at the Acem Meditation World Retreat 2016

workshopOn three afternoons during the World Retreat, you can choose between five different exciting and entertaining workshops. The workshops come in three different versions: talks, games and body practices. While most of the talks focus on scientific, cultural or psychological aspects of meditation, two of them are concerned with the history and art of the country we are in: Spain. The games encourage a playful attitude towards the exploration of the self, while the body practices use breath and movements as channels of self-expression.

This is a preliminary programme. Changes may occur.

Workshops overview

Sunday 17 July 17.30-18.15

Waves of thoughts: Meditation and the brain
Svend Davanger, professor of neuroscience
Somehow mysteriously, the weird, curly, wavy surface of our brain is the origin and home of our conscious self. When our brain thrives, we are active and creative. When our brain is too full of stress hormones, we make errors and shy away from pursuing our potentials. Recent research has shown us which parts of the brain provide us with our will, with our emotions, with our memories and our spontaneous thoughts. These brain areas interact in distinct ways during stress and stress-related conditions, as well as during rest and meditation.
Location: Tent – Workshop type: Talk

You are your breath: Yoga breathing practice
Anne Thomte, head of the Acem School of Yoga
Join us in this breathing class, where you will open up your body to larger, deeper and more unrestrained breathing. This will help you to avoid tendencies towards restricting your breath, and to get a hold of how the breath can flow in and out quite freely.
Location: Sala Slálom, Hotel Taüll – Workshop type: Body practice

Intensifying the process: Meditative reflection game
Eva Brandt, professor of collaborative design
We know that daily meditations are important. We also know that long meditations speed up the process and increase the outcome. Nevertheless, many of us find it difficult to establish a regular meditation practice at home. And many of us do not often attend long meditations and retreats. In this workshop we will explore these contradictions together and try to get behind the various rationales that influence our behavior. In small groups of 4-5 people we will play a Meditative Reflection Game. It is a card-based game where the various game pieces evoke associations and spark reflections. The game is not about winning or losing but provides an occasion for sharing thoughts, associations and experiences, an opportunity to reflect together.
Location: Sala Sant Jordí, Boí Taüll Resort – Workshop type: Game

Voice happens: The sounds of your self
Daniel Roob, singer and language teacher, with extensive experience in leading choirs and teaching vocal technique
This workshop invites you to let go and effortlessly vocalise what is present within you at any moment. Be inspired by the voices of the group, dive into shared sound, and explore the borders between your inner spontaneity, your will, your body, and the voices of the people around you. Bring yourself and comfortable clothes. No previous experience with toning or singing required.
Location: Sala Cavallers, Hotel Taüll – Workshop type: Game

Meditative silence
Ole Gjems-Onstad, professor of tax law
Silence is an aspect of meditative deepening, but may also be a part of everyday meditations. This workshop begins with an intro on four dimensions of meditative silence, followed by ten minutes of group discussion and ten minutes of plenary discussion. First of all, silence is experiential, but not phenomenological – and what does that mean? Second, silence is a spontaneous process and may help us better understand effortlessness as a basic methodological principle in Acem Meditation: the more we strive for it, the more easily we lose it. Third, silence may be a guide for ethical behavior, an ethical principle for external action. The less we disturb, the more our actions may be sustainable and environmentally friendly. Finally, meditative silence resembles the silence of nature: profound, arising from within, and a basic part of the human existence, but in itself not necessarily religious. Discussing meditative silence may deepen our understanding of Acem as a non-religious organization.
Location: Centre Social – Workshop type: Talk

Tuesday 19 July 17.30-18.15

Herald of emotions: Meditation and the heart
Øyvind Ellingsen, professor of cellular cardiology
Our heartbeat reveals love and fear before the conscious mind can tell. It is one of many ways our bodies automatically adapt to a changing environment, sometimes with alertness and excitement, sometimes with stress and tension. Reactions in heart rate, blood pressure, and vascular function may be helpful or deleterious for coping with the opportunities and challenges of life, but sometimes we need to rest and recuperate. Can meditation help us stay young at heart? The workshop will give an overview of the scientific evidence on the effects of meditation as stress reduction.
Location: Tent – Workshop type: Talk

Walking through your life: Choices and decisions
Vilde Haakensen, medical doctor and post-doc, and Bjarke Madsen, self-employed economist.
Every day you make choices that affect your life – some big, others small. Sometimes you spend a lot of time and energy trying to make the right choice, while other choices are made without your conscious participation. “It just happened”. Or: ”Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” The sum of your choices determines the path of your life. The sum of all critical remarks and signs of tenderness creates your relation to your partner. Your career is partly determined by your education, but also by your determination (or lack thereof), your level of interest and everyday dedication, your ability to involve others, take responsibility, delegate tasks etc. In this workshop you will work in groups looking at your past and your future. Which of the choices you have made have shaped your life into what it is today? Where do you see your life in the future? Where do you want to go? What are the obstacles you need to confront?
Location: Sala Slálom, Hotel Taüll – Workshop type: Game

From Hispania to Spain: An overview of Spanish history
José-Maria Alavedra, high-school teacher
The well-known part of Spanish history begins with the Roman period, from the 3rd century BC. Many cities founded by the Romans are still inhabited and have successive layers of Roman, Visigoth (central European), Christian, Muslim, and again Christian habitation. From the different periods, we shall discuss and demonstrate outstanding examples that you may enjoy during your visit to Spain. Starting in the year 711, it took Muslims from Africa eight years to conquer the entire Iberian Peninsula. It took the Christians 800 years to reconquer the place. The reconquer was done from north to south and divided the peninsula politically and linguistically in “vertical” strips, a division that still affects Spain today. In 1492, the last Muslim kingdom was conquered by the Christians. This was also the year that Columbus arrived in America. Spain now became the greatest and most powerful nation in Europe and in the world. This lasted for two centuries. A different kind of splendor appeared with the Modernist movement in Catalonia at the beginning of the 20th century, exemplified by the buildings by Gaudi that you may visit during your stay in Barcelona.
Location: Sala Sant Jordí, Boí Taüll Resort – Workshop type: Talk

Create your self: Images of the unconscious
Eva Skaar, artist & Jan-Egil Finne, teacher and artist
“Are we to paint what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it?” Picasso
In this workshop you will work with different techniques, such as drawing, painting and charcoal. You will open up to what lies in your spontaneous activity and your unconscious, and explore how different strategies for creative unfolding gives you new ways of expressing your self. The focus is on the process of creating, more than on the end product. You need no pre-skills to attend, but it helps with playfulness and a free mental attitude.
Location: Sala Cavallers, Hotel Taüll – Workshop type: Game

To forget is to remember: Meditation and the paradox of memory
Halvor Eifring, professor of Chinese
Forgetfulness is often seen as something negative, in contrast to memory and mindfulness. Sometimes, however, it is good to allow oneself to forget. Forgetfulness may be a deeper form of memory, and memory a shallow type of forgetfulness. In Acem Meditation, forgetting to repeat the meditation sound may open the mind to underlying impulses that have long been consigned to oblivion. In the cultural history of meditation, some schools emphasise mindfulness and remembrance, while other traditions instead encourage the meditator to forget all the things that are part of everyday consciousness, in order to turn the mind towards more profound realities.
Location: Centre Social – Workshop type: Talk

Wednesday 20 July 17.30-18.15

Archimedes in the bathtub: Meditation and the mind
Turid Suzanne Berg-Nielsen, professor and director of research
Have you noticed when your mind works best? Is it when you are concentrated or relaxed? Or both simultaneously? The ancient Greek scientist Archimedes made an important discovery while relaxing in the bathtub. Acem Meditation is Archimedes in the bathtub. Even an analytical mind can thrive if thoughts are set free during relaxation. Creative and innovative ideas do not grow out of a mind that is tense, suppressed, and regulated according to standard expectations. To think new about old problems requires freedom of thought. — We have to live with our minds every minute, every day and night for our entire lives. Why not get to know it better and start treating it like a friend? Would you treat a friend by being suppressive and judgmental? Or by constantly monitoring and controlling what she or he is up to? Why not be more accepting, let your friend be, and help her or him to unfold? This is what Acem Meditation is about. This workshop will discuss how Acem Meditation fine-tunes the flexibility of the mind, beyond mainstream thinking.
Location: Tent – Workshop type: Talk

You are your movements: Yoga impulse practice
Anne Thomte, head of the Acem School of Yoga
Welcome to a workshop where you will work with your bodily tensions through impulsive and unstructured movements. This will help you to release and work through both bodily and mental residues. You will be encouraged to let go and slide into a flow where you are not actively moving your body, but where you are the movements and the movements are you.
Location: Sala Slálom, Hotel Taüll – Workshop type: Body practice

From El Greco to Dalí: An overview of Spanish painting
Eloisa Alonso, CEO of Hill+Knowlton Strategies Spain
Spanish painting has been among the most influential in Western art history, including painters such as Velázquez, Goya and Picasso. If we look away from the rock art in Altamira from up to 35,000 years ago, the thousand-year old Romanesque church frescos of Vall de Boí, close to the retreat site, are early examples of a great tradition. In art, the Spanish Golden Age started with the great individualist El Greco in the 16th century, who has been regarded as a precursor of both expressionism and cubism. He was followed by the court painters Velázquez in the 17th century and Goya in the late 18th and early 19th century, both famous for their incisive portraits. In the 20th century, the cubist Picasso, the surrealist Dalí and the abstract painter Miró all were among the greatest artists of their times.
Location: Sala Sant Jordí, Boí Taüll Resort – Workshop type: Talk

Express yourself through rhythm
Mattias Solli, philosopher, Jonas Meyer, teacher, René Madsen, rhythmic educator
What is the rhythm of your spontaneous being? Explore it in this workshop. Together we will create rhythmic patterns and improvise whenever the urge to do so takes over. By expressing yourself through rhythm, you can get in touch with feelings and emotions in a different, non-verbal way. How does this spontaneity reflect your personality and your ways of communicating with others? No previous musical training needed. Just bring your body and your innate spontaneity and come along!
Location: Sala Cavallers, Hotel Taüll – Workshop type: Game

Are we as rational as we think?
Thor Udenæs, former investment director at SEB Wealth Management
Human decision-making is often irrational and illogical, contrary to what economists– and perhaps most of us – usually assume. Decision-making is an important part of life, whether it is about everyday practical things or important life decisions such as choice of partner, education or work career. This workshop will focus on how your decision-making processes are influenced by both rational and irrational thinking, conscious and unconscious elements. Acem Meditation involves both the rational and the emotional self. You repeat the meditation sound, and as your body and mind relax, you open up to your spontaneous impulses. Over time, meditation can help you getting a better understanding of your emotional self. This may help your decision-making process become more rational and less influenced by the fluctuations of emotions and impulses.
Location: Centre Social – Workshop type: Talk

Extra outdoor event Monday 18 July 17.30-18.15

In addition to the workshops presented above, you are welcome to participate in an outdoor body practice at the end of the strolling time on Monday 18 July.

Spontaneous bodily self-expression
Susan Tsai, Assistant Instructor, Acem Taiwan
Stand in a natural and comfortable position, close your eyes, and relax your body. After only a few minutes, things begin to happen. Just let everything flow naturally, with no conscious interference. Quite likely, you will feel as if energies begin to run through your body and gather in certain parts of it, and sometimes your body may begin to move inadvertently. The bodily aspect of your spontaneous mental activity is given free expression. The end result is increased physical and mental well-being.
Location: Parc del Mirador – Workshop type: Body practice

Extra event Wednesday 20 July 16.30-17.15

If you want to know more about Acem, you are welcome to participate in a talk at the end of the strolling time on Wednesday 20 July.

What is Acem? Organisation · Economy · History · Challenges
Ole Gjems-Onstad, deputy head of Acem International, Carina Heimdal, head of Acem Young
This talk will give an overview of central aspects of Acem as an organisation, including its history and future challenges, the development of the psychology of meditation, Acem’s organisational structure, its economy, how to contribute to the organisation, the moderator and instructor training, as well as Acem’s internationalisation.
Location: Tent – Workshop type: Talk