Many who learn Acem Meditation are satisfied with the short-term effects that the method provides. They feel that Acem Meditation enables them to relax, get rid of some of the day’s stress, and tap into a little more energy in their everyday life.
Despite these benefits, it can still be difficult to maintain a regular meditation practice. There is so much that can get in the way; our weekdays are hectic, we have obligations at work, deadlines, perhaps young children, a partner who does not meditate, we have to help organize sports and recreational activities for our children, etc.
From an overall perspective, the more stressed we are in our daily life, the better it would be to take time to meditate. Nevertheless, many discontinue their practice in the most hectic periods of their lives. Fortunately, there are also some who also take up meditation again later in life, because they realize that meditating has positive effects that can help them. Many also acknowledge in retrospect that life would probably have been a little better if they had continued meditating in the years they stopped doing so.
If you manage to maintain a regular meditation practice, this pays off in the long run. You achieve something greater than the short-term effects, important as they are.
In Acem, we use the term actualization to refer to the deeper psychological process that meditation sets in motion. The free mental attitude with which Acem Meditation is performed creates an opening in the mind in which underlying psychological tensions can begin to approach consciousness. This process can initially create a certain resistance, which manifests itself at times in the form of restlessness, bodily discomfort, or boredom while we meditate. These manifestations are not necessarily always easy to deal with. Nevertheless, they are temporary. Maintaining a regular meditation practice during challenging periods allows for deeper processing of psychological tensions if we are able to find a way to deal with them with a free mental attitude in our meditation.
The resistance and restlessness we at times may encounter in meditation can be demotivating. Perhaps this is just as important a reason to stop practicing Acem Meditation as having so much else to do. “I don’t want this restlessness, that’s not why I started meditating!”
Many continue to meditate despite encountering challenges like this because they notice that meditating every day leads to greater results in the longer term than the mere relaxation that occurs when they sit and meditate, valuable as that is. Doing so may change our perspective toward ourselves and our environment. It gives us the opportunity to adjust something in our attitudes and ways of being, and to make somewhat different choices. Meditating regularly creates a space within, in which we become better equipped to face emotionally difficult situations.
Over time, Acem Meditation can make an important difference in our lives. This is not always so easy to see when it happens. In meditation, we do not immediately notice subtle changes that may be taking place, since the process of growth in meditation is usually very gradual and incremental. Still, over the years we can develop our self-understanding and thereby more easily modify our behavior and choices in more constructive directions. The decisions we make, based on somewhat greater self-awareness, can help us to make more sensible choices in our lives that are less driven by impulse. In this way, meditation can contribute to laying the foundation for a somewhat better, somewhat richer, life.
Speeding up the process
Attending meditation retreats helps speed up the process of getting to know ourselves better through meditation. Longer meditations, together with guidance, provides us with a greater opportunity to develop the ability to face inner challenges with a greater degree of free mental attitude. For this reason, retreats are recommended for those who are interested in the deeper aspects of the meditative process.
Still, no matter how we adjust, there is much that can happen in the world, and in our lives, that we cannot predict or control. What other people do in various situations is not something we can always decide, health problems can suddenly occur, etc. Nevertheless, by developing a greater ability to deal with difficulties and challenges, through practicing and cultivating a greater degree of free mental attitude in Acem Meditation, facing life’s challenges can become somewhat easier. We find that the challenges do not necessarily overwhelm us emotionally as much as they might have, and we can deal with them with greater ease. Whatever happens, happens, but we can deal with what happens in different ways, with more or less ease. You can see the connections from a different perspective.
Becoming more grounded
In other words, we do not easily lose our balance in life even when emotionally difficult situations arise. Through the use of a non-directive technique such as Acem Meditation over several years, we gradually become more grounded. We gain a greater understanding of what is important in life, what we can do better, and what we cannot control, but still have to deal with.
The ability to face life with an attitude of greater psychological freedom increases our ability to reflect, and it becomes easier not to act as unwisely on the impulses of the moment. We can become more open to the complexities of life and can more easily accept things as they are. This is not the same as becoming indifferent to negative events and difficult relationships – rather the contrary. The attitude we develop enables us to be more grounded in our true nature and allows us to lead meaningful lives despite what happens that is beyond our control. In later years, it can enable us to accept what we have made out of our lives and what has happened.
This capacity for greater reconciliation in life is something we work on developing in practice in every meditation, in how we encounter the spontaneous activity of our minds with the repetition of our meditation sound. In practicing this skill, we develop an ability to deal with the vicissitudes of life with greater equanimity and freedom. In the long term, regular meditation creates an opening that enhances and enriches our quality of life.
By Tor Hersoug
– meditation initiator in Acem, professor of economics, and retired director of research at the Norwegian Confederation of Enterprise.
Translated by Eirik Jensen