Remember to Breathe

“Change doesn’t happen overnight.”

This truth revealed itself to me several times.

Sure, I can comprehend that intellectually.

But incorporating the patience to bear that truth – that’s a different story….

I AM IMPATIENT. With myself. With the world around me. With the people who are “waking up” right now in this world. I don’t want to be impatient. I want to have compassion.

How do I want to have patience with other people if I am my hardest judge?

“You should be more confident.”
“You should be somewhere else in your life.”

Yeah, I’m claiming myself to be empathetic. But when it comes to my own development I bounce my head against the walls of my own resistance. “Resistance to what?,” you might ask… My resistance to feel what really wants to be felt in the very moment.

Writing this down raises a smile on my face. Warmth is softening my chest. “Take it easy,” an internal voice whispers into my awareness.

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”

Mary Anne Radmacher

Honestly, this quote moved me.

How much time do I give myself? To evolve, to learn, to remember, to integrate?

How many times do I rush into a decision?

How many times do I not listen to my exhaustion?

What this whole pandemic thing (call it whatever you please) teaches me is: PATIENCE. And I am so freakin’ grateful for this – even if it’s the hardest lesson I have yet to learn.

What I learnt over and over again from my past is that life does not follow a chronological timeline.

I can manifest. I can picture my brightest future. As soon as I take steps new challenges arise. New insecurities show up.

Surprise, surprise – the body is striking. The mind is rebelling.

And here you are: “Wait a minute? I have asked for this, why is it that hard?”

Because we grow in sections.
Friction is a companion on our journey.
Challenge will never leave us.
Challenge comes when we least expect it and, surely, when we most need it in order to make our own decisions.
They are here to test us.

When universe asks: “Are you serious?”

Do you go all in?

All in often times means not to push hard. It means to pull back. To take rest. To cry. To sleep. To recover. To re-cover what you have buried beneath new layers of life experience.

Something you considered as healed may re-inflames.
And then it is up to you to open your eyes to reality. Will you take the time to heal? Or will you distract yourself again and not move on?

The best advice I can give myself these days (as a fire sign) is: SLOW THE F*ck DOWN. Do you. Keep clear. Don’t overdo. Move along, but do it in your own pace (or slightly slower.)

Is there something you have overlooked in your enthusiasm?
Is your body asking for something else than your busy mind does deliver?
Is there anything at all that needs to be done right now?


Do you remember to breathe?

Breeeeeaaaathe through discomfort.
Move through hardships with grace.
Accept the challenge.

 

Don’t Set Rules, Set Intentions

Don’t set rules, set intentions.

There is this voice inside of me that gives me commands every now and then (or if I am able to listen).

This morning I was able to listen.

I woke up happy. I woke up with a sense of excitement for the first time in a long time.

It was nearly 8 o’clock already. Way too late for the ‘ambitious’ Uli to start the day.

But my eyes were not burning. I felt a sense of gratitude. I was at ease – physically and mentally, with the world and with myself.

My window was open and I heard the rain dripping outside. The rain of an early January morning of the year 2022.

The past two days I was in a very dark mood. “The old” came creeping back up. “The new” was not yet to come. The fun fact is: the new does never come. Well, it does. But we can’t see it at first.

A friend of mine told me in a voice message yesterday: “You seem to be on your way. You seem to grow organically.”

And yes, maybe, only maybe, I am able to agree on this today.

So, what do I do?

In times of crisis. (And boy, I went through patches of crisis within the past over 24 months. Actually I found out that I was at my “lowest” in 2018. So it would be 48 months to be more precise. 😉 Ha!)

What do I do in these periods of crisis? Or the moments of anxiety?

I set intentions!

I did this so many times. During my lowest times I prayed every single day, every hour, sometimes I prayed every single minute of the day. I prayed for release. I prayed for a sign.

The thing with sings is: They never come when we (supposedly) need them the most. So, there is not really a point in asking for signs – every time we are in doubt.

What we do need to do is to take action.

What I learnt is that the voice of intuition is sometimes the faintest, the quietest in our blasting brain. What is blasting is: the self-doubt, the “shoulds”, the self-sabotage (an article on the topic of self-sabotage is in the pipeline).

We will always find hundreds of reasonable reasons to not do the step that we want to do, the step that is beneficial for our own growth.

What I got to learn throughout the past years of nomading and roaming around is: THERE IS NO WRONG STEP. There truly isn’t. I know it sounds pathetic. It is pathetic, but it is (for a change) a narrative that serves our personal development.

We can never predict the outcome. Who crosses our path is beyond our control. Who is going to help us is beyond our imagination. But guess what? THERE ARE PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO WILL UNDERSTAND AND SUPPORT YOU. If? (Yeah, right. What are the ifs here?) If you change your thinking? Yes… What else? If you KEEP MOVING.

And it does not matter in which direction you go. Because there will be new intersections. New decisions along this path – over and over and over again.

There is no point in overthinking the next step.

What we can do is: We can set intentions. And this is what I did in the past couple of days when I was so down, so discouraged. I did not know how exactly to get out of my “old ways” of being and thinking. I still have no Idea. I have no idea how to “not be too hard on myself”.

Nevertheless, even if my mind said ‘shut the fuck up and squeeze your butt’, I wrote an intention into my notebook: “Prioritize yourself.”

This morning I prioritized myself by sleeping in and going for a long morning walk (Of course this is not always possible, but every now and then… why not?)

Words truly become seeds, if we let them….

 

Sacrifice

Just now in the subway a word came into my head: Sacrifice.

I know the word, but am I familiar with it?

Years ago I met this martial arts athlete in New Zealand. He introduced me to his secrets of success: determination, loyalty and sacrifice.

I got it. He had to train hard in order to be a successful fighter and he doesn’t have time for much else – apart from his pals and family.

But honestly, for me it was always hard to grasp. ‘To sacrifice’ always sounded slightly pathetic to me.

This morning I took a shower and I knew my day would get better if I’d turned the tap on cold.

I did. And interestingly I felt nothing.

Well, not nothing. But I did not feel the need to control.

I didn’t control my breath. I didn’t tense up. I didn’t move around tipoeing.

Automatically my heart started pumping my blood a little bit more intensely. My breath speeded up. I inhaled deeply and exhaled strongly.

My body took over. Within a minute I was wide-awake and I had a smile on my face.

In this moment I realized that sacrifice had been a part of my life ever since. But it didn’t feel like it, because subconsciously I always knew that my thoughts, my perception of myself, my limitations and the world around me is just an illusion.

The image that I have of myself is not true. What I think I am capable of is not true. Or let’s phrase it differently: What I think I am not capable of is not true.

I realized how much I had been trying to control my body during these cold showers.

Why? Because I did not trust in my body. This morning I found out that it is completely unnecessary to distrust, because my body knows better than me.

The same thing happened to me the other day when I did over one hundred sun salutations for the first time in my life while during a yoga challenge I attended. I did not know that I was capable of such a physical task.

I set the intention in my mind to let go of control. I said it out loud: “Okay, body, it is your turn.” – and all of a sudden another intelligence took over. The intelligence of my body.

What does it have to do with sacrifice?

Everything. These experiences showed me what happens if I am willing to truly step out of my comfort zone. People who know me are aware of my ‘Aries’-nature: Avoiding challenges is not my thing.

Nevertheless there is a whole other layer of ‘control’ that I didn’t really grasp.

By sacrificing my need to control I am gaining self-confidence, trust in life, in my actions and in my body.

The more I am willing to let go of convenience the more I ‘prepare’ myself for… Yeah, for what?! I prepare myself for making uncomfortable decisions, for listening to my internal voice, for stepping up, saying ‘yes’ to things that scare the shit out of me….

One definition of the noun ‘sacrifice’ according to Merriam Webster dictionary is: “destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else” – as simple as that. In religious terms it means ‘to offer an innocent being to the gods’ (I could make a huuuge topic out of it, but I won’t.) What am I offering? I am offering my victim mentality, my hesitation and my self-doubt in exchange for self-responsibility and energy.

This morning I had a choice: Do I want to remain in the passive, supposedly ‘cozy’ state of the early morning or do I want to wake up fully, gain clarity and start my day active?

It is interesting, because my example shows how we can actually make use of our ego. Our ego is our means of transport. This is something a lot of people don’t speak about. At least I find that it is not emphasized enough. The ego is not only bad.

Our ego is our messenger. It transmits the spark. The idea is to catch fire, recognize it and carry it through – burning down our resistance – willingly.

How do we do it WITHOUT ego? We don’t. What we do is, we make use of our ego and then we shift gears and allow our subconscious or our body to take over.

This, again, requires trust. The willingness to cross that line. The desire to cross that line of self-pity, fear and anxiety and trust that the grass is greener on the other side.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a time to feel comfortable. There is a time for remaining still and hibernating in our cozy cocoon. But also there is a time to step up, step out, move ahead, go your own way, make an effort for the greater good (in the end).

Sometimes we have to sacrifice comfort, friends, relationships, jobs and even the connection to our family (is it responsibility or just the feeling of duty?) in order to become our own person.

Sometimes we have this deeper knowing that there is ‘something else out there’. In my experience it is well worth it to listen to that tiny voice and disregard ALL those voices telling you that you can’t – the external and the internal. YOU CAN! You can do whatever the f* you want.

What I found out over the course of the past years, especially the last year, is that there always is something else out there – as long as we have this slight feeling, this intuition, this quiet subtle voice of our heart, our soul, however you want to call it. Even if the voice is quiet, the voice is right! GO for it!

We are allowed to grief all the things that we sacrifice, but we are also allowed to welcome our new self. Our stronger self. Our real self?

Surf the wave of change.
Commit to your own growth.
Take your goals seriously.
It is your life and you choose what to dedicate your time to.

 

How to Think More Colorful

This was supposed to be a threesome, but it turned out as a wholesome!? 😉

Here we go:

I’m experiencing mood-swings at the moment between gratitude for being alive – especially (!) in those turbulent times (chaos makes me move…) – and between heavy anxiety and doom mood that is nagging my energy.

Oftentimes I am easily irritable. Other times I start laughing for no reason – for minutes… To me it sounds manic, but the fact that I can phrase it seems to display a decent level of emotional intelligence. (Even though, to be really honest with you, I am not sure anymore how much of an advantage that is, but probably I will figure it out on the way;)

During the night I’m grinding my teeth, because my stirred-up mind is strenuously “sorting things out”. (Without telling me what it is actually doing?!)

When I wake up I still feel the cortisol and adrenaline levels in my cells….. F*ck…. I don’t know about you, but to me the energies right now feel INTENSE – and my physical body responds alike.

I find release during the morning walks or during my casual little meditation in the early sun facing the urban greenery in the park nearby.

Yes, these are my tools.

But I can’t silence my mind forever…

On a lot of days the black and the white of my thinking is narrowing my field of view like stone walls in a dungeon.

In those moments I feel trapped.

“Just make your thinking colorful,” I figured the other day. But HOW?

This question was roaming in the back of my head for days.

I tend to think black and white a lot. When I really think about it, my thinking generally appears to be more black than white.

Luckily, there are mornings like this morning today….

At 8 am I went to this little post shop café a few streets away. I have never been there – until yesterday, when I forgot my ID-card that I needed to pick up the small parcel I was awaiting.

I had to return this morning, so I combined it with my little walk. And what can I say? Some small incidents renewed my energy!

“Buenos dias,” I greeted this South American man accompanied by his son and his dog at the traffic light of an intersection. Surprised they asked me for my name. We continued speaking in german.

“We are going to join a soccer game now. You should enjoy the sun today, too.” – “I will,” I replied with honest happiness radiating from my heart – and probably from my face.

Our paths split, but I continued walking with a smile on my face. A few meters ahead I met another man waving at me from the doorstep of his bar. A bar most people just pass by while I was strolling delightfully; occasionally gazing the environment. There was enough time for another friendly encounter. This time it was just a smile.

A few meters further I entered the post shop to successfully pick up the parcel – another two big smiles of the guy behind the counter and the woman in front of the coffee-machine that served me a tasty “latte”.

I sat down in the fresh morning air, chatting with the man on the next table about this and that.

Do you know what? It made my day. This real-life connection to my surrounding. This appreciation of what is. This acceptance of where I am right now at this point in time.

“What if you were okay? What if you were where you are supposed to be at this point in time? What if you already are who you have desired to become for so long?”

These questions popped up in my head a couple of weeks earlier. They reappeared this morning.

I realized that I have colorful thoughts!

They are written in my notes. They are printed into my memory system. My head (and my notebook) is actually full of it. And I can create more of those thoughts just by acknowledging what is, just by witnessing my existence with all its appearances and by making the most of the tiniest moments….

Namaste.

 

Meeting Patience Halfway

“How to develop self-compassion?”

This question in itself imposes pressure on my already beat-up brain. I carried it along for quite some time. This morning the answer revealed itself to me. 

Today at 7:06 am I woke up slightly tense. 

When I opened my eyes my first thought led me to my to-do-list: I have a video edit to finish, some udemy course about content marketing to work through and of course a huge pile of unfinished articles that demand my attention.

“It is Sunday… Relax!,” one (not me) could say.

I can see the azure blue sky outside of my window. I was planning on going hiking today, but I dropped this plan, because of my to-do-list mentioned above.

Eventually I get out of bed. Mechanically I’m rolling out my yoga-mat, but I realize how much I am craving fresh air. I have to say luckily going for walks and runs in the morning became my non-negotiable habit during the pandemic. Otherwise I would have gone insane. And certainly I still find pleasure in it…

It is 8 am when I step outside the door. The sun is beaming so bright that I can barely see. I sigh with awe when I pass the huge chestnut tree in front of the house. Its white blossoms glow in front of a light green background. The first shiver of gratitude unleashes my chest…

It is more silent than usual. I don’t see a single car until I reach the entrance to a little natural reserve next to the railways of the suburban train close-by.

What used to be a freight yard is now protected territory in the middle of the city, reserved for the rare “blauflügelige Ödlandschrecke”. It still amazes me (and gives me hope) that a huge building project for a residential area was discarded to preserve the habitat of a cricket.

As I walk along the path I find myself completely alone, which is very unusual at this time of the day. Usually I meet at least one dog and its owner.

For a couple of minutes there is no sound but the wind in the aspen and the beech trees that frame the concrete path. (Sidenote: They erected a bridge-like path across the whole protected area in order to preserve the natural floor which is inhabited by all sorts of animals,  for example lizards and insects.)

I pause and for a moment I enjoy the silence. When I gaze towards the bushland around me I notice a small snail.

“What does her world look like?,” I think to myself and I feel my stress-levels dropping. I realize how blessed I am to be able to take in this beautiful morning – a golden hour.

…A few days back I thought to myself “What if I was there?”… “What if I was where I always wanted to be?”

“Your bar will always rise,” my boyfriend, who is a trained musician and definitely an artistic soul, reminds me on a regular basis witnessing my constant striving to be better.

I agree. I’m always waiting for the perfect thought. The final phrase that says it all. The sentence that makes every future word obsolete. 

Hahaha, writing this down here makes me laugh. Just hypothetically: What if I found it? What would I do afterwards? Would I stop writing and finally go sailing around the world? Would I start building a house and start a proper garden? I don’t know. Maybe.

I remember the day when I decided to start writing in English. My whole ‘writing endeavour’ began at the common area of Tasman Bay Backpackers, a wonderful hostel on the South Island of New Zealand

“You should write in English, so everybody you will meet along the way can read it.” – “Me? Writing in English?,” I countered with a sense of being ‘caught in the act’. It seemed impossible to me.

“Do you think you will learn it, if you don’t start?,” Vincenzo, the ‘Italian grumpy guy’, who generously shared his morning coffee with me, replied in his straight-forward manner…

Looking back at this moment in time in November 2015 gives me goosebumps. If somebody would have told me that I will have started another blog about personal development and have posted close to 200 articles by May 2021, I wouldn’t have believed it! 

And what got me here? The first step. And a lot of patience…

Back to the walk: When I saw this tiny snail amidst these bushes crawling towards her next destination (a dandelion:), I realized that I am exactly where I need to be at this very moment…

The other day I got triggered because a friend said to me: “If I were you, I would go to Italy.” She referred to my previous travels.  

I felt some resistance rising. Something inside of me always wants to travel, yes. But not right now. Right now I want to integrate everything that the past six years of nomad life had taught me. Only now, I understand how much my life had shifted and how the limitations of the past year had helped me to explore my needs…

I can’t deny it anymore. I grew. I learnt a ton. I planted seeds that keep growing – in my notebook and in my soul. They need time and compassion….

This morning the snail taught me that it is fine to have modest plans for the day. It is okay to not ‘make the most of it’. It is okay to do some work and chill in the park for the rest of the afternoon – or for the rest of my life, if this is what fills my cup.

I named the snail Patience.

Happy Sunday! 😉

 

How to Push Through Apathy

“Change doesn’t require motivation. It requires discipline.” I stumbled upon this quote by Mel Robbins and it hooked me. The past couple of weeks I have been struggling a lot – even though things are ‘getting better’ according to the general public, I have been confronted with a lot of anxiety, sadness and confusion.

Recently I have become impatient more often – not to say cranky, enraged or just plainly mad! Briefly: I’ve been doubting my sanity.

“How long can I handle this?” – It is easy to get stuck these days in a downward spiral.

On many occasions it was easier to not ‘do the work’. It was easier to blame the circumstances instead of taking responsibility for my own actions. But I wouldn’t be me if I wouldn’t find a way through…

What I learnt at the very beginning of the ‘pandemic’ (Or maybe even long before?) was that my mind doesn’t present answers to me that soothe the troubled waters of my psyche. 

My body does – if I listen. And my body wants to scream and shout a lot at the moment…

But yesterday my body forced me to move inward. It forced my heart to soften, my tears to clear the wounds that are flaring within me from the loss and the dissatisfaction of the past well over twelve months…

“Be the change, but be patient,” I recalled my own speech from the beginning of 2021. 

This morning I woke up at 6 am and I remembered: I have a choice. Either I seize the day, do my work, keep getting stronger. Or? Or what? There was no other option, but to move forward – to take another step.

Will my mental health become stable by itself? Hell, no! Will anybody apart from myself take care of my mental health? Probably not.

I got up, cleared my space and I went for a run. And no, I didn’t feel like it after a day of nearly only crying. But I knew that I had to do it in order to hold my head straight.

With every step my sight got clearer and the weight that I carried fell off my shoulders. By the time I reached the lake in the park close-by I had a smile on my face.

This threesome works as a reminder to myself. A commitment to my own power.

Writing it all down is my leap out of the apathy that I am facing right now.

So, how do I move through apathy?

1. Movement

Surprise, surprise. I get my body moving! “If you want to scream and shout. Dance it all out.” If you can motivate yourself to do one step, you can probably do the next one too. As soon as you start moving your body your muscles and all of your cells get flooded with oxygen, your breath gets deeper. The responses of your nervous system start to change and so does your way of thinking.

2. Do Things Differently

The other day we had no electricity at home (and in a big part of the city) and honestly: It was the best thing that could happen. It forced me to change my routine and to get out of my head (my computer). It forced me to change my perspective completely. “Let’s go and have breakfast,” I agreed with my partner and we left our ‘home office’ behind. It sounds like such a small incident, but it was a big thing as we were both suffering from some sort of cabin fever and inability to move on with our personal projects. Our cabin fever was gone. The phenomenon is called a pattern interrupt. 

3. Change Your Point of View

What paralyses you? What do you have to worry about right now? Is there truly something to worry about? Do you really have to take things personally? The other day I was paralyzed because of one message that I received. It triggered some painful memories inside of me. After a while I realized that I chose to take it personally. I can choose to step back. I understood that it is just words. They have nothing to do with me if I don’t make them about me.

 

The Role of Mindfulness in The Process of Self-Discovery or ‘Be The Change’, But be Patient

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? What do you truely enjoy doing? How do you treat yourself? What do you put in your body? 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 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
yourself.
you will be put again and again
into nearly impossible
situations.
they will attempt again and again
through subterfuge, guise and
force
to make you submit, quit and/or die quietly
inside.

nobody can save you but
yourself
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
being?
do you want to experience
death before death?

nobody can save you but
yourself
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.
think about saving your self.”

Charles Bukowski
 

How to Thrive in Times of Crisis?

I believe in miracles.

This year the universe conspired to an extent that I can’t simply call luck.

These days I’m blown away by the twists and turns that have occurred on my path.

My devotion to my personal journey is greater than ever.

My desire ‘to create’ is thrilling with a swooshing sound. There is this irrevocable force within myself that wants to express.

I don’t have the capacity anymore to carry out these patterns of self-doubt and hesitation.

I can see clearly now where my ‘shadow work’ of the past seven years had led me. (Nope, when I visited my first therapy session with a psychologist in 2013 I was not familiar with the term ‘shadow work’. But at this point I also didn’t know that I would actually find the answers in the corners where I want to search the least.)

Today I can see clearly in which areas I’m in need of support. I can see clearly in which areas of my life I have grown. I can see clearly where others could use my support.

It’s a process.

I can see clearly now that I have purpose.

This year was by far the most challenging year of my entire life. My mom got diagnosed with cancer. A relationship (I thought I was in) fell apart. This pandemic forced me to return home and explore my roots – radically.

I’m still searching for the words to describe what this journey looked like. As I’m aiming to finish this article (and eventually share some useful content) I won’t dive deep into it at this point.

I might have lost track for a while, but I have never lost hope. That’s what got me where I am now. Where am I? In a position that gives me the confidence to publish this here. And this already makes me proud of myself – for the very first time in a long time.

So. It is a pretty tough time for most of us. I’m speaking about ‘crisis’ from a existential point of view, but maybe you find some take-aways.

This is supposed to be a threesome;), but bullet point four is so important – I couldn’t leave it out.

1. Stick to Routines

…and if you can’t: Don’t be hard on yourself! Allow yourself some rest. Take a nap if you can or go for a little walk and just allow yourself a couple of minutes to breathe…

Take a step back and see, if there is anything else you can improve? And then find a different routine that might suit you better in your current situation. What do I mean by that? For example if you are suffering from a trauma it is very likely that you suffer from a temporary biochemical imbalance within your body. There is no point in trying to develop a rigorous productivity habit, while your body is in fight-flight-freeze mode.

The best thing you can do is attempting a routine that supports your physical body for example drinking enough water or meditating for five minutes in the morning or doing some stretching. Even the smallest goal will support you on your healing journey. How? Because you set an intention. And by setting an intention you are signaling to your subconscious that it is time for change.

2. Be Honest With Yourself

“You can’t change anything in a state of denial!” I don’t remember where I’ve heard this statement. Probably it was by Jeremy Goldberg from longdistancelovebombs. This is spot on and so my experience. The whole scope of ‘seeing things clear’ dawns me more and more every single day.

Acknowledge the crisis for what it is. No matter what you go through – is it a serious disease or a divorce. Be clear about the situation you are in and the challenges your are facing – even if you have to start your life from scratch. Sometimes you are being forces into change. Every new beginning also inherits a lot of opportunity to start things anew.

NO MATTER what you are suffering from – by being transparent with yourself about the blockages you are facing you are moving closer towards your healing. No matter how painful this process might be. If you leave out the ‘nitty-gritty’, you will never proceed in your personal development! The good news is: The moment you start seeing things clear, is the moment when your life takes momentum again… Which leads me to my next point:

3. Think Positive

Even in the darkest hour of your life you can choose. You can choose empowering thoughts. Or you can choose disempowering thoughts. Hal Elrod demonstrates strikingly where positive thinking can lead you. He suffered from more than one major strokes of fate and always recovered with sheer willpower.

These days it is sometimes hard to distinguish which thoughts belong to you and which to somebody else. In these times it is even more crucial to direct your thinking towards thoughts that serve you and that don’t drain your energy.

It is a bit tricky: On the one hand you are called to name your fears but on the other hand it is crucial to focus on ‘productive’ thoughts. When you find yourself in a crisis where you are not able to change anything in the external, there is one thing that you can change for sure: Your way of thinking.

4. Ask for Help

Big one – this is massive. I’m exploding of gratitude, because I am able to share this one with confidence now. ‘Asking for help’ was probably one of my major challenges this year.

“You will need help!” – Last year in November I met a shaman at the esoteric fair in Munich. He predicted the upcoming challenges on my path. “Me? Help? But I’m doing it all by myself! How can I receive help?,” my Aries-me responded panically with the outlook of asking for help.

The moment was there. One ‘tower-moment’ after another ripped my illusions about life apart. I had to re-gather myself. I couldn’t have done it by myself.

I asked for help. Who? Coaches, friends, family members, random strangers, doctors…. It changed everything – seriously.

Only now writing this down, I realize that this is material for another article. I can’t emphasize it enough: ASK FOR FREAKIN’ HELP! You will be surprised what the universe does.

 

Radical Awareness

Recently I found out HOW FAR I had crossed my boundaries in the past years – basically since my adolescence.

I don’t remember the day when I forgot where I start and where I end.

“Who did traumatize you?,” some ex-colleague asked me a couple of years ago.

I didn’t know how to reply.
I didn’t remember consciously.

Now I can see it more and more clearly.

There is trauma stored inside of my body and my genes – conditioned through former generations and lifetimes.

The trauma manifests in my belief patterns and my tendency to end up in unhealthy (I don’t like the term toxic anymore – even though it is an accurate description) relationships.

I re-traumatized myself by not knowing my boundaries….

I knew that there is such thing as ‘boundaries’. What I didn’t understand ultimately was that I’m the one who has to set them.

What feels good for me? Do I feel esteemed by my partner or my friends? Do I enjoy doing what I’m doing? Do I enjoy where I am? These were questions that never occurred to me….

Either I was busy meeting my own demands or fulfilling the needs of others. But I never asked myself if I feel good? If the relationship or the friendship gives me what I need? I never allowed myself to have any demands.

Now I know that this is called codependency and now I know that there is a cure for this and the cure is called ‘radical healing’.

Finally I understood that not every human wants my very best.

How could I be so naive?

Well, luckily I learnt to laugh about myself. A good portion of humor helps me to accept my former blindness and keeps me from becoming bitter.

Luckily the universe presented me with the necessary lessons – as usual.

Finally the pain forced me into self-love.

I reached a point where I HAVE to set boundaries – if I want to survive.

A crisis is the most radical learning experience you can ever have.

For a long time I was talking about pain and fear on this blog, but I have to admit that I never fully allowed my pain.

There was always this last resistance.

There was always this fear of the fear. The fear of feeling the pain completely. I thought I must be strong. I am not allowed to remain in pain…. But some pain is persistent… It might takes months. Or even years?

What did I think?

Probably I thought I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I thought I would break.

What I learnt now through emotional pain that manifested physically in my body is that the toxic thing is not the pain itself but the resistance…

The more I’m holding on to my feelings, the more I’m resisting to feel anger, grief or sadness fully the more painful it gets…

This is how anxiety attacks are able to drain my energy system.

This is how I become ‘unaware’.

This is how I get lost in ‘shortcuts’ (addictions).

What’s the cure?

The cure is radical honesty. It is that simple. Being able to be honest about my real feelings. I wish I would have known this when I was 16 years old.

The feelings won’t harm me. They will pass – no matter how long it takes. I have to allow them. What will harm me in the end is the disconnection from myself that is created by resisting negative feelings…

The good news is that there is a way back.

And the way back exists right in this moment.

To be more precise – the present moment IS the way back.

By allowing what is in this moment I reconnect with myself.

Ram Dass says: “Don’t be afraid of appearances”

Finally I get what he is talking about.

This is what I call ‘radical awareness’.

Radical awareness is the ability to be aware of what is going on internally and externally – without judging it, or counteracting.

Only now I understand HOW important the practice of awareness truly is for personal development – the personal path.

Awareness is the path to the path.

The more I become aware the more clearly I can see. The clearer I can see everything the more clears my path.

All of a sudden I can see the signs again.
All of a sudden my whole body relaxes into place.
Only by becoming aware of what is.

This is the way towards radical healing.

‘Investigate!’

This is something I blared into my notebook many times recently…

I didn’t understand how ‘intuition’ and ‘investigation’ are interlinked.

intuitio – ‘the immediate insight’

How do you act intuitively?

By being aware and by looking – constantly!

I have the impression we are mistaken intuition for a spontaneous reaction or something like that.

But in reality it can be covered up and what we think is our intuition is just an emotional reaction to an external trigger…

Intuition is a response in alignment with our needs.

Nowadays these needs are most likely covered up with… with what?

I’d say expectations, pressure, distractions, addictions,…..

So, sometimes we have to investigate in order to find what our intuition is trying to say to us again.

I got caught up in concepts.
I got caught up in my own expectations.
I got caught up in ‘adding up’ instead of ‘letting go’.

Until?

Until I nearly exploded (or imploded). This is pretty much the only way I can put it.

I got so tense.

I had to open my heart and my heart moved me towards forgiveness.

Radical Forgiveness

I forgive myself for my mistakes.
I forgive my parents.
I forgive the system.
I forgive my abusers.
I forgive men.
I forgive me.

My heart bursts open and all of a sudden there is space…
It was always there, but I always locked the doors. Ooohh, I barricaded them! And I didn’t even realize it. I asked myself why does nobody want to enter my heart?

I locked my heart so tightly and I threw away the key.
Until my heart got so big that it exploded the chains.

Yayyy.

My heart itself ruptured my resistance.

And what there is is love, more compassion than ever before, more beauty, more light….

This is healing. This is becoming whole. I can feel myself again, because I felt myself fully in my deepest pain.

I was left alone and what I found was that I am my best company, my best friend. I am my everything, so why would I need to be the everything of somebody else?

Radical Healing

Radical forgiveness is possible through radical awareness.

If I wouldn’t look at everything I wouldn’t see cleary.

How can I heal if I don’t look at my wounds? How can I heal if I abstract? If I get lost in the process… I had lost myself in strategies. These were coping mechanisms to prevent me from seeing the truth.

I’m not sure yet if I need to know the origin of all these wounds.

I feel like I’ve overcomplicated this path tremendously with my intellectual understanding.

All I had to do was to become aware of my wounds. Fully aware.

The more clear I can see the more clear become the milestones of the path….

Don’t challenge reality.
Look at what you see.
Don’t be scared of your wounds.
Look right into it.
See things clear.