Feeling Lonely? Open up and you may see new Possibilities! – 29 Aug 16

A few days ago, we received an email by a lady who had come to me for counselling already a few years ago. In that time, she was facing some physical issues and I could help with some tips for yoga postures and Ayurvedic nutrition. This time however, she wrote me for another issue: she was feeling lonely!

This young woman is slightly over 30, has her work which she enjoys and regularly goes out with friends. She is however yearning for a partner. That is nothing surprising, every single around 30 will have such issues, male or female. That is practically just biology. The details however made me think that my reply might help a few more people in her situation.

She has been single for many years. There have been short-term relationships but more than that, there had been one-night stands or open sexual encounters with someone with whom she had an agreement: we can have sex but will never go further towards a relationship. Emotionally, she is not attached to this man very much, nor does she had any other such person whom she felt attracted to. But she wishes very much for this feeling of closeness. She is tired of being alone in the evenings and nights. A natural urge to have someone to hold and be held by.

Without wanting to tell a lot of details of her personal life, let me just say that she has had possibilities to be closer to friends or acquaintances in the past but had not continued down this path.

I told her to open up and let her fear subside. The fear of getting hurt or of damaging a friendship by starting a relationship. As long as you are showing the world that you are the tough single woman who faces life on her own and loves her independence, there may be few men who would dare making an offer. You don’t seem as though you would want them in your life! You are practically shutting your doors to such offers although you want people to come in and propose!

Being open does not mean that you let just anybody in and step on your feelings and emotions. It does however mean that you show the readiness for the right one to come. That you let it happen and start an adventure.

Don’t play safe. Life isn’t safe and good things happen the moment you let your guard down! Let it happen. Let the sparkle that you are dreaming of actually come until you – and you will notice that it is just so much easier than to fight with yourself all the time! There may be disappointment and sometimes pain as well – but more than that, you will have the chance to get what you are yearning for: love.

Virtual Reality Goggles and how they make people even lonelier – 1 Mar 16

Have you seen those goggle-like high-tech devices lately which you can put over your head, attach your smartphone to and then enter a virtual reality with which you reach completely different dimensions of watching movies or playing games! You see things in 3D, you are all of a sudden in the middle of it, a part of it, as though it was you in real life within the movie or game! Sounds great – until you get the thought that this could actually make life even lonelier than it already is!

A few weeks ago, Ramona, Apra and I were in Gurgaon, I believe it was when we brought Monika to the hospital, and needed to buy something. We went into one of the many malls there and walked by a stall of Samsung, I believe it was, where these things were presented to the public and promoted heavily. A lady with a microphone approached people and told them they would get a voucher for a coffee shop in the mall if they managed to survive in a game called ‘Temple Run’ or something similar for more than 30 seconds.

Well, I was curious of the technology and my wife has a competitive gene in her which made her want to win the voucher. So we tried it – and it looked really hilarious! It’s a pity I don’t have a picture of me trying that thing on… but as expected, Ramona had fun with the game and won her voucher.

When we got piece of cake for Apra at the coffee shop afterwards, we sat together and talked not only about how it had made us feel a little bit dizzy to suddenly be in the middle of that game, not seeing your surrounding anymore, but also about the effects this may have on future relationships! Or is that only a thing for singles? Aren’t we going to isolate ourselves even further by this technology?

Turn it as you wish, this device practically removes you from your surrounding and places you into your own world. You can already notice this happening with smartphones anyway: instead of interacting with the physical people around you, everyone stares at their screens, often only passively taking part in other people’s online lives! Now place those goggles onto everyone’s faces and they won’t even be disturbed by you waving a hand in front of their faces!

Of course, your phone can show you the world in this way and you can dive into colours and never-seen places – but if you do this too often, you miss the colours, brightness and joys of a real world!

And it will definitely not help your relationship if the two of you sit next to each other on the sofa in the evening with your goggles on, in two different worlds.

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!

Indian Men, please read, if you are about to move to the West with your western Partner – 6 Jul 15

After having written about the challenges that a western woman may face if she comes to live with her Indian partner in India, I would like to turn the tables around today and probably in the next days as well. What if the Indian man moves to the west instead? There are more things than only the adjustment within your relationship! And one very big one is the change from the joint family living in India to the individuality that is very normal in nearly all western countries I have been to.

For one, you are most probably not going to live together with your partner’s parents and other family members. If you have never heard of this before, it may sound a bit strange to you but in the west, it is normal that a child moves out of the home at the age of 18 or 20. It is not because they have problems in their home or don’t get along – it is simply how things are done. And while in India, young adults may also go to another city for their education, they normally return home afterwards, if they somehow can, so that they can live with their joint family.

In the west, children are trained from the very beginning to be independent. It is individualism, a thinking of ‘mine’ and ‘yours’ which may seem very strange and impersonal to you at times. Most of all, it may feel very lonely.

As a man who has grown up among siblings, aunts, uncles and grandparents, it can feel strange to come home to an empty flat. No laughter of children, noise of chatting family members or pots and pans in the kitchen. Maybe the noise of one single person, your partner, in the house – how much can that be? Anyway, there is much less noise in most parts of the western world than there is nearly always in India – but you notice it most in your own home. You have to get used to the fact that it is only the two of you – or work on a baby real quick!

Additionally however, you have to realize that this also means that family people are just not as close to each other. They are normally not as overwhelmingly emotional as Indians are! In Indian tradition, the son-in-law is welcomed in his wife’s home just like a prince. If you expect this kind of welcome in your in-laws’ home, you may be terribly disappointed – simply because they are not that emotional and don’t make such a celebration out of relations as it often happens in India!

Obviously, there is also love in between family members in the west and there are big differences in between individual families when closeness is concerned. Again, it depends on all the different people involved.

Should you feel lonely however, remember why you came to this foreign country – to be with the love of your life! So get up, think of something nice and concentrate on your relationship! Or on wondering about the other changes of your life that come with the change of country and culture you are living in! I will write more about them tomorrow.

How to fight Feelings of Loneliness – 12 Nov 14

We recently had a participant in our Ayurveda Yoga Holiday at the Ashram and I would like to tell you a little bit about her problem and our suggestion what she could do against it – of course without revealing her identity. I just believe that her issue and feelings could be similar to those of many people especially in the west: she often feels lonely.

I have often written about how western society emphasizes individualism. From the beginning on you learn to be on your own, not only to be independent but also not to feel lonely. It is taught because the society does not have a lot of big families but rather single people living on their own, sometimes in couples with one or maybe two children. There is no guarantee however that you will find a suitable partner – and no guarantee that you really learn not to feel lonely!

That's how I have met a big number of people who tell me that they have a great job, earn good money but nevertheless are lonesome and always longing for company. Often, they don't really manage to satisfy this need.

The woman who had been here, had such a problem. She was in her thirties, no partner and no children, only a few friends and most of them married and with family. She told us that she was not a very social person, not eager to go out and meet new people and that it took her long to make new friends.

In the Ayurveda Yoga Holiday, we used exercise and massages to help her with her physical issues but we also had a suggestion for her mental and emotional problem, her loneliness:

We asked her to help in the garden and with the school. Yes, we told her to spend time with children and with nature in order to fight her loneliness.

Children have a great power that nobody else has: when you are with them, you don't need to talk about certain things, don't need to fulfill any expectations and don't even need to speak the same language. You can just be with them and they are with you like they are with all other people. Do something with them and for them and you will see what kind of joy you will get! A feeling that fights your loneliness because all of a sudden you have many small friends!

And nature has, although of very different type, a very similar effect. Spend time out, connect with the plants, the green, the roots and flowers. I know you may now think that this won't replace the closeness to a friend, a real human being and maybe you are right. But try going out instead of sitting at home, passing time and you will see that it will provide you with a better sense of balance than the concrete walls of your living room and your TV shows can ever do!

You can now find a lot of arguments against mine. Don't listen to them but just try. Nature, a garden or a park is something you can find everywhere. Of course, you may not have a primary school or a kindergarten next door where you can just spend time with kids. There are however a lot of projects, institutions and places where they need exactly that: a person to spend time with children. Help out in such a place and you will see that it is help not only for them but also for you!

3 Tips on how to live as a Family again – 4 Jun 14

While I have yesterday been telling how difficult it is to separate things into ‘western’ and ‘Indian’, I today would like to discuss something which I have mainly experienced in the west, maybe due to differences in culture and tradition: many families have hardly any family life. Parents do their thing while children do theirs – they don’t do anything together and one can say that they don’t really know each other anymore.

It is, so I believe, a phenomenon that comes from the increasing individuality which is promoted especially in the west but now more and more in India as well. Both parents go to work, for various reasons, and the children first go to various educational institutions. As soon as they are old enough, they start doing their own thing – going out with friends and taking care of their own interests.

I know that with time, such things happen anyway. Children get older, they become teenagers and then adults and parents are just not that involved in their children’s activities anymore. This does not however have to happen at the age of ten! You can actually still do a lot together, even in their teenage time, and I believe you should!

What these common activities could be, you ask? I have a few examples for you:

1. Have one family meal together in a day. I understand that you cannot be all there for lunch but what about dinner? Your children complain because they want to watch TV? YOU are the parent and you are the one who sets the rules. Take one time, make it clear that you want them to be at the table and be there as well!

2. Go on holidays together. Yes, at a certain age, your children will probably make their own plans for holiday time but you can again fix one holiday in a year – one or two weeks – during which you will spend time together! If you cannot afford to go far away, just try camping or visiting relatives. Do something together in your free time, that is the sense of it!

3. Take part in other family members’ lives. Talk with each other, plan things with each other and be there for anything your children believe is important. If they have a swimming competition, go to see them compete! Accompany them to their school celebrations! Share what is important in your life as well!

These are some tips and ideas for becoming a family again. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to preserve old family traditions or keep old values and such. I am also not against modern ways of living but I believe it is important for children to live together, not as single individuals, all separate of each other!

The western Problem of lonely old People – 14 Apr 13

Among those people whom I met in 2005 there was another retired man with whom I became friends and who shared his story with me. I had seen a lot of different cases similar to his already but because we got close, I got to know more details in this case and it showed me once more that the way of living in the west, separate from your family, is not good for the mental and emotional situation, especially when people get older. It makes them lonely!

This was the main impression that I had again and again when I talked to my new friend. Even though he was living together with his wife, he felt lonely. He did not have a lot of close friends and his family relations were not very strong. On the contrary, with some members of his family he had had big arguments and fights.

To me, he seemed emotionally very disturbed, scarred from a childhood with a choleric father and disappointed from the world. This impression was confirmed when he told me that he had attempted to commit suicide twice in his life – obviously without success.

I had the wish to help him and we became friends. I thought, if someone feels lonely, it is easy to help them by just being there for them. I was there. He invited me to give program in his home and I came to visit. It was quite successful, as usual in a new place, and he was happy because he met a lot of people through the program. With some he thought he might even start a friendship which obviously made me happy, too! I invited him and he came to India with his wife.

When we got closer, he started calling me brother, as he had never felt this brotherly connection with anybody else, not even with his own, physical brother. For me that was fully fine – in India it is normal to address a person whom you like as your brother, sister, aunt or uncle, just to show that you are close to this person like a relative.

For him however it was something bigger and that made me realize the cultural difference once more. In India, in the normal family setting, there are always some relatives around who live in the same house, with whom you talk throughout the day, with whom you spend time and whom you can trust, ultimately more than you can trust anybody else. The bonding within families is normally strong.

In the west, as I could see with this man and had seen with many before, people find it important to be independent. They don’t want to live with family, if you do, you are considered weak, as though you are not strong enough to be on your own. People get taught when they are very small that they need to be on their own. If you find a partner, that is good, if you have children, you can spend time with them until they are adult but after that, when you are old, you will be on your own.

It hurts people but this is how they accept their lives. They are disappointed with their family, with the whole system, with the fact that it is normal to be alone. It doesn’t change however and this is how one generation after the other spends their old age alone, lonely, missing the love of their family around.

Trying to help a lonely Person but being rewarded with Possessiveness – 17 Feb 12

On my travels I have always been meeting a lot of different people and in the past weeks I have told you of several funny encounters with people of the esoteric scene in 2005. Obviously, as I was doing healing work, yoga and meditations, I was always surrounded by people who were interested in energy and sometimes they just went further in their belief than I did. I noticed however that especially among these people, there are many with another problem: they are very, very lonely.

In the west I have, over the years, heard in hundreds of individual sessions that people felt lonely and were unhappy about the fact that they did not really have people in their life who would give them love or whom they could give love. Giving and receiving is equally important – these people were just as unhappy about the fact that they never got a loving touch by someone as they were unhappy that they could not care for someone, think of someone else’s needs and be there for someone else.

In 2005 I met such a woman in an individual session. She told me that she had been sexually abused by her father in her childhood. That experience had left deep scars and was the reason that she did not have a man in her life. She did not regret the fact however that she had no partner – no, she told me the only thing that she was missing was children! I told her ‘You can see me as your son!’

I wanted to help her to get rid of this feeling that she was fully alone in this world and so I just suggested a close friendship. Several times I came to her home and invited her to come to visit me in India. She did, too, and had a good time. I was open to share my emotions – as I actually usually am – and I was there to listen to her feelings. It was a nice friendship and I believed that for her, this could help relieving that feeling of loneliness.

For a while, that worked well, too. I think that she actually loved me but after some time I realized it was a love with a lot of expectations! She started being possessive – maybe her idea of a nice relation should look like– and wanted me to be just like her. It was impossible to fulfill her expectations and I didn’t want to do that either! In my idea of a close friendship, there are two separate individuals who give each other love but still have different belief and ideas of life. Her thoughts, her way of life and especially her esoteric belief was something that I could not and did not want to accept in my life!

I felt like she was trying to control me, wanting me to think in the same way that she did. At some point she even mentioned a kind of bait in a conversation, loudly wondering who would inherit her home once when she would be no more. She practically offered me that I could inherit it, if we stayed close – and of course if I acted in the way she expected me to. The whole relation started sucking my energy, I felt mentally weak and my body reacted, too.

I had tried my best but unfortunately I have to say that I could not reach my goal. Instead of being able to fulfill the void in this woman’s life, instead of making her feel less lonely, I had a bad feeling and knew that this could not go on like this. It was not good for me and also not for her – our relation ended, after I had expressed my feelings to her. Another sign to me that some belief just did not match my way of life.

Read this if you feel you have no real Friends in this World! – 4 Sep 12

In my counseling work I frequently meet people who tell me that they feel alone and are looking for a partner or at least some friends. They say that they see happy people in couples or groups and together with friends all the time. There are coworkers who do their work in a team, there are couples who are happily doing their shopping together, who kiss and laugh on the road and there are friends who have a discussion in a restaurant or who are just hanging out with each other. Only they seem to be alone on this world. Today I want to write my blog post to all of the people who feel in this way.

The first thing I would like to tell you is that you probably don’t see the reality properly. It is hardly like this that everybody loves their coworkers, jokes around while working with them and has a great team. You, the customer, only see a two or five minute time frame of their relation with each other. That does not reflect however how they really feel for each other. There are many people who have to work together but who don’t get in tune with each other at all. In the same way there are people who are on a date and laugh and smile but already know that it was the last time they met the other one. From outside you may only pass one glance and assume everyone else is happy while you are not. That is however not the case. See that there are many other people walking around, too, who have problems, just like you.

This should however not be your main reason to cheer up – although it psychologically helps to know that there are others sitting in the same boat. But you need to change your thinking to come out of this boat!

Open your eyes and think whether you are really that much alone. Okay, maybe you don’t have a full group of friends around you whom you can tell everything and who altogether go out to have fun and joke around. Maybe you don’t even have that one best friend that everyone praises, the one with whom you can really share without holding back. But if you look around you, there will be people with whom you get along well. They may not be people with whom you could spend days without getting bored but they are there and you enjoy talking to them. That can be a family member or also a nice coworker, that can be a neighbor whom you just meet from time to time or that can be even someone who goes to have lunch at the same place that you do. You are not alone in this world!

Now, after seeing that there are some people at least available for you to talk to, you may need to get a little bit more open. Don’t hide yourself away behind your computer or television. Of course you can make friends on social networks but not by playing games, watching movies or reading random things on the internet. Get active and spend time with activities that you like and that other people may also do. There you can get in touch with more like-minded people. Be open to spend some more time with them or your existing acquaintances. That can be difficult if you have been a lot on your own because you are not used to it anymore. But don’t get afraid, don’t pull back and make up some kind of excuse. This is what you need to do if you want to change something and bring more social interaction into your life.

Finally, don’t keep the expectation that people immediately have to become your ‘best friend forever’. It does not happen for everyone just as it is displayed on television. Real life is different. A normal friendship also means that sometimes you get a bit less close and sometimes you are closer again. You may have different opinions on topics but can still be friends. In fact, that is what is normal. So when you meet someone, just be happy to meet. Simply enjoy how nice the moment is without planning the future.

Relax, go out, be friendly and interact with people in daily life. That will make a big change in your life and you will feel alive and among people. Try it, it is worth it!

Does Freedom Mean Physical Distance and Financial Independence? – 20 Jan 11

I already told you that I like the way how in India people more easily are in physical contact with each other and that families have stronger emotional connections among their family members. When I say such a thing, it is more a statement about a fact and not a judgment about the situation in any country. And when people in the west come and tell me about their loneliness and inability to express their emotions through physical contact, I can see the reasons behind that. I have travelled in the western world long enough to know that there are many factors in society that makes people distanced and in a way cold.

If you see the typical lifestyle in the west, it is all about freedom. When I say freedom, I usually mean a freedom of the mind, of decision and independence of any negativity with which you block yourself. When I hear the word freedom in the west, it often means physical distance and financial independence.

If freedom means physical distance – your own place to live, not within the reach of your parents or other ‘disturbing’ family members, it is already clear why there is no physical contact. If you have physical contact and closeness, you are in danger of losing your freedom! This is how it seems to many people. In this situation it is also really difficult to find a partner and more difficult to make the decision to move in together. All the time you feel that your freedom is threatened by the closeness of another person. You need to allow this closeness in order to make an emotional connection, in order to experience love among people, be that friends, partners or family members.

The second meaning of freedom, financial independence, makes people just as unhappy as physical separation often does. Two partners want to be independent of each other, they have high ambitions on where they want to reach and just want to earn more money. There is however never an end to this. You can keep on earning and earning and you will never be satisfied. You will just spend more and more time working and less time with your partner or your children. I warn you that in this way, too, you lose your physical closeness. Through this it can happen that you lose your emotional connection. And in this way you forget how it is to be close and give love through a touch. You didn’t mean anything wrong, you only wanted the best, but the price was your physical relation.

So if your parents, siblings or other family members have never really showed you their love, if you have never received a loving touch, don’t resent it too much. They themselves have been in this situation, they had the same feeling that you had: how can I express my emotions? They may not have found a way through touch and they may seem cold to you now, but the fact that you have made a change can make you open your eyes and see how difficult it must have been for them, too. It is now your chance to give to them instead. Maybe, it will open their heart because now someone else approaches them and they have the possibility to receive and to express emotions through touch.