by Are Holen MD PhD, founder of Acem
This text is from the book Acem Meditation – an Introductory Companion.

‘Meditation’ is a generic term as broad as, say, ‘sports’, covering a diverse range of practices using different methods and aiming at a variety of objectives.

Central aspects of the meditation phenomenon are outlined below, with the purpose of identifying the shared and differing characteristics of various meditation practices and putting Acem Meditation into perspective.

Are Holen

Are Holen

Naturalistic meditation

Some form of meditation can be found in almost all cultures, in both the East and the West. Even people who have not learnt how to meditate probably have some experience of naturalistic meditation, by which we mean a meditative state of mind that occurs spontaneously when someone is in the right mood or the right place. Generally, such states are induced by calming, soothing or beautiful sensory experiences. When you are looking into a fire, listening to a waterfall or enjoying the deep silence of nature your consciousness may start to flow freely, time may seem to stop, and you may feel that you simply exist.

In the modern world, naturalistic meditations tend to be non-religious, although in animistic cultures they may be experienced as moments of connection with the universal soul or spirit. Naturalistic meditations are usually relaxing and enriching, fulfilling a widespread human longing for union with the wonders of nature. However, their potential as a means to self-knowledge and personality development is limited. Since such moments occur spontaneously, they cannot be scheduled in advance, and in modern life it can be difficult to create conditions that are conducive to them. If naturalistic meditation is the only means of refining the mind, much time may be spent in waiting for it to happen.

Increasing numbers of people seeking the benefits of meditation nowadays learn systematic practices rather than relying on naturalistic meditation. The advantage of systematic meditation is that it can be undertaken whenever is convenient, whether regularly or occasionally, and depends for its success less on circumstances than on skills and understanding.