Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Acem Meditation: My Experience of the Beginner's Course in Effortless Meditation

One sunny weekend in the beginning of July, I completed my beginner's course in Acem Meditation.

In two three-hour long sessions, spread out over a month, I learned how to meditate with a mantra according to the teachings of Acem Meditation.

How Acem Meditation Was Founded

To share a bit of history, Acem Meditation has its roots in the Transcendental Meditation movement. Acem's founder Dr. Are Holen had learned Deep Meditation in 1962 (later to be called Transcendental Meditation) from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who brought Transcendental Meditation to the West in the 50's. Holen represented Transcendental Meditation in Norway through the Academic Meditation Society (AMS) that he had founded in '66 while a student at the University of Oslo, but in 1972, due to disagreements with the TM organization, Are Holen and his fellow group of Transcendental Meditation teachers went on their own and founded Acem School of Meditation, in which the meditation technique was taught precisely as before minus some religious and philosophical beliefs and terms.

Today, Acem Meditation operates globally and offers a rich selection of different courses and retreats, all with a very affordable price tag.

Meditation Basics and the Method Sound

We began the course with a short presentation of ourselves, and then we moved on to learn about the basics in meditation such as correct posture, the placement of our hands, how to sit, and so forth. Then, we learned more about how to treat the mantra (in Acem called a method sound) and how it works, and how to avoid certain pitfalls along the way.

After an hour and so of teaching, it was time to put the knowledge into practice by meditating together, using the method sound. All participants in the group received the same method sound, but practitioners of Acem can ask to be given an individual method sound after six months of regular practice if they wish to do so. However, the method sound you receive at first can be used as long as you'd like and with good results – this is entirely up to each individual.

We received a short instruction in how to pronounce and use the method sound, and then we meditated for 30 minutes, followed by a discussion about what we experienced to ensure that we had meditated correctly. Another group meditation followed shortly, and then we were on our own until the next and final session two weeks later. These two weeks gave us ample time to meditate regularly and come up with questions regarding our practice.

Physical and Mental Releases of Tension Through Meditation

In our last and final session, we learned more about physical and mental releases of tension that occur during meditation and how to deal with difficult feelings and thoughts such as anxiety. Personal growth through a regular meditation practice was another topic that was discussed in detail.

Some of the information from our first session was repeated once more, like how to pronounce and work with the method sound. I also took advantage of a mantra checking to assure me that I remembered my newly acquired method sound correctly.

After having concluded two more group meditations, we had successfully completed the beginner's course.

Continuing Support and Follow-up Activities

But the course didn't stop there – we were encouraged to get in touch with our teachers if questions and problems arise. And, if we are unable to visit an Acem Meditation center, meditation checking can be done by phone or Skype.

Also, Acem offers a wide range of follow-up and refresher courses, retreats and other education materials such as books and audio recordings. Another great resource is their blog that contains many lengthy articles about Acem Meditation and the practice.

A Great Resource with an Affordable Price Tag

A great selling point with learning Acem Meditation is their lower course fees of $95.00 (full time students: $45.00) for the beginner's course, which makes effortless mantra meditation accessible to everyone – individuals, families and companies – and that is a great thing in today's somewhat stressful environment.

Although I've previously learned effortless mantra meditation from several resources online, I'm glad to now have experienced these teachings in a live class as well. And since they are all very affordable (I can't emphasize this enough!), you can easily combine them and get a wonderful education in this ancient meditation practice.

Featured image: Acem International Retreat Centre at Halvorsbøle outside Oslo, Norway, via Acem Meditation's YouTube channel.

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