Nivedita Prabhu on her first deepening retreat

Nivedita Prabhu“I learnt Acem Meditation ten years ago in India. All these years I’ve been waiting to come to a retreat at Halvorsbøle and to this beautiful country. I finally made it and I’m very happy to be here,” says Nivedita Prabhu, the only participant from India in this year’s International Deepening Retreat.

“It’s taken a couple of days to get used to the bright Nordic summer nights and the long daylight hours, which is new to me. It is also very quiet here and the contrast to the speed and level of noise in Delhi is striking.

This is my first deepening retreat and I coped with the long hours of meditation better than I expected to. I’m now convinced that I should come back for more such retreats. I like the way the activities during the retreat are scheduled; it creates a fine balance between the meditative hours and the time spent in physical activity. I really like the concept of a walking partner. I found the discussions with my walking partners extremely rewarding. I was touched by their empathy and quiet wisdom that crossed cultural boundaries. Interestingly, I found no cultural barriers in my multicultural guidance group.

At first, however, I was a bit taken aback by the level of openness with which people talked about their lives. I wondered if I could be as open and whether my fellow meditators would understand my cultural context. But I needn’t have feared that at all. I found that we had a lot in common, and that our personal stories were similar across cultures. It has been a major discovery for me to see the importance of my own psychological themes. In the beginning, I felt a bit embarrassed by the in-depth discussions and the bare honesty, but I got used to it, and will bring back to India this experience from the group. It is not common in India to share personal issues to the same extent, and I have developed an understanding of that here. But I have also learned how important it is to do so with an accepting attitude and in a non-judgmental way.”

Nivedita is amused by the long paid vacations that Scandinavians get every year. Most companies in India offer only two weeks, and she has never heard of anyone having as many as five weeks off, as is common in Norway. A quick sightseeing trip to the Geiranger Fjord and the surrounding area is the extent of what she has time for before she must return to her job as a business writer in a multinational company in Delhi. At home, her work days are long, making it challenging to find time for her daily meditations. But she is optimistic – it has recently been easier to find time. And she will come back to Halvorsbøle when another opportunity arises.

Nivedita by the ocean

Interviewed by Anne Grete Hersoug
Language editor: Ann Kunish
Photos: Torbjørn Hobbel

Info on next year’s International Deepening Retreat