By Luna Liu
This article was first published in Chinese in one of Taiwan’s best-known newspapers, Lianhe Bao (United Daily News), on September 12, 2021.
Moved by pure curiosity
When I ordered the shelves during the epidemic, I found a yellowish Norwegian newspaper in a pile of folders. In fact, I smiled at the color photo on the cover and turned to the huge black and white photo on the inside pages. There my partner Yao and I smiled even brighter. I instantly remembered how we flew from Taiwan to Scandinavia and Norway to participate in the 2007 International Meditation Summer Retreat.
At the time, I was a service center supervisor for a leading telecommunications company. During the day, he was busy working like a spinning wheel. At night, due to performance pressure, I often slept poorly. My body was tight and dizzy all day. So my classmates and I took part in a holiday meditation course offered by the company’s training institute. Why did I choose to meditate? Purely driven by curiosity, he had heard that the professor, Mr. Halvor Eifring was fluent in Chinese and taught the famous Chinese novel “Dream of Red Mansions” at the University of Oslo. I was curious to know how he, who comes from Norway and has so many backgrounds, would talk about a method of physical and mental exercise in tune with nature.
The principles of Acem Meditation are based on Western psychology. It is not a religion and does not require cross-legged posture. This is what attracted me the most. In class, we were all sitting in high chairs with good support for the lower back, and with our feet naturally on the floor. The meditation method is simple: with a free minded attitude, repeat the sound of meditation silently, without deliberately eliminating distracting thoughts or focusing on breathing. Professor Eifring said, “The sound of meditation” is a meaningless combination of neutral syllables. We shouldn’t form associations, but he carefully asked us to go on stage to check the sound individually. He suggested that our daily practice be twice a day, 30 minutes each time, or once a day, forty-five minutes.
When I started group meditation, I soon heard the snoring of my classmates. I felt a deep drowsiness, but I wasn’t ready to be just an admiring student and then end up sleeping in the chair. However, Professor Eifring said that it does not matter if you fall asleep during meditation, because it is a physical necessity. I woke up frequently nodding to myself, and the sound of meditation often escaped or changed along the way. I had to adjust the incline posture several times and meditate again on the sound of meditation. Still, meditating was like a deep break, and I was full of vitality. I really experienced that meditation has a relaxing effect.
After half a year of regular meditation, I couldn’t wait to sign up for the “Acem International Meditation Summer Retreat,” which included a self-guided tour after the meditation retreat. Yao and I attended meditation meetings intensively and actively prepared for summer retreat. It was like a short-term workout before running a marathon. However, we were inevitably nervous at heart. Would we, who were still new to meditation, lose face abroad?
“Body and mind will be set free”
We finally set off for two weeks on vacation and flew thousands of miles to Norway; I have long felt that the air is fresh, there are lush forests and bright lakes. Being able to meditate on such natural beauty, my body and mind will no doubt be set free.
The meditation retreat was seven days in total. The course schedule was very tight. You would get up in the morning and bathe, then you could walk on the lake or walk on the hills freely. After breakfast, you will begin a four-hour meditation in your bedroom at 8:30 a.m. and then lunch. After a break, the instructor will guide the group members to begin a half-hour meditation guide. Yao and I were in a group. Of course, our tutor was Mr. Halvor Eifring.
In Taiwan, I did not have the experience of meditating for more than an hour. Now, facing at least four hours of meditation a day, I would sleep and wake up, wake up and sleep, cold and hot, unclear in my head, my body would be tired and my thoughts would often be far away. Was it maybe even a little annoying to be so off track?
During the orientation, Mr. Eifring smiled and told me that maintaining a free mental attitude is all there is to it. He said: “When meditation is practiced, the human spirit is in a free and open state. The muscles relax, the breathing is smooth, the oxygen consumption is reduced and the heartbeat is relatively slow. physiological changes are short-term effects Think of meditation as a habit and practice it regularly.In daily life, accumulation can produce long-term effects such as elimination of stress, development of potential and change of personality “.
On the day of the six-hour meditation challenge, I felt especially impatient. I couldn’t stand still and didn’t want to repeat the meditation sound. The sun was shining outside the window and the birds were whistling in the trees. Why did I throw my husband and run thousands of miles? A slight sadness filled my heart. I couldn’t help but make an international call to Taiwan. When I heard a “hello” from my husband, I suddenly burst into tears and couldn’t help but choke. As I sat down to orient myself that day, I cried incoherently for 20 minutes and felt a little embarrassed, but after sharing my frustrations, I felt refreshed and sure to improve.
The group activity in the afternoon was a time for participants to get to know each other and share with each other. Professor Eifring especially urged us to integrate. At the meditation retreat there were about fifty participants, from all over the world, half of whom were from England, followed by Norwegians and Swedes, as well as many from Germany and Spain. They were full of curiosity for us from Taiwan. I had to answer his questions over and over again. After exhausting the English vocabulary I still remembered, my tongue was tied in a knot. I couldn’t relax on those occasions. Seriously, for meditators, they talked too much!
We were told that since the creation of the International Meditation Retreat, the number of people this time was the highest, and even the local media had been alerted to come and interview and take pictures; it may be that since Yao and I had the advantage of Asian faces we jumped on the cover to prove that the International Meditation Retreat was powerful. The huge title of the color cover, yes, is also a kind of glory for Taiwan, right?
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