Andy Chang is from New Taipei City in Taiwan. He has met Acem meditators from all over the world.
“In Asia, men rarely talk about their feelings and weaknesses, he says. According to a Mandarin proverb, ‘Men should never show emotional vulnerability around others.’ And perhaps this attitude is why I meet few male meditators in Taiwan. At my first retreat in Europe, however, there were as many men as women. That was inspiring.”
What was the international meditation community like?
“English is not my mother tongue, and it is sometimes difficult for me to share everything in an English-speaking group. Nevertheless, it was powerful to experience how meditation brings us together. We had similar resistances during meditation, related questions about the meditation sound, and were in the same kind of process, even though we use different languages and come from different countries. It was very cool!”
Andy is a computer engineer and has been practicing Acem Meditation for fourteen years. He started meditating during a hectic period of his life. He was around thirty years old, had three young children, and constant pressure from his employer to work overtime. This is very common in Asia, he says, especially in technology companies. You have to work a lot.
He, therefore, needed something to calm down in everyday life. After his then-wife recommended Acem Meditation, he signed up for a course.
“Initially, it was a good experience to learn to meditate,” he says. “My mind became quiet and peaceful, and time passed quickly.”
But eventually, Andy experienced something that most people who meditate regularly can experience: actualization and resistance.
“I got the feeling that meditation cannot be of any use to me, he says. Fortunately, I went on a retreat here in Taiwan, with Are Holen and Thor Udenæs. Time passed very slowly, unpleasant feelings came to the surface, and I felt a strong need to interrupt the meditation. But in the guidance group, I understood how the unpleasant feelings were about something in myself. During the resistance, there were unresolved issues in the way I understood myself. It really piqued my curiosity about what the meditation process had to offer.”
While exploring this, Andy has become more and more familiar with a perfectionist side of himself.
“In computer programming, there are only 0 and 1. True and false. No gray areas. I recognize that in myself. I set a goal and make a plan, and if it doesn’t work, I quickly consider the whole thing a failure. The result-oriented attitude often helps me at work, but it becomes challenging in processes that require a more open attitude.
Unconsciously, for example, I have a tendency to regard the idleness of a free mental attitude in meditation as something bad. When emotions come up, there are often a lot of gray areas and few clear answers. Then I begin to use effort, and as a result, time passes slowly.
Outside of meditation, I have become increasingly aware of how my high demands are directed not only toward myself but also toward other people. For example, I convey to my children that my way of doing things is best, and then get upset if they don’t do as I say. By practicing a free mental attitude in meditation, I have fortunately gained greater acceptance for other people doing things in their own ways. As a result, I have also gained a greater acceptance of the fact that my children almost always choose the opposite of what I suggest. And it usually goes very well.”
How does Acem Meditation affect your everyday life in other ways?
“Meditation is like an energy booster without side effects such as a fast pulse, headache, or insomnia. When I feel tired, I meditate instead of taking a nap or a coffee. I often work from home, and like to meditate during working hours to refresh my brain after working on heavy tasks or before I have to make a critical decision.
Before I return to family life, meditation is also my daily routine to change mental mode between concentration and relaxation, efficiency and tolerance, exclusive and inclusive focus.”
Acem volunteer in an international organization
You are an instructor at Acem Taiwan. Why do you spend your free time on meditation?
“As an Acem volunteer, I get training in guiding meditators as openly and at the same time as precisely as possible. In doing so, I also improve my ability to listen and my management and communication skills in ways that I also enjoy at work.
But first and foremost, I have gained a lot from meditation myself and want to give something back. In Taiwan, there are many meditation organizations, but most are religious. Only Acem is process-oriented with a psychological orientation. I am happy to help keep Acem Meditation as an option for Taiwan’s young generation.
Everyone has their own process. I am happy to see that Acem Meditation is useful to other people’s lives and to be able to contribute to their personal exploration and growth,” says Andy Chang.