Twenty-one-year-old twins Elisabeth and Carina Heimdal feel that Acem Meditation has improved their relationships with other people.

They learned Acem Meditation in Norway four years ago, and daily meditations have been part of their life ever since. Both agree that Carina has become more self-assertive and articulate about her feelings, while Elisabeth has become less susceptible to fits of temper.

Carina says: “I have become more aware of my wish to communicate more personally and clearly in my relationships to others. Rather than holding back, I am now expressing more of what I feel in my daily life. Instead of thinking about what I should or shouldn’t do without finding an answer easily, I have learned to admit that certain things are a bit complex. Sometimes, though, I think it is better for me to think less and give more room for spontaneity. I particularly like the web-based guidance chats after retreats: at appointed times, we have a guidance chat, which works fine. Studying abroad for several years, I am alone with meditation most of the year, and the regular contact with others who meditate is very stimulating.”

The two are truly international citizens. In addition to their mother tongue, Norwegian, both are fluent in French and English. Carina also speaks Spanish and Czech. Elisabeth speaks German and Italian, and is in the process of learning some Chinese. This year, both twins happen to be studying in France, Carina on a master’s programme in finance and strategy, and Elisabeth on an exchange programme during the last year of her textile engineering course.

In the beginning, the immediate, relaxing effect of meditation was their primary focus. As Carina puts it: “Coming home from school, I got more energy after meditating.” Elisabeth agrees: “I got what I wanted: good rest and energy.”

The following summer, the twins attended their first week-long retreat, a student retreat with long meditations. Elisabeth says: “The guidance groups made a strong impression and were very helpful. At first, it seemed like there wasn’t much to tell from my meditation, but as I talked, personal themes began to surface. I grasped something that hadn’t been within reach before and gradually developed a new perspective on myself and others. Relationships to others have become more open. I haven’t missed a retreat since then.”

Elisabeth has contributed to an Italian vocabulary of Acem’s basic concepts – quite a challenge in a new language. Carina has helped translate material for beginners’ courses in Acem Meditation into French, and recently started an introductory course in Paris as part of her training to become an Acem instructor. She has also been instrumental in arranging for Acem to be registered as a non-governmental organisation in France, which has been possible largely thanks to Acem’s non-religious orientation.