14 Kilos in 4 Weeks – the Success of our Yoga and Ayurveda Weight Loss Retreat – 21 Jan 16

Recently a man left the Ashram after four weeks of our Yoga and Ayurveda Weight Loss Retreat – and he was very happy about its success! He had lost 14 kilograms in those four weeks, his pants had got quite loose and he was fit like maybe never before! For us, the most beautiful thing to see was that he was happy about the time he had spent here!

The moment this man arrived at the Ashram, he told me that he was determined to have lots of discipline while at the Ashram. And he definitely did! With the workout as well as with the diet!

Our retreat program includes both, Yoga and Ayurveda. In the early morning, start for a walk of the Parikrama Marg, the pilgrimage walk around town. Of course not in order to reap imagined Karma benefits but to walk those ten kilometers and move the body! Our guest walked together with Purnendu – and they started walking pretty fast quite soon, so that they came back sweating – but happy!

The next program point for him was an hour of ‘Weight Loss Yoga’ together with Yashendu. Not only the participant but also Yashendu enjoyed this workout session to the fullest. Lots of muscle workout, cardio exercises and strength building makes anybody tired after an hour!

That’s when he could proceed to an Ayurvedic massage which released all tension from his muscles and helped him relax instead. In our retreat, participants usually get a massage every second day but he liked it so much that he booked the extra massages for every other day as well! And after the oil massage, he could use the steam cabin to sweat out some more toxins.

In the afternoon, Ramona led a softer yoga program for him and participants of our relaxing Ayurveda Yoga Holiday, focusing mainly on stretches and flexibility.

On top of that he had a very healthy diet which reduced his calorie intake to a minimum while being healthy and filling his stomach so that he didn’t remain hungry.

Of course, the setup is there for losing weight and we do everything to encourage that – but he had the success he had because he was determined to pull it through. We often admired his willpower and I know that due to this, he succeeded and was happy at the same time.

We love helping people achieving their goals in this way. If it is to relax, to gain strength and flexibility or to lose weight: if you really want to do it, we are sure that we can make it very pleasant for you! So you can start looking for flights – we are looking forward to welcoming you here!

Burnout – and then? The long Way to find back to yourself – 22 Aug 13

I yesterday described how it happens that a lot of people these days have a burnout, break down and even get into deep depressions due to the pressure and stress of their work. Today I would like to write a little bit about the recovery process after such a burnout situation.

I have met a lot of people with burnout in individual counselling sessions and at the Ashram and I have worked together with several psychotherapists, so I do have a quite precise idea of the feelings that people have when they find themselves in this kind of situation – and what they need to do in order to get their life back on track.

Yesterday already I mentioned that they don’t actually need to get ‘back to normal’ because their ‘normal’ lifestyle, their way of living, thinking and acting before their breakdown, has brought them into this situation in the first place! They have to start over new!

Someone who has suffered from burnout needs professional help because he or she has first of all fully hit rock bottom. Many people have to stay in a clinic because they don’t even know how to go on living – the complete base of their life seems senseless now! Very often they identified completely with their job, their post, their work and didn’t even realize the immense pressure they were putting themselves in. This fall has taken this base from beneath their feet. Their body took care that they could not do this any longer, that they could not ignore your own needs any longer.

Doctors usually prescribe medicines for burnout patients – anti-depressants, sleeping pills and more. It helps in the beginning, in the emergency, but after some time, which can be months, they have to start getting on their own two feet again and find some stability. That is the point when they start an inner search and where a stay at our Ashram has already helped many people.

The main thing, when you are in that situation, is that you have to find yourself again. You have completely lost the feeling for yourself in the race for money and success. Who are you? What do you want to do in your life? What do you actually enjoy doing? These and similar questions have to be answered before a burnout patient can pick up the pieces of his life again! Many decide that they have to change their job, that they just cannot go on with what they were doing because that doesn’t give them any chance to get rid of their stress and pressure.

It is not only the outside, though, you also have to get rid of a lot of inner patterns and thoughts! And what could be better for this cleansing process than taking a time out from your normal surrounding and go somewhere completely different. We have made very good experiences with people who took for example our Ayurveda Yoga Holiday in such a situation.

They told us how much the daily Ayurvedic massages helped them because there was someone who, for a complete hour, concentrated just on them, on every small part of their body. For years they had not given their body this attention and it was longing for exactly that! The treatments helped them detoxify and get rid of toxins – physically and mentally! In the daily yoga sessions, you regain a feeling for your body which you have nearly forgotten about while you were running from one appointment to another, pushing yourself further and further with your expectations on yourself!

And then, maybe most important of all, you get the atmosphere and surrounding where you can find out who you are and what you want. You can be just yourself – on your own, with the children, with our family or with other retreat participants. You can retreat or you can join, you can read, you can meditate, you can do completely whatever your heart tells you. And that is the big chance: you can start listening to your heart again, which you have just not heard over the voice of your stressed mind!

Slowly, very slowly, people after a breakdown find back to themselves. And most of them say that afterwards is better than it ever was before their fall! I wish anybody who is in such a situation the strength to find back to his real self and everyone who is still running in pressure and stress that they may realize what they are doing before it hits them hard.

And if you ever need distance from your usual surroundings, the Ashram has an open door for everyone who needs it.

Striving to get Success and to the Top can bring you Burnout and make you fall deep – 21 Aug 13

I yesterday wrote about the competitions that people have to face in their work life. These competitions are created to encourage people to run for success and in the end make more money. Stress and pressure weigh heavy on people’s shoulders and it happens more and more often that people reach the top – and then just break down. It is now called burnout, a complete exhaustion, often followed by a depression, a long phase of recovery and the search for individual goals and aims in life.

Especially huge companies don’t really care about the individual. Everyone knows this but once you are in there, in their system of statistics and rewards, you may forget about it, running along with your competitors, the eyes on the company goal, not looking left or right. The goal is a figure, not more. You should have this many appointments in one day, this percentage of these appointments has to turn into sales, that many customers have to sign and that much money should finally end up in the company’s account! You feel you have accomplished something great and the whole company is proud of you. In reality, the leaders are happy about the success, about the figures, about the money in their accounts – not proud of you. While you completely identify with the company and your achievements as well as the success you brought to the company, you are only an instrument for them to get there!

This doesn’t mean that those who don’t work in big companies escape this pressure and stress. Especially self-employed or small firm owners are prone to just as much stress, as they know exactly that their success is on their shoulders! They often have to work hard to see the money come in but they, too, get into the trap of running for more money, more success and all the pressure that comes with this. The people around, society, advertisement, that all supports the rush for success.

It is nothing new that this society is focused on money. It is nothing new that the masses don’t care about the individual. But what about you? Why are you playing along? Why are you following this kind of lifestyle, like a programmed computer? You don’t do anything for your own entertainment anymore, nothing brings you joy except for seeing success at work, you even forget your own interests, your social life is like dead and you don’t pay attention to yourself. Important is only work, success, more and more, no time for anything else.

That is the point when people simply burn out. They break down and that means that they physically and mentally don’t have any strength anymore. Many people experience a loss of memory – all those numbers and names which were so important to them before are just erased from their memory. For many, a time of depression follows. Their whole life collapsed from one minute to another, often not expected by the people around them. They need professional help and while they go and see their psychotherapists every week or so, they need to do a lot of work on themselves to get back to normal life.

Actually no, not get back – start over new and find a balanced way of life for themselves!

Tomorrow I will write a bit more about the ways to recover from burnout.

When Achievements and Success are more important than Happiness – 20 Aug 13

Yesterday, when I told you of our new project, I mentioned that a lot of sports create a feeling of competition that children will still get enough of in later life. While a sportive competition can be fun and is not always something to avoid, the competitions that people face ‘in real life’, especially at the workplace, create lots of unhealthy pressure and stress!

Actually, it already starts in school these days. There has of course always been an atmosphere of competition when it came to the announcement of marks. Every student tries to find out how well the classmates did, compares his achievement with his friends and tries to bet as well or better than them. This natural competition however is fuelled and enlarged by the education system that provides awards in all kinds of areas, always honouring ‘the best’, making everyone else long for the same kind of appreciation for their accomplishments.

This is school, still a protected environment with regulated ways and a clear frame. It provides the base for what you will experience later, in the wild of real life! If you haven’t learned until this point that you are only worth something if you make accomplishments, you will have to learn it the hard way.

You find a job in a big company because you believe that gives you good career possibilities – a chance to make more and more achievements. You give your best and maybe it follows, an accomplishment, the best sales of the region, the highest amount of profit of the year, you are awarded the ‘newcomer of the year’ in your company, you get honoured again, maybe combined with a pay raise. If you are second, you don’t. If you are only in the mid-range or one among the last in the statistics, you are nothing. You don’t get attention, you are not very much appreciated. You are there and that’s it.

I think I don’t need to explain what kind of working climate this creates, what kind of feelings this gives to those who don’t win! This is what modern society teaches people: You are good if you are the best. You are good if you are the number one. If you are in the higher range, your ego gets artificially boosted so that you perform even better, bringing even more income and profit to the company.

Some people will run among the first and the best, performing until they cannot do it anymore, breaking down under the pressure. Others will try and try to reach there, always in mid-range, never really getting there, getting depressed because they just never get the appreciation that they are so much striving for. And then there are those who never have a chance, who are always at the bottom of the statistics. They either live in fear of being replaced or they get numb to the competition that is happening around them – because they won’t ever make it to the top.

We cannot go on like this! We have to stop, take a break and realize that we cannot anymore identify ourselves only with our achievements. It won’t bring us happiness and it won’t make anybody love us any more than they did before. If you believe that your company loves you because you are bringing income, realize that you are only loved and valuable as long as you make that profit.

This may sound hard but I think you need to realize this in order to save yourself from a breakdown due to this artificial pressure! It doesn’t matter whether you are successful in this competition or not, do not place your complete happiness in this game! Don’t search for appreciation there! You have to build a network of family and friends and a strong inner self-worth that is independent of such competition. Otherwise you will fall and it will hurt. Make sure your complete self-esteem does not arise from your achievements at work. Look at who you are, realize that you are you and that this information in itself is enough to make you feel good. You don’t need to be the best. You don’t need to be the first. Enjoy the game if you like it, play along as long as you have fun. And if you don’t, just don’t play along.

Superstitious People – Type 4: The popular Cricketer and Sportsperson – 14 Mar 13

For all my Indian readers I decided to add one more type of superstitious people of whom they hear often and who are generally an example especially for our youth – which is the biggest reason why they should actually not be superstitious!

The superstitious Cricketer

When writing about the superstitious businessman, I said that he doesn’t believe in his own talent and work, instead giving full credit to some mysterious force. The same is true for a lot of sportspeople and as cricket is India’s most popular sport, I have found a lot of examples for superstition among the popular players. They are rich, they have lots of money, they hold many records and they still believe that it is not their talent, workout and practice that made them successful.

Some of the cricket players of India’s National Team play with their birthdate as a number on their back, thinking it will bring them luck. Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for example plays on number 7, as his birthday is on July 7. Yuvraj Singh, whose birthday is December 12, plays with the number 12 on his back.

Many cricketers are known for keeping their handkerchiefs only in the left pocket, some swearing it has to be a handkerchief of red colour while others believe it has to be yellow. If you keep the wrong colour of handkerchief or keep it in the wrong pocket, you are not going to win. Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli don’t believe in handkerchiefs – but black wristbands that protect them from evil energies.

Sachin Tendulkar – India’s most successful cricket player of all times – always puts on the left leg pad first and then the right one, making sure not to change as it may have a bad effect on his play. That is no surprise though, as his guru is the late magician Sathya Sai Baba, one of the biggest fake gurus of all times, who cheated his followers by making them believe he can materialize gold. What else could you expect of Sachin, the holder of records?

I read that the big players have their lucky seats in the team bus and believe it is bad luck if they don’t get to sit on their seats – which is why there are then no changes in the sitting order in the bus! Sreesanth, another one of India’s national players, insists however to always leave the bus last and maybe thinks it could help him get out of the game last, too.

The most common superstition is probably that of ‘lucky items’. If you won or played very well with a certain cap, handkerchief, glove, shoe or any other item with you, you carry that thing around with you the next time, too, thinking it brings you luck. This funny idea has gone so far that even the official cricket organization that runs all the matches in India, the BCCI, asked the Indian National Team in September 2012 not to wear their newly designed jerseys which had been ready and already showed to the public. Instead they should stick to the old ones with which they had won the World Cup the year before!

Sports, and maybe especially cricket, is full of superstition! It is complete nonsense though and a psychological illusion which the players create for themselves. They like making themselves dependent on things like their handkerchiefs instead of believing in their abilities. It is the right seat in the bus due to which they win, not their talent. It is the lucky glove which had them catch the ball, not their good eyes and training to stand at the right spot!

It is the gurus, religious scriptures and other superstitious people who are right, not the scientists and non-believers who could explain you the world. These are the people whom our youth looks up to. They should be better ideals and stop believing in such nonsense!

Superstitious People – Type 3: The successful, rich Businessman – 13 Mar 13

After the illiterate villager and the average middle-class person, I will today describe the third type of superstitious persons:

The superstitious, successful Businessman

I know this type very well because I have been in touch closely with many of them in a previous part of my life, when I was a guru in India. When I gave lectures and was preaching, there were always many rich people present and they were often also organizers of my program and this is how I got to know about the mindset of successful businessmen with lots of money who are at the same time religious – and thus superstitious.

Again superstition comes hand in hand with fear. The bigger their success, the bigger the fear that it could really be true, that the right time and date can have an influence on your success and thus your financial situation! That would mean a bad timing for a big decision could mean failure! Maybe even complete bankruptcy – the equivalent of the end of the world for this person!

So the superstitious businessman does full-fledged business but at the same time takes care to schedule important meetings on the right dates or, if it is not possible, to perform ceremonies to balance the problems of an inauspicious timing! With time he becomes convinced that his success is built on this superstition and is just horribly afraid of doing something wrong and thus losing it all! If their success is due to some higher power, a blessing or an energy, they feel it can leave them at any time if they do something wrong.

What does this actually mean? It is simple – they don’t trust in themselves or their abilities. They have low self-confidence and decide that it was not their work or talent that brought them money and success but some mysterious force. Obviously this makes them insecure, as they never know when their luck could leave them. As they don’t have any confidence in their own abilities, they have to keep on following superstition, trying to find out how they can persuade their good energy to stay with them so that they remain successful!

If you don’t believe that really successful businessmen can be that superstitious, I have the perfect example to prove you wrong: Mukesh Ambani, who is with a fortune of 27 billion US-Dollar India’s richest man and the ninth richest man of the world, built a 27-story-home in Mumbai for one billion US-Dollar. Before he moved in however, he found out that according to vastu, which is like the Indian feng shui, the house was energetically not good for the family and thus the whole family did not move into the house for months! Only after a long time and probably a lot of ceremonies and rituals to fix the problem, they could finally move into the house. So you see, even India’s richest man, who was criticized a lot for building this expensive house, waits for his priests, astrologers and other quacksalvers to give their blessing for him to move in!

Don’t stop expecting – but learn from Disappointments! – 25 Feb 13

We all have the wish to be happy. Unfortunately many people don’t seem to reach this goal often in their daily lives. When the question comes up why that is, the answers will obviously depend on the individual situation of each person. One standard answer however which you can hear often and which will be right for nearly everybody is that they have too many or too high expectations. I, too, have spoken and written about expectations and disappointments that unavoidably follow. But what exactly does this really mean for your life?

Many people understand that their expectations are too high but when they try to address this problem in order to avoid further disappointment, they go into the complete opposite extreme. They then believe that they should not have any expectation at all. They stop aiming for anything, they stop setting their goals high. When they realize that they have a wish for something, they immediately tell themselves to stop dreaming, remove the wish from their mind and return to their normal day’s work.

The result: they are more miserable and unhappy than before! It didn’t help, on the contrary, they now ask themselves what they actually live for. What should I do in life if there is no wish to reach anywhere? What should I do if there is no goal to strive for?

I believe that the right way lies somewhere in between. You cannot lead a normal life without expectations. You may be able to retreat completely from normal life’s activities and go in meditation. If you can detach yourself from your friends, family and social life, if you can stop working and just meditate, yes, maybe you can get close to that state but in a normal life, with friends, family and work it is not possible. Even if you spend your time with meditation, you could have the expectation of getting into a deep state of meditation which may just not happen sometimes and again you are disappointed and unhappy. We have expectations and we face disappointment, it will definitely happen.

Don’t let the fear of disappointment restrain you though. Don’t let it keep you from setting your goals high! If you do that, you will block your own development! You won’t grow and you won’t have any hopes of reaching anywhere!

No, instead of reducing your expectations to zero, you have to learn how to deal with them in a proper way. Of course you can check from time to time whether your expectations are justified but if they are, if it is a dream and there is even the slightest chance that you could make it, go for it! Put your effort in! And if you do get disappointed, see small disappointments in a positive way – they make you stronger and help you grow.

Once you have made your experience – even if you failed – you can make another attempt and this one will be more precise and more confident, simply because you have already had a try. It is only in this way that you can get any further on your way. If you do honest effort in any field, something will happen. You will make a step forward – maybe not as far as you dreamed, but you do go forward and you get another experience.

If you don’t have hopes, dreams and expectations, there will be no movement. Your life will stagnate, you will not get anywhere and, most of all, you won’t be happy. No, don’t do this to your life! Dream, hope, let your imagination fly and simultaneously use your brain, hands and feet in order to make your dreams become reality!

Is the Parameter of Success in Marriage no Divorce or a loving Relationship? – 30 Oct 12

One thing which is always interesting for people who come to India and want to get to know the culture is the concept of arranged marriages. When we had the participants of our Ayurveda Yoga Holiday here at the Ashram this time, there were also several conversations and discussions on this topic. People ask a lot, they just cannot imagine how it really happens in this modern time and we try to explain them how it works – and often also does not work.

I already said before that in the west the statistics of marriage show low success while in India they show high success. The question is however what the parameters of a successful marriage are. If it is only about not getting divorced, India may be more successful. I am not so sure however if the parameters were a loving relationship and an enjoyable time together. When a guest wonders how so many people stay together with their partners even though they are not happy with each other, I give them the example of some old people in Germany. I have heard of married couples, both persons about 80 years old, who have been fighting for the past 50 years but have not got separated or divorced. It is thus understandable if similar things happen in India, isn’t it?

We can see it all the time in our surroundings. An arranged marriage starts with joy and happiness. It is the biggest day in the life of a man or a woman. They meet each other, not knowing who the other one is but excited about going to spend life together with this person. They have their first time with each other – maybe the first time at all for one or both of them. They go on a honeymoon and their physical relation is quite intense. It is a dreamtime and they love it.

Slowly however they get back to reality. The wife gets used to living in her in-laws’ home. Husband and wife notice differences in their choices, in their priorities, in their nature, in their thinking process – and if there are bigger differences, it gets difficult to cope. For those who are lucky, there are not as many differences. Those who are unlucky get problems. It is just like a lottery – you are lucky or you are unlucky, chances are fifty-fifty. As I said, by marriage you get a place in the other person’s life but the question remains if you get a place in his or her heart. That cannot be arranged!

I agree, there are marriages that don’t work out in every country and culture. Arranged marriage however is, in my eyes, creating unhappiness for those two individuals. So how come the numbers show so many more successful marriages here, where they are arranged? The fact that actually changes the figures is that divorce is simply not an acceptable concept in our culture and country. People just don’t do it.

They are unhappy, they don’t agree with each other, they fight every day, they run away from each other to other family members but in the end they get back together, live together in one house and even make the effort to cover it all up in front of others. They won’t get divorced though. Only very rarely couples do. The rest stays where they are and puts up with daily problems. They just do – and increase one more in the number of ‘successful marriages’.

The Key for a loving, successful Relationship: Reduce your Ego – 11 Jul 12

You can often see people’s struggle in their relationships. There are people who change their partners frequently and people who don’t ever start a relationship although they again and again get in touch with others, date people and try to find the right one. Today I want to talk about one of the main reasons for such break-ups and decisions not to have a relationship: your ego.

You may be able to tell me of several of your relations that broke where you think that no ego was involved. You had a fight for example or you think that you were just too different and it did not work out. You were getting intimate and you realized that the other one did not at all act the way you would find him attractive. So where was the ego?

The reality is that people usually want others to be a certain way and then cannot accept when the other person is different than in their imagination. It is ego. I want you to do this or to be like that and if you don’t, we cannot be together anymore. It sounds silly and childish but if you are honest and have a close look at your actions, it is a common attitude in adults, too.

Whenever you interact with another person, whenever it is not anymore only about you, you have to get flexible and leave at least a bit of your ego because the other one can never be 100% the way that you want him to be. This is the problem that people nowadays seem to increasingly have with their partners or potential partners. No flexibility and too much individuality.

This does not mean that I want you to make a lot of compromise in your relationship. Absolutely not! You should not just agree on ‘being with anybody’ because you think that you cannot find the partner of your dreams. You should have a look at your dream and realize that the details don’t need to be realized. That the other person does not necessarily have to follow all the rules that you have set. Make your priorities and be clear with them.

Another problem is that you don’t only have your fixed ideas but additionally have the dream that the other one should be in a certain way without you telling them about it! You complain that your partner never surprises you but you never told him that you would like to get a surprise from time to time. You want him to do this without ever talking about it. Don’t you think that is a bit unfair and egoistic?

Everybody has his own character, his own personality and his own identity. You cannot create a partner the way you want him to be. Being together is a process which needs lots of love and little ego. It is a development which you support by talking, expressing your wishes, listening to the wishes of the other one and trying to fulfill them instead of complaining that your wishes are not fulfilled.

Reduce your ego and you will see that it is easier to be together with the one you love.

I am happy and successful and I deserve it! – 9 Feb 12

The days are passing by and today, on 9th February 2012, our daughter Apara is already one month old. It is incredible how fast time has passed and with every day, she seems to learn something new and develop a little bit further. She has gained about one kilogram since she was born! On some days it looks like her skin just got a bit darker and on other days she looks nearly as fair as her mother. Now she makes a lot more sounds than just some days ago – some sounding like a real giggle already , some as though she is clearing her throat and others can be clearly compared to the noises we do while stretching us after waking up! We are all just as much in love with her as we were the first day if not even more! I have said several times that this is the happiest time of my life. And I feel like I deserve it!

Really, I think I do! I have lived a good life and I was always honest. I believed in religion and I was honest about it. In that time, whenever I could help people in any way, I did. I tried to help with religious ceremonies for example but also a lot with advice and simply by talking to people. In the process of leaving religion I was honest about the changes in me and told people around me why. And now, when I am sure that I don’t belong to any religion and that I feel great without, I am honest about it and tell you openly why.

I have lived my life with the principle of being honest. In this way I honestly shared what I felt and shared the love that I had in my heart with the people around me because I felt this would be the right thing to do. And now that I am so happy I have the feeling I deserve it.

I was also always successful. I was successful in my school time – I had good marks and I understood what was being taught. When I was living the life of a guru, I was successful with my work, preaching the scriptures. When I did my retreat in the cave, I successfully completed it. I feel my consciousness developed further and my inner voice showed me another way. I did not hesitate to sacrifice the material success that I had as a guru and decided not to live as one anymore. Since we are running this charity, doing business and living without religion, we have also been very successful. So I believe you will not only be happy but also successful if you live with honesty and love. And then I say: I feel that I deserve it.

It is funny that a statement like this can make some people feel strange and as if I should not have said that. I ask them ‘Aren’t you happy?’ You will actually find only few people who straight away say ‘Yes’ to that. And if you ask those few ‘Do you think you deserve it?’, there will only be very few to say ‘Yes’ and add something like ‘I worked hard for it’. Most people actually cannot say that they are happy and if they go that far, they hesitate to say that they deserve it.

I think the main problem is that really most people think they don’t deserve to be happy. They actually somewhere inside themselves have the idea that they should not be happy at all. That is why they don’t talk about the beautiful things in their lives. They rather concentrate on all those things that are not good. They see the negative things in their lives. Be positive and see the bright side of your life! I guess most people would discover that there are many reasons in their lives to be happy!

If they go that far and say loudly that they are happy however, most people then hesitate to go on and say ‘I deserve it’ because they think it would look proud and as if they were showing off.

I don’t think so. You are not saying that another person should not be happy. Everyone has the right to be happy. See this and understand that it is a healthy confidence in yourself that lets you say ‘Yes, I am happy and I deserve it!’

If you know what you did in your life and if you live it with awareness and in love, don’t be shy to express your happiness. I will definitely tell anybody asking me how I feel that I am extremely happy here with my little daughter and that I believe we all deserved this happiness.