Reading some of these posts reminds me of a story someone told me some time ago: A meditation teacher was giving an introductory talk about Acem Meditation in the US. Knowing that Americans typically tend to expect and prefer quick results, but nevertheless reluctant to convey unrealistic expectations, he told them that the deeper benefits of Acem Meditation – those that involve personal growth and personality change – may not occur before several months of regular meditation. One of the listeners responded increduously: “Did you say months?!?”
Americans seem already to be fed up with Obama – he has been President for over a year now, and has still not fixed the economy, the war in Afghanistan and the health system – heck, he hasn’t even balanced the budget! I wonder whether this impatient attitude is now not only typically American, but becoming more prevalent all over the world. And at the same time there must be something in most of us that understands – at some level – that this short term perspective is not only unrealistic, but shallow, and that the more important and valuable processes in life always take time. At least this is one of the perspectives I find most attractive in doing Acem Meditation: I know from long experience that I in each and every meditation, twice a day, most likely will not take a major revolutionary step in my life, or gain an amazing and sensational new insight. Granted, the everyday relaxation and rest I get from the technique is something I appreciate more and more, the older I get. Nevertheless, the slow and steady aspects of the deeper meditative process, most of which is almost imperceptible and unconscious, have become more and more important. And paradoxically at the same time more and more difficult to explain to those who do not have the same experience. Long meditations? Retreats? What is the point of all of that? One might answer: What is the point of great literature, theater, music, art? None of this comes easy, and it may take time to really learn to appreciate the nuances. When you do, there is not much that is more gratifying. If you acquire the taste for it. So too with meditation. At least, that is my experience.
The story is even more telling. It took place at the University of Michigan during the autumn 1980. I had a beginner’s course in Acem Meditation for four students. They were quite energetic and eager for results. When they asked when the results would be there, I hesitated a little and then thought I took quite a mouthful when I answered: Well, it may take some weeks. Then I understood that this was a community of believers in instant salvation. They just looked at me in astonhished disappointment, and said, all four at once with voices shaking from the shock: Did you say WEEKS!
I discovered Acem while searching for a non-chemical way to cure my insomnia. Unfortunately, it did _not_ cure it from day one. But it did help.
First, the days after sleepness nights were not that bad any more, next, the percentage of sleepless nights decreased and now the difficult nights are very seldom. But it took its time, no less than 12 months. But these 12 months did not only improve my nights but my whole life!