Acem Meditation Q & A

Dag & MariaDag Spilde and Maria Gjems-Onstad answer questions about meditation. Dag is a chief advisor and project manager at EDB ErgoGroup ASA, and Maria is a clinical psychologist in Oslo. Both have more than 30 years of experience teaching Acem Meditation.

Since I learned meditation a year ago, the repetition of the meditation sound has worked fine – except for the initial couple of weeks, which involved some degree of effort. Now I am back to the effort again. Half an hour seems much longer, and I end the meditation after 15-20 minutes. The meditation sound has become much less clear. Most of the time I am absorbed in thoughts, and when I think about the sound, I almost get angry because it is so unclear. I believe I am concentrating at times. Or maybe I just let the meditation sound remain unclear. This isn’t the way it is supposed to be? I am writing in order to give my meditation another chance.


The free mental attitude that is obtained when we repeat the meditation sound gently opens new doors inwards. For the first 15-20 minutes of meditation, we usually work through our daily residue. In the last part of meditation, we are more in touch with our own personal themes and life residue. Our meditation practice is influenced by who we are (our personal characteristics), which may be expressed in various ways, and may at times be provoking. We may be preoccupied with certain thoughts that capture our attention, without remembering the content afterwards. The meditation sound may become less clear, or disappear. When our mind is absorbed in those thoughts, we tend to lose the meditation sound, which may be absent temporarily. We may get restless and think: “It doesn’t work for me now”.

Long-term process

When we are in a meditation process, we learn to see beyond each separate meditation, in a perspective over weeks, months, and years. While doors may open, the process may occasionally make us evaluate the meditation as no longer beneficial. For instance, we may find that we no longer get the extra energy we used to expect, or the meditation itself may seem boring. This is caused by the actualization of psychological issues. We get into areas of the mind where even the repetition of the sound may be experienced as problematic. Over and over again we must find the free mental attitude in our repetition of the sound in order to tolerate the new mental content we meet. The silent repetition of the meditation sound cannot be clear and distinct the way we are accustomed to.

Subtle repetition

If we are stuck in our “old”, habitual, way of repeating the sound, we are less present in our mind in this moment. We must get return to an effortless repetition of the sound, and accept that it may be less clear at times. The best suggestion is to repeat the meditation sound in a way that allows us to include everything that comes to our mind. The meditation sound should be adjusted to the spontaneous activities of the mind. When the meditation is more on the silent side, we repeat the meditation sound more subtly than usual. Attempting new ways of repeating the sound will involve increasing our inner freedom, beyond what we are usually capable of. We should not be restricted by habitual patterns of reaction. The challenge is to meet the new situations with an open mind.

Translation: Anne Grete Hersoug. Copy editor: Ann Kunish