Nonviolent Education: Children need Time, Attention and Communication – 3 Mar 14

I told you that we also teach the parents among our staff members how to educate their children without violence. It is not easy for them, especially because they just didn’t know, until coming here, that this was an option at all! This inability to think of other ways is however not only something I have experienced with members of our staff but in general with Indian parents who may understand that it would be nice without violence but who don’t know how else to teach their children what to do and what not to do. That’s why I thought it may be helpful if I write down a few of the basics here.

1. Give your child the time and attention he or she needs.

This is the very first and most important point! I see so often that a mother has a son who just always walks next to her without her talking to him. He plays next to her while she works or sits next to her in a somehow uninvolved way even when she takes a break.

There is no talk, no game and no communication in between the two. As long as her son doesn’t scream, do nonsense or get in danger, the mother doesn’t interact with him. The boy only gets attention when he something that he should not do. Guess what he does most?

Children need your attention and they will take it. If you don’t give it to them when they behave well, they will make you pay attention by doing something that you have to react to. That’s why it is so, so important to be with your child and only pay attention on him or her. Read to your son, play with your daughter, tell stories or show them the world!

You will notice how this quality time together will strengthen your connection. On top of it, it will give you a respect that you can never earn if you only tell your child ‘No!’

And that’s how we already get to the next point:

2. Talk to your Child and do it calmly, happily and peacefully

Your child is constantly learning. Especially in the first few years of a child’s life, the brain grows at an immense speed and the more information and input you give to your child, the better. Your daughter learns to speak, hears how she is supposed to talk, imitates your words and makes her own sentences.

You wonder what this has to do with non-violence? While you are talking, your child doesn’t only hear you speaking but she also listens to your words, to the sense, the expression and the emotion! Talk of beautiful things, tell nice stories of how people peacefully play with each other and how the whole world is happy, laughing and enjoying.

Give your child those impressions of happiness instead of a constant violent environment. If you only ever open your mouth to reprehend or even shout at your child, your child will simply get used to it and not pay much attention on you getting angry – because you do it anyway all the time!

If you usually speak calmly and joyfully with your daughter and not only let her hear threats and shouts, she will listen to you if you get serious. You won’t even need to get loud most of the times.

As there are several more tips that I would like to write down, I will continue with this topic tomorrow.

Attention Seekers Get Healed by not Getting Attention – 16 Aug 10

Throughout the year there are many people who come to the Ashram, stay for a while and leave again and of course, whenever people are together, there is something going on, something that moves the hearts and makes the mind work. Sometimes it happens though that people sit together in a group, we all are talking, there is some topic going on but suddenly one woman starts crying without obvious reason. Everybody stops talking and everybody turns around to look at her. Some get up to hug her, others get tissues. Finally she calms down a little bit and can sob the words ‘Oh, just some old stuff is coming up’.

That is the only explanation that you will get from her. You can keep on asking if there is a problem with the husband, there is a problem with friends, if she had any difficulties in her job or anything else but there will be nothing to say. I often feel in this kind of situation that a person wanted to get attention very badly and got it through crying.

In Hindi we have a saying ‘Smoke never exists without fire’. It is fully fine if anybody is sad at the Ashram, we give him or her time to go through the pain and find out of it. Especially when you are participating in the Ayurveda Yoga Holiday and are cleansing the body, you are going through a process and you may think of changing your life to the better, which at first can bring tears. However if it is all old stuff that comes up without any reason, then the reason is most probably attention.

Ramona joked and said she is always happy when people say ‘oh, only old stuff’, because then you can be sure that everything is okay. They do not have a problem at the Ashram or feel sad here, they just enjoy crying.

If you don’t feel like consoling them, just say: ‘Okay, then I give you some time for yourself!’ even if they did not ask for it. Turn around and go. Don’t give them attention but give them some time alone, you will see, they will be healed very quickly.

I have seen women in India, who wanted to attract attention in a group and suddenly a spirit came into them. Suddenly they behave fully funny, roll their eyes or start making animal noises, shake their head and body like wild and in some cases start talking as if they were their own grand-parents or other ancestors. This is the case in India because people are not educated and believe that this happens. Additionally women are often living in the background, not important and not given any attention. In this kind of situation they get their attention from all sites. Also in this case, not paying attention heals the illness, however it can be difficult to convince everybody that this might be a good cure.

Really, I have spoken about this topic with many friends and it just never happens to me and many more that we started crying with absolutely no reason and surely not in a group and I just don’t believe that spirits take over a person’s body. Be natural, be authentic and live your feelings, you know I always encourage that. If you have the feeling that you need attention ask yourself why it is like this. Discover the reason behind that, I tell you, it will make your life nicer. Then you can enjoy being together simply in love, maybe with tears of joy.

Be Aware of what you Wear – 13 Aug 10

I started talking about Indian and western clothing yesterday and mentioned that people often advise women who travel to India to take clothes that cover legs and shoulders as they would otherwise attract a lot of attention. Sometimes we have visitors here at the Ashram who have not heard this advice before or who heard it and are curious about it. This is how we are sometimes asked if that is true.

It is surely true that if you show much skin, you attract attention. You will have more eyes looking at you and with more intensity. You might as well call it staring and that often not only by men, also Indian women are quite interested to look what western women are doing. It is true though that showing legs are considered one of the sexiest things in Indian society.

If you do not like the staring, I would say cover yourself up. I know some people also enjoy the extra attention, which is also fine, as long as you know where you are, if it is a dangerous area or not, if you are out in the night or during day and if you just take a little bit care not to overdo it. You might not be able to go everywhere though because there are places, especially temples and Ashrams that do not allow you to enter if you are not properly dressed.

In this point I often believe there are too many rules. Some places even require women to cover their head and arms, too. I do not appreciate this kind of ruling. What is wrong in a woman’s hair, arms or skin? Excess of anything is not nice.

Our Ashram is very free in this way and I like to keep it like this. I do not want to put any rule as to what you have to wear here. I trust that you use your common sense and wear something that makes you and those in your surrounding feel comfortable. You do not need to care that much if you are visitor at the Ashram. You are welcome and invited to feel like home, a member of the family.

Today we enjoyed showering in the monsoon rain which came surprisingly in the afternoon.

Kissing in Public Attracts Attention in India – 10 Aug 10

Ramona and I were talking and laughing a bit about the typical questions that she and other western women always tell us about when they have met Indian women. The first question, after the name and the country of origin of course, is if they are married. If this question is answered with yes, the next one is if they have children. Is the first question answered with no, the next one is when the wedding will happen!
This is simply where many Indian women’s focus is on and what they would like to achieve in life. It is just in the same way as people ask men what they work and how much they earn. So this is one of the things that you might get to know when you travel to India. There are many such things and sometimes you can read about it before in books, hear stories from others and can imagine it.

Once a couple from America was here at the Ashram and the first day they were here, they went out to have a walk. They came back confused and nearly a little bit angry. When we asked them what happened, they said that all people were staring at them so much! At first we told them that it was normal for people to look at foreigners and they should not worry about that but the next day, Purnendu was standing at the gate when they went out and watched how they walked away. They were holding hands and people started looking. Then after some steps the man put the arm around the shoulder of the woman and people turned their heads while driving by. Some steps further they stopped, he pulled her towards himself and they had a long and deep kiss. Purnendu told people stopped their work and came out of the houses to see that.

In India, couples do not show affection publicly in this way. They do not kiss or hug on the street. If an Indian couple had done that, they would have got many comments from others as well and then they got additional attention for the fact that they are foreigners. We explained them nicely that they did not seem to be very aware of Indian culture and that it was not normal here to kiss on the street. They also understood. I think it is important to respect the culture of the country that you are in. Sometimes it needs a little bit of a feeling and sensitivity but this is the adventure of travelling.

Growing Children Need Balanced Atmosphere – 3 Feb 10

When we have a look at the children of our school we realize how many different children there are. Of many of these children we know the background, we know some of the families and how these children are growing up and how the mentality and atmosphere is at their home.

Today I realized again how much difference it makes on the behavior of the child how they grow up. Do the parents use to fight and shout around at home? Do the parents hit the children? Do the children sit in front of TV most of the day because it is the best babysitter for the parents? Or is the atmosphere full of love, are the parents looking for teaching the child for his own benefit and happiness? How many children are at home, do they have space and the freedom to run, jump and play? Or do the children have too many restrictions on space and on what they are allowed to do? Are parents overprotective?

You can feel the difference already in small children, not only in teenagers. Even children at the age of three show signs of how they are growing up. On one hand there are children who are crying and whining all the time when they have nothing else to do. On the other hand there are children who are happy to play with themselves or just to sit and watch when there is nothing else to catch their attention.

And this is not the child, it is the atmosphere. It cannot be the fault of a three-year-old. Parents have to be aware of it that their own behavior has a big influence on the behavior of their children. Your child needs your attention and love and it also needs freedom to explore the world. Let your child develop, explore and grow with love.

Opposing for Getting Attention – 22 Jun 09

There are people who always oppose you in whatever you say. You can even say something of which they are normally convinced, too, but just because you said it, they need to talk against it. And later, if you stick with your point, if you say why you think what you just said, they also agree. But first of all, they have to be against it. It is just their principle and their way of reacting.

I feel it has something to do with wanting attention. These people need to say something so that everybody, and if it is just for one second, looks at them and listens to what they have to say. But the thing is that if you do this too often, nobody will want to listen to that anymore. Many times I see this and always feel that it just creates negativity. Be positive about things. Think again before you say no. Or better feel again, if you really want to say no.

You know, many people often underestimate others. Don’t think the people around you are stupid. Others can feel who and what you are, even if you try being someone else. You can talk against something and everybody knows that you are actually in favour of it. And you can play another role very well but people will feel that this is not your real face. Be honest with who you are and what you feel, I cannot say it often enough.

Accepting Death as a Part of Life – 4 Mar 09

Yesterday I told you how this old woman died in my lap. It was a wonderful way to leave this world. She was not afraid of dying and just accepted it. This is what I also believe in. Death is the last event of our life and we should welcome it and accept it with open arms and a smile. It is your destiny that it will happen. Why to make it a taboo or be fearful? We should not be afraid of life and we should not be afraid of death.

Somehow in our society this is the biggest fear. Please do not misunderstand me, people who commit suicide have even a bigger fear: they are afraid of living which is why they want to end it. They do not really welcome death and do not accept it as an event. They are running away. We often hear that young people take their lives out of pressure or fear. I have also seen that people make a drama of suicide, they pretend to be ready to kill themselves. They do not want to die but have attention. They want to prove that they are victims. They are very afraid of death and think that it is the biggest thing from which they can create attention but they have not the intention to really die. If someone really wants to die, nobody can stop him.

Mostly I have seen that the idea of suicide is very temporary. It is just one minute or second. In that time, because of fear, someone can take an action and finish his life but if they get the right advice, the right thought or if they can manage their negative emotions in that time, they will regret this idea themselves.

Once I was in Copenhagen and talking to a friend. Suddenly he said ‘I want to commit suicide.’ He looked at my face and I smiled. He said ‘You are smiling! I am serious!’ I started laughing and said to him: ‘If you really wanted to die you would not tell me!’ He also smiled and said ‘I thought you would try to convince me and start discussing my problems with me. You are right. I think I have fear and don’t really want to die. Now I think I leave this idea.’ The healthy way is not to be afraid of life and not to be afraid of the biggest truth of life: that we have to die.

We have to accept life and if I see myself I can say I am ready to die in the next minute. I have no fear. I know I will die and it doesn’t matter when. I am ready all the time. We came here for dying. Who was born will die, that is the truth. I remember two lines of a poet. He saw a dead body and is saying: ‘I see the person lying on the floor and people say he is dead. But I think he was travelling until now and now he went home.’ Life is like a journey and one day we will go home.

My friend Paul arrived today to visit us here. He is from England but lives in Sweden and has been here already in 2007. He will help us in making our documentary ‘A journey of love’.

My friends Roger and Mady left the Ashram today. Roger has painted a wall of the school during his stay. We said goodbye to them and brought them to the airport.

Respect your food by paying full attention to it – 08 Feb 08

We just came back from dinner. Ann, a friend from Ireland is also here for a few days. We went to a nice little restaurant in Wiesbaden. It is a pure vegetarian restaurant and the owner is Indian. The food was very good and I am especially happy about the fact that it is vegetarian. The energy is so clean there. Vegetarian restaurants are rare here in Europe. The owner is a nice man and I encouraged him and said him that he and his business will grow and develop.
While I was eating somebody asked me a question. I did not reply because I did not realize that the question was directed at me. Actually I did not even hear the question. When I am eating I am concentrating on it. There is nothing else. I would not even put on music; I would not listen to it and it would only disturb me. In India the culture is a little bit different. When somebody is eating and you are coming to his home you sit down and wait for him to finish. He will not stop eating to greet you and you will not start talking to him. Paying full attention to your food shows the respect that you have for it. So if you address me while I am eating it can easily happen that I do not answer. Please do not mind it; I am just concentrating on my food.