This article is by Elisabeth Heimdal (23) and Stian Wærsted (21), who are both about to become instructors in Acem and who live in Acem’s commune for young people in Copenhagen. The article is based on their personal experiences as well as interviews with four fellow meditators.
Who am I?
In our twenties, many of us wrestle with questions like “Who am I?” and “What kind of life do I want?” The answers affect some of our most important choices: what to study, what career to follow, whom to choose as friends and partners, and how to live our lives.
Young practitioners often find Acem Meditation helpful when it comes to reflecting on their identities. Swedish Jessica Strandell lives in Copenhagen, where she studies at the School of Architecture. About practising Acem Meditation, she says: “It gives me peace, energy and self-understanding.” Nan Na Hvass studies at the Danish Design School and says: “Meditation makes me feel good, it is healthy for me, I get to work with unfinished things in my subconscious, and it works against stress.” Bjarke Madsen is a student at Copenhagen Business School. Both his body and his mind tell him to meditate, and he usually finds meditation very enjoyable. In particular, long meditations make it possible to reflect on things that he doesn’t usually get time to think about: “Where am I in my life?” and “Where am I headed?”
Meditation and studies
Higher education gives many people in their twenties a unique opportunity to go deeply into a subject we have chosen ourselves, based, hopefully, on our personal interests. Every day we are challenged by new material to learn and new ideas to understand. Additionally, many students also hold down part-time jobs. 21-year-old Andreas Hetland, who studies economics at the University of Copenhagen and also works part-time, says: “Meditation gives me more energy. It takes away some of the tiredness in the afternoon, and helps me to get more out of my day. This is always a good thing. It is especially good in busy periods, for example when exams are closing up”.
Some of us choose a more direct route into professional life, spending several hours a day at the workplace, often in jobs which involve physical labour. But whether our jobs or studies are physically or mentally challenging, or both at the same time, we all need relaxation and recreation. Acem Meditation seems good at providing these. Sitting down to meditate after a long day releases new reserves of energy. Some days it is difficult to find the time, but perhaps these are the days when we actually need to meditate most?
Meditating can also stimulate our creative sides. One of Bjarke’s hobbies is playing the guitar and writing songs. To him, meditation is an effective tool in the creative process. On the one hand, he feels it makes him more creative, and on the other it helps him to be less of a perfectionist about his song-writing. More of his ideas and impulses get through the net, which he finds satisfying.
Get more out of life?
As well as stimulating creativity and releasing energy, Acem Meditation makes us more relaxed about accepting ourselves and others. Bjarke finds that meditating helps him to understand other people and their behaviour and reactions.
This openness enables us to handle the challenges of everyday life more effectively and make better use of our own resources. Through meditation, we become more present in our own lives and in the lives of others.
On another level, meditating regularly and participating in meditation retreats puts us in touch with some of the most basic sides of ourselves. This can be useful when we are trying to find out what we want with our lives. At meditation retreats, there is time and space to discuss these things with others of the same age – differently from how we tend to talk to each other in everyday life.
After some years practising Acem Meditation, plus a couple of retreats, Bjarke has no doubts about the deeper effects of meditation. But he thinks the expression ”personal growth”, which is often used in Acem’s leaflets and posters and on the website, is probably too abstract to attract young people. To him, a better slogan might be: ”Acem Meditation – get more out of life!”