All posts tagged psychology

A gradual change of direction

Frank Otto interviewed by Anne Grete Hersoug

Frank Otto Acem MeditationFrank Otto has a doctoral degree in theoretical chemistry, and is working with software development in a small company in Berlin. We met him during his third visit this year to Acem International Retreat Centre Halvorsbøle in Norway.
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Killing the common cold viruses with meditation?

Would you volunteer to participate in a study where viruses are injected in order to measure the risk that you catch a cold? 276 volunteers actually participated in an American study of this kind*). After the injection of the virus, the participants stayed in quarantine for five days. Then measures were taken of congested noses, and the snot was weighed.

The results indicated that stressed persons more easily catch a cold, which may not come as a big surprise, and those who experience chronic stress are most likely to catch a cold. The researchers wanted to assess the participants’ level of stress. After the necessary interviews, the conclusion left no doubt: those who had been most stressed were also the hardest hit by the cold.

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Psychological change with introspection and meditation?

When the Beatles learnt to meditate in the early 60-ies, the influence from the East was quite strong; with a focus on a spiritual aspect. Since then, the focus has changed into more emphasis on well-being, which is central for modern people with busy lives. Meditation for stress reduction is now widely used. Stress management contributes to release of tension and a calmer mind.

Does it really work?
We also see an increasing request for evidence of effects: does it really work? A growing body of scientific studies has provided documentation for a variety of effects, including reduced anxiety and more stable mood. What about other psychological effects, like increased self-insight? Obviously, this requires more time than increased well-being during and immediately after meditation. Read more…

The elephant in the forest

In his recently published autobiography, the Indian psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar reflects on the nature of the psyche, drawing on his own life and the lives of his clients:

‘The unconscious may be more like an elephant which you can’t really control and which is mostly good-natured. It is not the headstrong horse of Freudian imagery which can be controlled with difficulty by the rider, the conscious part of the mind. The elephant is much stronger than the mahout [the driver of the elephant] and goes where it will though the mahout can nudge it in certain directions. There is certainly no point in getting into a fight with the elephant, a fight the mahout is sure to lose.’

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“This will make my life more colourful.”

— Olga Leschen at the communication course

Olga Leschen at HalvorsbøleOlga’s life has been full of changes. She was born in Omsk, Russia’s 5th largest city, and grew up with Russian as her native language. When she was 19, her family decided to move to Germany. She would have liked to stay on in her childhood city, but had to move along. She didn’t know a single word of any language other than Russian, and admits that the first year was difficult. But it is not her nature to give up easily. She learnt German during the first few years of her new life, passed her high school exams, got the necessary A levels, and made her way to university. In Russia, she had wanted to study psychology, but in Germany she changed her mind and studied international transport management. Now she works in the international account management department of a German manufacturing company and is responsible for customers in Russia. She has also spent three years in Hungary.

Olga in canoe

Learning about herself

Why Acem training in interpersonal communication?

After she learnt Acem Meditation, Olga practised zealously and went to an international weeklong retreat in Norway. The idea of a communication course added a psychological aspect which was new and appealing. She had never relinquished her interest in psychology, and when she heard about the communication course, she was intrigued. She wanted to find out more through her own experience.

In the beginning, it was a bit confusing. The process was different from anything she had encountered before. There were no clear rules to follow. Everybody in the group contributed to its development. Olga was free to explore, see and learn about herself through the group. The other participants developed their image of Olga, and it was important for her to recognize that she herself contributed to that image.

Opening up

“This course doesn’t stay on the surface, like some other communication courses I have participated in. The most important difference is that you give others an opportunity to see you. Talking isn’t enough. You must show emotions too. Sometimes this is painful, but it brings you closer to others. Each person is free to decide his or her own limits to openness. In the group, we learned to respect each other, including all the differences between us.”

Olga found that she tends to suppress negative things, and thereby to hold back more than necessary. She thinks she would have profited from commenting more freely on others, as some of the other participants did. The experience of the communication course will also be important in her job:

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to get closer to others, and I definitely hope to come back later.”

Olga is a moderator in Acem, and has already taught two follow-up courses in Acem Meditation. She likes it, and also enjoys meeting meditators in the Acem centre in Hamburg, where she now lives.

What is the link between meditation and happiness?

I started to meditate regularly four years ago, and since then, little by little I started to feel better. My outside world was the same (same work, same family, same house, and more or less the same friends – except that the number of Acem friends increased), so it was evident that the reason for this feeling of having more of the life I really want for myself was a change in the inside world.

People dedicated to study the parameters involved in happiness say that it is not a sum of happy moments; it is more related to a specific lifestyle, a way of looking at life in general. But, what does meditation change in the way the meditator behaves in life?

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A three-way dance

By Turid Suzanne Berg-Nielsen

3-way dance


Sitting down and meditating may seem very straightforward: simply close your eyes and repeat a meaningless sound in your head. A natural question is how this uncomplicated act can lead to both deep reduction of stress and psychological growth. The answer, unfortunately, is rather more complex. Briefly, when you meditate, you activate both an ability to act and a sensitive receptiveness along with freedom of thought. These mental activities are normally regarded as difficult to combine. This article describes how they co-exist during Acem Meditation.

The Act
When you Acem Meditate, you develop the ability to perform an act irrespective of what is going on inside you. Admittedly the act is simple: merely the free repetition of a sound in the mind. However, after only a few minutes’ meditation you may discover that your head is full of potential distractions which draw your thoughts away from the sound. Such is the nature of meditation. Sooner or later, however, you usually find your way back to the sound and recover the ability to do what you are supposed to do without too much effort.

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