Elisabeth Heimdal Wærsted is a project manager at the Saint-Gobain International Industrial Group. She is the mother of two young children and something is constantly happening. How do you handle it?
Elisabeth started practicing Acem meditation when she was 17 years old. His parents had been meditating in Acem for many years, and he was curious about what they were doing.
“I quickly realized that meditation was good for me. I was in my last year of high school and there was a lot of pressure. There was a lot to do. Meditation gave me a good break. I remember sometimes meditating for ten minutes during written exams. it cleared my mind and helped me find a way to continue with a task when I felt like I was stuck. “
Like many others, however, it was only when Elisabeth retired that she truly understood the potential of the technique.
In 2003, Acem organized a worldwide retreat in Ås, Norway, with participants from all over the world. Elisabeth shared a flat with young women from India.
“It was a great experience to see how meditation affected people of all ages and with all sorts of backgrounds,” he says. “Social interaction in retirement was different from anything I had experienced before. Meditation created an inner opening, which at the same time became an outer opening, towards the other participants.”
Something fell into place
At the retreat, Elisabeth experienced something that is also very common: she slept a lot during meditation. In Acem meditation, it makes no sense to move away from fatigue. Rather, it is part of the process of allowing it to arrive, along with everything else that may happen.
Still, in the midst of all the sleep, something fell into place. She understood something, says Elisabeth, something that was not on an intellectual level, but that was moving on a different plane.
Acem has developed good ways to understand the meditative process, for example, how to deal with uncertainty, restlessness, and negative self-assessments. Although Acem teaching is based on experience, it is still another thing to experience what meditation does from within.
“One of the things that struck me was the process that had begun inside me. On one level, it seemed good, important, without the intellectual explanations I had for why things felt so important to me at the time. I traveled the world after retirement (first in Italy), and somehow (without really thinking about it in those terms then), meditation was a home that carried me with it. A bit like the snail that carries your house wherever it goes. A sense of security, a way of being in touch with myself when the impressions were many and the environment unknown ”.
It’s easy to be impressed by Elisabeth’s resume. He speaks seven languages (French, Italian, English, German, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish, the latter probably the most difficult) and received his doctorate at the age of twenty-eight.
Today, in the middle of a phase with two young children, she is the project manager for several demanding projects that will help Saint-Gobain become a more sustainable supplier in the construction sector. Elisabeth coordinates and builds bridges between researchers, the many departments involved (production, IT, sales) and external partners.
He confesses that he can sometimes feel uncertain in demanding situations. “During my upbringing, I used to be unsure if I was good enough in terms of rehearsals and presentations. It still happens that I don’t express my opinions in a conversation or discussion. Or compare myself to others who have better jobs, they do more things and have more influence. Uncertainty can make things seem dark. “
Meditation makes me calmer
Little by little, Elizabeth has become clear that there can be a disconnect between how she judges her own efforts and how others view them. Here, both the meditation and the Acem communication course have been helpful.
Meditation also helps to make you more optimistic and calm in general. “After meditating, I can think, ‘Yes, this can work, and if it doesn’t work, I’ve done what I can.’ things, though I’m not sure. Maybe I’ve gotten a little braver because I’m meditating. “
As a mother of young children, Elisabeth has also opened her eyes to a new dimension in meditation. “Meditation has become even more important after having children,” she says.
“After being a father myself, I thought, ‘Oh, that’s why people meditate, not to fall.’ You’re lying in all dimensions and there’s a deadline for everything. and you cross all your t, you just have to finish in the time you have available “.
“Toddlers also have an incredible amount of feelings. It can be hard to say, “Okay, now these emotions just have to be manifested” when that means allowing the six-year-old to scream continuously for three-quarters of an hour. If I’m exhausted emotionally, meditation helps me keep going. “
When dealing with children, Elizabeth can sometimes feel uncertain about what is right and what is wrong. Are you doing too much or too little? You can agree with your partner on how to deal with a problem, but then you find that it doesn’t work next time because the situation is different.
“There seems to be a parallel to meditation. What works once doesn’t necessarily work next?”
“Yeah, and there’s something about just being in this process. You never know what you’re getting into. Of course, you know your kids, just like you know yourself. what will happen, what specific challenges you will have to face “.
“The meditation experience also gives me practice to let go of control. It’s about accepting the limits of what you can influence,” he says. “I feel more present, less invested, less rigid, after meditating.”
“I can quickly feel that I’m responsible for everything. As a project manager, it feels like this. Meditation helps me let go of these things, especially when I’m not at work, but also at work itself. If I don’t have enough resources, for example, I can’t deliver optimally. Then I have to say no. In the same way, if the direction is not clear. So somehow I have to lead up as well. “
Relationship and communication
One of the most important things Elizabeth does at work is to communicate. He has to deal with many different people, from all walks of life and with different professional approaches. Their job is to get everyone to work towards the same goal.
It’s not always that easy, especially if the bosses aren’t clear about the direction.
Meditation also helps in the relational and professional interaction of the work. Elizabeth does not lose her footing easily in the face of strong opinions, she says. At the same time, meditation provides an opening, an understanding of what is going on in the discussions.
“Meditation provides an opening, an understanding of what happens in dialogue. It helps my ability to listen to others, which also involves listening on several levels. Listen not only to the content of what people are saying, but also to what is behind what is being said, what is behind it. “
The involvement of Acem
In her spare time, Elisabeth does many things at Acem. Many readers of Acem magazine have known him as a leader in meditation retreats, communication courses, or one of the many events in Acem’s lecture halls in Copenhagen.
“What brings you here?”
“I think it’s meaningful to teach meditation and be able to pass on something to others. It gives others a chance to get something out of meditation.”
“When you get involved with Acem, you can also see the results of what you do,” he says. “In many contexts, this cannot be done, or at least not so clearly. Like at work. It looks like you’re never getting to the end result, or things are going so slowly that it’s hard to see. “
“But if you see a person learning to meditate and discovering new things about themselves, then this is a good result in itself. It is gratifying to see what impact meditation can have on people’s lives, even in the basic course, and to help make the process easier. “
“I also want to help Acem continue its work,” concludes Elisabeth. “It’s amazing to see how it’s done and it’s still working hard on the organization.”
Interview with Mattias Solli. Mattias Solli is a philosopher and works as a researcher at NTNU. In his spare time, he is an instructor at Acem.
Translation by Eirik Jensen.
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