Let your Children make their own Mistakes – it helps them develop their potential! – 29 Sep 16

I mentioned yesterday that all parents want the best for their child. It is natural and normal to think in this way. There is however a certain struggle, too: a lot of parents keep their children too safe in the belief only they know what will be best for their child. Sometimes they forget that you have to make mistakes to find out what you want and that kids may go another way than they think!

This is a phenomenon which I have seen in many different countries and cultures, which is why I can confidently say that it is a parental issue. We all act according to our own experiences. That is simply normal. If we have faced difficulties in life, we try to prevent our children from getting into those same situations. We want to share our experience so that they have benefit from it.

That is the reason why for example Indian parents want their children to become doctors and engineers: they see in their surrounding that people with these jobs had the most success. This is why parents in the west take their children to dancing and singing competitions and push them to practice more and more – because they see how much fame and success those have who start early and work hard.

It is fully normal and of course also right to teach your children from your experiences. What we have to take care of however is one simple thing: we still have to give our children the freedom to develop their own wishes and let them explore who they want to be and what they want to do.

In this process, every child will make his own mistakes. It is natural and even necessary. Children who grow up in a bubble of security, whose parents protect them from each and every mistake, will not learn that in life there are situations of disappointment and also failure. You will not always be safe of mistakes, pain and negative experiences! This all is a part of creating your personality, finding out what you want and need.

At the same time, you should not push your children to do something they would not want to do just because you think it is what is good. It may be good for you but not for your children! It may just be the wrong thing for them or absolutely nothing that they would be happy with!

With these words I reach the point which I believe we really need to focus on: the happiness of our children. Let them do mistakes while guiding them gently, with love and in a way that they know they are free to do what they wish while you are providing the support of your experience! Let them find their own happiness, even if it goes against what you think would have been the best for them.

Should it go wrong at some point, be there for them. Just a shoulder, a helping hand. Without judgement or a ‘told-you-so’ attitude. I know, you will say ‘easier said than done’ and you are right, my daughter is only four-and-a-half years old but you know, I have every intention to keep it this way and know that I will be successful with this, too.

Lass deine Kinder ihre eigenen Fehler machen – es hilft ihnen, ihr Potential zu entwickeln! – 29 Sep 16

Ich habe gestern erwähnt, dass alle Eltern das Beste für ihr Kind wollen. Es ist ganz natürlich und normal, so zu denken. Es gibt jedoch auch einen gewissen Zwiespalt: viele Eltern behüten ihre Kinder zu sehr, in dem Glauben nur sie wüssten, was für ihr Kind am Besten ist. Manchmal vergessen sie, dass man seine eigenen Fehler machen muss, um herauszufinden, was man machen will und dass Kinder vielleicht einen anderen Weg gehen, als man denkt!

Das ist ein Phänomen, das ich schon in vielen verschiedenen Ländern und Kulturen gesehen habe, weshalb ich zuversichtlich sagen kann, dass es ein Thema von Eltern ist. Wir alle handeln nach unseren eigenen Erfahrungen. Das ist einfach nur normal. Wenn wir im Leben Schwierigkeiten hatten, versuchen wir, unsere Kinder davon abzuhalten, in die gleichen Situationen zu kommen. Wir wollen unsere Erfahrungen Teilen, so dass sie daraus Nutzen ziehen können.

Das ist der Grund, warum zum Beispiel indische Eltern wollen, dass ihre Kinder Ärzte und Ingenieure werden: sie sehen in ihrer Umgebung, dass Menschen mit dieser Arbeit den größten Erfolg haben. Deshalb bringen Eltern im Westen ihre Kinder zu Gesangs- und Tanz-Wettbewerben und bringen sie dazu, immer noch mehr und mehr zu üben – weil sie sehen, wie viel Ruhm und Erfolg diejenigen haben, die früh begonnen und hart gearbeitet haben.

Es ist völlig normal und natürlich auch richtig, seinen Kindern von seiner Erfahrung zu berichten und demnach Dinge beizubringen. Worauf wir jedoch achten müssen ist eines: wir müssen unseren Kindern trotzdem die Freiheit geben, ihre eigenen Wünsche zu entwickeln und sie erforschen zu lassen, wer sie sein wollen und was sie tun möchten.

Auf diesem Weg macht jedes Kind seine eigenen Fehler. Das ist natürlich und sogar notwendig. Kinder, die in einer Blase der Sicherheit aufwachsen, deren Eltern sie vor jedem Fehler bewahren, lernen nicht, dass es im Leben Situationen der Enttäuschung und auch des Misserfolges gibt. Man kann sich nicht immer vor Fehlern, Schmerzen und negativen Erfahrungen bewahren! Das ist alles Teil der Persönlichkeitsfindung, herauszufinden, was man will und braucht.

Gleichzeitig sollte man seine Kinder nicht mit Druck dazu bringen, etwas zu tun, was sie nicht tun wollen, nur weil du meinst, dass das das einzig Gute ist. Das mag für dich gut sein, aber nicht für deine Kinder! Für sie mag es das Falsche sein oder absolut nichts, womit sie glücklich wären!

Mit diesen Worten komme ich an den Punkt, auf den wir uns meiner Meinung nach wirklich konzentrieren müssen: das Glück unserer Kinder. Lass sie Fehler machen, während du sie sanft leitest, mit Liebe und auf eine Weise, dass sie wissen, dass sie frei das tun können, was sie wollen, während du sie mit deiner Erfahrung unterstützt! Lass sie ihr eigenes Glück finden, selbst wenn es gegen das geht, was du für sie für das Beste gehalten hättest.

Sollte irgendwann etwas schief laufen, sei für sie da. Einfach eine Schulter, eine helfende Hand. Ohne zu urteilen oder eine ‚ich-hab’s-dir-doch-gesagt‘-Einstellung. Ich weiß, ihr könnt jetzt sagen, das ist einfach gesagt als getan und ja, meine Tochter ist erst viereinhalb Jahre alt, aber wisst ihr, ich habe fest vor, diese Einstellung beizubehalten und ich weiß, dass ich auch hierbei erfolgreich sein werde.

No Guilt but enjoying Sex – even when talking about it afterwards! – 27 Sep 16

When I yesterday talked about feelings of guilt about having had sex, I had to think of a lady who had come for a counselling session with me who had this problem very intensely: she had been brought up in a catholic home by a very faithful mother who had never even talked to her about physical love. That’s how you see all religions love suppressing sexuality… but you can get out of that!

The woman who had come described how difficult this attitude of her parents was for her during her teenage time. It was as though the urges she experienced were evil, really made by the devil and had to be suppressed or even cured in some way. She felt wrong whenever she caught herself looking at a boy or man and finding anybody of the other gender attractive! She felt horribly guilty because she had actually dared to kiss a boy her age at a party – when she was seventeen!

She moved out, started working and slowly helped herself finding a more modern attitude. Influence from the outside and of course the distance to her mother meant that she felt free and relieved of the burden of expectations that she would lead a sin-free life! She finally founded her own family – but throughout her marriage still felt the consequences of her upbringing: she still felt guilty about having sex! She never talked about her intimate life with anybody and if someone made a joke in that direction, she would blush heavily and find herself unable to respond!

It is as though you are doing something illegal while everyone keeps telling you it is completely legal! It is as though you fear there could be a consequence one day for all the sins you are committing! And it is all caused by being told sex is a sin. An idea coming from religion.

You can get out of this dilemma however! Yes, you can work your way out of it! It takes time and a steady effort to work on yourself, but you can do it! The first step is to realize that you have such feelings. The next one is to recognize those people who support such emotions in you. Once you have come this far, you are ready for action: whenever you notice that you feel guilty because you have had sex, relax, lean back and explain yourself that you are not hurting anybody. On the contrary, you give love to your partner and to yourself!

If you are in company of people of whom you know that they make you feel guilty, be bold and honest. Yes, tell them exactly what you tell yourself, too: there is nothing wrong with sex! It is about love, it is beautiful, it gives everybody a good feeling. Sex is nothing dirty, it is wonderful!

If you cannot go this far, repeat it in yourself and smile – let them wonder! Don’t let all of this ruin your fun and try further not to feel guilty in the first place!

The big Taboo of Sex – still making People feel guilty around the World! – 26 Sep 16

I yesterday mentioned that the topic sex is still a big taboo in India. Even within a marriage, the two partners often don’t talk at all about sex. They do it, as it is a biological urge and their duty as well to reproduce. They also enjoy it – who wouldn’t? But they don’t talk about it. Even in the west however, I have talked with a lot of people who feel incredibly shy and even guilty when it comes to talking about sex!

I have given counselling sessions to a lot of people over the course of the years and obviously, there have often been issues which had their origin in suppression of sexuality. This suppression is not only merely physical but happens first of all in the minds of people! The basic idea that sex is something morally condemnable is the problem.

This is where you can see centuries of religious influence and funny moral instructions working still in today’s modern times! I cannot count how many times I have told people not to feel guilty about having had sex! Only the levels of when they started feeling it were different. There were some who felt guilty about having a lot of one-night-stands and being sexually active with people they didn’t know. Others felt guilty about enjoying sexual fantasies which are ‘out of the norm’ – whatever they thought the norm was. Then there were those who felt guilty about having sex with a partner because they were taught only to have sex after marriage. And there were even those who felt strangely guilty about having sex with their spouses. Yes, because they enjoyed it but were told that sex is not supposed to be enjoyed.

You can see and pick which one is your level – but in my eyes sex is never something you should feel guilty about as long as you don’t hurt anybody. I am completely against cheating on your or another person’s partner but as long as you are just enjoying sex, be it with your partner or another person who wants to become intimate with you, I believe there is nothing wrong. In the consequence, any feelings of guilt are misplaced and wrong!

Enjoy your love life, enjoy having sex, enjoy being physically close to someone and think back on those experiences with joy – not with guilt! Don’t spoil your memories with this ugly feeling that doesn’t bring you anything! Love life and with it all its physical aspects as well!

Why you should not try to be perfect – 24 Feb 16

Yesterday I wrote about the little judgements that especially parents often have to face from the outside. And the reason why such a judgement often bothers you much longer than it actually should, is simple: you want to be perfect!

Yes, striving for perfection actually makes you unhappy, something you may already have guessed. Why? Because there is no way you are ever going to reach this goal! There is nobody who is perfect, we all make mistakes and the easier you accept this, the happier you will be!

The problem for a lot of people is however that they really very much want to be perfect. They don’t want to make any mistake and that’s how they are eagerly trying to do everything right. If they do a mistake, they beat themselves up about it mentally. Paired with a tendency to worry about what others think, this gets even worse. A mistake proves you wrong and you get stuck with it. You keep it in the mind, try to make explanations and excuses, you try to hide it so that nobody sees it – in short, you just don’t want to let anybody see that you are not perfect. Maybe you even manage to convince yourself that it was not a real mistake, that in fact you are perfect and it was someone else’s mistake!

Another problem is that there is not always a right and a wrong! For some people, one thing may be right while others would say the same for a completely different matter. So if you are trying to be perfect for your surroundings, you constantly need to change, because the people around you have different ideas of what is perfect!

There is a big lesson for everyone wanting to be perfect: we learn from our mistakes! Yes, it is actually good to do mistakes because they teach you what you should or should not do in future. You can feel guilty about your mistake and ponder on it for weeks or months or you can accept that it was a mistake and make a change!

I can promise you that other people won’t even remember your mistake for as long as you do! They forget it quicker than you because it actually is not as important as you think it is! So when you feel judged by someone about a little thing and then you are worried about it for a long time, they may already have changed their mind and forgotten all about it!

Don’t try to be perfect – you are perfect as you are with all your mistakes!

Please don’t feel guilty for enjoying yourself! – 5 Oct 15

A lot of times my ideas for my blog entries come from conversation with people who are facing issues that other people could be facing as well. The same is true with the case I would like to write about today: a visitor at the Ashram who had big conflicts inside herself when deciding where to travel next. She had plans, options and wishes on where she wanted to go – but would she be selfish if she did?

This lady had a very charitable nature and was active in several organizations. In her free time, she did voluntary work in order to help poor people, be that in her own country or in the third world, in Africa or India. For earning money, she worked in a big company and was very happy that she had now been able to get a six-week holiday, more than she has ever had before. She had wanted to travel and see some of the countries where she helped with her own eyes. She had decided to start in India!

For the beginning, she spent a week with us, as she had wanted to get to know India in a safe environment first. She had not made fixed plans except for the last two weeks when she would do volunteer work for the charity organization in West Bengal that she had been supporting for years. She would teach children in an orphanage. The time in between was free and when she was here, she was having quite some trouble deciding where to go.

She loved the ocean and had seen a lot of pictures of gorgeous Indian beaches. Goa, Kerala – she actually had the wish to go there and relax while lying below the palm trees. At the same time there was the possibility to go join the orphanage earlier or even visit another charity organization, a school for handicapped children.

She was torn in between the options: she really wanted to just take a break and enjoy her time at the beach but it made her feel selfish, egoistic even to be spending her time and money for her pleasure instead of donating both to those charity organizations!

I told her to do what her heart really wanted to do. Go to the beach and relax if this is what you feel like doing. Don’t let this funny feeling of guilt dictate you. Don’t get me wrong – I am running a charity myself and support is always welcome – but you are important as well! You have worked hard for this money, you have lots of stress in your busy company and after this time of travelling you will go back to that. You are worth it to do something for yourself, too.

After all, you are anyway going to spend two weeks teaching those children anyway! It takes a lot of energy, too, and you can only give that if you are relaxed yourself! If you have energy to give at all!

Don’t ever feel guilty about having more than others. Only that makes it possible for you to give – but you need to take care of yourself, too. Don’t make yourself unhappy to make others happy! It won’t work this way!

Give yourself a Hand – why you should masturbate without feeling guilty! – 3 Jun 15

The day before yesterday I told you a bit about my definition of lust and why I think it is good. Yesterday then I finally could tell you why porn does not increase the number of rape incidents – in case some of you wondered. It was all about lust and sex – but today I would like to write about another way of reaching satisfaction: masturbation.

I actually received a comment on my views which I expressed yesterday. I mentioned that one always has the possibility to release lust by helping oneself. A person commented: ‘I don’t think sexual feelings are wrong. I can agree that they are natural – but masturbation is not! It is completely unnatural!’

Unfortunately this is a very commonly spread misconception and not only in India. It is something that teenagers get told when they start feeling sexual urges and want to explore them by using their own body.

Boys are made afraid that each time they spill their semen, they are wasting their life’s energy. The means that each time you masturbate, you cut off some of your lifetime. Masturbate too often and you won’t be able to enjoy a long life. Other parents tell that masturbation causes blindness. Who knows what such boys think when they see blind people! 🙂

Girls are anyway told not to touch themselves. They often get taught a very strange relation to their own body. While it is the sign of great manliness when a man has lots of desire, it is something shameful and sinful for women. Every talk surrounding their genitals is full of shame and guilt, including their menstruation – how could masturbation be accepted? When mothers don’t even tell their daughter more about sex than just to ‘let their husband do’? When women don’t want to use tampons or take vaginally inserted medicine because they are not comfortable touching themselves or fear losing their virginity in this way?

So I know it may not help a lot but maybe just give a few people something to think of when I write here: masturbation is one of the most natural things on this planet! Really, just take a look at the animals around you, they do it all the time! We have monkeys in the garden who love having sex with each other but who don’t mind when nobody else is there – they give themselves relief!

While I agree that we are a bit different from monkeys – even if not too much, as it sometimes seems – masturbation is completely natural for humans as well! It is scientifically proven that there is no medical issue if you help yourself reach orgasm from time to time. You won’t die earlier and you won’t be blind. On the contrary, sexual excitement and an orgasm flushes your body with a whole lot of good hormones, endorphins and more, releasing tension and letting you not only relax. You can concentrate better and are overall happier, as you have fulfilled one basic desire and need!

And just to let you know one thing: it doesn’t matter how much you tell me that you never do it nor that you have done it, we all know better – everybody does and has done it! The amount of guilt each person feels for it however varies greatly!

Of course, if you decide to believe in a god who would punish you for making yourself feel good, it’s your choice. Feel like a sinner – but I tell you, should you just decide not to believe in that guy, you will lead a happier life!

A life in which you can take the things in your own hands – literally!

Keep your Children busy and off the TV – but not because they are a Burden for you! – 20 Apr 15

Today I would like to write a bit about an advertising campaign that showed me once more how wrong some people’s attitude towards their children is. Sometimes it feels as though their children are a burden for them!

These thoughts basically started when my wife came to show me an advertisement. She had seen it on her facebook newsfeed several times but had never clicked on it because the headline was not interesting for her: ‘Ever thought: “How can I cut back on my child’s TV time?”’ – and as Apra about never watches TV and only some YouTube videos we select for her, we don’t actually have this issue. She got curious one day though and watched the promotion video.

The idea in itself was a good one: a company monthly sends a box with craft supplies, paint and something to read. A wonderful business idea which also helps parents to be creative with their kids. The product is nothing wrong in my eyes. The advertisement of it is the issue!

In this video, a cartoon mother and father look at their child who is watching TV and a text says ‘You always wanted to get them off the TV…’ but when the mother suggests ‘You wanna take him out and play?’, the father runs away to work saying ‘I’m busy!’ and the mother, in meditation pose, answers ‘So am I’. After some scientific figures and proof that TV watching is bad, there is the solution – this box – and then you see how the mother is blissfully meditating and the father is sleeping.

So the problem that they want to solve is obviously not the children watching TV but the parents wanting to have time for themselves! They know TV is not good but oh, they don’t have time to play with their child! And here is the perfect solution: you get a box full of toys that will keep your child busy so that you have time for yourself!

No, this is not what parenting is supposed to be! If you have a child, you have a responsibility! You know it – otherwise you wouldn’t feel guilty when a video tells you that ‘the age from 3 to 7 is crucial in brain development’, that ‘80% of brain development occurs by the age of 5 – only through active engagement’ and that children who watch too much TV are ‘more likely to become overweight’! You know this all and it makes you feel bad when you look at your child’s daily activities? Make a change!

I am not saying you shouldn’t have time to meditate or work! I am not saying that you have to be with your child every minute of the day! But if you already think of paying for a box of art and craft supplies every month, please sit down with your children and use those items together! It is not only developing their brain and spending their time sensibly, it also creates a bond in between you! Your child will learn so much more if there is a loving individual, a real person next to him or her!

It is sad that such advertisements are being made and that they actually hit home for people! I know you love your children – now don’t be lazy, get up and play with them! Don’t say you are too busy and will do it later – the best years will be over faster than you will even know!

Don’t feel guilty if you have untraditional sexual Fantasies! – 21 Dec 14

As I have already been telling you about some people who came to me for individual consultations in 2007 in Australia, I would like to tell you about one more. One, whom I found to be a quite interesting one. Let me tell you how and why.

This woman came and told me that she and her boyfriend had been together for the past year. Everything was fine. No, better than just fine – everything was going really wonderful. Except for one thing: their sex life.

When someone starts off like this, it normally shows me that this relationships has serious problems. When there are problems in your love life, your most intimate time, it can be a huge issue. When I heard about the nature of the problem however, I couldn’t help but think that in this case, it was not as much of a problem.

She told me how her boyfriend, after four or five months, told her something about his preferences in bed. They had had time to get intimate with each other, had slept with each other – and she had thought it to be quite awesome sex. But he told her, gently and bit by bit, that he liked it a bit different, too. A bit harder, with some games and stuff. You cannot imagine the difficulties she had, telling me about this, blushing deeply red and trying to get it out as fast as possible: “Actually, he sometimes likes getting spanked and sometimes likes to hit me, too!” So they basically were experimenting with tying each other up and even hitting each other during sex or foreplay.

At first, she had thought her boyfriend was quite perverse but she agreed on some little games – and bit by bit she found out that she liked what he was doing! Some things more than others but she said the sex had become even more amazing! The best she ever had!

After listening to all of this I asked her “What exactly is the problem you see with this?”

And I got to know that she felt guilty about the way they were intimate with each other. She felt great while having sex – but afterwards she felt bad, wondering why she enjoyed tying up the man she loved, whether it was not degrading her if she enjoyed doing as he ordered when they were playing. She was quick to add that they both never hit very hard and made sure I knew that she did not feel forced to sleep with him but really was active as well. But that was the problem for her – how could she enjoy this? Was this not sick?

I told her not to worry so much. If you are just playing and thus living your fantasies, enjoying each other’s bodies, I don't see anything wrong. On the contrary, that is actually a sign of a healthy relationship: when you can tell your partner about your deepest wishes and fantasies and he will go there with you and enjoy it, too! Nobody is being harmed, you both love it – so why to spoil it by feeling guilty?

I told her that in Europe I had seen sex shops that sell toys to realize such fantasies and thought they would have them there, too. So of course what they did in their bedroom was a couple’s secret but she didn’t need to think they were the only ones.

I believe that people in countries like India could be judgmental and think it is strange, because they have never heard of it, not seen or read of it.

I encouraged her to see the sex drive as something natural and stop fighting against it. They also cuddled and hugged and loved each other just in bed from time to time, ‘in traditional style’, she had called it – so there is really no reason to believe you are sick or in any way wrong.

If you enjoy your sex life and your partner does, too, I don't see why you should get unhappy about making each other happy.

She left me, the shoulders straight, the face happy and showing a much bigger confidence than when she had come in!

And I smiled – isn't it wonderful how many different people with different preferences there are on this world? And they all find someone to love one day!

Don’t feel guilty about being Vegetarian among Meat-eating Friends – 9 Dec 14

Yesterday I explained my dislike of 'meat substitutes' like tofu sausages etc. I mentioned that you shouldn't have feelings of regret and cravings once you have made your conscious decision to be vegetarian. I remain on this point and want to add that it is still true, even if you are sitting with friends in a restaurant and don't find any acceptable vegetarian options on the menu! Don't feel bad or even guilty about your choice of lifestyle!

Many vegetarians know this feeling: you go to a place to eat together with friends. You open the menu and the only thing that could be eatable for you would be a tomato salad. If you don't eat onions, like me, even that is not an option. There is no single dish without dead animal in there.

What to do? You can either take the tomato salad and plan for another snack to still your hunger once you come home or you can start asking the waiter for vegetarian options. Depending on the person in front of you and the flexibility of the restaurant kitchen, that can be a rather lengthy discussion. You will get incomprehensive glances and maybe even stupid remarks. In the meantime, you start feeling more and more uncomfortable, wondering whether your friends feel you are making a fuss and are getting impatient because you cannot just place a simple order.

The result: you feel guilty and bad. If your meal arrives and it turns out that they have only picked out the bacon from the sauce and you still see the rests, it gets worse. Should you complain, embarrassing your friends further? In the end, your evening is definitely not as pleasant as you hoped for.

I tell you something: you have to take some decisions. If you know that you will go for dinner, tell your friends that you need a place that has vegetarian options or you won't go. Nothing that they need to feel bad about and nothing that you have to feel bad about. If you want to do something together – and you friendship should be more important than the choice of restaurant – you can go to a place that has something to eat for you, too! After all, these days vegetarianism is not anymore such a strange thing! Restaurants should cater to this need as well – and if they don't, you should not bring them business and definitely not blame your own decisions.

Another option is to invite your friends to your home! Cook something together or simply invite them when you have cooked one of your favourite dishes. Show them that vegetarian food is tasty – maybe they will then agree on finding a good place with you that does have vegetarian meals!

I am lucky to live in the country that has the lowest rate of meat consumption in the world – which means that there are always vegetarian restaurants somewhere close-by available. I am faced with another issue sometimes: I don’t eat onions or garlic. But I have lots of experience in the food question – and I think I will write more about my personal experiences tomorrow.