Eat consciously and know what you are eating – 4 Feb 16

I yesterday mentioned how important it is to take time when you are eating so that you consciously eat and know what you are eating. When I mentioned that you should not see your body as a trash bin however, I don’t only refer to whether you are sitting or standing for your meal – but also exactly what you are giving your body to digest and work with – because there can be big differences!

Once you start considering what is actually going into your belly, there is certain information that reaches you and makes you decide on changes in your diet!

One of the first decisions that a lot of people take once they become aware about healthy eating is to become vegetarian. There is a point when starting to think about your food that you wonder where it comes from. Going down the supply chain of meat, you come across a lot of violence, use of chemicals and hormones, inhuman and cruel living conditions – and most people lose all appetite for meat! Why would you add to the pain of animals just to eat them if you can do without? Why would you like to eat the hormones which those cows get injected for growth?

Obviously, the origin of your food has an effect on its quality, too! Having reached the point where you think about what the animals whose meat lands on your table have eaten before their death, it is not far away from thinking about what is in the vegetables that you are eating! You get across harmful fertilizers and growth-supporting chemicals, genetically modified plants, preserving agents, chemical colours and so much more that you start wondering whether you can actually still eat that!

That’s how a lot of people start extending their hand towards the organic product at the supermarket compared to the non-organic one. They start buying locally again when thinking about those huge companies destroying the market for smaller, local shops. Completely organic shops are not only surviving but striving due to this raise of awareness which has happened in the past years. There is a growing amount of people who stick to organic ingredients now whenever they are able to!

Obviously, starting to think about your food, you eat more consciously and bring a change to how often you eat, how much you eat and simply your entire diet! You think about how your body feels after eating certain kinds of food and realize that an excess of fat or sugar makes you feel bad and you avoid it. Certain items are skipped which you know are too processed to contain any more than chemicals and at some point you feel that you don’t even want to eat or drink any of that anymore!

That’s how the process of beginning to eat consciously usually goes. You don’t need anybody to tell you what to do. Nowadays, there is so much information available in so many different forms that you don’t need to rely on one person to know what is good for you. The only one who will really be able to know that is you because you are the one that feels your body.

So start getting more sensitive towards it, get information and input wherever needed and get onto your way to feeling better, fitter, healthier and happier!

Your Perception changes your World – 21 Oct 15

I know I have just recently written about seeing the world around you positively but as it is a very important topic – especially if you think about the high amount of people who suffer from burnout and depression – I would like to write about it today once more. About the art of seeing good in what is happening around you!

We all have different ways of seeing reality. That is one of the basics of every psychological study: what you experience is never exactly the same as what another person experiences because you have a different background. Even twins have a different perception because they have made different experiences.

One of the big parts that play a role in this is your upbringing. How did your parents raise you, which values did they feel are important and how did they help you see the world? The answers to these questions give you a basic idea on how you see the world around you.

The next big influence on you is your culture. The country that you live in, the basic ideals and values that are common to most people around you. It is broader than what only your parents taught you and it gives you a certain viewpoint which changes your reality. Ramona and I see this regularly and in so many things! Without going into detail now, we have a very different way of taking news due to the different places on this earth that we come from! Of course everyone is unique and different but culture does have an impression on you which you can hardly avoid!

Finally, your momentary situation, where you are in life at this point, influences your perception on what is happening around you. Let me give you a few examples: a woman who has the wish to become pregnant or is pregnant herself, will all of a sudden notice a lot of pregnant women around her. They were there before, too – but now she notices them because her mind is focused on this state!

If you are very busy in your job and constantly think of work-related matters, you have not time to see and appreciate the beauty of your town and what the people around you are doing. It is all there but once your current task is over, it is as though you see it all for the first time!

When you are freshly in love, the whole world seems to be beautiful, wonderful, fantastic and amazing! You feel like everyone around you is lovely and there is nothing but love in this world.

Finally, if you are in trouble, there are always bad things everywhere you look. Nothing can be good or beautiful because you are in your cloud of dark thoughts!

Why am I pointing this all out? I think it is important to know that you have another possibility as well! That you can actually see things differently! You need to change your point of view and already, things will be better!

It can be difficult to really change some of the deeply rooted basics of your thinking and feeling. It can happen though! But you don’t need to start with this – you can definitely work on how you see things depending on your current situation! Catch yourself when your thoughts a going a negative direction and remind yourself that this is due to your current negative perception! You can think different as well! Create another path of thinking for yourself!

I believe it is important – because it will give you a completely new positivity, calm and peace. It can actually help you lead a happier life!

How to meditate – a guide for something that doesn’t need guidance – 14 Nov 13

I am about to write a guide now for meditation, something which I said yesterday everybody can do at any time! Sounds funny, right? But as I am convinced that thoughtlessness is not the right aim and that meditation is not something you do to achieve the nearly impossible either, there might be some people wondering how to actually get to ‘being completely in the moment’.

Again, thoughtlessness is in my belief not possible, so there is no point in trying to get there. What you need to do in order to be completely in the moment however is to blend out the noise of your surroundings. You have to reduce the amount of input that you accept and process in your mind in that very moment. Narrow it down to only one action, whatever you are doing in that moment. The only thoughts that you have will be related to that activity. You won’t even be aware of those thoughts because they don’t disturb, they blend in directly with what you are doing, boosting your concentration, creativity and your well-being!

Do you have difficulties with that? I am not surprised because it is the opposite what most people are doing in today’s busy life. They are multitasking all the time! Taking in information from different channels and for different issues is important, the ability to process all of this input at the same time is highly valued and the more active your brain can be in different areas at the same time, the better you are. The reality is however that it takes the possibility from you to be completely in the present moment! If you feel you need some practice in that, here is an exercise which I have successfully used in workshops and seminars all over the world:

Take, pen and paper as well as an alarm clock and set the alarm on three minutes from the present moment. Now note down every thought in keywords that comes in your mind on that paper. Don’t reflect about how many that should be and don’t make full sentences, just note the main cue with which you will probably remember the thought later on. Stop when the three minutes are over.

Looking at your list, you will probably find that you have quite a lot of thoughts! A lot of them will also seem fully unimportant and your list may look like this: partner, children, nice weekend, tomato ketchup stains, work, need dishwasher soap, project still pending!, so much laundry to do, shopping, neighbour’s cat, money, ouch – a mosquito! …

Now cross out everything that is not important and keep only ten topics to think about. Repeat the game and concentrate only on these – don’t allow your mind to stray anywhere else. Did it work out? Now cross out five more and concentrate on the remaining five. Repeat it until you have only one topic left to think about! Then you are fully in the moment, aware of exactly this one topic.

Of course you will most probably do this exercise while sitting in a peaceful environment, something that I said is not necessary for meditation. Once you have practiced in this way however to prohibit distracting thoughts while doing nothing else, you can practice doing the same thing while you are cooking, while you are taking a walk or while you are talking to a friend. Don’t let your mind think of the dishwasher soap while you are reading a book. And don’t think of that book while you are shopping for that soap! Make sure that when you read, you are reading with awareness in that moment – the book will be much more enjoyable! And while you are shopping, be aware of what you are buying – it will save you another trip because of forgetting something and you won’t experience it as an annoying duty anymore! It will be enjoyable because it fully occupies your mind in that moment!

Try, you will notice that it works very well. This way of meditation makes the passing time more valuable, you will experience the moment and will find out how deep you can go into one activity, whatever it may be!

Meditation is not a Mystery – but you cannot sell what is available to all! – 13 Nov 13

I have the feeling I may have confused a few people with yesterday’s and day before yesterday’s blog posts. You may have got the impression that I have first left my life as a guru, then I left religion, lost my faith in God and now I am starting to write against meditation! Let me tell you that this is absolutely not the case! I am against the way in which meditation is propagated these days, presenting it as a practice for the elite of spiritual people, but I love meditation and will always suggest everyone to meditate – I may however have a completely different definition of meditation for myself! I have written quite a few blogs about the question what meditation is for me. Today one more will follow.

First of all, I will try to give you a one-line definition: Meditation, or ‘dhyan; in Hindi and Sanskrit, is when you are completely in presence, 100% aware of what you are doing.

I never say that the goal of meditation is thoughtlessness. I believe that you don’t even need any special position, breathing technique or anything else for doing meditation. You can meditate while you are working, talking, painting, playing or even – or maybe most importantly – while having sex! You just need to be there in that very moment, not in the future and not in the past. Just there – that is meditation for me.

The main point here is that literally everybody can do it! You don’t need to be special! It is possible for everyone and at any time. Meditation doesn’t require years of practice nor do you need to have any artistic talent for it! It is not complicated and you don’t need to be able to pull a lorry with your teeth or bend a rod with your bare hands! You, yes you can do it!

Now would it feel better if you could and your neighbour couldn’t? Would it be more interesting if there was a secret or mystery behind it? This is the idea that gurus and businessmen love and earn their money with! They want to make you feel not only special but better than anybody in your surrounding – so they present meditation as something complicated!

This attitude seems rather a way to boost your ego than to reduce it! So in the fifteen minutes per day that you meditate, you are in a higher consciousness? So you first have to get there and then you can only reach there when you sit in the right position and with the right atmosphere, limiting it to maximum one hour a day? Where is your consciousness in the remaining 23 hours of the day – down on the boring, un-elevated ground level like the rest of us? So you feel special within yourself during this short time, feeling in peace and one with the world – but why can’t you be in this state of happiness at all times?

Yes, you should be able to do your job, play, read, work and do everything in a 24-hour day while being in meditation. You should live in constant bliss without sitting at one spot and thinking nothing!

Of course, no guru would like to tell you this biggest secret, it would ruin the admiration that they get as well as their business but the truth is: YOU can do it. Just by being aware!

Shopping and Praying at once – 7 Feb 10

Vrindavan is a spiritual town, a place to which many pilgrims come for their ceremonies, their prayers and to walk the parikrama, the pilgrimage walk around town. It is usual to chant one’s Mantras, the prayers to God, with the help of a Mala with 108 beads. I have been told that in Christianity people are using a rosary for exactly the same purpose. You say one prayer with the finger on one bead and then with the next bead you say it the second time. I heard that also in Islam people use to pray like this.

Their idea is that you have something in your hand like an anchor for your mind, so if your mind starts travelling during one prayer, when you start again, your finger will turn one bead and your mind will return.

One day Ramona came back from doing some shopping in town and told me about a funny situation she had witnessed. In the same shop there was a couple and both had bags with malas in their hands and reciting their mantras without making sound but while moving the lips. And at the same time they were watching what the shopkeeper spread in front of them: pants in different colours and patterns. When the woman saw one she liked, she stopped the praying, asked the shopkeeper ‘Do you have this one in red, too?’ and while he turned to look she started praying again. And the same thing happened several times: she was moving her lips in silent prayer, then suddenly said something about some dress or colour and started praying again.

How much effect will this woman actually have from this exercise? Nothing, she could as well just go shopping! There you see again how hollow these rituals are! They are just habits, nothing else. You cannot tell me that this woman felt anything special during this shopping trip! But well, to everyone his own!

Breathing Consciously is Meditation – 24 Jan 10

I would generally always recommend to breathe deeply. Nearly everybody is breathing very superficially in our fast and hectic world although our breath is something so important, just necessary for living. Well, it is obvious why we tend to forget it: it happens automatically, we don’t have to do anything consciously about it. Our muscles do this part fully on their own. And we don’t give importance to it. We do not really realize it at all.

The whole science of Pranayama is about that: just being aware and conscious about your breathing. You are living anyway, surviving anyway, it will go on, you cannot stop it, but see how much benefit you can get from it if you actually do it consciously!

Do you sometimes just need to take a deep breath which comes out of nothing? This happens because your body needs oxygen and with your superficial breathing it didn’t get enough, so it takes it by forcing you to inhale deeply. If you get more aware of your breathing and increase the regular depth, your body will be very happy. Your lungs will get enough oxygen and also your brain will benefit from this. Several times a day you can actively remember this and just breathe. 

In this moment it becomes Pranayama, it becomes meditation. Whenever you are aware, you are in meditation. Breathe, it is the essence of life.

Does time heal all wounds? – 05 Jan 10

Time, consciousness and awareness are words that I used when writing yesterday. All three words are difficult to grasp, they are abstract, nothing that you can hold. And this is how all three also behave.

There is a saying ‘Time heals all wounds’. Of course this saying refers to emotional wounds, injuries in your heart. It is something that your best friend might say to you after a separation. In all emotional pain and distress, be it sadness because you lost someone whom you love or anger because someone cheated on you or any other very strong emotion, you feel at the beginning that this will never end. You are in this feeling, believe that you will never be able to love like this again, that you will never be happy again. Your consciousness is fully in this feeling and you are aware of every moment because each moment hurts again.

Now people say that time can heal this, others say that it only teaches you to live with this pain. Do you forget your pain because you let your consciousness move towards daily life again? I believe it is not only a matter of time. It is your decision, to let the gaps that you feel in your heart fill with love again. It is not a forgetting of pain, it is a decision for happiness and love. Maybe you will still feel that pain if you think back to this moment even after 20 years, but you will be able to look at it from another position and you will know how the story went on, how you decided to love in your life and you are now living and breathing freely in this love.

Awareness in each Moment and how Time Flies by – 4 Jan 09

Time is sometimes funny. I am sure you all already thought sometime about it how it seems to take ages when you are waiting and it seems to fly by while you are in a hurry. How come that when you have fifteen different things to do before the evening your day passes by without you really noticing? And on the other hand, if you wait for a certain event, for example a phone call, and you sit in front of the phone or have your mobile always at hand, two hours seem to pass by but when you look at the clock it was only two hours?

It is your awareness of the moments. When you are hurrying, you are just focused on what you are doing, to do it as quick as possible and the moments go by without you noticing them. When you are waiting, you are really aware of each moment, you feel each moment, each breath that you take. Both ways can be meditation.

I don’t say that it is good to hurry, this is not at all my concept. But I believe, when you have many things to do, it is good to still be with full awareness in each of them, then you will be faster and at the same time meditate with your mind and consciousness fully in the moment. 

In the same way you will notice, if you wait for something and start realizing each moment, if you are aware of each breath, you are in meditation. Isn’t this the way for many people to reach the state of meditation? Feeling the moment? And there lies also the big problem for many people: time and impatience. Yes, feel the moment, but don’t wish for it to go by quickly! Enjoy it, taste it and let it go by with its own speed. And if you are in a hurry, don’t curse about each moment that passes by because you are fully in your work. Be happy in each of those moments!

I will never be a Guru again – 12 Feb 09

Michael was saying to me with a smile ‘Why don’t you go back again into the guru role? Maybe this will be good for many people because they want a master. They need somebody to tell them what to do.’

I answered ‘No, I am very happy with what I am doing. I cannot imagine playing this guru role again which I was doing for a long time. I understand what you mean and it is true. Many people have this tendency to search someone like that. Somebody who takes their responsibility. Then it is easier for them. But this is not my way and not what I want to give to people.'

I have full confidence in what I am doing now. If I would change, I would always like to change for the better. Now I am helping people in a much better way. It makes them aware themselves and their consciousness can grow and they can be responsible for themselves. They become spiritually adult instead of walking as children holding the hand of their guru. I see this with many people and I am very happy to see that many of the people to whom I talk and who come for healing sessions more than once start taking their life in their own hands and take their own responsibility.

Here I feel funny when I see some people who behave like masters and want to be treated like masters. If a yoga teacher or healer tries to copy a traditional guru or master it satisfies the own ego but it is not good for making a close connection. I however like to be a friend and to offer my help. This is what makes me happy.

My friend Thomas wrote a nice reply to yesterday’s diary and put it up as an article on our website. I like his thoughts and wanted to share them with you. Click here to read it.

You are not the body, not the mind – 2 Oct 08

I told you already that I have some lectures for the Yoga students during their stay in the Ashram and of course I will also write some parts of it in my diary.

Yesterday in the afternoon I continued talking about the Yoga Sutras that Patanjali wrote. The meaning of each Sutra is very deep and I already explained that there are thousands of interpretations. All Sutras together explain what Yoga really is, the basic philosophy of Yoga.

I heard that in Christianity the idea of a trinity is also important, there you talk about the father, the son and the Holy Ghost. In Yoga Patanjali talks about sat, chit and anand which form a unity that is then called Satchidanand. Sat means truth, chit means consciousness or awareness and anand means bliss.

With this Patanjali explains who we are but unfortunately we see ourselves in another way. You think you are the body, you think you are the mind. This is not true, you are in the body and you have the mind but who are you? You can watch, you should be the seer, not the doer. Yoga and the Vedanta want to tell you that you can become the witness. If you believe that you are the doer you will suffer. Any experience, good or bad, comes from the ego of being a doer. When you experience hunger, it is not you being hungry, it is your body. Only if you believe that you are the body you will think you are hungry. When you feel sleepy, it is your body that is tired. You enjoy good experiences and bad ones make you suffer. You get affected by believing that you are the body or you are the mind. Imagine that you are only a witness, not a doer, not the body and you are not involved in this all. Then the suffering is finished, there is no more pain.

You are in this illusion that you are the body. When you see the shadow of the moon in a lake and you throw a stone in the water, the water is disturbed, there are waves vibrating on the lake. And the moon seems to be disturbed, too. Actually nothing disturbed the moon; it is not vibrating. The vibration takes place in the water but you see the reflection of the moon which seems to move.  If you have the illusion that the moon is really there, the moon moves, too. And the same thing happens with us. When you feel hunger or pain you think you are hungry or hurt but actually you are only in the illusion that you are the body. You can realize that this is not you. This is what yoga wants to do. You can realize who you really are.

The yoga students have a lot of program and I will go on writing about the lectures I have here. Today in the afternoon the students were doing Karma Yoga, helping cleaning the Ashram and the garden. Kanu, with his three years the youngest member of the Ashram, started a water fight with the pipe that waters the garden and everybody joined in. We had lots of fun and it was a nice distraction for the students.

Click here to see more photos of today's fun