Norway-based yoga expert Are Holen is an internationally acclaimed researcher in disaster psychiatry and founder of Acem School of Meditation. He was in Trichy recently as a guest lecturer at Pragyan, National Institute of Technology’s (formerly Regional Engineering College) international technical consortium which featured students from 60 countries.
Holen spoke exclusively to DNA on stress, meditation and other subjects. He said Pune-based BKS Iyengar’s yoga moves, quite popular in the West, were not the best.
How are Acem meditation techniques different from those practised in India?
First of all, it is neutral; no religion or guru. The modern man may not like to go to a meditation practice that has a true religious context. To explain it in a scientific way is important. So, instead of going by a particular belief, here we have a completely different source of recommendation —an evidence-based medically approved meditation practice.
What meditation tool or object do you use?
It is shabda, the meditation sound, and it is given by the teacher. What is more important is what you do with the sound, how you internally act and react in relation to what is going on. And so, the action of the doer makes more of a difference than the meditation object as such, even though the meditation object is a necessary requirement.
How popular is yoga in Norway and other Scandinavian countries?
Quite popular. And of the kinds known there, the Iyengar tradition has been quite popular in the West as sports yoga. But I personally don’t think it is the best kind of yoga. A meditation-oriented yoga is more in line with the traditional Patanjali yoga. Yoga is popular as it can be adjusted to different requirements.
How often do you visit India?
At least once a year. But now I might come to India more often.
Stress and tension are the biggest ailments affecting today’s society. How can we keep ourselves from being affected?
I hope India, in particular, will have the ability to pick up meditation and not just talk about it.
How was your experience here?
Good. I had a lively and attentive audience. They responded well. I’m also impressed with the way it was organised.