Frank Otto interviewed by Anne Grete Hersoug
Frank Otto has a doctoral degree in theoretical chemistry, and is working with software development in a small company in Berlin. We met him during his third visit this year to Acem International Retreat Centre Halvorsbøle in Norway.
“First, I went to the communication course in the spring. I knew it would be an intensive group process, and therefore – after some serious reflection – booked and paid right away once I had decided to go there. Although I was a bit ambivalent and maybe even scared, I was determined to participate, in order to have this kind of experience. The second time, I went to a deepening retreat of Acem Meditation, which is a more individual way of working with personal growth. These two weeks were indeed quite different.
“Now I am here to be in charge of the logistics and practical matters of the German summer retreat, which is a way of contributing and helping, and a quite different week again. I have learnt a lot, very quickly, and have made use of my versatility. Although there were lots of things to do, I was actually surprised that it turned out to be fun. I have received a lot of positive feedback, and it has been a wonderful experience. For the first time my sister came along too, which has been an additional pleasure for me.”
Prepared for change
“I have tended to hold back a bit at work, but I feel I am now in a process that may make me prepared for some changes. When I was asked to help out at the retreat, I felt ready for the challenge. With a shared focus between meditation and practical tasks at the retreat, it is a very different way of participating. But after the first day, I had found the rhythm, and the practical tasks went without much effort, in line with the free mental attitude in meditation.
“Personally, I enjoy the deepening experience, with more silence than in a regular retreat. It helps to work through personal themes, and this is currently my favorite Acem course. I have noticed some changes in my life, and after the deepening retreat, it is easier to see clearly. It seems like a maturation process. After some time, the necessary preparation for change has somehow taken place. For me, the result was a decision to live more healthily, which I have done after the deepening retreat – a change of direction.
Felt intuitively good
“When I learned meditation to cope with stress at work, it happened after several years of thinking: ‘Maybe I should learn meditation.’ It felt intuitively good, but the decision took time. It remained in my thoughts until I searched on the internet one day. A maturation process had taken place, and I didn’t need much time to get used to it. I quickly saw how good one can feel with regular meditation – but still, I had to fight with the time and needed nearly two years to establish a regular meditation practice. Now I rarely skip a meditation and have become quite creative in finding ways to meditate during an ever-changing daily routine.”
Ready for a challenge
Last year, Frank decided he wanted to pursue his interest in psychology, and has since then been a part-time psychology student.
“I was ready for a new challenge, and saw it as a way to both fulfill intellectual needs and prepare myself for new future options. I have a high degree of freedom in my work – at times it may appear chaotic, since plans must often be changed at short notice. Sometimes I feel strongly that a free mental activity is highly needed, since not all decisions turn out to be the best, and have to be changed.
A lot more to understand
“I believe psychology has a place in the kind of company where I am working. There is a lot more to understand. Especially when conflicts occur, at work or privately, it is important for me to understand what is going on. The studies keep me busy trying to get more insight, e.g. into how to distinguish psychologically between my contribution and others’. The weeklong summer retreats also give me an extra impulse to work towards better self-insight. After two years of meditation practice, I started the training to become an Acem moderator last year. I am now responsible for follow-up courses in Berlin, and am also involved in other activities in Acem Germany. And, hopefully, the maturation process with meditation will make me prepared for more changes.”