All posts in Books

Meditative Yoga from Norway to the world

Chinese translation of Acem’s yoga book published in October

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Meditation in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Cultural histories

Meditation history front pageMeditative practices have flourished in widely different parts of Eurasia, yet historical research on such practices is limited. Research to date has focused on contexts rather than actual practices, and within individual traditions.

For the first time in one volume, the meditative practices of the three traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are examined. Read more…

Hindu, Buddhist and Daoist Meditation

Cultural histories

meditation histories coverLarge waves of global interest in meditation over the last half century have all focused on techniques stemming from Hinduism, Buddhism and Daoism. This collection of essays explores selected topics from the historical traditions underlying such practices. It ventures far beyond the well-known Hindu repetition of sounds, Buddhist attention to breath and body, and Daoist movement of limbs and bodily energies. A picture emerges of meditative traditions that are much richer and more diverse than our modern viewpoint typically acknowledges. Many of the practices are also shown to be of greater current relevance than commonly recognized. Read more…

The book «Meditative Yoga» launched in Delhi

Meditative YogaThe book Meditative Yoga: integrating body, breath and mind, which builds on more than 40 years of teaching in Acem School of Yoga, was launched in India on 13 October this year by the highly esteemed Indian publishing company Motilal Banarsidass. Both authors of the book, Dr. Are Holen and Mr. Torbjørn Hobbel, were present at the book launch in New Delhi, along with a number of dignitaries from Indian society.

The Indian edition is a black-and-white version of the international edition, which was published in full-colour print on Dyade Press earlier this year. The book is a revised translation of the Norwegian edition Yogaboken – bevegelse og pust.

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The Shaking Woman

Siri Hustvedt

Two and a half years after her father died, the Norwegian-American novelist Siri Hustvedt was about to give a speech in his honour at the place where he had worked. Before she had finished her first sentence, she began to shudder violently from the neck down, her arms flapping, and her knees knocking.

She kept shaking as if she was having a seizure, but her voice was not affected, and she managed to finish her speech. When the speech ended, so did her shaking, but similar fits returned to her on several later occasions. And then she wrote a book about it: “The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves”. I read the Kindle version on an iPhone.

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I remember

Joe BrainardMemories are a central issue in therapeutic contexts as well as meditation. Both work to access memories that produce unconscious barriers in our lives, in order to let go of inner friction. In her book The Shaking Woman, the American novelist Siri Hustvedt refers to another book, by Joe Brainard, called I Remember. Every entry in Brainard’s book begins with the words “I remember”:

I remember that I never cried in front of other people.

I remember how embarrassed I was when other children cried.

And so on. While working with patients, Hustvedt observed how using the same technique automatically brings memories to the surface:

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Meditative yoga

Meditative Yoga coverThe English version of Are Holen and Torbjørn Hobbel’s book on yoga is more than just a translation of the Norwegian original. It spells out with even greater clarity how meditative yoga differs from what the authors call “yoga gymnastics”, the type of yoga taught in fitness centres around the world. The title says it all: “Meditative Yoga: Integrating Body, Breath and Mind”.

Like the original, the book contains 150 beautiful illustrations and thorough instructions for more than 60 postures and practices, divided according to type (e.g. starting postures, inverted postures, backbends, forward bends, twist postures, balance postures etc.) and described stepwise with illustrative photos. In addition, there are separate chapters for breathing and meditation practices. A chapter on impulse practices covers a type of yoga not often met with in the West, with slow and rapid bends, twists and shakes, to let loose all bodily impulses, including the breath. Read more…

Peaceful pirate talking meditation

New book from Acem Taiwan

Polar bearWhen the Ice Age withdrew from the European continent, everybody started celebrating. Only one person got worried, gathered his family, left the continent and travelled northwards to follow the ice, thus becoming the first Norwegian. Thousands of years later, he became a viking who could wage war and sail ships across the ocean, a fearsome pirate who would rob and rape whatever came his way. As one more millennium passed, however, he forgot the art of war and became famous for his love of peace – a peaceful pirate! Then he learnt to meditate.

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New book in Spanish: Guía complementaria

mediaticion_acemA new Spanish-language book on Acem Meditation was published this summer. Meditación Acem: Guía complementaria is a translation of the English book Acem Meditation: An Introductory Companion, written by the founder of Acem, Are Holen, and initiator Halvor Eifring. The Spanish version also includes an additional chapter on sounds and their influence on the mind. The translation was carried out by assistant instructor Jacqueline Robert, who lives in Alicante, Spain.

The book will be used at the beginner’s courses in Spain and will represent a significant improvement on our present materials. It will also be interesting and useful for Spanish speakers who have already learnt Acem Meditation. Meditación Acem is the second Acem book in Spanish, after Fuerza interior (Inner Strength) was published earlier this year.


A new Danish version of the Norwegian book “Stillhetens Psykologi” edited by Are Holen will hit the streets in not too long. “Stillhetens Psykologi” (literally translated “The Psychology of Silence”) is a basic book about Acem Meditation, a meditation technique fom Norway. My favourite part of the book is the last chapter, called “Silence”. In this chapter it is described in a poetic way how meditation can make it possible to get in touch with more silent parts of our existence. One sentence goes: “Sjelen kan få hviske oss i øret om noe ulevet”, meaning something like “The soul can whisper us in the ear about something unlived.” This sentence reminds me of a song by Carla Bruni, the French singer-songwriter and earlier topmodel who is now French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s wife. In the song Péché d’envie she sings about everything she wants to have done in her life: Read more…