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.


I usually meditate for 20 minutes once a day (and 30 when I want to be a good student). I have a question about acceptance. When meditation becomes repetitive and things we don’t like come back again and again, should we a) accept that these things repeat themselves in meditation, or b) try to accept that we have a negative attitude towards them?


A basic principle in Acem Meditation is to let whatever comes to mind just be there. When we accept everything as it is, without getting too involved, it helps the processing of inner tension. But when emotional IMG_0774residue is part of the spontaneous activity during meditation, we tend to be preoccupied with it. When thoughts about something we should have done differently or something somebody said to us occur, it doesn’t always feel easy to let go without getting involved. Emotional residue activates parts of our personality that are difficult to handle. Such thoughts might be about a quarrel and how to be self-assertive in an adequate way in the situation, or about controlling anger towards a partner.

Let go

When such difficult aspects of our personality emerge, it tends to trigger our characteristic patterns and reactions. Some of us withdraw, others become aggressive, or try to find a quick solution. Such typical reactions show up in meditation as well as in daily life.

odd meditatingThe challenge is to let go and not get too involved in the difficult emotional residue, and just repeat the meditation sound as gently as the situation allows. This may create more freedom of the mind and a mental attitude that gradually includes the emotional residue that has been activated. It becomes easier to work through the tension involved.

No quick solutions

When we try to accept issues that we weren’t able to accept at first, such as negative thoughts, we may easily start to strive to achieve a predetermined goal. Instead of releasing the tension, we get stuck in it. Trying to convince ourselves that we like something we don’t like means manipulating our thoughts, which is the opposite of what we should do in Acem Meditation.

Therefore, we should not be too preoccupied with the emotional content of our spontaneous activity, and not try to find quick solutions. If we want release of tension, it works better to accept the thoughts and emotional reactions we actually have and to do as little as possible, apart from repeating the meditation sound gently. We need to be patient with residue that needs time before it can be processed or worked through.

Translated by Anne Grete Hersoug
Language editor: Ann Kunish