Just after Easter about 30 Acem meditators gathered in the Carrington House Hotel in Bournemouth for the annual UK weekend retreat. On a not particularly sunny Saturday afternoon, I had a space. A space for me to talk a little about Acem in the UK. Every year I have this space and every year I wonder what I will talk about. I wonder what I should talk about a lot, so it’s a natural past time of mine, this year I decided I would talk a little more personally about my fascination with the gentle awareness of the Free Mental Attitude and how I seek to continually find new ways of seeing it in my life and work. This blog is a rough summary of what I did with my space.
How do different diets affect meditation? While people with widely different diets may profit from daily meditation, many also reckon that what you eat has an influence on the effects you get. In particular, although some meditative cultures are meat-eating, a vegetarian diet is often considered helpful.
From a completely different point of view, and without regard to meditative effects, a pilot study by two American nutritional experts indicates that avoiding meat and fish may improve your general mood. Thirty-nine healthy omnivores (people who eat “anything”) were randomly assigned to one of the following three groups for two weeks:
- a group consuming meat, fish, and poultry daily
- a group consuming fish 3-4 times weekly, but avoiding meat and poultry
- a group avoiding meat, fish, and poultry
There was one breakthrough in The Times journalist Katie Morris’s fight against sleep deprivation: when a fellow insomniac recommended Acem Meditation – according to her own article in the newspaper’s mental health section on December 20, 2011.
It’s four in the morning and I am staring into the darkness, aware that in just three hours, it will be time to get up. It’s going to be hard to cope with the day ahead, which makes me fret and worry. I am overwrought and exhausted, but too alert to sleep. Read more…
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.
Recently, I resumed my practice of meditating twice a day for half an hour each. For the last six months, I had been meditating once a day for 45 minutes. Meditating once in the morning, and then once again in the evening, and perhaps a few minutes before going to sleep sets a rhythm to the day which is missing when I meditate just once a day. Below I write about my experience with this schedule.
Such a schedule divides one’s day into two alternate spheres, the inward and the outward. One starts the day by taking a dip inwards and the actions of the day then bear a trace of that half hour of meditation. One feels more alive, more in touch with oneself, perhaps specifically with a particular aspect of the psyche that the meditation has raised near to the surface from the depths.
I have been in Sydney for eight days now. Looking at a map, Sydney is far away from Copenhagen, where I usually live. It is actually more than 16 000 kilometers away. It is hard to get further away, unless you go to New Zealand. Or to the South Pole.
For my 38th birthday a friend of mine took me on a journey to help me find my creativity, it was an interesting journey.
On a wet London Saturday morning I met my friend and we walked to an old factory in Deptford (South-East London), an area now populated with lots of artists working in space converted from old factories and warehouses. It was wet, the buildings were big and grey and I was nervous. I was on my way to meet Nick, thats not my way of saying I was on my way to meditate and meet myself but another Nick, an artist called Nick who worked in a studio in this impossibly tall and old building. The rain stopped for a second as I read a rather faded sign that said ‘This door bell does not work, please call by mobile’. The sign didn’t have a mobile number on it, so I scrambled around in my bag and found a wet piece of paper from which I just about could read the number. I phoned, Nick didn’t answer. In a moment of hope I thought, “he’s not in, great an excuse to go home and do something normal’. Just as that thought spontaneously left my mind and a big blob of rain hit my phone it vibrated into life and I knew it was Nick. The conversation was very convivial; he came down and let us in.
In his recently published autobiography, the Indian psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar reflects on the nature of the psyche, drawing on his own life and the lives of his clients:
‘The unconscious may be more like an elephant which you can’t really control and which is mostly good-natured. It is not the headstrong horse of Freudian imagery which can be controlled with difficulty by the rider, the conscious part of the mind. The elephant is much stronger than the mahout [the driver of the elephant] and goes where it will though the mahout can nudge it in certain directions. There is certainly no point in getting into a fight with the elephant, a fight the mahout is sure to lose.’
Old news? Yes, if you have learnt to practice a technique like Acem-meditation. But not if you have no experience with such relaxation techniques.
In the 29 April issue, the Norwegian women´s magazine Kamille writes about how to reduce everyday stress by using different relaxation techniques. The magazine includes a brief description of mindfulness meditation and almost an entire article on Acem-meditation. In an article about insomnia, the magazine interviews Cathrine Pedersen, who says that meditation has helped her with insomnia. She has practiced Acem-meditation for many years and describes her personal experience. Cathrine says that her daily 30-minute meditations are “30 minutes when I don´t have to perform at all.” Read more…
In 2008, the Natural Change Project was started by the World Wildlife Fund Scotland in order to investigate if activities strengthening our bonds with nature can change our environmental behaviour in the long run. Seven individuals with influential jobs were to live, discuss and carry out exercises within socalled eco-psychology during three extensive workshops in natural environements.
The basic principles of eco-psychology is that the mental wellbeing of humans is closely linked to a healthy natural environment and that by strengthening this link humans will be inspired to protect nature better. A report from the project will be made public later on this spring. I find the approach interesting, but it raises the question: What is nature? Aren’t we as humans part of nature? I guess this opens for a longer philosophical discussion about nature and culture and that is not my scope. My experience is that through meditation it is possible to get in touch with our inner life and nature. This increases our sensitivity towards ourselves, others and also our environment.
Whether it makes us more environmental-friendly is an open question.