According to recent studies, yoga and meditation practices may help us to lose weight, reduce our blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and slow down our pulse. A free mental attitude – repeating the meditation sound gently and effortlessly in the mind and letting the stream of spontaneous thoughts come and go – is the basic principle of Acem Meditation. The book Meditative Yoga: Integrating Body, Breath and Mind by Are Holen and Torbjorn Hobbel (Dyade Press, 2012) presents the principles of meditative yoga, as well as more than 60 yoga exercises. Acem School of Yoga teaches a simple, classical meditative yoga – different from many modern, more dynamic and forceful versions of yoga practiced today. Are Holen, founder of Acem Meditation, Norway, speaks to Priti Agrawal about meditative yoga. Meditative yoga is a special way of doing Hatha Yoga, very different from the hurried, sweaty, gym-like yoga of many schools around the world. The book Meditative Yoga: integrating body, breath and mind, which builds on more than 40 years of teaching in Acem School of Yoga, was launched in India on 13 October this year by the highly esteemed Indian publishing company Motilal Banarsidass.
Shifting the mode of the mind is a common feature of various types of meditation used for stress management and personality development.
Acem Meditation belongs to a family of practices that uses a meditation sound to facilitate relaxation and an open, accepting attitude towards thoughts, feelings, and other experiences (see details below). Acem Meditation is preferably practiced daily, either as two 20-30 minute sessions, or as one continuous 45-minute meditation.
The basic principles of Acem Meditation are easily learned through a few hours of instruction. Follow-up courses and retreats provide a social setting with opportunities for exchanging experiences and reflection on meditation-related issues. The basic principle of Acem Meditation is a free mental attitude that reduces the mind’s tendency to become mired in stressful and negative experiences. Acem Meditation and similar techniques use a meditation sound to induce relaxation and facilitate a free mental attitude. Allowing the mind to spontaneously shift, from the meditation sound to the stream of thoughts and other experiences, is an essential part of nondirective meditation.

Even though mind wandering is a normal activity – something brains do – it is perceived as a challenge in most meditation practices.
In mindfulness meditation it is sometimes difficult to meet the spontaneous mental activities with kindness and curiosity, as prescribed by the basic instructions. In mindfulness, there is a strong expectation that mind wandering will taper off when met with the right meditative attitude. Some mindfulness practices advise preventing tiredness and staying focused by adopting a posture that supports alertness, such as sitting without back support during breathing meditation. Allowing the mind’s spontaneous activity to emerge and pass freely is an important part of Acem Meditation and similar techniques. Accepting mind wandering, drowsiness, body sensations, restlessness, and other emotions as part of the practice, relieves the tendency to strive and struggle during meditation. Acem Meditation uses a single basic technique that induces physical and mental relaxation during practice. Mindfulness and Acem Meditation provide effective stress release and offer an opportunity to change perspective, if practiced regularly several days per week. In mindfulness meditation as I practice it there is no point in keeping thoughts from coming up, they just naturally arise. Whilst I feel there is a bias towards Acem meditation in this article, I do tend to agree with it – possibly because I practise Acem and struggled with both Zazen and Mindfulness.
In this article, Oyvind Ellingsen discusses similarities and differences in the ways mindfulness and Acem Meditation achieve such a shift. Acem Meditation is practiced with a nondirective mode of attention that allows spontaneously occurring thoughts, images, and sensations to emerge and pass freely. Daily practice is recommended, partly as a 45-minute seated meditation, and partly as a 3-minute breathing space whenever one encounters stress, anxiety, or negative thoughts. Similar methods include The Relaxation Response, TM, and Clinically Standardized Meditation. This is facilitated by the nondirective mode of attention, where the awareness rests with gentle repetition of the meditation sound.

That there are differences between mindfulness and Acem Meditation doesn’t imply that one is bad and the other good. Great article you have, I would also want to share my thoughts that Meditation indeed has positive effects not only in the body but also in the mind, a total holistic wellness that brings us to know our inner-self better. The main reason I am drawn towards Acem is that I felt it respected my psychological functioning whereas I always felt the other forms of meditation I tried had been restrictive. Using a meditation sound induces a marked relaxation response and facilitates emotional processing.
It requires no practice outside the meditation sessions, and can be combined with meditative yoga and breathing exercises, and with most mindfulness practices. When recognizing that awareness has drifted away from the meditation sound, one redirects the attention to it – quietly, without effort. Whether we concentrate or relax, the awareness will eventually shift from the meditation object and into associations, reflections, images, sensations, and sometimes drowsiness.
He is an initiator in Acem School of Meditation and is also familiar with mindfulness practices. I suppose whether a technique is directive or non-directive depends on the mental attitude, not on the meditation object. Meditative yoga brings the mind to silence and focuses on slow movement yoga with abdominal breathing for maximum relaxation.
Opening the awareness to the spontaneous stream of experiences is called a free mental attitude or nondirective attention in Acem Meditation. Acem Meditation is based on a nondirective mode of attention that allows the spontaneous stream of experiences to emerge and pass freely, while resting on a neutral meditation sound. Body scan, stretch, movement, and other mindfulness exercises are compatible with Acem Meditation.

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