Johan Øye shares his experience with Acem Meditation in his daily life and at a deepening retreat at Acem’s Retreat Center Halvorsbøle. He is a Norwegian teacher who has practiced meditation for many years.

“When one is together with others one wears a social mask and adjusts one’s role”, says Johan Øye. “But when I meditate, I can just be myself”, he adds. He is 42 years old and participates in a deepening Acem Meditation retreat in Halvorsbøle.

Johan learned to meditate because he felt he needed something more. He likes to meditate, to sit in whatever emerges, without trying to push it away. Now he has meditated for twelve years and has also tried both mindfulness and zen meditation. But since his wife, Ida, a lawyer, learned Acem Meditation five years ago, both of them have practiced this technique regularly. Ida saw how much I enjoyed meditation, Johan explains. They have been a couple for sixteen years and live in Lyngdal, Norway, where he works as a teacher for adolescents.

Johan was born in Mid-Norway. As a boy, he enjoyed playing football. At the age of ten, he participated in a training camp in the Norwegian club Rosenborg. When he returned home afterwards, he was interviewed in the local newspaper, but he didn’t appreciate that. He did not like to be the focus of attention.

The special thing about Acem Meditation …

Four years ago, Johan and Ida participated in a weekend retreat together, and the summer after that, in a weeklong retreat. They have made this an annual tradition afterwards. The special thing about Acem Meditation is talking about it afterwards, says Johan. We have good, close talks in the car when we drive home from the retreat every summer. Then we share our experiences and reflections with each other.

At home, they meditate together for half an hour while the daughters – eleven and eight years old – watch TV. When Johan and Ida are at a retreat, the daughters stay with their grandparents. It has become a natural thing for the girls that mom and dad meditate.

It is demanding to be a teacher for adolescents. He must switch between many tasks and persons, the adolescents and their parents. As a contact teacher, he must look after the students outside the classroom as well, when their problems demand his attention.  It involves a lot of responsibility and a lot of concerns. It is expected that one is available also in the evenings and on weekends.  But on the positive side is that one gets well acquainted with the adolescents. “I can follow them over time and notice their development”, Johan says.

Important to talk about meditation and life

With so much and direct contact in his daily work, it is no surprise that Johan prefers activities that are more inner-directed in his leisure time. “To go to my room to meditate is to withdraw a bit and get time in silence for myself”, Johan says. Meditation reduces the pressure and the problems. It is easy to practice in daily life. I repeat the meditation sound and get back to it when I have been absorbed in other thoughts for a while. It is easy to feel that I am doing it the right way. I also liked mindfulness and zen. But what I especially appreciate about the courses and retreats in Acem is the opportunity to talk in-depth about meditation and life. In the beginning, I found it a bit difficult to share my experiences in guidance groups in retreats after the silence periods, but now I appreciate it.

Perhaps Johan has become able to let go of his wish not to be the focus of attention?


Interviewed by Svend Davanger

Translated by Anne Grete Hersoug

Language editor: Eirik Jensen