– the first choice for Qin and Roland
Roland Krieger from Germany and his Chinese wife Qin Xie-Krieger were preparing to move to Norway for work when Qin found a website for Acem Meditation.
Qin had practiced yoga, and had developed an interest for meditation. Roland agreed it sounded interesting and they enrolled in an English-language week-long international retreat at the Acem International Retreat Centre Halvorsbøle to learn the technique.
An intensive meditation experience
Roland was a little sceptical at first. What if they ended up spending a week of their precious holiday in the wrong place?
Luckily, it turned out to be a very positive experience. For Qin it was totally mind-blowing, with all the nice people and the intensive meditation. For Roland, whose work is with computer science and robotics, it was thoroughly relaxing, and a good opportunity to think things through.
After the intensive retreat, Qin and Roland started working in Oslo, with meditation twice a day as part of their daily routine. Thanks to the good start at Halvorsbøle, it was easier to become regular meditators. “I grew up focusing on discipline and diligence, and I meditated regularly from the first day at home,” says Qin, who works with supply-chain management in an international company.
“I discovered that days when I didn’t have time for my morning meditation tended to be more hectic. Meditation provides a good start. And in the afternoon, meditation recharges my batteries after a busy day at work. Letting thoughts and impressions from the day pass through the mind helps me unwind.”
Roland took advantage of Qin’s discipline and also soon established a regular practice.
“After the quiet atmosphere at the retreat center, with lots of time for meditation and a deep and good feeling, it was quite a challenge to squeeze in time for meditation when I returned to daily life. In the beginning, I was disappointed that the thoughts during mediation seemed more trivial and mundane. However, I quickly found that it’s good for me to start my days with relaxation, rather than just jump directly into all the demanding tasks. It helps me realize that not all tasks are equally urgent. This makes a big difference in my daily life. Things become less hectic. And afternoon meditations reduce the stress that has accumulated during work – they put me in a better mood. All the thoughts in my head are digested, and my mind becomes calmer.”
“During meditation, my thoughts often revolve around interpersonal relationships. How did I tackle a given situation? Would I have done it the same way again? Before, I tended to ignore such thoughts, but now I’ve begun to reflect on what’s happening. It’s a kind of personal development.
“Meditation also helps me find a more relevant focus when there are different opinions about how to solve problems at work, such as when my boss has a different view. It’s become easier to find solutions. I’ve become more aware. While I used to think ‘this doesn’t bother me at all’, it actually helps to realize that certain things do bother me. I hadn’t thought it would work so well. I think meditation has made both of us more philosophical.”
A passion for nature
More than ten years ago, while Qin was studying in Germany, she and Roland met in the middle of a forest. They soon discovered that both enjoy being in nature, and this is still a central focus of their lifestyle. They first visited Norway in 2007, not as ordinary tourists, but as passionate nature lovers.
Love at first sight
Fifteen days of trekking in Norway’s largest mountain area Jotunheimen was Qin’s first experience with wilderness holidays.
“I had to carry my own backpack – 15 kilos. When I got it on my back, my initial reaction was that it was impossible.” But she benefited from one of her personal characteristics: she never gives up! After three days, she no longer noticed the pack on her back. For the first time in her life she slept in a small tent in the mountains, and dinners consisted of simple soups they prepared outdoors. One cold morning, as they were about to start a new day of trekking, they discovered that their only boots were soaked, but that didn’t stop them. It was love at first sight – the most fantastic holiday they had ever had.
Back to stay
Now they are back to stay. Learning meditation the Nordic way was a good start. Now, besides trying to fit in the daily half hours of meditation on busy workdays, they also try to learn Norwegian. Roland already knew some, and Qin, in her characteristic way, has plunged head-on into language studies, and particularly enjoys learning popular expressions.
Roland and Qin have participated in long meditations and an M1 follow-up course with guidance in English. This may be the start of an international group of meditators in Oslo, who can come together regularly to meditate, discuss, and share experiences. The plans for the summer holiday of 2013 include a week-long retreat and possibly visits to friends from this year’s retreat. In the meantime, they are looking forward to cross-country skiing during their first Norwegian winter.
Interview by Anne Grete Hersoug
Language editor: Ann Kunish