Confusion in the Yoga Market – Choosing a Class is like buying Milk: Which one? – 17 Nov 14

I have mentioned many times in lectures, workshops and even in my blog that at the beginning of my time in the west, there was one question that would always confuse me: ‘What kind of yoga do you teach?’

Yashendu has had the same talk a lot of times as well and of course, it still happens these days, too. So when a few weeks ago, Yashendu told about such a question by one of our participants – and the following talk – we had to laugh.

Yashendu had replied ‘Just yoga’, as usual when he was asked in the middle of a class. She was a bit confused and had obviously settled the question in her mind with the idea that we do ‘Hatha Yoga’. When Yashendu started picking up on speed once time in class, as all participants were fit and ready to go advanced, she obviously enjoyed it. Afterwards she asked him whether he had learned from a power yoga teacher as well.

After an initial confusion, we laughed with her.

There is no certain yoga for us. No particular name or brand or specification. It is just yoga, as we learned it from the beginning of our lives.

You can compare it to buying milk. Once, there was just milk. It was clear that it came from cows and it was just there as it was. You went to buy milk and that was it. Now you go and you have to choose in between skimmed milk, full-fat and half-fat, pasteurized, fat-free, fresh, non-perishable and more! That’s how when you go to buy milk, you have to ask ‘Which one?’

In yoga today, you have the same issue. You have Power Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Hot Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Flow Yoga, Mysore Yoga, Acro Yoga and many more forms. It is just not yoga.

Here, we still buy milk. And we do yoga. It is not just hatha yoga, if you understand that as only physical exercise, a few postures to get flexible or strong. Yoga has a bigger place in our lives. It is a daily question of your behavior, your mindset, your thoughts and feelings.

Of course, if it makes you feel better and clears confusions, call it as you wish. We will keep on calling it yoga however and will always be happy to explain you why!

Right or wrong – Perception or Fact – 5 Nov 14

The interesting part about talking with other people is that you will always meet some who have different experiences, ideas and knowledge than you. You can get help when you need it and you can get inspiration. You can get information and of course pass it on as well. But one unpleasant thing may happen as well: you may get confused whether what you are doing is right or wrong.

It is nothing unusual: you tell your friends about the latest incident at work and they wonder why you reacted the way you reacted. Wouldn’t it have been better to stay calm? Or better to finally put your foot down? One of them may confirm that you have acted exactly right while the other one just shakes the head in disbelief, wondering about you.

Is there a right way to live one’s life? Or a wrong one?

Of course, there are certain things that are obviously and very universally wrong: it would be wrong to murder someone and it is generally accepted that stealing, robbing and similar activities are not right either. There are cases however in which it is not so clearly black and white!

You would also say it is wrong to disrespect your parents – but where does disrespect start? Would it be disrespectful not to follow the decisions in life they want to take for you? Or not to comply with their moral standards and values? They may see it very well as disrespectful but you could have a fully different opinion!

Am I doing the right thing?

This is a very common question which can appear in any area of life! Business, relationships, child education, friendships – you can always get to a point where you just don’t know anymore. Even if you are usually confident about your actions and can brush off the usual criticism everyone gets, there can be a point where you just look at yourself and the situation that you are in, wondering:

What should I do?

Let me tell you one thing: Nobody can tell you what to do and there won’t be any divine intervention or inspiration to suddenly make everything alright. At the same time however, there is no right or wrong and everyone sometimes is in this situation.

Mentally go back to what you really know, the actions and thoughts you are sure about and which you won’t change, no matter how many people tell you that you are wrong. From that point on, slowly advance and just go with your feelings. Take advice wherever you feel it is right – and find out what you really think is wrong.

Most importantly: this feeling is usually temporary. Sometimes it just helps to leave the thought for a while and sleep over it. And then take your courage and go on with full confidence!

Even in Business, the most important Thing is not always Money – 2 Sep 14

While in Germany, a woman came to me for an individual counselling session. She had a few problems and was quite confused about what she should do. One aspect of this confusion is what I would like to write about today: what is more important in a business that helps people? Helping them as quickly as possible or making as much money as possible?

The woman who had come to me did some kind of physiotherapy for earning her money. She was quite successful with that: mostly, her clients only needed two or three sessions with her. After that, they didn’t come again. They didn’t need to because their back was fine, their knee pain gone or better and she had showed them all necessary exercises for improving at home. There was simply no need for these people to book further sessions with her for the same problem.

The woman was, in general, happy about that. When she met her customers on the road, they thanked her, telling her that they felt so much better. Who wouldn’t be glad to hear such a thing?

Her husband. He told her that she needed to be a better business-woman. She should tell people, at the beginning of the treatment, that they needed to buy a package of five sessions with her, if they wanted to proceed. No matter how fine you were after two sessions, you would already have paid for three more. Everybody could then decide themselves if they really wanted to do the remaining sessions or not.

I was asked my opinion to the matter. Should she earn more money by making people come five times even though they don’t need it?

I answered absolutely not. First of all I asked her: what does your heart say? And she answered that it didn’t feel right. She was fine the way she was working, it was just the input from outside, from others that made her feel as though she was doing something wrong. So just do it as you are feeling it is right.

The second point is that you are already doing the best you can do for your business: you are making your customers happy. Don’t you see that business is not about ripping people off? About pulling as much money out of their pockets as you can get? It is about providing a service or selling a product that fulfills a need, helps the other one or makes him happy!

There is no bigger advertisement for you than a satisfied customer! If those people come to you on the road, telling you how happy they are, they will also tell this to others. They will actually tell ‘She helped me in only two sessions!’ and will add how much better this is than any treatment that was done before, where they spent a lot of money and time and when it didn’t get any better. That will get you more customers, securing your income on the long run instead of just getting as much as you can right now!

The funny thing about this is that normally a person will want to do the right thing from inside. It is just insecurity and hesitation to trust our feelings that confuses us and maybe lets us choose something else. Don’t listen to such fears – do the right thing by following your heart!

Only unsatisfied People ask for the Purpose of Life – 28 Jul 14

I recently had a session with a man who had some very typical questions. Obviously, when I have such a conversation with someone, I think of my blog and you readers, sure that you would enjoy sitting with us there, participating in the talk. As this obviously cannot be, I am writing our words down in this blog entry for you.

The man who came to me for an individual session told me that he was, all in all, actually quite content with his life. He was retired, had family and some hobbies he really enjoyed. Yoga was one of them. He added, however, that in his yoga class, there were many people who considered themselves seekers and who asked him whether he was not looking for answers to the ‘essential questions of life’: why am I on this earth? What is my purpose?

He added that now he had the feeling he needed to find an answer, too, or at least search for it. He had already considered different possibilities, among them the idea that this is just one of his many incarnations and he should live as well as possible so that he can reach nirvana one day, complete liberation. He asked me what I thought about this.

I replied that I believed all these questions were actually unimportant. You live here and now. As long as you are sitting here on this earth and have everything you could think of, why do you worry about this? You are healthy, you have food, you have a family and friends. You even tell me that you are really happy right now! So why does it even matter?

These questions are for those and of those who are unhappy. Who are not satisfied with what they have in their lives. You are here, now! Instead of concentrating on this, instead of making sure that you get what you are missing, you think of the time after this life!

Nobody knows what will come and what will be after we have taken our last breath. But I think it doesn’t actually matter. Really, it is not relevant at all for this very moment.

I think it is only religion and people who take benefit of the spiritual confusion of others who like to support such questions, make them bigger and bigger and thus present them as important which they are not at all.

Just be happy in the here and now. You are? Then don’t start searching for something that is missing or get confused about questions that don’t really have an answer anyway. Don’t let others bring you to this confusion! Be happy with who you are and what you have – you don’t need to start searching!

Agnosticism can be a Transition, not a final Destination – 16 Jan 14

Today I would like to write a few lines, not about religion and religious people, also not about non-believers or atheists. No, I will write about agnostics.

For those who may not have heard this term until today, this is those people who don’t see themselves as believers but also not as non-believers. They practically say that there is a chance that God exists. They are neither sure that there is nor that there is not something like a supreme power. They call themselves skeptical, doubting, not sure and some of them even categorize themselves further into ‘Agnostic Theists’ and ‘Agnostic Atheists’, depending on the side to which they are tending.

The argument of an agnostic is that there are things which are not explainable and while there is no prove that there is God, there is also no certainty that there is not. There is always doubt and that’s why they, too, remain in this doubt.

This doubt is based on a doubt in religion without wanting to leave the possible benefits of believing. If it happened to be true in the end, you could still have heaven, salvation or whatever you were promised for your belief. You won’t however be eligible for those benefits because you don’t really believe in it anyway! According to a believer, you are not faithful to god, if you have any doubt. No religion would call you a faithful believer if you expressed your doubt whether their god existed. So according to them, you are a non-believer. You however would like to have a special category called ‘agnostic’ with special conditions. You don’t believe in God but just in case he happens to exist in the end, you would like to reap the benefits.

For many fields in this material world you will hear that it is good to be in doubt. When you question the things that are accepted as truth around you, it will bring you further, just like doubts are the reason for more scientific research in so many areas. When it comes to the mind however, doubts are not good at all. I will actually not call it a doubt anymore, I would call it confusion. And the situation of people in this confusion is the worst because they are neither here nor there.

Those who are confirmed in their belief are clear in their mind. They know that there is god, they know what they have to do in order to be loved by him and they act accordingly. Those who are free of any belief are very clear, too. They know there is no god and they don’t have to do anything except what their morals and values tell them to. Those who are in confusion however have no guideline like believers and they are not free as non-believers!

I believe this situation will, in the end, create personality problems. They will have problems in taking decisions because they don’t know which way to go. Can I be free and decide on my own or should I consider religious rules because they might be important after all, even if they seem outdated? Who actually are you? Identity problems, indecisiveness and in the end even psychological issues can be the result.

Of course, the state of being agnostic may just be a stop on the journey from believer to non-believer and I was myself some day in the past standing at this point. It is a transition period in which you mix different ideas until you finally get clear. It is important to get clear however! One should not live in this confusion for a long time – otherwise mental problems are probably inevitable!

So if you are one of those people who would categorize themselves as ‘agnostic’, please consider deciding for one or the other side someday – for your own good!

Helping a Friend who is lost in the esoteric Scene – 4 Jan 12

Yesterday I told you about astrologers and clairvoyants and at the side I mentioned that there are some people who are extremely focused on the advice that such people give them. What do you do if you have a friend or relative who believes in such predictions which you believe to be absolute nonsense?

This is actually a very real question for many people, especially in the esoteric scene or for people who have some spiritual belief of one kind or another. The reality is that when it comes to spirituality, religion and anything that has to do with belief, there are really a lot of strange methods, theories and teachings. In the end it depends on you how deep you go into this and how much you believe.

There are different characters in this world and everybody has their own way to deal with things. Some people believe everything new that comes their way. They are deeply in this ‘scene’ and have heard about nearly everything that exists. It is incredible how they manage but they seem to bring all different ideas and paths together and somehow believe in all of them at the same time.

Another type of person is more skeptical, be that due to experience or just by nature. This person believes in the law of physics and is not easily fooled by new inventions and theories which are presented as sensational but are actually only ways to produce money for the inventor. This person believes there is something more in life than just plain, dry and sober science. He or she believes in feelings and their power while realizing the psychological processes behind. This person can be enchanted but is not usually cheated by charlatans.

If you are one of the latter, you might know how frustrating it can be to have someone in your close surroundings who believes in everything that comes his way. You have a friend or a relative and you see how he goes to a different seminar every week, telling you of a different approach, another method or another training that he should absolve. You see how he spends heaps of money on devices that you know to be completely useless, on workshops from which he comes back more confused than ever and on books, CDs and other products that he reads and listens to and which he follows until the next master or teacher comes his way with another, completely new idea. What can you do to help this friend get out of this confusion?

The reality is that unfortunately you cannot do much. Why is that? I know that you have tried to talk your friend out of a lot of things. Maybe you have even managed to protect him or her from some mistakes in the past. But until now all your willpower to convince your friend has not brought him off this search for something – whatever that might be.

I don’t want to sound negative and I am really not. I believe it is great that you are there for your friend and have a calming and realistic influence on him. It is necessary and probably very helpful for your friend to have you to talk to – a person who is not confused about what he believes in and who can give an honest opinion. Maybe you have really kept your friend from falling into the hands of a sect or some weird drugs with bad side effects. Be there for your friend whenever he needs you and talk him out of everything that you think is dangerous. But don’t get frustrated in the effort of changing him and his habit of changing philosophies every week.

Your friend is obviously searching for something deeper in order to get to peace with his own life. He may have read a hundred of times to search for this peace inside himself but never managed to actually reach to this point. What you can give your friend though is a steadiness and help that all his methods and different teachings cannot provide. You can give real love. And some day, when your friend had enough of running around in circles, he will realize that there was one steady factor in his life and that was your friendship and love.

Flexible Followers of Multiple Gurus – Confused Sociable Salesmen – 10 Jun 11

Flexible followers of many gurus at once

The opposite of strict followers, who I described yesterday, are flexible followers who don’t mind having several gurus, no, who love having as many gurus as possible. They actually follow whomever they can find. They have hundred pictures of different masters on their altar and they buy every book of every guru.

Flexible followers have a clear advantage here: they can take the positive parts of every guru’s message and just forget what does not fit to them. They can pick the good lessons only and don’t need to go too deep into the dubious rests of every philosophy.

It is easy for them to mingle with all kinds of followers. It doesn’t matter whom the others are following, flexible followers have something positive to say about every guru. The other person obviously likes that and so they keep every other follower happy, too.

Sometimes people who do business in the esoteric scene are this kind of followers. It has many advantages for their business because they can sell their stuff to anybody, irrespective of whom they are following.

One disadvantage is however, that they easily get confused. Each and every of those masters uses different words, sees things in another way and tells his followers different things. If you read a hundred books about enlightenment, you can find a hundred different ways to get there and mixing them up does not always help.

While strict followers of one guru sometimes have problems of intolerance and narrow-mindedness, flexible followers have problems of too much choice, a variety of possibilities that is just too big. They find it hard to find a common factor with all those gurus and cannot really decide which way they should go. They try everything a little bit and unfortunately often get very confused in the effort to follow everyone at once.

Panic Attacks and Fear of Death – Confusion of Mind – 16 Dec 10

On one of the last days, a woman came for a healing session with a very intense problem: She often has panic attacks. During these attacks her heart is racing, she feels as if she cannot breathe anymore and she always thinks she is going to die. She said ‘I don’t know when or if it is going to end. I lose control over my body functions and even my breath. I am afraid that someday it could just get too much for my body and I will die. This thought makes me afraid of having a panic attack!’ One fear makes the other one grow and the more she is afraid, the more often she gets those attacks.

You have to accept that you have to die. Be ready for dying at any time. What are you afraid of? You don’t know whether it is going to be bad or good. We have created this idea that dying is horrible but maybe it is not at all. Being dead could be more wonderful than anything you can imagine. So just be ready. When you are dead, you are dead. No problem.

The fact that you have these panic attacks however shows that you are afraid of dying. It is just a question of your mind. Your heart is healthy, your body does not have any problem, so it is your mind that creates this fear! This is good because with your mind you can work yourself. For your heart you would need a surgeon but this is now your job.

How many times did you think that you would die? How many times did you have an attack, sat in a chair and thought ‘Now it is over’? But you are still here! And why? Because you don’t die from these panic attacks! They make you nervous, they make your heart race and they make breathing difficult but you don’t die! Make yourself understand that it is unhealthy when you have panic attacks, control your mind and have a strong will!

Most of all you should not think that death is something horrible. It is a part of the game. Accept death as a part of life and live without the fear of dying.

Belief is Personal! Religious Leaders: Do not Spread Confusion! – 12 Oct 10

I have been telling that a Christian minister, Albert Mohler, stated in his blog that yoga is not compatible with Christianity. He says "Christians are not called to empty the mind or see the human body as a means of connecting to and coming to know the divine. Believers are called to meditate upon the word of god."

Actually I really have a very strong opinion regarding this kind of advice. I am of the opinion that belief and religion is a personal thing. I am against religious leaders, from any religion be that Hinduism, Islam, Christianity or any other religion, telling people what to believe. That can be a Hindu priest or guru or also a man like this Mohler. We all should learn from this that everybody has his own way.

People in higher positions of religious institutions always try to direct believers to go a certain way. They do not only want to show them one of the many ways that are possible but they insist that the way that they suggest is the one and only. Then, if you said you walk the same way as they do, they believe that they have some kind of authority to tell you what you are doing wrong or right on your way.

Mohler says that Christianity and Yoga cannot be combined. Now this may be right for him. He thinks ‘meditating upon the word of God’ is something very different than connecting with God but for other people, as it is for me, meditating means always connecting with God. Even if you meditate upon something you consider as God’s words, you connect with him, don’t you? For me this means being in love, connecting with the love in you.

Everybody should be free to believe what they want. Nobody has a right to tell the other one he believes anything wrong. Leaders of all religions, all denominations have been doing this in history over and over again but time just showed that everybody has another way and that is his personal, individual way to think of or believe in God. Anybody, all priests, gurus, teachers, preachers and religious leaders who believe that they are the only ones who are right have to learn this lesson of tolerance. You should spread love, not confusion.

German Qualities – Punctual, Proper and Everything Planned – 9 Jul 10

I was telling about the typical German way of wanting to have everything ‘proper’. Everything has its right order. This can sometimes be very nice. I already wrote sometime that you can usually rely on Germans, they are punctual and if they say something, they do their best to keep their word. A stereotype of a German person is correct, tidy, punctual and also direct, you do not normally have to guess what they mean, they will let you know. I like these qualities, they give you something steady and makes it easy and nice to be with them. In other places I have not found these qualities that much. That is how I also love Germany and feel like my second home here.

There are however also some things that I have to laugh about from time to time. I always tell one story to explain a German character trait: A German drives in a car. He has three different maps in his car with the way already marked in them so that everything is very clear. He has planned exactly when he needed to start so that he will be five minutes early for his appointment, so he is happy because everything goes just as he imagined.

Then, suddenly, in front of him there is a wall. Just a wall on the street. He cannot keep on driving on his lane, so he stops the car in front of the wall. Confused, he grabs his maps, searches for his location on the map, finds it but sees no wall! He looks in the other two maps but also there, no wall! He starts getting nervous. What does this mean? He gets out of the car and stares at the wall. He cannot believe it! It is just there, in the middle of the way!

I always have to laugh about this story. A German person might not think of just looking left and right of the wall or drive around it, he will spend much time, staring at the wall, not comprehending that it is there. He will get stressed out, his stress will increase more and more with this one question: why is this wall here? That might even result in him giving up his plan and driving back home because he is not spontaneous enough to change plans so quickly. It was not going according to plan and that confused the whole system!

Well, what I would like to say to all Germans who sometimes get stuck in this kind of situation: be flexible, relax, there is always another way! It is good to have a plan but keep it flexible! The plan may not work out as you thought but the solution for the problem might prove much better than the original plan! I know some people get very stressed when the original plan doesn’t work out. They sometimes try not to show you their stress, they know that they should not feel this however you can see and feel that they cannot deal with the change of plan. But you do your best and then see what comes out of it. I promise you, if you can relax and just watch where life takes you, you will enjoy the journey more!

We had great ice-cream close to the Rhine river today on our last day in Wiesbaden together with Thomas and Iris.