Does Social Networking create more Loneliness in Life? – 14 Dec 15

I sometimes wonder which effect social media will have on our society on the long run. It seems as though these networks which are supposed to connect more people with each other actually create loneliness.

How come I reach to this conclusion? Simple: I have seen how a lot of people react on what they see on their social networks! They have a very conflicting relation to them: they cannot seem to get enough of them and open them again and again but at the same time, they again and again close them with a bad feeling. This bad feeling comes from what they have seen: pictures of their friends, partying, having a good time and generally enjoying their lives. In family, with other friends, among people.

And you? You are sitting there alone, staring at your phone, tablet or computer screen. You are not part of the fun. The party is taking place without you. You don't have that perfect partner who surprises you with a candlelight dinner, just like a friend had posted. You don't go to hip parties where everyone is having a blast. And you also seem to be far away from all of your friends who post this.

Your social network, designed to connect you with people, just gave you the feeling of being completely on your own, alone and lonely. Without it, you wouldn't even have known about all the fun you are missing. You might have just been happy while reading a book at home or taking a bath.

Or, instead of staring at a screen, trying to think of something clever to write yourself or trying to find a picture of you having fun, too, you would actually go out. You would call a friend and talk to him or her in person instead of nearly stalking the other one online in order to see how much fun he or she has!

That is how social media can make you experience loneliness in a way that was not possible before the internet, before you were reachable at all times and before you were connected with all your school and university friends, colleagues from work and relatives at the same time.

You will notice this at the latest when you are in a bad situation and need help. When you have been in touch with people via messages but hardly ever met in person. Because when the world is crashing down on you, you need a real hug, not a virtual one. A real shoulder to cry on. Someone to come by and listen, someone to be there for you in real life.

Never forget that social networks are only a tool, something to enhance the real experience but not a substitute to replace it. Let it bring more joy to your social life instead of pulling you down!

Managing your Emotions during Difficulties with human Relations – 27 Oct 15

Not every difficulty that we face in life is one of a financial nature. In yesterday’s blog, my main thought was rather on problems with business and money but of course there are issues that sometimes seem even worse than any money problem can ever be: problems in your relation with other people, your friends, family and most of all your partner. How should we handle these?

First of all, the same concept applies: calm down before you do anything. It is obvious that a dispute, a disagreement or an argument with someone you love can leave you completely unsettled. You may feel fully enraged or devastated, you may be in tears or shaking all over. You can feel right or regret what you have done but for any further thought or action you have to calm down and clear your head!

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t feel sorry towards the other one or feel wronged by him anymore! It means that you recognize your feeling and know where it comes from. Make an analysis: what exactly is the trigger of those feelings? Something the other one said? Something you did? What made you feel the way you do? Is it an action or just a thought or worry of yours?

I am myself an emotional person but while this may seem too much a process of the mind for some people, I believe we sometimes need to take this way in order to find out what the issue is. If I am so much in emotion that I cannot clearly recognize why I am feeling these emotions, my actions may reflect that.

The most stupid crimes are committed because people cannot control their anger. Afterwards, they often don’t even exactly know why they reacted the way they did. They were angry – but with a clear mind, they know themselves that their anger never justified their actions. That it was caused by an inner pain or injury which the other one may not even be responsible for.

So once you know why you feel the way you do, you can work on the solution of the problem.

If it is something you did wrong and you are sorry for, I believe it is never too late to apologize. You cannot expect the other one to accept your apology under every circumstances – but for yourself, you can take this step and make it clear to you that you did it. Even if not, you have tried and can move on!

If the other one did you wrong, you now have the chance to find out what you would like to do about it. You can explain the other one your feelings or you can take a decision on what to do next. It is the chance for you to act according to your deeper feelings, not only the momentary anger.

In the end, no matter what happens, the message is practically the same: whatever the problem, it won’t make the whole world break down. Be calm and find out what you can do about it!

Are you having ‘the worst Time of your Life’? Get yourself out of it! – 9 Sep 15

I yesterday told you of an Austrian friend of mine who called me with an issue he could not discuss with any of his close friends. At a point of our talk, he mentioned that it was the darkest period of his life which he was in now. I have heard such words from several people in my life who came to me for counselling sessions and that’s how I thought I should write some words about this situation and about these feelings.

The first thing when you find yourself in such a situation is to realize it. Once you have the realization that this is one of ‘the worst times ever’, you have the possibility to calm down enough to sort things out.

This usually happens when there are unforeseen changes, when things happen that your mind didn’t have time to prepare for. It can be accidents, illnesses, natural catastrophes, deaths of loved ones, the loss of your job, a break-up or betrayal by a partner, by relatives or friends. There are other things that can add to this of course – the base is that these things bring you down, make you feel bad and don’t give your mind a chance to see something positive, usually because several of these happened in a short period, one after the other.

Whatever it is that brought you in this situation, take a look at it. See exactly what it has changed and please let out your feelings as well. Dedicate some time to the grief you need for what you have lost. It is completely normal and you have to go through these emotions. And then you come out of them.

Sounds easier said than done? Because you have the wrong attitude towards it! Usually people refuse leaving the details behind. They get stuck with small ‘What if’ questions that don’t lead them anywhere. They keep on replaying crucial moments in their minds or try desperately to get back to the point they were standing at before.

Depression starts when they realize it is not possible, that their struggle is in vain. You cannot turn back time, you cannot make things undone and you cannot change your actions of the past. You can however change your point of view on what has happened and is happening – and thus pull yourself out of negativity.

You need time to process whatever has happened. There is a point however when you have to stop thinking of the past and realize that there is a new tomorrow in front of you. Those feelings cannot and will not go on forever! There will be a better time again and that’s what we all work on every day!

There is no Opposite to Love – 7 Sep 15

Love is an important topic in my life. It has always been. I actually believe a lot of people should make love more important in their own lives because it would help them. Contrary to common belief among those who do make love a topic – which is mostly people in the spiritual scene – I believe there is no real opposite to love, one which cannot be there if love is there.

Opposites normally cannot exist together with each other, right? A person cannot be tall and small at the same time. Temperature cannot be cold and hot at the same time. Your hair cannot be long and short at the same time. In the same way, people think that hate or even fear are the opposites of love. Several people have told me: ‘where there is love, there cannot be hate’ or ‘if you love, there is no space for fear’. I don’t think these two statements are true.

It is my personal experience that love can coexist with every other feeling possible! Love can exist together with illusion, it can exist with obsession. Love can even exist with dislike, ignorance or indifference.

You may have seen all of these above but you cannot imagine love together with hatred or fear?

Have you really never seen a love-hate relationship? Have you never been in the situation that someone you actually love did something really bad to you? It doesn’t matter for how short that time frame was but when you were angry and hurt, was there not also some hatred as well? And for that moment, do you think your love stopped? How could this happen? No, I think, in that moment you had both inside you.

In the same way, I believe it happens with fear. It can both be there at the same time. You can love but at the same time be afraid of what will happen if you open up too much. Will you get hurt again? Will your precious feeling be taken advantage of? This won’t keep you from loving but you cannot deny that there is fear as well – at the same time!

So it is very simple: as great as I believe love is, there can also be fear or hate along with it. And these, too, are just natural emotions that we can accept as a part of who we are!

Tips for Indian men who are getting serious with western Women – and vice versa – 18 Jun 15

In my blog entries about western women who come to India to meet the men they have been chatting with as well as in my blog entry directed to exactly these men who were just fooling around, I mentioned that there can as well be very different situations with different individuals. There is, for example, a slight chance that this Indian man is actually serious as well. I have reserved today’s blog entry for this possibility, with just some thoughts that you should have if you really want to go down this path.

First of all, congratulations to both of you for having found someone to love on the other side of the world with the help of modern media! I wish you all the best for your future. At the same time, I want to recommend you to prepare yourself well before committing yourself seriously. Again, I am speaking of experiences with people who have been in this situation, with couples of two different countries and cultures.

The person you have got to know over written words or maybe even phone and video conversations is most probably thinking in very different patterns than you yourself are. Of course, men and women in your own country are all different, too, but here we are adding the big difference of culture on top. And it may not be easy to adopt this person in your life or completely merging yourself in this other person’s life in the other country. There are going to be difficulties that you may not imagine now, when it is all fresh. That’s why I suggest you to prepare so that these issues don’t become huge problems.

Having a conversation online – no matter in which form – is one thing but actually being with the other person, living together on a smaller space, is on quite another level. That’s why we get to the point where all these western women are really trying to get: you have to meet in one of the two countries and actually get to know each other personally!

Choose one of the two countries – but because of visa restrictions, it mostly is India that is easier to travel to for the woman than the western country for the Indian man. You can choose the setting, which of course depends on the individual situation. A holiday in another part of India, neutral grounds so to speak, could be a good idea. She may want to avoid the maybe overwhelming experience of a joint family home and he may want to avoid giving a wrong message to exactly this family.

You will need to talk and talk and talk to make things clear. Don’t fear to go in detail and just maybe talk at the example of others – do you like this, do you like that? Be clear with what you expect, what is a must and what doesn’t work at all for you!

Ladies, get out all the prejudices and clichés that you have heard about India and place them on the table. Many of them are true and your future partner should voice his opinion, so that you understand his view on it – and see whether there are any red flags for you!

Guys, do the same with everything you heard about western women, too, about their lifestyle and their choices. Ask what you always wanted to ask and hold nothing back – you have to understand this woman if you want to love her for the rest of your life!

I wish you that you get to a common point, that you have more in common than just your love for each other and that this will be just the start of a wonderful relationship!

As I have seen a lot of interest in this topic, I will write in detail about the issues and questions that you should talk about next week.

Are you an Indian Man having online Sex Talk with western Women? Read this! – 17 Jun 15

I have described the disappointment of many western women which we have witnessed over time and their situation, having got to know an Indian man online, fallen in love and now traveling to India to meet him. I have been directing my words to these women in the past two days but today I would like to write my blog entry for the Indian men who are at the base of this situation.

Again, my words are based on experiences which we have had here with women in exactly those situations.

My dear Indian friends, I have absolutely no problem if you get in touch with my friends over social networks. If they respond and you develop a friendship, have some talk and have intercultural exchange, I am very happy for both of you! Remember however that there is a very high chance for the women whom you are contacting in this way to contact me, ask me and talk about your conversations with me.

If I then get to know that you have been flirting with them and they are thinking to come to India and meet you, I will always ask them to be careful, as I have just expressed in my two previous blog entries. Because I know that they are serious but you might not be.

I want to say this really clear: this woman is really about to fall in love over the internet with a far-away person and that person is you! She honestly believes what you are saying and she trusts your sweet words. I am always in favour of love and everybody has the freedom to choose which ways they go and search love on – but she has fallen in love with you and I have a big doubt that you are as serious about your own words as she is!

Why do you do this kind of joke with someone’s feelings? Maybe you honestly didn’t think that the other party is taking your flirt serious. Maybe you thought she will be chatting with ten other guys like you, just as you are chatting with ten other women as well. Maybe you have had such talk with some Indian girls in the anonymity of the World Wide Web and it never went anywhere to serious. You were both just joking around, enjoying that you are able to write about sex. Anyway, you cannot talk about it nor do it because it is not a part of this culture. Neither you nor that girl would actually ever have thought of meeting each other, even if you talked about it. Even if you dreamt of having sex with each other.

I tell you something: talking to a western woman is different. Her culture is different. She thinks differently and she is most probably not suffering from suppressed sexuality as you are! That’s how she doesn’t need to have such talks without actions behind. She is serious because she is at a point in life where she really wants to find something proper, steady and for a long time! She can stand here, in India, in front of your doorstep at any point of time, demanding of you to do all the things you promised online!

Did this scare you? Good! Because if you get scared, it means you were not serious and if you are not serious, you should STOP THIS NOW! You are about to hurt another person’s feelings. Make it clear that you are just fooling around, make it clear that you will marry the woman your parents will choose for you in a few years or that you are actually already married and that you just would like to have a talk. That is fine and I promise you that most women won’t mind still talking to you, as a friend – as long as you don’t try to cheat them and make fake promises again!

Why the Indian Man with whom you talk online about Love and Sex won’t actually marry you – 16 Jun 15

Yesterday I started writing about a very important topic: western women who fall in love with Indian men online and then come to India to meet them, hoping to have found the partner of their lives. While I am really always in favour of a positive attitude and daring to follow one’s feelings, I also recommend being careful in this case. We have just seen so many disappointments that I feel like trying to explain why this happens once more. Today I will direct my words to these western women again but tomorrow I will also write a few lines for the Indian men responsible for the disappointment.

I completely understand your situation. You are at an age where you have seen and tried a lot when it comes to relationships. You have had your share of love, sex and break-ups. Now you are mature, you know what you want and that is something serious, something profound and solid.

Maybe you have also heard of Indian culture and have heard good things about guys not fooling around and not having a lot of girlfriends but being steady in long-term relationships. Statistically, this may be true. You may however face a bitter reality when you actually come to India.

The man whom you have been chatting with is a young guy with little to no experience with women who just wants to have some fun before his parents will decide on a girl for him to marry in a few years. Now there is the opportunity to have this fun with a western woman, which primarily means to him ‘white skin and easy target’.

This may seem harsh and again I agree that there can be different cases but we have made this experience and have also seen such Indian men, not only the western women in this situation. For many men it is nothing more than that. They know you are sitting far away in another country, the chances are small that you will actually fly over and search for him. And they actually don’t think that it is that serious for you, either!

You are right that young men here in India don’t jump from one relationship to the other. Mostly because they don’t have any relationship at all! The culture is not open for any kind of relationship before marriage, for many families it is a scandal if their unmarried child has a partner and thus most probably sex before marriage! Boys get taught this but much more than that the girls! Most girls are very careful not to get a bad reputation by chatting about love with boys.

That brings you into the game: you are from one of those countries of which people think that they have ‘an open sex culture’. While it is correct that in your country people easily have sex and live together as partners in a relationship where you respect each other, many Indians think it is very different. I have been asked ‘So you go to the west, is it really easy to have sex there with anybody?’ and western women have told me how Indian strangers asked them ‘In your country, you have an open sex culture, right?’ They practically think that most westerners simply enjoy sex without attachment – after all, they are not married! They don’t consider that you actually put your feelings in there!

Before you get your hopes up in that direction however, you also have to realize that you are not marriage-material for them! The common Indian plan for life is that the parents arrange a marriage with a young Indian woman of their religion and caste that will bear them children whom they will raise.

Where do you fit in here? For most families, which are to a very big part believers in traditional values, you are not suitable simply by the fact that you are not Indian, not Hindu and not of their caste. Additionally you may already have passed the age that they consider right for getting children! The average Indian is very attached to his family and would not like to disappoint them. Men have left their Indian girlfriends whom they considered their big love of their lives only to please their parents and marry the bride they chose for them. They most probably won’t go through fights with their family in order to be with a foreigner who is not yet so sure herself either.

In the end, one can say that they just want to have fun and are not serious. If you come to India to confront them, they will simply be scared.

That holds true not only for young men! You may also find a married man who can tell you anything, that his wife died or that he is divorced, just to convince you to talk about love and sex with him. His marriage may not be very exciting and he may be spending a lot of time apart from his wife. He may be satisfied with just a chat or maybe a skype session. When you come to India however, they cannot meet you without their wife getting to know about it. Or they meet you just for a night, leaving you disappointed again.

Finally, I just want to remind you that the world of the internet is not real. I have a lot of ‘friends’ on facebook and you can be a mutual friend but that does not mean that I know them personally. I cannot guarantee for any of them, so please don’t think just because they are in touch with me, they are honest, morally correct or very good people.

Be careful what you do and where you put your heart. We will always be ready to welcome you here in India if you really want to try and get to know this man. Just remember that things may seem different than they are.

Indian men, as promised, I will have few lines for you tomorrow!

Love is more important than your Genes – 23 Feb 14

Last week I told you about the mother who had come to me for an individual session together with her 18-year-old daughter. She had told her daughter on her 18th birthday that the man who had raised her and whom she called her father was actually not her biological father. Her biological father was a man with whom she had had an affair and whom she knew nothing about. Now it was up to me to talk to this young woman whose psychological situation was, understandably, a mess.

The mother, in distress and feeling guilty about causing her daughter’s emotional rollercoaster, explained why she had told her, after such a long time, about this big secret: she felt as though it was eating her from inside that she had lied for so many years. She had been carrying it in her heart and felt as though it was getting heavier every day.

I actually felt that there had been no reason to open this truth now, after such a long time. The girl was now adult, happy with the situation as it was and there was nothing to gain for her. There was not another caring individual who could become another role of father for her, as nobody even knew this man’s contact details. Instead, she lost the feeling of having a father for the person who had always been exactly this for her! You did not think about the consequences of your actions and how difficult it would be for you to bear them! But these thoughts were in vain, as she had not asked me before. I talked with the girl instead.

The mysterious man whose genes she shared was very present in this girl’s mind. How can I get in touch with him? If I try to search him and really find him, how would he react? And what about mother’s ex-husband, whom I call my dad? I don’t know what to think, what to do, I could just sit there and cry because my whole life was a lie until now! It feels like I am missing an important part of myself!

I told her that she was now an adult and needed to see things from a mature point of view. As a strong woman, she would be able to bear this shock, this sudden information, and see what is behind it: nothing actually changed.

In my eyes, it was not at all important who the biological father was. You don’t know his name, have never thought of him before and have never missed anything – why would you miss him now? Why would he suddenly be important?

If you are not strong, it will confuse you a lot. If you see it realistically however, you are still standing on the same ground and your place in this world has not changed. The man who raised you and loves you and whom you love very much as well will always be your father! Your genes don’t weight heavier than the love that he has given to you throughout your whole life!

You are a complete person as you are and first of all you need to get back to your balance in your life as it is now. If at some point after that you want to start your search for this man, do it without expecting an overwhelming result. Do it when you know it won’t upset your current life.

Be yourself, as you were until now. Love is more important than your genes!

My Review of 2013 from January to June – 31 Dec 13

It is the last day of the year again. Amazing how fast those 365 days went by! Again, it was a year full of events and emotions and I would like to share my personal year’s review with you.

January

We started the year 2013 together with friends at the Ashram. Thomas, Iris and a few more were there to welcome another year. Although it was thus a quite happy and jolly beginning, our January was still under the impression of Ammaji’s recent passing away. The pain was still fresh and we cried a few times with our friends who remembered her together with us.

That’s how we didn’t do a big celebration for Apra’s birthday last year. We did have gifts though, of course, and naturally she was very excited, too. Presents, the attention of everyone around – which child wouldn’t love that?

February

In February our Ayurveda Yoga Holiday started and we were able to welcome a few groups to our Ashram as well. In that time we had to make once more the experience that you cannot make people happy who come to you with wrong expectations. Those who had informed themselves before however had a great time and big benefits from their retreat.

In February an exciting start was made: the first steps were taken for building the first floor of our school!

March

March started for me with some unusual amount of activity outside the Ashram: my best friend Govind had had an accident and was in hospital. I regularly went to visit him and to see how he was doing. It was nice to spend this time with him – even if it was for a not so nice reason!

Ramona’s father came to visit us in mid-March, to celebrate Ramona’s birthday with us. After many years it was the first time for them to be together on this day and it was definitely a memorable event of 2013! He also joined the Holi celebrations, together with Thomas, Iris, Sylvia, Melanie and other friends and it got very colourful before most of them took off for touring the Himalayas!

April

The amount of visitors at the Ashram reduced in April, as usual when the heat starts, and Yashendu left for his travels in Europe. We were not bored at the Ashram though: Ramona and I had lots to do to prepare for our own trip to Germany together with Apra!

May

While the school work continued and slowly took shape in May, we made the last high-speed preparations before Ramona, Apra and I took off to Germany in the middle of May.

Wiesbaden was the first station of our baby’s first big trip. After some necessary purchases – a car seat, a stroller and more – as well as some paperwork, we could fully enjoy seeing how Apra marveled at all the new things she saw. Amazement didn’t stop when we continued our journey to her German grandparents!

June

We travelled nearly the whole month of June throughout Germany, visiting Sonja and Peter in Erkelenz, Michael and Andrea in Luneburg, meeting Regina and Celina at the Baltic Sea beach and many more friends at these stations. Finally again Augsburg and Wiesbaden and after this wonderful trip, we returned safely back to the Ashram. Wow, these were definitely the most eventful weeks of the year!

And as the post is getting long and there is still much to tell, I will go on with the description of the rest of the year tomorrow. I wish all of you a wonderful end of this day, month and year and a great start into the year 2014!

How to deal with Grief – just never suppress it! – 12 Dec 13

I yesterday told you that I believe religious philosophies do not help at all when someone is in grief about the loss of a loved one. I told you that you just have to accept it. Of course that is the reality but there are some stages to it and I would like to tell you from my own experience how I think that process looks like.

First of all, there is a time of shock. Of course the depth and length of this shock depends very much on the question whether it was an expected or unexpected death and how close you were to the deceased.

If I speak of myself, it was one week in the case of my younger sister, who died in a car accident in 2006, while I was not even in India. For a complete week, I was like a madman, not able to accept what had happened. I did not cry and couldn’t let it out. One morning I got up and told my younger brother he should search for her on Google, we would find her there, she would be there! I was simply in denial of reality. One day however, reality reached me and I could finally cry.

After Ammaji died with all of us around her, in spite of our effort to take her to the hospital, I felt like a stone again. Since the moment we knew that she had left us forever until her cremation was over, no tears reached my eyes. Only when we came back to the Ashram, an empty Ashram without my mother in there, grief hit me and I cried. We all cried.

This is, I believe, the next step, and a very important one, too. You need to let the grief take over. Allow the sadness to pour out of you, in the form of tears and sobs, let your crying shake you. It is necessary to go through this and to not hold your emotions back!

I know that many people don’t let this step happen properly. Whether it is their own nature or their culture, they keep up that wall of stone around their heart and just don’t let the pain get out. They suppress, something which is never good. You have to allow it for it to pass. You can do it alone in your room but I tell you, nobody will judge you for those tears! Sharing the grief with someone else will not only give you faster relief but it will eternally connect you with this other person!

Life will go on. You will need to adjust and maybe that gap that this person left will never be filled. For a time I was not able to look at my sister’s pictures at all. Even with Ammaji’s pictures it was hard. But I believe it is healthy to take them out after some time and revive the beautiful memories of an earlier time.

There may be people who in our situation would never again eat Gakadiya (bread on open coal fire) or Gajar ka Halwa (a sweet carrot dish) again – because our mother made the best of the world and we only ever ate it from her hands. We know how to prepare it though and we have staff who learned from her, so we cook and eat. While we eat, we remember the taste of Gakadiya and Gajar ka Halwa made by her hands and then maybe shed a tear or two together or just eat together in memory of her love.

Life goes on and we go on along with it. We keep the memories in our hearts and feel the love. Don’t try to ban the memories from your heart. Live them, love them and feel how they bring that person very close to you again, in your heart.