Says Zacharias Wolfe from Sweden: «While my life has been full of many changes, meditation has made me more grounded in a dimension of silence. A meditation retreat in Acem is a unique setting, in which I am part of a community where I can share the special experience that Acem Meditation is. I can also talk about my own important themes and listen to the experiences of others. Meeting people in Acem Young creates a special bond, especially at the International Young Retreat. The wide variety of activities and the good atmosphere there makes it a cool place to be.»
«As a composer, Acem Meditation is important for me,» says Zacharias. «Meditation makes me more open to what is in the periphery of my consciousness and gives me more access to my creative self when I am composing. Meditation helps me work through my spontaneous thoughts and provides greater freedom in my own creative activities. I become more open to what is in me.
Using my instincts
The way I compose music is almost instinctive. I search for a balance between thinking about structures in the music and using my intuitive feeling, which gives space to whatever emerges.
The music works best when it comes by itself. I try to open up for the spontaneous activities both of the mind and in the music. The process is organic rather than rational. It finds expression in a landscape of sound consisting of textures and possibilities. Rather than being presented with a main theme that takes me on a ready-made journey, I try to create a space in which I can exist and think.»
How would you describe your music in comparison to meditation?
«Maybe as a parallel to being in a frightening, restless, and demanding situation, and then suddenly falling asleep. At first, the listeners hear the most sinister, disgusting sounds you can imagine before everything is suddenly transformed into a long-drawn-out sound. Then the music switches between those poles, i.e. between a thick landscape of sound filled with friction, and an open, more atmospheric place»
-> Listen to Zacharias’ music on Soundcloud.
Good-bye to the past
For Zacharias, the meditative gut feeling has also played a role during his studies. He started at the Royal College of Music as an oboist but soon understood that this wasn’t meant to be the path he wanted to take.
It simply didn’t feel right to play music written three hundred years ago and pursue perfectionism within this tradition. He felt that the classical music industry was narrow and limited, and he missed the opportunity to be creative. He began to compose music on his own before deciding to change direction. In the long process of deciding which new direction to take, meditation was an important aid in helping him to be in touch with his feelings about what he truly wanted. It also introduced an element of realism into the process.
Over time, Zacharias has developed a greater sense of the subtler aspects of Acem Meditation. «There are many layers in the technique. The way I act during meditation becomes an expression of the way I act in my daily life. In meditation, there is an ongoing relationship between what I do and what happens inside me»
What about this fascinates you?
«In my daily life, many things happen that are outside my control. For example, I cannot control other people. Yet I always have a choice, in the way I act – both in my external life and in meditation.
My spontaneous thoughts come and go in my meditations. I cannot control them, and they may at times be tiresome. But there is always a little room for choice in the way I meditate in the here and now»
Zacharias started with Acem Meditation when he was 18 years old. Besides music and art, he has always been interested in meditation and yoga. When his mother, who also practices Acem Meditation, recommended that he should try a week at the International Young Retreat and learn meditation there, he agreed.
«It was quite a new experience for me to allow a free flow of thoughts and emotions. It was exciting. I was actually a bit skeptical from the beginning. Not much seemed to happen in the meditation and I thought most of the time: what on earth is this good for? But further into the week, I understood how the technique could teach me something about my patterns of action. I also felt more relaxed.
I enjoyed meeting young people who practiced the same method. They were quite ordinary people who studied and worked. It was good to be part of such a community around meditation.
For those of us who grow up in a Western middle-class context today, there are so many choices one has to make at a young age, such as what one should do after completing one’s education. I have many friends who are interested in meditation, yet don’t make use of the opportunity and try it. That is a pity since there are so many possibilities there to develop a better understanding of oneself and the choices one has to make in life.
Meditation gets me in contact with a gut feeling – an intuitive feeling; one we may trust and make use of, or ignore. I have become more aware of what I feel in various situations and may listen to my feelings tell me, rather than pushing them away. My emotions become part of my decisions. This gut feeling helps me to improve my relationships with others.
I feel more present, listen more to what others have to say, and express more of my own feelings. I become less governed by what I think others expect of me and better at talking more from myself. When I do that, I get better in contact with those who are important to me»
Voluntary work for Acem
Zacharias has started training to become a moderator in Acem, and will gradually participate in leading meditation courses, making the knowledge about meditation available to others. This work is voluntary, without reimbursement, and done in his free time. He has decided to do this because he finds the technique very helpful and interesting.
«Since meditation has helped me a lot, I would like to give others, especially those my own age, the possibility to have the same experience. I appreciate this opportunity to share the special experience of what Acem Meditation represents»
Interview by Mattias Solli
Translated by Anne Grete Hersoug
Language editor: Eirik Jensen