daily meditations help me reduce stress levels a lot."
The stream of thoughts may look disorderly, like a random mix without meaning. In daily life, we don’t attach much value to such “confused” thinking. What about meditation? Research on nondirective meditation indicates that meditation techniques that allow thoughts to come and go freely have more profound effects for relaxation and stress relief than do directive techniques – i.e. concentration techniques. This article takes a look at the inner experience and the psychological implications of these findings.
On January 27th, 1966, a group of students came together in Oslo on the initiative of Are Holen, who was a student of psychology at the time, to found Academic Meditation Society (AMS). A few years later, the name of the organization was changed to Acem. Fifty years have passed, and an enormous amount of idealistic work has resulted in an international organization with centers and activities in many countries on several continents. Acem is unique in its focus on meditation guidance and the development of a down-to-earth and wide-reaching psychology of meditation.