Look back on Life – and marvel, nothing else! – 23 Sep 16

Yesterday, Ramona looked through an old photo album together with Apra. Upon seeing her mother in her teenage years, Apra exclaimed ‘But why did you look like that?’ Ramona didn’t know what to answer on this peculiar question. Apra finally asked further ‘When I will be a woman, will I also look different?’ Yes, of course – but we could not answer the following questions as to where she will be or what she would be doing. That brought me to today’s topic: our way in life.

From time to time, it is good to pause your daily routine for a while, take a breath and look back on where you have reached. What you have become and what you have done. Not to judge whether it is good or bad but to marvel in the development!

Of course a trip down memory lane will always bring you memories that you are happy about and you can take them and simply enjoy them. Others will make you sad or even angry. Let the emotions come and pass through.

Finally, you will look back onto your path and then onto your current position. Isn’t it amazing where life leads us through its own turns, our decisions, influence from the outside and more? Could you have guessed ten years ago where you would be now?

I couldn’t have. And that’s how I don’t even try to imagine where I will be ten years from now! I will be just fine, happy and enjoying life – I know this much. Anything else will emerge on the way there!

If you are in India, plan with ‘Indian Standard Time’! – 16 Feb 16

We have had people steadily coming and going in the past days and weeks and there have been a lot of talks about India compared to other countries and cultures. Obviously, Ramona is often asked what she likes about India or whether she found anything difficult here. She of course always mentioned one thing: the concept of ‘Indian Standard Time’ which is different to German punctuality! Which of course could throw her off balance at times!

It is really true – even though this happened mostly at the beginning of her time in India. It is quite logical: in Germany, it is normal for people to have quite a clear plan of what they will do in the next days. They even plan in advance for several weeks! It is just usual for a regular person to know where he or she will be next Friday. Or whether they have plans for Saturday the 5th. Or whether they can meet you at 3 pm the next day. If you make an appointment for a meeting, if you fix a time with them for any kind of common activity, they will make a mental note and probably write it down a bit later, too. They will be there at the exact right time. If they cannot, they will call you, write to you or let you know in some way.

In India, it’s different. Here, you cannot plan. No wait, you can – but there is no guarantee that your plans will work out the way they should! As a German – or a person of another nationality that take plans and punctuality more serious – you may take a mental note and you will make your plan. You cannot however rely on the Indian person to do the same!

If you make plans with a person, it may be that the other one was not completely serious about it. So you say ‘we should meet at the weekend’ and you think you actually fixed that plan but then you realize that the other one just said it to be polite or because it sounded nice that moment! He or she never actually thought to meet you!

Or you have called a person for a service, for example an electrician or a bank employee. The appointment is supposed to be at 11 am. You are ready and waiting at 11 am – but nobody arrives! You call and the answer can be ‘I am on the way!’ but you wait another two hours! Finally, it can very well happen that the other one doesn’t appear until the next day! You may get a call to tell you or you may not!

It can also happen that a group of four people was planning something together and you were preparing everything and are ready to go when all of a sudden, everyone gets into a talk and they decide to do something completely different! All of your preparations are for nothing – or at least postponed to another time.

It can drive you crazy – or you can lean back and relax. You can accept the change in speed and the fact that you always need a plan B. That’s how Ramona always tells our guests: when you are in India, relax and go with the flow – she has learned to do exactly that!

Do you treat your belly like a Trash Bin? – 3 Feb 16

There is something which I often tell my friends to take good care of because it will actually affect their health: they should eat good food and take their time while eating. Your belly is not a trash bin. And after years of saying this, it is actually today still just as important as it has been when I said it the first time!

We are living in a world where we have the possibility to just go to the next store, restaurant or take-out place and ‘grab something to eat’. Even in this expression you can see where it is going wrong: you shouldn’t ‘grab something to eat’. You should sit down and enjoy a meal. You should realize what you are eating and that you are eating at all.

I am actually not at all in favour of eating in standing. In any way, the fact that you eat while standing shows that you are not focusing on your food. You want to get it into your body as fast as possible so that you can continue doing other, more important things. Maybe you even eat while walking! You are going from one meeting to the next, quickly eating a sandwich on the way. You are dropping the kids off at school and while driving to work you eat an apple – your breakfast, on the road, in the car!

No, I believe you need to sit down to eat, have the time to fully enjoy that meal and take your mind off other things in the meantime! Don’t multitask with food, it is too important!

If you don’t concentrate on your food while eating, you don’t have any control on how much you eat or what the quality of that food is. If you pick up just anything, anywhere, if you don’t even care what it is, how can you expect it to nourish your body properly? And then you complain that you don’t feel good, that you have too much acidity, that your digestion is irregular or that you gain weight without knowing what happened! You don’t even know what or how much you ate – so how would your body be able to work with that?

So have some respect for your own body and only feed it when you have time for eating and can sit down to concentrate on it!

Busy in Preparations for a lot of Events! – 8 Nov 15

I know I have mentioned several times that we are very busy at the moment – and that has just increased another level yesterday! A beautiful group of ten lovely people from Germany has arrived to enjoy one to two weeks of program at our Ashram! We’ve got our hands full – and love it!

We have been up to our necks in our usual work and of course additionally in the preparations for this group. It consists of several men and women, two of whom have been at our Ashram already twice. They have become friends and we knew we would have a wonderful time together with them and the people they brought along.

After their arrival yesterday, they were welcomed with an evening fire show by our French friend Melanie who is here with us and will stay for a long time. Today in the morning, they enjoyed a yoga class and are right now out in the market, getting their first impressions of Vrindavan!

In the next days, they will have an Ayurvedic Cooking Class, sightseeing tours in Vrindavan, Mathura and Agra and of course they will join the celebrations of Diwali, which is now only three days away!

The group and our Diwali celebrations are not the only events we were preparing for though! Directly after Diwali, on 13th November, Apra, Ramona and I will start from the Ashram and drive to the airport in Delhi, our suitcase with us, on the way to Germany!

It has been nearly one and a half years now and we cannot wait to get back and have Apra once more experience the country of her mother, meet our lovely friends and family and have more fun than ever before! In summer, we were too busy with the progress of our restaurant to go but we didn’t want to miss a complete year. That’s how two months ago, we checked our calendar and realized we only had these three weeks now, in between groups, which we could spend in Germany!

We especially took out a day’s time to be able to go shopping in Delhi so that we would have some warm clothes for the cold weather in Germany. We will show Apra snow for the first time in her life, we will go to see Christmas markets, drink hot chocolate and eat strawberry ice cream.

I will keep you posted about our adventures – can’t wait!

Celebrating my Birthday, forgetting the Count of Years and loving my Life! – 14 Oct 15

Today is the day again on which I change the count of my years. It is my birthday, the 14th October. And before you even ask: I don’t feel any older today than I did yesterday!

I know I have mentioned it before and probably on my birthday as well: this figure with which you tell other people your age is not of much importance to me. Ramona laughed the other day when she told guests about this. ‘You ask him about his age and he will think two minutes about how old he actually is!’

I really feel young enough to be as busy as I am and old enough to have made the experiences I have made. Why would I let this figure dictate how I should feel or behave? Nothing changes by that. I also don’t compare myself in my age to others. If I started, it would be very confusing: some of my former classmates are grandparents already while I have other friends of my age who are studying, at the beginning of a relationship or at a similar point of life that I have already crossed! So why start comparing?

No, I am very happy with the point that I am at in my life. I usually am. I have my family, wonderful friends, I am very busy with my work which is progressing well and I enjoy a good health, too. Right now while Ramona and I are writing this, I have to smile because my daughter is laughing behind me, joking with her uncle. With this sunshine in my life, I cannot even think about feeling old!

This morning she woke up, excited and happy that it is my birthday. She told Ramona that she would eat lots of cake – just to hear from Ramona that we wanted to have the party at the weekend, when our friends Thomas and Iris as well as some more friends would be here as well! Oh, Apra was upset then, complaining immediately that the party should be today, not on Saturday. Ramona tried to explain her that our friends wanted to join the fun as well but Apra objected: ‘They can come to my birthday party!’

Ramona gave in: ‘Okay, we can have a small party today and a big one on Saturday!’ Wrong strategy! That gave a big protest: ‘No! We have to have a big party today, there has to be a big cake ON the birthday!’ Oh well, so we will have one party today and one on Saturday!

We are not the ones to say no to a party anyway. And I am looking forward to many more!

Are you too tired for Sex after a long Day of Work? – 10 Aug 15

Recently someone asked me for my advice in a personal matter: he worked hard and had long working days. When he came home from work, he was tired after a whole day’s work with lots of stress. He either had no time or, if he had time, he was too tired for having sex! That however left his wife unsatisfied and unhappy. What should he do?

First of all, it is a good thing you are turning to people for advice because it is about time! Once the unhappiness in your relation reaches a level where loud complains start and one partner resents the other, you have to rethink your lifestyle! And ideally make a few bigger changes as well!

Secondly, I hope not only your wife is missing bedtime fun but you, too!

Once you are married, there is someone in your life who has certain expectations of you, and rightfully so! I am not talking monetary expectations here! To be fully clear, I am not even talking only about physical expectations! Actually, this problem is not really about sex. It is about emotions and love. As your partner in love, your wife has a certain right to your heart and your time!

You decide: what is important to you? Are you living for your work or do you work for a living? Are you enjoying your work more than the time with your wife?

Don’t get me wrong, you should enjoy your work. There should however always be more joy in the time that you share with your family or partner. If it was not possible for you to share your heart in this way, you should have chosen another way of life!

A lot of people would say ‘I am doing all of this hard work for them, my family, for their future and for the children!’ Especially when you have children, you should realize that you cannot enjoy your time like this. If you work less, earn a bit less but spend some more time together, you will actually have a better life, I promise!

If you continue in this way, you and your partner will slowly get further apart from each other. You choose now whether you want to take more interest in being together and loving each other or more interest in work. If you choose work and she find something else, another interest that she wants to invest her time into, you are not in a position to complain!

Don’t expect your wife to be sitting at home, keeping the house clean and waiting forever for you to come and spend time with her. Or sleep with her – although sex is in this case more a symbol of your closeness. It is the physical expression of the love you have for each other. And right now, your work is slowly killing it.

You need to have time for your loved ones in daily life and then take out time for real weekends and holidays as well. Live your life!

Don’t regret the Distance to old Friends – you cannot help it! – 3 May 15

I know I have sometime contemplated in similar ways about friendship on my blog but today I feel I have spent time thinking about it again, so I wanted to share. We all know what a great friendship looks like and we all know that there is also this kind of friendship with which you sometimes wonder why you two are still connected at all. That’s the kind of friends I would like to talk about today.

Such friends are often people whom you have known since you were small. You played together when you were little, grew up together for some years but then your ways parted. Maybe it was a neighbour, maybe you went to primary school together. Maybe you even were together later or met at a later point, were close for a while. The main point however is that you are not anymore close. You actually don’t feel close anymore.

You have a certain attachment to this person because of the good times you spent together. At this moment however, you know exactly that you don’t share similar thoughts. You think completely different than the other one! Your thoughts go in one way and his or her in the opposite direction. You will say one thing but already know that the other one doesn’t approve. In the same way the other one tells you about something that you are absolutely not fond of!

In this situation, you cannot be as relaxed, as free and as comfortable with each other as you once were. You probably miss those days or think of them in a way that sometimes is like melancholy – but you cannot bring them back! The changes that have brought you to this point, to be the person who you are, are not something that you would like to revert. You don’t want to be the person anymore who you once were. And the other one changed as well. He went down another road!

I don’t actually wish to go back to my old days. When I think of great times with old friends, it makes me happy, not sad. I know that my present is an equally great time and I expect the same of the future, too!

Nevertheless there are such friends in my life, too, and I have more than once wondered about the little rituals I have with them: a phone call every month or every week. A visit – be it once a year, twice a month or rather irregularly. And always the good wishes for birthdays of course. This all with someone that I don’t really feel close anymore, especially from my thoughts?

Yes, because it doesn’t cost me anything. I can only gain from this. It is very little effort to pick up the phone, it is not much more effort to pay a visit or receive one. For this, a connection remains, be it only based on such rituals, and I can still call this person my friend. My old school mate, my former neighbour, my previous travel companion.

We were close once, we are not now but we may be close again. Or maybe not – but what is there to lose? You can only gain love and that is always worth it!

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!

Love your work to avoid wasting your Lifetime – 21 Jan 15

After having written about the medical profession yesterday, I would like to write in general about the love for you work, for that, which you are filling your life with. In my opinion it is necessary that you love what you do!

For a majority of people, their work fills a good part of their day. Eight hours in a day is a very normal time period to work and for many people it is even more than that. Calculating that you sleep another eight hours, need one hour for personal hygiene and bathroom rituals, another hour – again for many even more – for getting to and from your work place, you are left with six hours of your day. In these six hours, you have to do grocery and other shopping, do the household and eat. Finally, you have a little time left to relax, spend with your friends and family, play with the kids or invest in your relationship.

Not that much, right?

While in many countries, you have a five-day working week for most people, others have to work six days and many even for seven days a week, with one day shorter times or more holidays.

So you do spend such an amount of time at your work that it is necessary that you like what you do! Don't you see what you are doing with your life if you don't? Every day, every week, every month and every year you are investing time in something you even dislike or hate!

It won't make you happy, it won't satisfy you. It will make you sick.

I know, I know, people will say ‘But I have to work to make a living!’ and argue that you cannot choose where you get accepted and employed. If you really think of it however, in most cases you do have another choice! You are staying in a job that you don't like, compromising with a big amount of time of your life for other reasons, most of all money.

For many, it would be possible to work in a way that would make them happier and fulfill them, if they could accept that it wouldn't bring them as much money. They wouldn't starve or experience hardship – it would just not be that much.

And that’s why I encourage everyone to find a way to be happy. Learn liking and loving your work or change something. Maybe you can reduce the hours and start a second job in a more fulfilling position. Maybe you can change completely by just cutting down your other expenses. Maybe you start a business of your own, working hard and more but at least for something that you are passionate about.

Just don't waste your precious lifetime with something you don't like.

Your Time is too important to spend it on mindless TV Shows – 17 Sep 14

We are about to start for our flight back to India after this intense and beautiful week in Germany. Unfortunately Apra has caught a cold and is coughing and sneezing with a little fever as well. Nevertheless we are confident that we will make it to India smoothly. Last time, she was asleep nearly the whole flight long – and me with her. In the meantime, Ramona considered using the TV on the flight but finally didn’t feel like it. When I woke up, we talked a bit about TVs, how much of a habit it can become and why I normally see it as a rather bad thing. Now here is my list of five reasons why you should not watch TV:

1. Watching TV wastes a lot of your time!

It is just logical: you could use the time that you sit in front of that machine for so many other things: work, clean, tidy up or – if you actually sit there because you had enough of all these activities – get social with friends, be creative, paint, play, take a bath or spoil yourself in any other way. Sitting in front of the TV doesn’t bring you anything. It just makes time go by. Two or three hours is nothing, once you get involved mentally with what you are watching! If you really have too much time, go for it. If not, just keep that thing off!

2. You could use it for learning something – but you don’t!

Let’s be honest about this one: yes, TV is a great thing to see the world. You have the possibility to watch documentaries, to get to know more about this world. You can watch programs to get an insight in other cultures, follow debates on important topics or find out how the things work that you use every day. You could but usually, maybe in 90% of all cases, you don’t.

You use the TV for mindless entertainment. That’s it. So don’t tell me, when you are watching the latest soap opera or a reality TV show, that you are broadening your horizon! You just want to let television wash over you without any challenge for your brain!

3. It can make you aggressive, and your kids even more!

This point is nothing new and I know many people don’t believe in it. I do however, especially when it is about your kids! You show them that you watch TV, they do it, too. And today’s shows, even those made for children, are nearly always so full of violence that I would never want my girl to watch it! They believe what they see is how it should be, that people are hitting each other, fighting and just being full of violence! Combined with the lack of movement and exercise which is a normal consequence of too much TV, this stirs the same aggressive behavior in children – and in yourself!

I have some more ideas – but more about that tomorrow!