The other day somebody asked me “Who is your guru?”
My first reply was: “Me.”
I still think it was pretty accurate.
I thought about the authors I’ve read.
The thousands of hours I had spent on youtube watching videos about ‘spirituality’.
I learnt a ton and surely my brain is infiltrated with ideas and even feelings that are not unique to me.
But did I truly learn about ‘spirituality’ from all those mentors?
Life itself taught me.
I’ve started my path by realizing that I am not able to wash dishes without freaking out. (I mentioned it in my post about the role of mindfulness.) I have started my path by acknowledging my lack of presence, which cut me off life for a very very long time.
Especially in the recent months I have been struggling with this disconnect A LOT. Anxiety attacks and panic rolled over me like tsunami waves. And I am tired of holding it back! I am tired of pretending to be strong…
Well, that’s a different story (probably a bit of a contradictory one, but I guess that’s why I am here. To reveal the contradictions of ‘being a human’)…
What I am witnessing in any community that is drawn to spirituality or to ‘living compassionate’, ‘interconnected humanness’, ‘spiritual sovereignty’ is that there are too many people following the ideology of others OR discounting somebody else’s ideology, which is the same thing, if we look at it plainly (something only very few people do these days)….
In both cases it is somewhat ignorant, because it forecloses learning experiences and ‘aha-moments’.
When the ‘corona crisis’ started I was stuck in India.
I don’t remember fully what I was more angry about: The fact that I knew that I can’t stay there. Or the fact that I have to go back and witness the narrow-mindedness of our society?
I was really really angry, but more than ever I am convinced that this was a ‘sacred’ rage….
Using the word ‘sacred’ reminds me of where I’m attempting to go with this post:
Spirituality is not about ‘being spiritual’. And it is not about following some idea or method or practice…
What does it actually mean to be spiritual?
Yes, I have a ton of crystals in my room. And yes, I light a lot of candles over time. And I pray to the universe.
But most of the time I’m spending my time with: developing some sort of discipline to keep my space and my mind clean. Getting my body moving. Eating proper food and drinking enough water. Developing compassion for other human beings by listening to their struggles and to my own struggles with an open heart and without judgement.
…and: doing the dishes. 😉
I am encountering ‘spiritual people’ in the same way I am encountering ‘normal people’.
We all are the freakin’ same! We all are made of the same source!
If you have an idea about what could be right and what could be wrong deep down inside of yourself, if something feels ‘tight’ (or even strangling), really ‘uncomfortable’ in a way that holds you back from getting out of bed on some days….
Then probably YOU KNOW THE TRUTH ALREADY – deep down inside of yourself, but you might close your eyes from it or you don’t honor it….
SO MANY OF US INCREDIBLE BEINGS ARE STILL LOOKING FOR ANSWERS – from the outside world, from gurus, from books, from leaders,…..
And if some or these leaders says something true: “You alone are responsible for your life. You alone can make a choice.”, they get angry or sad or frustrated.
“No, this can’t be it. There must be somebody else making a better choice for me.”
Don’t get me wrong.
I am looking somebody making a choice for me so many times…
I am a human. A lot of times I am tired or hungry or confused or not willing to make a decision… I, too, want to belong to a tribe – and ‘let them decide’.
But: I don’t blame. I am aware that ‘I can do better’. I can be a little bit more compassionate and understanding towards the person in front of me in this very moment.
I can have a little bit more love radiating from my heart in this very moment.
I can be a little bit more open for the new.
This is ‘being spiritual’.
Do you feel like giving up?
Are you angry?
Are you restless?
Breathe in deeply.
Do you blame?
Do you want to scream and shout?
Have you lost hope?
There will be a tomorrow.
My next post was supposed to be something else, but I feel the urge to get this message across before it vanishes in the flood of my notes.
When I drafted my first thoughts on the power of curiosity I didn’t expect that it would be such a chunk of wisdom – so simple but yet so fundamental.
The power of curiosity literally blows my mind like a hurricane.
Okay, where am I coming from with this post?
There is something I observe among ‘spiritual people’, among my friends as well as strangers I encounter – and also, retrospectively, I can witness it within myself.
A lot of ‘seekers’, ‘soul searchers’, ‘spiritual people’ or let’s say people, who are in the search for their mission, their purpose, their truth – you name it (I guess whoever is reading this can relate to one or another of these words.), are looking for THE path to take, the one answer, the one thing to do, the one discipline or practice that brings them peace or purpose or reveals the secret of happiness…
I used to squeeze myself into boxes. I used to label myself as a digital nomad, ‘alternative’, a hippy, a ‘light worker’, ‘rebellious’, a ‘soul searcher’, a ‘lost soul’, crazy, abnormal, ‘a loner’, a vagabond, a yogi,…
Luckily, life itself smashed those boxes reliably.
I had to adapt.
I had to reinvent myself over and over again.
Sometimes I grew out of these boxes like a snake is growing out of its skin.
Sometimes I had to transform within the blink of an eye.
Sometimes it was a tenacious process.
I had to learn to throw the leftovers of these boxes away instead of trying to fix them – even though I was tempted to do so…
Fortunately I was able to witness this world from different angles. This gave me the opportunity to view myself from different perspectives – countless times.
My answer to the question: ‘Who am I?’ changes constantly up to date…
I used to think that this is a bad thing. But right now – especially in ‘these times’ – but already B.C. (before corona) – it was obvious to me that all of the concepts that we erect about ourselves and about the world around us become a prison.
It’s okay to not know, because nobody knows.
And it is okay to trust into the ‘not knowing’….
It seems like we love labels so much. We love to categorize. It’s easier. I get it. We are human. It is part of our nature to (be)long to/for a tribe – our tribe.
But do we find it by putting ourselves into boxes?
I doubt it.
We love to put ourselves into boxes more than we love our individuality. But our individuality leads us to authenticity.
And our authentic self attracts the right people and the right action. It is so simple.
There is a quote that came into my mind related to the topic of curiosity:
“Sometimes a tree needs to grow deep roots in order to find the right nutrients.”
Only now I understand it’s significance fully….
A tree doesn’t follow an ideology. A tree does follow the life force. Life energy itself guides its growth.
By being preoccupied we are blocking our growth.
Ignorance won’t bring us any further.
There is something to learn from every concept. There is something to learn from every other being on this earth. There is something to learn from every life form!
Curiosity is the fuel source of our evolution.
thank you for reinvigorating me with energy every day.
Thank you for reemerging after the darkest of nights.
Thank you for shining the spotlight on me – if I’m ready or not.
Thank you for smiling back at me in the early morning.
Thank you for warming my chest when I can’t feel myself.
Thank you for keeping me connected to my source.
Thank you for guiding me the way every single day.
Thank you for being with me – even when you are hiding behind the cloud curtain.
I get it. I get you.
I will always bow to you.
Random human being
What if you had the time?
What if you had the answer?
What if you had what it takes?
What if you would allow flow?
What if you’d qualify yourself anew each day?
The universe works in mysterious ways.
Question your thoughts, but never lose trust.
Everything is possible. Everything is possible.
2021 is in full swing – and so am I. At least that’s the theory.
Practically I’ve been crafting THE perfect New Year’s post for the past two weeks – and of course I stressed myself out about it.
As I indicated in ‘outdated’, I want to start afresh this year – with my creative processes and also in my professional life. The year has just begun and I had already been pressuring myself towards ‘a new me’. Guess what? I cracked solemnly with this approach – and disclosed a deep truth: Change is hard.
Transformation is a long and tiring process. It requires determination. It includes the celebration of small wins and the acceptance of continuous losses.
This is what change is: It is the destruction of the old and the creation of the new – all at once. And: It is not a straight line. Inherently ‘change’ is messy.
“Being the change” – This is nothing simple to strive for. It denotes the turning of the tides and the solidity of a rock at the same time.
The other day, on one of my numerous walks during lockdown, I saw a sticker at a gutter that shouted the catchphrase: “Be the change.”
‘I am the change!,’ something inside of me shouted back.
I exhaled and felt a sense of ease when I understood: ‘I am a prototype. I evolve in iterations.’
These days we all are ‘the change’. And this big change doesn’t happen overnight. It is uncomfortable and debilitating at times and it doesn’t smell like incense sticks and essential oils.
These days I remember what this blog is about. This blog is the result of a lot of frustration and the realisation that there is no change possible in this world, if I don’t start changing myself.
“The first step is to become aware of the fog that is in your mind. You must become aware that you are dreaming all the time. Only with awareness do you have the possibility of transforming your dream.”
As Miguel Ruiz induces in ‘The Four Agreements’: I became aware that I am not aware, when I started this blog experiment in 2017.
It dawned me that I’m the creator of everything in my life – all the achievements as well as all the turmoil.
Only gradually I comprehend the depth of the deconditioning process I got myself into:
Most of our life is determined by the subconscious. And most of the time we are unconscious about what our subconscious is doing. That’s why it’s called the subconscious. I’m referring to psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung here, who determined the state of the art when it comes to shadow work. He claims: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
So, how do we not let the subconscious rule our life? Or let’s say: How do we become conscious of the unconscious?
Yes, we practice mindfulness. (Yay, I got there in the end…)
Even though mindfulness experienced a devaluation due to its inflationary use. In my personal journey of self-discovery it continually increases its significance…
So: “What’s the role of mindfulness in the process of self-discovery?”
I would say mindfulness is the protagonist of this whole play. (In the end it’s a game. Call it karma if you like.)
So, what will happen to your life, if you become more mindful?
1. You Will Arrive Where You Are
Okay, where to begin? Just to make sure we have a common ground to start from: How do I define mindfulness here?
When you research the science of mindfulness, the first thing you are going to come across is the practice of mindfulness meditation or zen meditation.
From a buddhist point of view mindfulness is the essence of meditation: By watching your thoughts pass you will create a gap between you and your thinking. You will eventually learn to differentiate the thought from the thinker. With time you will start to perceive reality in a different, less personal way. Zen master and buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh describes meditation as ‘a serene encounter with reality’.
A german translation for the word mindfulness is ‘Geistesgegenwärtigkeit’. ‘Geist’ is the spirit or the mind. ‘Gegenwärtigkeit’ is the presence. ‘Presence of mind’. What is the presence of mind, if we look at it plainly? It is being aware of what our mind is doing…
There was a time in my life when I couldn’t peel potatoes or wash the dishes without getting an anxiety attack. I was not able to focus on the present moment, because I was so tangled up in my to-do-list. I was so focussed on my achievements that regular household-chores seemed to be a waste of time to me.
There was a huge discrepancy between what I was doing in the physical world and what was going on in my head.
Life became very dissatisfying this way, because I missed it.
Through mindfulness I started to return to the presence. Already meditating for a view minutes a day changed my perception of the world around me drastically.
Especially through long-term-travelling I learnt to look closely at things. By looking closely at my environment, I learnt to look closer at my thoughts, too.
I became mindful. I stopped rushing and I started to enjoy the small things again.
2. You Get To View Yourself From a Different Perspective
‘To be mindful’ means so much more than ‘arriving in the presence’. According to etymonline it can be translated as ‘remembrance’. I like that translation.
When you become mindful, you start to remember – not only how much pleasure it is to walk slow or to prepare fresh food, but over time you will remember who you are deep down inside…
“Know thyself,” is the only way to go in the process of ‘awakening’.
How do you want to ‘know thyself’, if you never take the time to actually look at who you are?
Mindfulness is your tool in becoming aware of yourself: What are you telling yourself each day? How do you treat yourself? Do you use a lot of I shoulds or musts?
From my current perspective on ‘awakening’ it is a constant process of surfacing layer after layer after layer. There is so much to look at:
There is your behaviour.
There is your way of thinking.
There is your environment.
There are the activities you invest your time in, the people you spend time with, what you eat, how you are treating your body and so on and so on…
It sounds simple, but it’s a big step to look at all the aspects of yourself.
3. You Will Identify Triggers And Find A Way To Transform Them
For me it is still a painful and tenacious process to admit that I am the one who creates everything in my life – every success as well as all the chaos. And I don’t mean this in a sense of ‘prompting an order to the universe’.
I create by acting – in one way or another. If I don’t take the time to look at my actions and the roots of my actions I won’t live my own life, but the life controlled by a mind that is hacked by it’s conditioning – determined by reaction rather than intentional deed.
Luckily life offers potential for growth around every corner: Triggers are the signposts towards the land of self-discovery!
These days I get triggered a lot! And every trigger shows me an arena of my life, where I’m not willing or not able to take responsibility for my own life at the moment.
4. You Will Reveal Your True Motives
A quote of buddhist nun Pema Chördrön demonstrates the role of mindfulness in the process of self-discovery: “The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”
What do you want? And what do you think you want? How do you spend your time?
The more your start looking at yourself, the more you will ask yourself why you behave a certain way. And this is where the magic of mindfulness starts to unfold.
What drives you, really? What are your true values? Which values do you share with your friends and your family?
We are conditioned to believe in what we see. “To have faith is to believe unconditionally,” writes Don Miguel Ruiz in “The Four Agreements”.
What we see in our own reality is not what we are or what we are capable of. It is a story that either we have created ourselves or that has been told in order to make life a comprehensible experience. The human mind loves context.
It’s good to have context, but expansion can only happen if we create ‘space’ for ourselves. Imagine for a moment you would pursue exactly what you want to achieve in your life. You think you would fail? Have you tried it? I wrote an article on this two years ago…
The more mindful you become the more you will realize that the image you have created of yourself is just – yes – an image. You can easily rewrite it, reframe it, recolour it. But first you have to identify which story you are telling yourself.
The more aware you become of your true feelings and your needs the more aware you will automatically become of which beliefs are holding you back.
Slowly you will uncover your motives, recover your faith and ‘reinvent’ your own conditioning. But remember, it happens in iterations. And iterations are NEVER a straight line.
5. You Will Eventually Start Acting
For a long time I wanted to learn another language apart from english. But something inside of me always blocked me from pursuing it. Until I realized that I just have to do it – despite the belief inside of me that I don’t have the capacity to do it.
The reality was that I didn’t even get started, because by default I thought I would fail. By practicing mindfulness I identified my false belief system. I found out that a lack of self-confidence underlies nearly every shortcoming that I perceive. My lack of self-discipline was caused by this lack of self-esteem.
So, how did I eventually start learning Italian? I established a tiny language learning routine. And with the first results my old beliefs started to fade. There was no foundation anymore for my old beliefs, because over time I undoubtedly made progress. When I ordered my first breakfast in Florence in Italian followed by a loose conversation with the waiter I couldn’t deny it anymore: I am able to learn another language! This experience of self-efficacy opened my eyes.
And this is how I’m wishing to approach all challenges throughout 2021 and beyond.
6. You Will Start To Love Yourself More
What I understood throughout the practice of mindfulness is that I have needs that want to be met. The more I understand this, the more I’m starting to value myself and the more I understand what this self-love is everybody talks about (including myself).
More and more I understand that I’m not crazy, but human. ‘A human in denial’ could be a title for my book. (I don’t know where that came up from, but I won’t erase it from this post. Who knows – maybe it’s valuable information.)
It’s a Process
Okay, I realized that this article doesn’t really find an end.
There are SO many aspects to address around mindfulness. What I wanted to get across is that self-development is called self-development for a reason.
There is something to develop. It is already there, but we can’t see it. Like a film reel. We need to soak in various liquids and hang from the ceiling to dry in order to get a full image of who we really are. But be careful not to overexpose. Haha, that’s what I like doing. It results in tears and lengthy blog posts like this one.
As I mentioned at the very beginning: change is hard. This whole awakening process is not a straight line. It’s easier said than done to transform negative thinking patterns. But it is not impossible. I have the suspicion that we reached a point collectively where change is not to be suspended.
To throw in another Thich Nhat Hanh: “If we want to become mindful rather than just knowing about mindfulness, we need to establish our own regular practice.”
It is easy to do things the same way over and over again. It is easy to cling to assumptions about the world and about ourselves, because they allow us to stick to our belief patterns. They are convenient, because they don’t require will-power.
It is an effort to change our belief system, yes. But it is doable with awareness, patience and compassion.
“nobody can save you but
you will be put again and again
into nearly impossible
they will attempt again and again
through subterfuge, guise and
to make you submit, quit and/or die quietly
nobody can save you but
and it will be easy enough to fail
so very easily
but don’t, don’t, don’t.
just watch them.
listen to them.
do you want to be like that?
a faceless, mindless, heartless
do you want to experience
death before death?
nobody can save you but
and you’re worth saving.
it’s a war not easily won
but if anything is worth winning then
this is it.
think about it.Charles Bukowski
think about saving your self.”
dream shattering = reality building
Be happy for who you are, where you are. Don’t measure your worth in your productivity or in (what you define as) your success. Listen to your inner voice AND take action – even if it’s uncomfortable. Trust. Honour your past. Anticipate your future. Face every challenge with grace. Go the extra mile. For your own creation. Express yourself. Stop apologizing for nothing. Respect your boundaries. Relax daily. Channel your energy.
Remember who loves you and remember who you love and stick to those people. Walk with the ones who are excited about what you are doing. Don’t be mad at the ones who aren’t. Remember that nobody can take your joy from you. Transform negative energy into positive energy immediately. YOU are the alchemist. Stop taking your thoughts so freakin’ serious. If you are agitated, breathe. Allow flow. THIS is resilience.
Keep following your excitement in 2021 and prioritize accordingly.
When in doubt, be grateful.