by Torbjørn Hobbel
A free mental attitude – repeating the meditation sound gently and effortlessly in the mind and letting the stream of spontaneous thoughts come and go – is the basic principle of Acem Meditation. This attitude is essential to meditation. What about yoga? What is a free, open attitude on a bodily level?
The mental attitude is important for the results of meditation. In order to change unconscious aspects of our personality, we need to develop an awareness of what goes on in the periphery of our consciousness. Such awareness includes the capacity to perceive both the obvious and the undercurrents of the mind. A concentrated, closed attention may be driven by caution, which is an attitude without this possibility. In contrast, an open, inclusive attitude has this potential.
More and more people recognize that the meditative attitude is important for the types of benefits the meditating person can expect. Scientific studies of meditation confirm that various types of nondirective meditation produce the most distinct physiological effects in brain and body. Acem Meditation is this type of technique.
Who cares about yoga?
Some people seem to think that “yoga is yoga”, and that mental attitude is of little consequence. According to our experience, however, the mental attitude strongly influences the effects yoga can bring about.
While one path to insight goes through the mind, another goes through the body. That is why yoga is a central activity in Acem. Acem School of Yoga teaches a classic, meditative yoga, in which a free mental attitude is a central element.
Besides all the bodily benefits, this type of yoga gives thorough relaxation and stimulates an inner deepening process. It is a kind of meditation, based on the body, that makes the mind more receptive and open.
Meditative yoga is certainly possible without Acem Meditation, but when the two are practiced together, this enhances the meditative effect. One simply meditates better after a sequence of yoga exercises.
Meditative yoga is particularly useful on retreats with long meditations. Yoga helps us work through bodily unrest that would otherwise prevent us from going deeper in meditation.
The body collaborates better and is more easily involved in the mental deepening processes.
A bodily meditative state
It is a general experience that the body is strongly involved in the process of meditative deepening. Scientific research on Acem Meditation has documented that the meditator is in a bodily state with certain characteristics that differ from rest and sleep. There is a bodily expression of the inner deepening that is created by the repetition of the meditation sound.
In ordinary physical training, such as running or spinning, the heart rate increases, the breathing is challenged etc. This form of bodily training happens through a high level of activity, and is important for well-being and health. In Acem Meditation, one gets used to the body functioning at a lower level of activity. Both are important. The span between physical mobilization and deep relaxation increases the person’s flexibility and openness for rich experiences.
Meditative yoga helps the body to function better at a lower level of activity, which is a physiological correlate to the mental deepening in meditation. Without it, the body often keeps the mind at a superficial level.
What kind of yoga do you want to learn?
Yoga is many things, and there exist a plethora of yoga courses. In order to make sensible choices, awareness of some basic principles of practice may be helpful. One may practice yoga as physical training, much like aerobics and gymnastics. On the other hand, one may seek to achieve meditative effects and deeper personal insight through yoga.
When evaluating various types of yoga, the main question is not only the instructor’s skills. Hard training yields certain benefits, but does not contribute to the processing of unconscious aspects of the personality. Even if one is excited about a yoga course, it may be appropriate to ask: what kind of yoga is taught? The awareness of this is not widespread in our times.
Translator: Anne Grete Hersoug
Copy editor: Ann Kunish
Photos: Halvor Eifring