Meditation is in Vogue – not only in a recent issue of the magazine, but in the international press generally.

The Independent (October 24, 2004) asks Acem’s founder Dr. Are Holen how to meditate. “All you have to do is let things pass while repeating the [meditation] sound in a non-concentrated, non-directed manner,” he says, and adds: “Reflecting on our lives gives us inner strength, which makes it easier to understand feelings and conflicts in ourselves and others. It also helps to get rid of stress.”

Under the heading “Meditation is the new mental work-out”, the Financial Times (February 13, 2004) writes:

“Could there be a mental equivalent of the work-out or diet plan that could make our minds fitter and healthier? The possibility is emerging from research combining 21st century neuroscience with meditation The results hint at an intriguing parallel between physical and mental fitness.”

According to Business Week (August 30, 2004), “New research shows that [meditation] changes the brain in ways that alleviate stress”. The article continues:

“For decades, researchers at the National Institutes of Health, the University of Massachusetts, and the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Harvard University have sought to document how meditation enhances the qualities companies need in their human capital: sharpened intuition, steely concentration, and plummeting stress levels. What’s different today is groundbreaking research showing that when people meditate, they alter the biochemistry of their brains. Meditation simply allows them to detach from their emotional reactions so they can respond appropriately.”

Naturally, Elle found a feminine angle to meditation. In the July 2004 (UK edition) health column, under the heading “Meditate on this”, their reporter writes:

“Over the past year, more and more young women have begun turning up in my meditation class. Admittedly, one girl I asked claimed she had come because she’d been told she’d get to meet lots of single men, but she was an exception. Most reflected my own experience; they were looking for a way to deal with the pressure of their jobs, social lives and relationships … Their hunch that meditation could help is backed by science. Research shows that practising regularly can help the brain …”

Under the heading “Learn to meditate” Elle lists: “Acem Meditation; enq (07814) 550383; Courses throughout the UK. Uses ancient insights combined with modern psychological skills and theory.”
Vogue also clearly wants to focus on the feminine angle. Quoting from the March 2004 issue in an article about “12 women and how much they spend to feel good.” Some spend quite a lot – their “karma costs”, as Vogue puts it, may exceed £1100 per month spent on crystals, massage and various therapies. Who says happiness cannot be bought? Daisy de Villeneuve is far more cost-conscious. She is an author and illustrator, lives in England, and practices “the Norwegian method of meditation, Acem, twice a day, after attending a retreat to study it”.