We Grow When We Sleep

Yesterday I fell asleep before I could post anything. The casual pre-tooth-brushing-five-minutes-nap turned into a six hours pass out. I woke up when the dawn was already breaking.

But now I’m happy, because it inspired me to post something more meaningful.

The topic of my heart turned out to be healing. Cultivating self-love, spiritual growth, personal development, overcoming pain, reclaiming compassion – in the end it all comes down to the same thing: Healing.

Yesterday night after a two days storytelling coaching job I’ve decided to have a piece of pizza and a glass of red wine at this tiny pizza bar near Rosenheimer Platz in Munich. “What’s this?,” with childlike curiosity the guy behind me in the queue pointed at the pizza ‘salsiccia spinaci’. The spark in his eyes resonated with my wave-length. Unhesitatingly I sat down on his table to share a moment of company.

Immediately he opened up and told me the story of his past weeks. “I just came back from fusion festival,” he reminisced and reassured unintentionally that we belong to the same tribe.

It turned out that he just dropped his medicine studies. Becoming a doctor collided with his worldview. According to him being beneficial for humanity and working in the – irritatingly called – ‘health sector’ is a contradiction in this society. “We learn medicine for 70-year-olds,” he complained with a last trace of disillusionment. “Modern medicine is more about ‘interfering’ with the human body than about maintaining health,” he summed up.

You decide to be sick.

I could totally comprehend what he was saying. Taking responsibility for our own bodies should be something we learn in school, but instead we rely on a dubious system to keep us alive when we are sick.

“You decide to be sick, ” he advocated for our ability for self-healing. Through his words I found myself releasing a lot of tension that had built up during the past weeks of traveling and working.

Things like meridian lines, qì or kundalini energy are referred to in human history since decades. So, why would I not feel what is happening inside of my body if I learn to pay attention to it?

Dis-ease is what’s causing illness. And what is the state of health? ‘To be at ease’. Only when we find relaxation we find health.

I soaked up every word of the conversation – well aware that this encounter was a once in a lifetime one.

I smiled at the universe pondering the lessons of my past months: Healing takes time and not constant action. By re-acting all the time, by planning, by overdoing I’m ruining my (karmic) energy and in the end my physical and mental health.

“When you change your perspective things change automatically.” Briefly we’ve started talking about politics, but this quote applies one to one to the good old habits.

There doesn’t have to be a direct cure for everything. As soon as we are making an effort to change a small thing, e.g. what we eat, how much we sleep or how we work we eventually find great results:

Things fall into place automatically. We find the time for the things we love, our stress-level drops and in the end we might even become healthier.

I need a practical example for this: Since I’ve started to seriously reduce processed foods and industrial sugar my overall ability to focus had improved tremendously. Automatically I’m getting more stuff done (like this writing experiment). THIS is healing on a higher level.

It doesn’t take as much as I thought to become the human I want to be IF I’m willing to honestly change my point of view, question what I thought was ‘me’, if I’m willing to seriously try new lifestyles…

Through these changes I rattle the fundament of my thinking patterns and eventually the truth reveals.

By nature our body will heal if we choose to.

When we are planting a seed we just need to water it. If we are looking at it all the time and try to convince it to grow faster nothing will happen, but we will stress ourselves out.

Our body is a living entity of organs, chemical processes and microorganisms. It is a part of nature. An autonomic system of nerves and neurotransmitters takes care of it. I don’t need to ‘be aware’ of it all the time. It is better to let it be sometimes. By nature our body will heal if we choose to.

“We grow when we are sleeping.” – I woke up with this sentence in my head this morning. It really made me smile as normally I would have been disappointed that “I got nothing done” last night. Instead my body decided to get some rest before I could even tell him to do so.

There is a built in regulation system that protects me if I let it. By trying to control it all the time I hinder it from doing its job.

I can’t believe it took me such a long time to understand the connection between my stress level, my immune system and my productivity.

Again it became obvious to me: If I want to grow I need to let go.

 

Rules Of The Road

This is a worksheet. It started off three years ago with a page in my notebook with the title “Things To Consider” and it issued into this blog. Haha, but I condensed some of the things here. There is no order. Everything is crucial for my survival.

  1. Surround yourself with people who are lifting you higher.
  2. Express your gratefulness as often as you can.
  3. Be happy and let the world know it. Happiness is contagious.
  4. Don’t put too much value and truth in words, ideas or concepts, but trust your intuition.
  5. Have always positive intentions. Think ONLY positive (I always thought it is normal to have doubts all the time, but no, it’s not. If negative thoughts loom, don’t make a movie out of it. Just stop it. Think about something else.)
  6. Appreciate endings, because they are always new beginnings.
  7. Drop your perfectionism. Forgive yourself mistakes immediately. Best case scenario: Drop the word ‘mistake’ from your vocabulary completely, because there are no mistakes in this world.
  8. Be as loud as you want. Be as quiet as you want. Be you.
  9. Don’t re-act all the time. Be passive at times. Only act, when it’s necessary. (Kung-Fu)
  10. Stay grounded and always balance your energy level. Don’t let emotions take you over.
  11. Never forget: You’ve got a treasure in your heart. You’ve got all the beauty inside of you. Just release it. Turn it into energy. You’ve got the power – use it.
  12. Don’t be afraid of the nothingness. It is taken care of you. Everything you need is right there.
  13. You don’t have to do anything. Do what is good for you. Say no to everything else.
  14. You don’t need to be “professional”. You don’t need to be anything. Just be you.
  15. You can heal yourself from the inside. And life itself can cure you.
  16. Keep in touch with the planet. Mother nature needs you (how you are).
  17. Be in service. Be available for the people around you. Listen, give hugs and smile at people as much as you can.
  18. You are welcome. Everywhere you go.
  19. Don’t be scared. Trust.
  20. Stop reaching for more. Be happy with less.
  21. Don’t forget who you are, but don’t take yourself so f*cking serious all the time. You are just one of many human beings. So stop trying to be a saint.
  22. Don’t see the obstacles, but see the opportunities.
  23. Slow down. Take a break. Never rush. It’s unhealthy for you. Impatience is your enemy.
  24. Don’t hesitate, but do not hurry.
  25. Follow your excitement.
  26. The force is with you.

Amen.

 

We Can Only Heal From The Inside

We can only heal ourselves from the inside. There is nobody, who could ever heal us apart from ourselves. We have everything we need already within us. We have the power. All we have to do is to choose to heal.

But how? Some brief reminders:

  • Look into the mirror with all honesty. Do you see you? Can you see your true self? Are you ok? Are you bullshitting yourself? If yes, are you willing to change? Do you really know what you want and what you need in life? If no, are you willing to find out?
  • Listen to the signs of your body: Is there anxiety, aggression or even panic? Are self-doubts sucking your energy? Are you in physical pain? What is itching and aching?
  • Give yourself time – rushing doesn’t lead you anywhere. Like a wound doesn’t heal within one day also your inner wounds need time to heal. 
  • Allow yourself to crack. Crack like a seed. Every new beginning starts with destruction. A seed has to crack before the seedling can follow the sun.
  • Do the clearance work – clean out the debris of former destruction. Clean the pathways of your energy before you are starting something new. This is a sweat inducive process. You might need a couple of runs, check the dark corners again and again and maybe consult an expert in order to move along. But it is worth it. How do you want to build something new without a solid foundation?
  • Trust your intuition and release. All of a sudden help will be naturally given. Like a plant you start growing as soon as you follow your intuition. The energy comes from the inside. It is already a part of you. If you are willing to listen to your inner voice you automatically start to heal. A plant doesn’t ask for permission to grow, it just grows.
 

Black, White, All Or Nothing?

Pizza or pasta? Tea or coffee? Should I stay or should I go? Over and over I catch myself paralyzed by the same thinking-pattern: I’m searching for the best solution, the perfect answer, the right decision, the only path that leads to happiness.

I beat myself down over and over again for having not enough discipline – for not being “straight” enough. If I’d just learn another language/did more yoga/became a software developer/travelled to place xy… my life would be perfect. Violently I’m pondering every possibility. The restaurant (Pizza or Pasta?) is just one venue of competition. The toughest fights I stage within myself. “Should I start a new job?” “Should I work this or that job? “Should I travel to Portugal or Indonesia?” – to name just a few of my ridiculous first-world-problems.

Why am I struggling so much with making decisions? And why am I beating myself down for not doing the “right” things? I have a suspicion: It is all in my head! The problem is, that my mind still wants to convince me that there is one perfect decision. If I’d just consider ALL available data I couldn’t go wrong. But you know what? There is no such thing like “all data”. How can we know the outcome of a decision in advance? How do we know who we are going to meet, who might changes our “path” in an irreversible way? How do we know which outlook awaits us behind the next curve of this windy road called life?

A lot of times I’m trying so hard to make the “right” decision that I’m loosing sight of what I actually want. Sometimes I want none of the things, I think I want. 

My own thoughts keep me trapped somewhere between past and future –  but for sure they hold me back from the now. Often I’m loosing contact with the present moment completely. And wait a minute – this moment is all that we have!

It is time for me to really accept that there is no “right” decision – for sure not when it comes to choosing pizza or pasta, but what about the “real” decisions? Where do I want to live? Should I change my job? Should I quit? Travel? Get pregnant? Break up? Get married? Stay single? And what exactly should I do?

The word “should” already implies that the answers to these questions often enough are not mine. They are the answers of society, my family, my friends or my “peer-group”. (if this is a word)

The truth is that we have to create our own reality by walking our own way. As long as we are searching for the “right” answer or our “recipe to happiness” we forget to live.

We will probably never find what we are looking for – but what we will find is even more thrilling and beautiful: surprises, connections, friendships – the pleasure of the unknown.

If we stop thinking black or white we will discover how colorful this world is.

So how am I going to overcome this narrow decision-making-fight? I’m following my excitement by doing what I enjoy doing, by following my heart and dropping my thoughts completely.

The difficult part is to give an ear to my heart, my inner voice. The chatterbox in my head still likes to dominate, but my heart wins with trust and patience.

 

 

Love Yourself More

Alright, the process of renewing is continuing. I can literally feel the shell bursting. Before I started this article I thought “Okay, this will be short but intense.” – A fertilizer for my growth – a brief reminder of how far I’ve come. But there is so much more to it: Welcome to the story of my life.

“You don’t take yourself seriously” – A few months ago a friend of mine put a finger right into a wound. A wound I didn’t even know it existed.

“Love yourself more” – This is a phrase I heard a lot over the past few years. “Put yourself on number one”, only recently a couchsurfing host pointed out to me – witnessing my struggle to find my own priorities.

It made me think. Within the past five years I’ve tried hard to live my life up to my own believes. Maybe too hard? I’ve changed jobs, rooms, cities and countries. I’ve ended relationships. I’ve started new ones. I’ve tried new things, I’ve travelled, I’ve improved my physical fitness and so on and so on. Some of my changes you might witness on this blog.

“Do what you love.” – This expression too became omnipresent in our highly individualized world. Well, so I did! Everything was supposed to be good. But it wasn’t. I stressed myself out. I stressed myself out, because I was struggling to meet my own expectations. Was I happy in the meantime?

Of course not. I always felt like there is something missing. Even if I thought I had all I wanted, I felt this numbing anxiety. But where was it coming from? I had to dig deeper.

What I found was a hole – a hole I was always closing my eyes from. I filled it with a lot of things. Temporary pleasures like partying, alcohol or sex gave me a superficial satisfaction. Working hard gave me a feeling of purpose. But at the end even sports and physical challenges just seemed to be a substitution. But a substitution for what? Only when I started to observe the dark corners of my psyche the cover-up crumbled. The process is still ongoing.

The more honest I become with myself the more the truth discloses: Now I know that I was looking for love in the wrong places. I had to find it within myself. What I have been trying to pad was a lack of self-love.

I was looking for love in the wrong places

To be honest with you, it was only about five years ago, I was 25 years old and I didn’t have the slightest idea who I was or who I wanted to become. I thought I had, but I hadn’t.

Self-doubts were shadowing any future prospects. I couldn’t see myself or anything else clear. I didn’t know what I’m passionate about. I wanted to write, I wanted to hike, I wanted to travel, but I couldn’t find the motivation to do it. I was scared. I always found excuses.

Now I know that I felt obligated to follow a beaten track. A path that wasn’t mine. I thought I would have to find somebody to walk this path with me. Slowly it dawned me that I have to find myself in the first place.

I always had the feeling there must be more to life, but I couldn’t quite grasp what it was. In the past there was always something missing – with or without a boyfriend I was unhappy – neither physically nor spiritually satisfied.

A long time (actually all of my life) I thought I have to change. There must be something wrong with me. I must be mentally sick or something. The truth is that I didn’t take my personal needs seriously. That’s why I felt like shit most of the time.

Five years ago I did not know my journey will be about self-love. I would fight my fears and expand my comfort zone in the name of (self-) love.

Love is in the air and stuff. But how do I receive it?

How to foster self-love

So far so good – apparently I was looking for love. The question was how to cultivate love in my system? This is only partly an “How-to” guide, but more an arbitrary list of thoughts and assumptions that crossed my way during the last months. I’m curious what you have to add.

1. Stop lying to yourself

Before I started my journey of self-love I kept up an idealized image of my self. Disregarding my own nature I tried to be somebody else. Painfully I learnt that this leads only to physical and mental suffering.

Don’t try to be somebody you are not. Look into the mirror and see your true nature. Be true to yourself. Be authentic, but most of all be honest with yourself. Acknowledge your roots and be proud of who you are.

2. Stop looking for approval by others

A long long time I was aiming for acceptance instead of striving towards my own goals. I was hoping to find somebody to “fix” me and help me with my life. In the meantime I was living somebody else’s life not mine.

If you are looking for approval by others you are losing credibility. You give away responsibility for your well-being and slowly you are losing your self-esteem. Stop being a people pleaser and please yourself first.

3. Lower your expectations on yourself

Harder, faster, better, stronger – this is the slogan of our time not only when it comes to technology. Self-optimization became common courtesy, but the slavedriver is only in your head: The inner judge – your chatterbox – is the one who is convicting you for being insufficient.

Don’t get me wrong – self-discipline is required to make changes. But what you have to optimize is your way of thinking from “I have to become better” to “I’m okay how I am”. Self-criticism is the opposite of self-love.

So please, please you chatterbox in the back of the head – stop judging. Instead of heightening the expectations on yourself accept who you are: A human being and not a robot.

4. Accept your flaws and shortcomings

I’m still working on examining my strengths and weaknesses. During this process I learnt something essential: When you are able to give yourself a warm smile as soon as you discover weaknesses then you are able to transform them.

What you consider as your negative traits are might be ulterior talents or advantages? As soon as you take a look at your personality characteristics these supposedly negative attributes convert into your personal gifts.

5. Appreciate your individual gifts

In order to love yourself more you have to honour these personal gifts. You have to say yes to your uniqueness. Take a moment of appreciation and gratefulness – it is worth it. Believe in yourself. The world needs you how you are.

6. Give yourself time to heal

This is a tough one. Up to today I’m asking too much of myself. Most of my life I was busy beating myself down for not meeting my own expectations.

Over and over my body told me to stop, but I wasn’t listening until recently. I found out that I need the time to lick my wounds and recover from life-changing events like breaking up with my boyfriend or changing my environment rapidly. Allowing myself to heal is essential in order to achieve anything in my life.

Walk your own pace and household with your energy. Take your time to make the steps that are required to become the person you want to be. You only have this one life – so why rush?

7. Take your personal needs seriously

If you don’t take your needs seriously you end up suffering. Imagine a dog who can’t go for a walk or doesn’t get fed? Will he lead a happy and healthy life?

We can only nurture one another (friends, partner, family or even society) if we satisfy our own needs first.

I was standing in my own way by not taking myself seriously until I realized, that only I know what’s good for me. As soon as I started listening to my inner voice I found out about my personal needs. It is important to mute all the distraction and start listening.

8. Be compassionate

I don’t say you should feel sorry for yourself. No, actually self-compassion is the opposite of self-pity. Self-compassion is being warm, kind-hearted and friendly towards your inner self. When you are able to put a warm smile on your face, when you encounter negative feelings, fears or unsatisfied desires, then you are starting to love yourself. It is being supportive like you are to your friends.

9. Relax every day

Take a break. Go for a walk. Do some yoga. Meditate or just breathe in and out consciously every day for five minutes or an hour. Carve out this time for yourself. It will help you to clear your vision. (Note to my distracted self.)

9. Trust in the Process

Like every plant, every animal, every river and every cloud you are a part of nature. It is already taken care of you. Don’t worry too much. Just trust.

What I am really saying is that you don’t need to do anything, because if you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomenon of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that, and there is nothing wrong with you at all.

~ Alan Watts

 

Micro Habit Challenge 2.0

Hold on – this is a tough one! 😉 I already introduced you to the concept of the micro habit challenge a few weeks ago. The last time I challenged myself with three new habits, this time it is only one: I don’t want to drink caffeine for one week.

It all started, when a friend of mine told me to try Ritalin in order to work more concentrated on my projects. Methylphenidate – the chemical term for the commonly known Ritalin – is a central nervous system stimulant that is used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – better known as ADHS. It kind of “mutes” your incentive system by decreasing your level of dopamine in your blood. A positive effect is that nothing can distract you that easily anymore – a negative side effect (besides the physiological effects) is that you don’t feel much at all anymore. (Can you imagine that kids are forced to swallow this stuff?)

Well, I’m into productivity and I don’t want to leave any stone unturned, but I don’t support the idea of abusing drugs in order to get more productive. ‘Wait a second…’ I thought to myself and I figured ‘I am already abusing drugs da f***???!!’. Nearly everyday I have at least two to five high doses of caffeine!

Caffeine acts as a serious central nervous system stimulant as well. As soon as it reaches your brain it puts your body in a state of alterness – you feel more awake and your heartrate is increasing. At least for a certain time this might be useful, but when the caffeine level drops, you are even more tired than before and your body wants mooore.

Why do I want to reduce my consume?

  1. I noticed that the monkey in my head breaks free after too much coffee. Sometimes I can’t even focus on chores like washing the dishes.
  2. Usually I have a strong coffee in the morning. It puts me instantly in a good mood but it can instanly switch into anxiety or small panic attacs – especially if I’m not in the best mood. Sometimes I even get a bit aggressive.
  3. The crazy monkey in my head hinders me from going to sleep at times.

Of course – probably there are concurrent causes of these issues, but I believe that caffeine has a massive impact on my psyche. And because I like to adopt brutal measures I decided to cancel all sorts of caffeine (coffee, mate, green tea, guarana, energy drink,…) from now on for one week and see how it goes.

Now you might ask: “Why do you even drink coffee??” Well, mainly because I’m an addict I guess. But I also because I like it. If you don’t drink coffee this sounds like a baby challenge, but I am definitely a “coffee person”, so it is hard for me.

What happened so far?

Today is actually already day four of my challenge. I want to continue until the weekend with this challenge. So far I already feel the positive side effects of my cold withdrawal: I was in a better mood today. My midday low was not that heavy and my mood didn’t drop the bottom in the afternoon as it every so often does. And: It is nearly 10 pm and I’m sitting here writing this article.

I keep you updated by the end of the week…