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  • When the weather forces us to slow down.

    Yesterday, the state of Luxembourg has sent out an excessive snow and ice warning, asking people to stay at home. Schools are closed and trucks are being stopped on the roads. These moments where we tend to get mad at things like: "I won't make it to this important meeting!" "I should have taken the documents with me to work from here. Now I can't finish in time!" And we carry these emotions with us all day long unless we accept this spontaneous pause and be grateful that we can confidently allow ourselves to go within. Life keeps unfolding in its magical way, no matter how hard we try to change it. It's our choice to surrender and be happy or to resist and having a tough ride. We're constantly in a rush. Being it job, friends, family, we seem to believe that we would die if we hold on for a second. “Always say “yes” to the present moment. What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is? what could be more insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now? Surrender to what is. Say “yes” to life — and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.” ― Eckhart Tolle This morning I was involved in a blissful moment, showing how this process of resistance manifests within us. I'm currently living in a shared room in the house of a friend and his family. When I woke up in the morning, I went down to the kitchen having my coffee. My friend just had a little argument with his 4-year-old boy who wanted to watch cartoons. Since he wasn't allowed to, he stood there in despair and you could almost feel his disappointment. So I looked over at him and asked: "What are your favorite games you play?" And within a second, the energy changed. He was telling me about his games, visibly happy and excited about the fun. We all feel disappointed when something doesn't go according to our desires. Children have it much easier to change if something doesn't go as per their will, since they don't stick to it at all costs! If you give them an alternative which they like, they just jump on it. No questions asked! We adults have widely lost this natural reaction. But we have so many things we enjoy, to which we can switch if we're able to let go of our attachments. The weather today might have stopped you from pursuing your original plans. But instead of focusing on everything you can't do, be open to all the other opportunities it brings. If you love reading and you never have time for it. Thank the weather and take out your book. Enjoy it! Whatever it is, indulge and make it a moment of magic.

  • Fear of being alone. How to surrender and support self-development.

    On my journey to dedicate my time in helping people to overcome depression, I encounter many challenges, which in the past, made me give up and stagnate. It's not the challenge that makes us quit, but the worries it brings. Over the last month, I observed myself procrastinating once more and noticed a resurgence in my desire to seek out a partner. A desire to feel supported and loved. I realized how this was dragging me away from my own plans, resulting in procrastination. If you’re dealing with insecurity, an unconscious reaction is to seek security from someone else, your partner. While there’s nothing wrong with securing your partner, it is important to be conscious about it. Not only for the sake of your relationship, but even more so for your self-development, that in return nurtures a healthy relationship. Why do we try to complete ourselves with someone else? Are we really incomplete on our own? If we reflect on our past relationships, was there anything our partner gave us that, if we’re honest, couldn’t provide to our selves? Of course, there’s much to share between two people and much to learn and grow. But that’s not the point. Feeling complete, secure and self-sufficient allows us to flourish. We can choose to share our love and time with others, rather than being consumed by an unhealthy co-dependency. It’s deep-rooted into our primal system. The fear of separation, the inability to survive on our own. While it isn’t true anymore, we still have to deal with it, consciously or unconsciously. How to surrender fear and promote self-development? Like with everything, before being able to change or work with something, we need to be aware of it. If you aren’t yet aware, start reflecting on past moments in your relationship where you found yourself somehow stagnated; procrastinating all those things on your plate, waiting for your partner to make time for you. Again, while there’s nothing wrong with putting things aside and instead wishing to spend time with your partner; it’s about being conscious of potential underlying needs. Especially if you find yourself relatively often in similar situations. In such moments, when we are unconscious, we use up all our attention and energy trying to complete ourselves through our partner. Often ending up in frustration and disappointment because our partner is not in the mood or hasn’t got time for us. When you work on securing yourself and developing self-sufficiency, you will support personal growth; In return, you’ll be able to consciously share quality time with your partner. How to secure yourself and develop self-sufficiency? Next time when you find yourself again in such a situation. Take a moment to appreciate what currently happens within you. You might feel overwhelmed or just missing this last step to complete an important task. There can be a lot of reasons for it. Perhaps you developed a belief in the past that whatever you’ll do will fail. Which makes it very hard for you to complete something the more you’re approaching the end. Maybe something completely different. Again, there can be a lot of reasons for it. While it helps to understand where such a behavior’s coming from, it is not required to build self-sufficiency. Take a moment and feel into what makes you uncomfortable; what pushes you to crave for your partner. Sit with it for a while and appreciate the need you feel. You can make use of your inner child to comfort yourself. Same as your partner would probably come to comfort you, you can comfort your younger self, which is you. Whenever you realize to be in such a situation. Realize the need. The feel of being incomplete. Appreciate it, don’t push it away. Sit with the feeling for a while and give it your full attention. Comfort yourself the way you expect it from someone else. Make use of your inner child. Visualize how you hug your younger-self, telling yourself: it’s alright. We’re Okay. I’m here. What happens here? Your unconscious urge to seek help from your partner has now become a conscious decision. The support you were expecting from someone else is now being provided by your own self. Allowing space, trust, and energy to grow on your own. In return, allows you to nurture a healthy relationship. Enjoy the moment.

  • Do not convince a depressed person everything’s getting better again

    Supporting a loved one having depression can be a challenging task. Especially when we haven’t experienced a major depression ourselves. We love this person, and thus we suffer with him or her. We try everything we can to help in overcoming this endless void. Most of the time, we find ourselves talking to a wall. Whatever we try to ingrain seems to bounce off fruitlessly; We just feel powerless. I’m addressing today’s article to everyone who supports a friend or family member having depression. I’ll explain why trying to push through positive thoughts results in the contrary to what you intended to achieve, and I’ll show you what you can do instead. To simplify writing and readability, I’ll be using “he, him” to refer to your friend or family member who’s depressed. Just know that I'm not ignoring the other gender! What makes it ineffective to motivate a depressed person with positive thoughts? A depressed person hasn’t always been depressed. This person, before depression, could cope with the so-called “bad days” we all know. He could look forward to a brighter future whenever struggles with experiences came up. And it worked the same way it does for yourself. Telling a depressed person something like: “Have trust, tomorrow will be a better day. If not tomorrow, then someday soon. You will see! You’ll get there!”; is obsolete. Since he knows about it, and believe that he keeps on trying all the time with all the disposable energy. While the intention is good, the effect is destructive. Despite their best efforts to adopt a positive mindset, this person's consistent experiences of "failure" have given rise to self-loathing. This approach has proven them to fail. They've established a belief of not being "normal". Encouraging a depressed person to think positively, reinforces the belief of not functioning properly, leading to a sense of disconnection from reality. How to support instead? The most important step a depressed person needs to take is to accept himself. This includes the state of depression he’s in. Everything you can do is to support this move. Cultivate an attitude of acceptance. It ultimately helps to decrease pressure and resistance, allowing the belief of feeling dis-connected to transform into a belief dictating: “I’m Okay the way I am”, “I am normal”. This state is crucial for the healing process to start. How to cultivate acceptance? The best way to support him is to make him feel accepted the way he is. Noticing that others accept him in his depressive state creates the foundation for him to accept himself. Sounds logical right? The problem that occurs is that we’re too much focused on depression as an illness and thus, trying to do things that hopefully will make it go away. Let’s start with dragging our attention away from depression and focus on the person itself. Stop putting depression in the spotlight Everything has a root cause. As long as we try to fight the symptoms, he won’t be able to get to the reason for his depression. Don’t talk about depression unless he wishes so. And while talking, try removing the weight from the topic while making him understand, that depression, the symptoms, only are signs to highlight one or more disharmonies within him. “Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” ― J.K. Rowling Make him feel accepted the way he is. Keep telling him it’s okay! Remove the weight of depression from conversations. If a moment of desperation arises, give him a hug if he allows it. But not in a way of feeling sorry and powerless. Make him feel that you’re there, that it’s okay to feel that way right now. Make him feel loved the way he is. I know it isn’t easy, since depression is extremely present. He has no energy, constantly submitted to his burden, not able to find his way through to more positive talks. Cultivation takes time. Be his assistant in self-discovery whenever the situation allows it. There are moments during depression where he tries to open up to reflect on his life. Especially, the more he’s able to accept himself, the more space he will have for such moments. While we’re going deeper into the field of psychotherapy here, I think it’s worth mentioning what your role in this can be to support the process. This is not to be seen as a replacement of psychotherapy though. An external view of him and his life will be extremely beneficial. A good starting point is to help him understand his values while providing him with information about how you perceive him. What are his strengths, what is important to him, or under which circumstances did you notice him building enthusiasm in the past. Help him discover areas in his life where he lived against his values. Remember to be his assistant, not his director. This ultimately will help him come to reasons that appeal logical to him. Slowly getting to understand what potentially went wrong, will support acceptance and provide a possible path to change for a better future. Hope will grow slowly again. Be patient Cultivating acceptance needs some time. But the more support he has in accepting himself, the faster it will be. He probably has duties he’s not able to fulfill at the moment, making him feel worthless. Some are a real challenge, like the job guaranteeing enough money to pay the bills. If not already covered, help in finding a solution to allow him to step away from all the “must-dos”. He needs to be freed from all his duties so that he can reset himself if that makes sense? Talk to other family members and friends to collectively find solutions that will allow him to back off and heal. Additionally, you may help him to always focus on the present when thoughts of past and future take over him. To always come back to what really matters will create space. To close this off, let me express my personal thanks to you! I know how much my family and friends were struggling to help me. It isn't easy to see a beloved one suffering. Trust and acceptance will bring forth a fruitful ground once again. Have faith! Enjoy the moment.

  • If you’re depressed; Freedom is closer than you think. A guide to build the foundation to heal.

    Depression is a state of numbness, isolation, and hopelessness. It’s like being in a parallel universe, de-connected from what you believe is real life. A constant feeling of being out of order; Doomed to play a minor role on the stage of life. You can see and observe everything from distant; like walking through a glass maze at the funfair. A constant feeling of isolation. Lack of compassion, the inability of others to sense this void, keeps the door shut. Possibly you end up having enough and make an end to your journey. This world has lost so many that way. If you’re in that case, don’t give up! And read a little more. I’ve been there. I know how you feel and I found a way out. “There is no point treating a depressed person as though she were just feeling sad, saying, ‘There now, hang on, you’ll get over it.’ Sadness is more or less like a head cold- with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.” ― Barbara Kingsolver Like most of us have grown in a competitive culture; Fighting attitude, holding up a positive mindset while facing one challenge after the other. It’s nearly impossible to understand that “I can’t!” means “I can’t!”. Especially for the easiest things, like looking forward to another day, believing that it will be a better one. No, these times have gone for someone who’s depressed. It simply doesn’t work anymore that way. In this article, I will show you how to use your depressive state to your advantage and gain insight on how to establish the necessary foundation to heal through change in attitude, perception, mindset and environment. The healing process starts in the now, like everything else does and always will. The only relevant time is now. To become fully present requires letting go of your past. In order to let go of your past, you need to make peace with it. And to make peace with it, you need to understand your past. That’s where psychotherapy comes in handy, which I recommend opting for if you haven’t already. My suggestions below, will help you to adopt the right attitude and mindset that ultimately builds the foundation to heal. They will help and even support your psychotherapy if you’re in the process or decide to opt for. Despite several therapies that have helped me understand my beliefs and make peace with them, with my past, depression kept on coming back. By practicing mindfulness and reconnecting to the present, I was able to take actions that aligned my life with my values and purpose; Purpose I have found as a result of connecting to the essence of life: being alive. I know you might not be able to believe at the moment, but trust me. You’re worth it! Have faith that you can encounter the most beautiful and wonderful thing in the world, that is YOU. For the sake of simplicity, I refer to you in my writing. You, who can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. You need to answer yourself 2 questions and take a decision. Do you want to heal? Are you ready to heal? Over time, this state of hopelessness has built up to a monster. Makes you believe that there’s nothing more for you to expect. But let me tell you that there is more! And when I say more, I mean less! While becoming less, it ultimately develops in way more than you could have ever imagined; So far, you probably have tried everything to find ways of fixing yourself. Your inability to perform. Trying to find a solution so that you can function again the way you did once before. “Question yourself if it isn’t exactly the way you were living and functioning before that has put you into a depressive state?” Let’s start from a blank page instead of trying to make you fit again into your past story. This doesn’t mean you have to give up everything in your life. Your job, your friends, family, your relationships. Maybe it’s just the way you were living your relationships or your job. Or whatever. The goal of my suggestions is to set you back on a blank page that is YOU. A blank page from where you’ll find everything you need to seed and grow again. Attitude: Give up the fight and accept the state you’re in! I know this feels like a punch in your face! But trust me, I mean it sincerely! I’ve been there, and I almost died. Maybe it’s easier to accept if I tell you: You are not sick! Everything works as expected! Believe that you’re actually functioning properly! There’s nothing wrong with you. The only thing you’re missing is to listen to your body, who’s trying really hard to get your attention. You can measure the effort on the level of depression you’re in. “As long as you remain in a fight and coping mode, you cannot be open to what your body is trying to tell you.” I can’t say it enough since we often misunderstand. Accepting doesn’t mean to be content with it. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. Accepting is an attitude that allows to let go of resistance to what happens. And what happens to you right now is being depressed. It’s as simple as wishing for a yellow car when you got a red one. Of course, this isn’t hurting as being depressed when you don’t want to be, yet the principle is exactly the same. It is what it is. Have a ride despite the color. Accept it to be. Accepting isn’t easy, especially as long as you can’t get any logical explanation. For instance you will likely not understand immediately what exactly is going wrong. And that’s okay! You don’t have to seek to understand the message of your body. The message will unveil by itself the more you’re able to let go of your suggesting thoughts, and reconnect to this moment. The essence of you being alive. Perception: Make depression your friend. See it as an opportunity. A door that will lead to freedom if you’re ready to take it. You might have read or heard about people who have found back to an enjoyable life after a tragic accident. Some live now physically paralyzed or have lost their legs. Yet they’ve come to themselves because of it. There was no other choice left than to focus on the essence of them being alive. Over time, they’ve built a connection to themselves again. They’ve found purpose and made it up to enjoying life more than they ever had before. No matter the circumstances. You can get there too! Accept your depression to represent a tragic accident. The fact that you’re left without energy gives you the opportunity to direct your focus to the essence. You being alive in this moment. Deducting everything around you; The way you lived. Only you, right here, right now. Believe and have trust in yourself, your body; Your presence. The universe, your body, being part of it, is a perfectly balanced system through which you’re able to navigate life if you let it, if you let yourself. We all know about the gut feeling, right? We all rely on it. Even companies take their business decisions based on it. No one can predict the future. Relying on statistics is an illusion. It’s gambling, that’s all it is. There’s never a guarantee. You need to connect again to your gut feeling; To your essence. Making peace with the now, you being depressed, will reveal the door to take. Mindset: Reconnect to your body and step out of your mind Stepping out of your mind means to enter a state of “No-mind” as explained by Eckhart Tolle and others. This state of “No-mind” can be trained through meditation, yoga, tai chi and a lot of other techniques. The principle is very easy. It’s like turning down the volume of your thoughts, so that you’re able to perceive and to sense your body and everything around in the present again. As a first step, I suggest understanding your mind. My free eBook: "Living Now: 4 Steps to Relieve Stress, Depression, and Anxiety", can help you understand your mental activities, providing examples to distinguish between conscious and unconscious thoughts. Thinking and thinking are two different processes. Identifying unconscious mind activities will help you separate from negative suggesting thoughts. The more you’re able to separate, the more things will become clearer again. Environment: Free yourself from all the “musts” While it can be difficult to make time for you to retreat, this shall be your priority number 1. You need to allow yourself some time where you actually can de-connect from your duties for a while. Talk with friends and family if they can help you. Free yourself from your job if it’s the case. Go to a doctor. Be aware that this is crucial for you to heal. You should free yourself from all “musts”. Now you might say: “I can’t, I just have too many things I can’t simply stop right now”. Trust me I understand. I was trapped in this “I can’t” world for years. It’s all about change. Obviously, you can’t change something without other things changing around you as well. Every decision has consequences. Find your way with the consequences you’re able to handle. There is a way, and you will find it if you decide to heal. Sometimes the way to take isn’t the ideal one, yet it’s already much better and favorable compared to the actual one. And it might develop in becoming closer to the ideal as you move on, as things unfold naturally. Remember, it’s a journey. It’s a development. Step by step. Tell yourself, it’s ok. I am depressed now. Let it be and calm down your mind. Whenever thoughts come along, suggesting that you have still so much to do. Or questioning if this will ever disappear? Direct your focus on your breath, for instance. Consciously breathe in and out. “Yes, it will go away. Like everything does. There’s no exception to this. You’ve probably been too long in that state that you lost confidence. That’s a new belief you created. Believe in change instead. Change is the only constant in life.” Your breath is your anchor to the present whenever thoughts take over you. Thoughts come and go and you cannot prevent them from doing so. The less importance you give them, the less dominant they'll be. Let always focus on your breath whenever it happens. Don’t build resistance against your thoughts. They also need to be accepted. Try to spend as much time as possible in nature. A park or forest. Having a walk or just sitting there and connect to your body while becoming an observer of the present with all of your senses. Experience everything the way it is right now. Body Scanning is a great technique! And you can do it whenever and wherever you are. Allow yourself to fully connect with your body by feeling into each part and observing the sensations that arise. Focus on your feets, legs, arms, hands, chest, throat, head, fingers, toes…. Notice if it feels tense, relaxed, or you might feel tickling sensations or whatever there is. There’s no goal to achieve here. It’s all about noticing what is right now. The journey is all about this present moment. For now, you might not see or understand the utility in it. Thoughts like “I am now, I am always now, and I’m always suffering now” stand in between you and the present. Of course, we all are now, but our mind isn’t, although it acts in the now. What happens while our mind is wandering through the past and the future, is that we perceive the now through a distorted lense, veiling the now as it really is. As you become more conscious, you will notice a significant change in the weight of everything around you; You’ll feel lighter and regain the ability to handle your situation. Ideas, the sense of motivation will slowly rise again. Everything is getting clearer. You never lost the ability, it only went to sleep mode if that makes sense? Allow yourself to come back to who you are without the psychologic burden you’ve accumulated over the years. To sum up what we’ve been through together: Attitude: Accept the state you’re in! Remember to release resistance to what you experience. This is the foundation, the attitude you need to adopt. Perception: Make depression your friend. See it as an opportunity. Allow depression to become an opportunity. Create space between you in the now and your past. Mindset: Reconnect to your body and step out of your mind. Get to know your mind and train yourself to calm down unconscious mind activities. Environment: Free yourself from all the “musts”. As long as you’re busy with all the “must dos” you won’t be able to open up for what matters and the paths you can take to get out of depression. This is a journey that takes time to flourish. See it in the way that, for the time you have been depressed, it takes some time to separate. Yet do not cling on time and objectives. The now is timeless and doesn’t require ability or achievement. Be patient with yourself and move step by step following your own pace. Enjoy the moment.

  • Knowledge is the biggest enemy of the present

    “A young boy with endless creativity and imagination, able to make it all happen, able to overcome and dance with everything that waited to be experienced. A young boy, a powerful presence, with so much love and dedication to everything he did, ended up imprisoned by unconscious behavioral patterns that have been forged through knowledge. “ I remember, as a young boy, I was so fascinated by everything around, by the possibilities waiting behind every corner to be explored. Adventures had emerged from fantasy in the forest of my childhood. No day was like any other. “It was like awakening from a dream captured in a maze of knowledgeable thoughts that were perceived as the only reality.” Today, again, I can sense the limitless opportunities of life. A sense of adventure for whatever comes along. A sense that is not bound to youngsters, but to every being, to life. A sense that I’ve lost while growing up. “Knowledge is not power, it is only potential. Applying that knowledge is power. Understanding why and when to apply that knowledge is wisdom!” — Takeda Shingen This is a powerful quote that took me time to understand with my heart. Knowledge has become a construct of shifted reality since it isn’t developing in time. Now that sounds not entirely true, so let me shed some more light on it. Whatever we experience in life, we store it into our knowledge-base. We even store cross-references between them. Like having tasted an olive when we were 6 years old and the result of not liking it. This experience has become our reality, to which we stick to unconsciously for the entirety of our life. This knowledge is not developing. It doesn’t consider inexperienced additional variables, for instance: the change of taste as we grow up. An unconscious reaction to this knowledge is to avoid olives in whatever form. An olive, however, is not only an olive. It can be an ingredient or become oil. Like I don’t like pure avocados, but I love them as an ingredient in a salad. No matter, if we hear there are olives in. We wouldn’t try. Another example: You avoid talking about relationship issues with your partner because it failed in a previous one. Or maybe it failed in two previous ones. That makes it even more real to you. Fact is, however, that a new relation means a different person, circumstances, environment and a lot of other variables. This also is true about every object we encountered. Everything we have seen in life is stored like a picture of that object at that moment. Trees, birds, flowers, insects, cars, materials, plants, mud, rain, clouds, sun, moon, stars, lights, shades — you know where I’m heading. While we walk around we barely experience all of these things the way they are right now in that moment. There’re a numerous different kind of trees, flowers, insects and so on, and even the same kind is different to its own. But because we know, we’ve become blind to the richness of the world and perceive it boring. As long as we don’t get conscious about this, we’re passing by life. Sometimes we feel bored, since what we experience is only a review of the stored knowledge and its cross-references, but not what truly is at this moment. Or we simply don’t dare, since we’re knowledgeable about our past telling it goes wrong. This present moment is never the same as one of the past moments. There might be similarities, but it’s always different. The knowledge we gained, if we’re not conscious about it, overlays the current experience at this moment. Becoming aware of it unveils how the current experience really is and feels like. It requires focus and the ability to notice subtle differences. This comes with practice and after a while, ordinary moments become more colourful. No one can predict the future. But notice that this moment comes in as the future of that past, where your knowledge was captured and stored. Key is to understand and make use of this knowledge. But not letting knowledge dictate the moment. Enjoy the moment.

  • 4 Elements to help you in finding your purpose

    Regardless of the quest to understand the purpose of life, we all come to a point in our life where we’re asking ourselves what the purpose of our own life is. What have I to share with the world? What is my unique reason of being? We’re evaluating and striving for a profession that matches with our interests and skills. Maybe considering starting a family, with or without kids, and finding contentment in our decisions. If you're among those who are fortunate enough to be fully content with your choices, bear in mind that this isn't a reality for everyone. I unconsciously have been struggling a long time with this, trying to find purpose in what I’m doing. This constant feel of being purposeless, or doing purposeless things, just kept feeding my depression. We’re getting energy through goals. We set ourselves objectives that, when we achieve them, we experience a short burst of satisfaction and happiness. This can be this new car we always wanted. Or a promotion at work. Or whatever else. Unfortunately, if what we’re doing is in misalignment with our values, our purpose, it fades again shortly after. Purpose keeps us motivated. It’s what keeps us going, waking up in the morning, ready to face and handle challenges. Every action we take requires energy and without the sense of purpose, we cannot source it. Finding your own purpose isn’t an easy task. We’re trying to look at what exists in the world and evaluate how we can fit into it. While there’s nothing wrong with this, it hinders us from experiencing ourselves and come to what is already within us. While following this approach, we set our focus on “role playing” and this drifts away from remaining authentic. Instead, I’ve come to approach it differently. 4 Elements to help you in finding your purpose Start the other way around. Instead of seeking how you could fit into the world, start by getting to know yourself on a deeper level and evaluate how the world fits in with you. Become aware of your own values. Ask yourself what your values are and check them against how you currently live. Do you live in alignment with your values? This reflection is crucial and opens the path for change. Once you realize the areas where you live against your values, you gain a set of first steps to improve. This alone can bring a tremendous improvement to the way you feel. Unveil your nemesis! The best indicator of what brings you closer to your purpose is veiled by what you fear the most and admire at the same time; Your own nemesis! It sounds weird, but it’s true. Watch out for things you admire, but you’re scared of doing it yourself. This can be everything, like acrobatic artists, dancers, speakers, authors, teachers, musicians, whatever it is. Have a closer look at it, and if you feel this kind of excitement while it remains impossible to you… that’s a hint to follow. The devil is in the detail. It doesn’t necessarily mean that while you admire dancers, your purpose is to dance. But something within resonates in you. That’s where you should put your focus on. Look closer at your past journeys. There have never been bad decisions. There was always something for you to take out of it. As an example, I worked as a Software Developer, Business Analyst and Project Manager over the years. Despite my job draining my energy, I realized that my passion was in helping my colleagues. I helped to spread awareness across teams to better understand each other’s constraints and thus, facilitate communication, well-being and performance at work. This wasn’t part of my formal duties, but it was that element that kept me going; Helping others. This energizes me while running benow.life. What do your friends say about you? Step out of your own perception. Ask your friends and family where they see your strengths. Where and when did they observe you developing enthusiasm? We all know this phenomenon. We’re blind about ourselves but see clearly about others. Don’t underestimate this and make use of it. It’s important to give yourself sometime when reflecting on the above. Don’t reject something right away. Again, your purpose will probably frighten you at first. Take some time to feel into it. Distinguish between fear and excitement and insecurity. Remember that everything is a development. It’s a journey that takes time to flourish. "Rome wasn't built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour" Once you found something that gives birth to enthusiasm, excitement, and frightens you at the same time; Don’t give up while settling in front of a seemingly impossible mission. Break it down to smaller steps you can start with to move in that direction. It’s a journey. Let it develop naturally. Start with what you feel capable of right now. You will grow into what you estimate is impossible today as you move on.

  • A walk through the garden of forgiveness

    Having spent three months on the island with nothing but an olive tree and the sea, I returned to my hometown to begin with what will be the biggest change in my life. Sitting here in my 55m² flat. Looking around. Shattered by all the distractions I acquired over the years. I realize I couldn't stand my life without all theses. A life in luxury that means nothing but distraction. Everything to not face the bottom of my soul, but to survive. Could I have done any better? I know these questions lead nowhere, but it's the sort of questions that lead to this emotional response. The feel of having failed. The experience I made on the island is, what turned out to me, the only truth. The realization that I can be happy just while being there. Experiencing bliss while sitting under my olive tree and gazing at the surrounding nature; Becoming aware of myself being part of the common consciousness of life right here, right now. I didn't expect to feel that way when returning home. It caught me by surprise. Contrary to what I thought, I come to know that I haven't fully made peace with my past yet. Time has come. I can sense the bottomless pit I was trapped in for so long. It feels just like that; the way I feel right now. My life unfolds before my eyes. Concerns about past broken relationships while being over protective toward love. Trying to avoid getting hurt, but as a result, causing harm to myself and others. Friendships I've lost. Decisions I took and the consequences. Worries of a repeating past. Right now, I just want to break up and leave everything behind, forgetting about it; Looking forward. While this sounds like an advice we use to give to a friend, I know it's not that simple; It's even dangerous to do so. Ignorance and avoidance isn't about making peace. It will shoot back eventually. So I'm sitting here wriggling through memories and try to forgive myself for every single one. Telling myself, I did the best I could, and that's Okay. For relationships, it's rare for someone to intentionally harm another person. We all live our live with the best of our knowledge and level of consciousness. Our beliefs, desires, and needs often conflict, causing us to hurt and be hurt. “And you shouldn't blame yourself. Learn from it. Grow from it, but don't allow it to consume you again. Easier said than done, I know.” ― T.J. Klune While I know it isn't, it feels like I'm sitting here in between pieces of my shattered life. My past. Like someone's crushing my heart and no matter how loud I yell, this someone seems to be out of reach. Trying to get my head around and make use of everything i learned. I know this someone is part of me but he doesn't know about forgiveness. I'm talking to him, trying to shake hands, giving a hug and begging him to open up. To let be and let go. Ok, let's give him a face. He's a hell of a machine. Proud and undestroyable. Able to climb the highest mountains and reach out to the stars. Thanks to him I got away from drugs in my youth. He enabled me to establish myself professionally without a degree. He got me back on my knees every time I fell. An unpassable wall; Solid as a rock. As such, he saved me from experiencing pain of relationships; of life. Here I am; ready but refrained. No, he doesn't know about forgiveness. And I'm having hard times to make him understand. I'm thankful for his services since without him I wouldn't be here anymore. But the time has come to separate. I'm okay now. I'm ready to open up and let life in. Perhaps I may ask for one last service. Help me to smash down the wall. It's of no use anymore. Let us go through together and let experience that there's nothing to fear. Someone I loved told me once, "Sometimes all there is to do is bear with it and wait for it to pass." “Take a walk through the garden of forgiveness and pick a flower of forgiveness for everything you have ever done. When you get to that time that is now, make a full and total forgiveness of your entire life and smile at the bouquet in your hands because it truly is beautiful.” ― Stephen Richards So here I am, picking up my flowers and waiting for the storm to pass. Enjoy the moment.

  • Life is meditation. You don't need to make time for it.

    “If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there's room to hear more subtle things - that's when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It's a discipline; you have to practice it.” ― Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs Meditation is a great tool to train the stillness of the mind. The more our mind gets quiet, the more we're experiencing the present moment. While there are times, we literally enjoy making time for meditation; like a ritual, sitting down, lighting up a candle and an incense stick, ready to indulge into a moment of stillness; Most of the time, our day is cluttered with activities and our mind with things on our to-do list. Adding meditation on top results in overflowing; Although it would be the right thing to step out of the downward slide. Meditation doesn't require you to make time for it. Whilst writing this article, I sit outside on a café terrace, where I am observing a grandfather and his grandchild of roughly three years old engaging in conversation. Tears well up in my eyes as I watch the little girl react innocently to her grand-pa's voice, sensing the compassion and enjoyment he senses while spending time with her. Both giggling and chuckling; indulged in the moment. I could sense how present this little girl is. She is just there, with no concerns and no worries. I wish her to never lose it. To never get lost in the mind. A beautiful moment. It was a pleasure to mediate on it and I'm thankful for them having provided a perfect example of what meditation is about. Meditation is a tool to ground yourself in the present, yet it's not to be seen as an activity to plan. Meditation is a state of being that is by definition now; Hence, always. It's about living a conscious life. In this article I will share the way of embodying meditation in your daily life without planning concrete sessions at a specific time. The only time that exists is now, so do you and whatever you do. All it needs is to live consciously at every moment. Each of the following can be applied during whatever you're doing and wherever you are: Working, shopping, with friends, alone, washing, cleaning, cooking, and so on. The most difficult thing is to let go of reason and judgement to whatever we experience. We are full of knowledge. We are so knowledgeable that it seems impossible to look at or hear something without naming it. Yet this is the key. Experience everything the way it is in this moment and not the way you think it is. 1 Body awareness Pay attention to your inner body. Feel into it and take note of your reactions towards the external world. Feel into every muscle, and notice where you're relaxed, and where you're tense. As you spot tension, consciously try to relax that part of the body. While walking, feel every step you do. Feel the ground under your feet. Pressure and tension building up and releasing throughout your body with every step you take. Are you walking fast, then consciously walk more slowly and observe the difference in your feel. Pay attention to your face muscles. Do you smile or not? Consciously apply a change. Loosen your muscles and relax. Connect with other people you pass by while smiling at them. Notice the reaction of your body when they smile back. 2 Consciously make use of your senses While our senses are always in use, we rarely make use of them consciously. See: Try to let go of reason and judgement of what you see. Experience shape, form, lights, shades, etc without naming it. Hear: Let sounds entertain your ears. Don't judge and don't name what you hear. Perceive intensity, vibration, character instead of a crying baby, wind or passing by car. Feel: Pay attention to sensations like temperature, humidity, dryness, wind, or even friction when making contact with a person or object while passing through a narrow passage. Again, don't judge, and don't name it, just feel it consciously. If you're sensible enough, you may get to feel the energy, the aura of someone passing by. Taste: Whatever you drink and eat; or even the taste of the air while walking around. Pay attention to it. Does it taste bitter, salty or sweet? Is it liquid or a more solid consistency? Experience it the way it is. Smell: Experience all the different smells you come across. Don't just simply react to them. Get as detailed as possible when describing it without judging or naming it. Think about intensity, colours, character and even emotion. 3 Observe your thoughts Become an observer of your thoughts every time and everywhere. Whatever comes along, pulling your attention away from what you're currently doing, let focus on your task again. Don't build resistance to them, since they will come without your approval. Just become aware of them and direct your focus back to what you're really doing in this moment; Letting them go. Note the nature of your thoughts. Thoughts about worries, insecurity, hope, wishes, whatever pops up; become aware of what's happening in your mind. 4 Observe your emotions Your emotions change to whatever you experience. Become an observer of this process. Consciously observe what happens in different situations. Feeling enclosed amongst people, open and free or ashamed? If in public, watch your feelings change as you face different situations. In one moment you might feel uncomfortable, perhaps due to stressed people around you; and in the next moment, you feel compassion towards something you observe, like I had with this grandfather and his grandchild. Observe whatever comes along, and allow it to be. The universe one can dive in while practicing mindfulness in whatever you're doing is endless. The more you practice, the deeper the dive. As you progress, pay attention to the chain-reactions that happen between thoughts, body, emotions and all of your senses. Notice how one thought triggers an emotion whereof another thought might make the emotion dissolve or transform. Notice how an emotion creates tension in specific muscles of your body. Notice how a smell generates thoughts and emotions and/or tension. Follow the reactions throughout your being. This said, meditation doesn't require you to make time for it. It's a state of being you can choose to be. You can still plan meditation rituals, sitting still and calming your mind. It's a good training for calming the mind. While we automatically consider this whenever our mind doesn't allow us to breathe; my suggestion, however, is to do this whenever you feel good, especially at the beginning. People often give up when trying to still their mind out of a cluttered mind state. Stilling the mind requires long time practice. While you feel good, your mind is already much more quiet than otherwise. It helps you to dive deeper into this state of no-mind and creates reference points that will help you to progress. Again, be mindful whenever you feel great. Practicing with a cluttered mind, however, can act as a gauge to track your progress. Enjoy the moment.

  • Don't take it so seriously! It's only life happening!

    Yesterday I was kind of bored being mindful all the time. Holding a constant serious attitude while observing my feelings and surroundings just drained the last drop of energy out of me. So I just sat outside scrolling hilarious videos on the internet. I had a blast laughing and it just helped to relieve the pressure I put on myself while being so serious all the time in whatever I'm doing. It reminded me of a part from the book "Way of the peaceful warrior" by Dan Millman. Dan who just awoke from a mental journey wherein he experienced unity with the universe. Overwhelmed, he said to his mentor:" Socrates, I ow you a dept that I can never repay. I understand everything now, and I know what I must do. I don't suppose I'll be needing to see you again." He was sad that he graduated. He would miss him. Socrates looked at Dan, a startled expression on his face, then started to laugh more uproariously than ever. He shook all over; tears ran down his cheeks. Finally he calmed and explained his laughter: "You haven't quite graduated, junior; your work has hardly begun. Look at yourself. You are fundamentally the same as when you stumbled in here months ago. What you saw was only a vision, not a conclusive experience. It will fade into memory, but even so, it will serve as a reminder and reference point. Now relax and stop acting so serious!" On my journey to the present moment, I often feel like Dan, happy for every new experience, holding on to it and expecting to keep the momentum. Practicing mindfulness can be exhausting due to the constant focus while unconsciously attempting to reach a goal. It's a journey. Don't be so serious! :) Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive! - Elbert Hubbard While scrolling through those funny videos, I came across one of a stand-up comedian that reminded me about our options whenever life happens. He said that, recently someone has stolen his wallet on the street and ran away. Upset, he started running after him screaming for help to stop that guy. After running for half an hour, he thought about the money in the wallet and remembered there were only 40 bugs in it. Then he thought that his fitness coach asks 50 bugs for the same time exercising. 10 bugs saved, he stopped running and yelled out to that guy: "Thank youuuuu!". Link to the video A good example of how to overcome resistance to an embarrassing experience. :) After all, the best teachers we can learn from to live in the present moment are children. Not worried about the future nor concerned about the past, they just laugh, scream, cry, and play in this present moment. This I will remind myself every time when I feel I'm handling things with too much importancy again. It's a journey! Don't be so serious when things don't run smooth! :) Enjoy the moment!

  • Today I haven't much to say

    I had experienced a couple of perfect days, not due to constant happiness, but due to my ability to consciously permit everything to come and go in these moments. Free from resistance. Today is different. The day has passed slowly, occupied with training myself in being relaxed, loosen tension, and accepting that I can't hold on to the momentum I had until yesterday. “The diamond cannot be polished without friction, nor the person perfected without trials.” ~Chinese proverb No, I don't have much to say today, and that's Okay. What is also Okay, is the fact that I'm not contented with it being Okay. I thought to use my example to explain the mechanism that takes place and how to work with it whenever you're having a seemingly bad day. We all know these days. Without a concrete reason, we sometimes wake up, lacking motivation for whatever "needs" to be done. This can have multiple root-causes. It can be your body just being overwhelmed from the past days, or your body might be busy in fighting a virus even before you notice any obvious symptoms. Sometimes you simply didn't have enough sleep, like it's for me at the moment. Or maybe you just expect too much of yourself. Yet these days require us to be mindful and not getting lost in our mind's universe. “Not until we are lost we begin to find ourselves.” ~Henry David Thoreau It can be so easy if we handle it right from the moment we first realize that this isn't our day. Rather than listening to our body, understanding our needs, and responding appropriately, we unconsciously fall into a trap of our mind that keeps the wheel on spinning. I noticed thoughts of not having written enough and of not being up to my plans. Being conscious about it, I know, these have nothing to-do with my current mood. They just pop up as a reaction from my inner belief of not being good enough. Driven by this belief, my mind suggesting me a plausible reason for my "bad day" experience. But these thoughts only keep me low, although all I need is rest for my body. Inner beliefs take a while to dissolve and thus, these thoughts still come to my mind, but can't drag me on unconsciously forever. I'm able to spot them and work with it. How does this work look like? Like a ball that pulsates in slow-motion. That's what I feel in my belly while working with it. Tension builds up with each of such thoughts. Tension goes while realizing the underlying belief and direct my focus on the present again. The most tricky part is to accept the rising thoughts and to forgive yourself for having built such beliefs. To let them be in this moment while remaining conscious about them. Without the acceptance, you will continue in experiencing resistance. Holding you away from the now; Holding on to this belief; Suffering. To support acceptance, it helps to remind you again and again that this is a journey. It takes time and that's Okay. Focus on the little progress you're doing. After all, you're able to spot these thoughts now, and taking conscious action to work with them. You aren't a slave anymore, and that's huge progress. While working mentally and emotionally with it, also make sure you take action towards your actual need. If your body needs rest, then allow yourself to postpone everything that needs to be done if possible. Enjoy a tea, or some more sleep even during the day. If you can't right now, because you might be at work. Just make sure you do as soon as you can. A small conscious break, going for a 5 minutes walk or whatever is possible then, already helps. Yes, it is Okay to let the world behind and just do nothing. Whatever is, show yourself some love. Self-compassion. Even if you don't know what it is you really need at that moment. It's a journey. You'll get to know yourself better as you move on. Enjoy the moment.

  • Why facing the present requires a brave heart

    Facing the present isn’t about taking a decision and off you go. However, a decision is required to embark on the journey. In order to experience the power of now, the decision requires a brave heart. But why does it require us to be brave? Let’s first have a look at what being present is about: No judgements No expectations: Expect the unexpected and be Ok with it No tension and no resistance Acceptance of everything (We don’t have to agree to accept) Beginner’s mind: Emptying our head of everything we learned and think we know Stop doing: There’s nothing to achieve Start being: Experience everything with all our senses the way it is and indulge in the flow of come and go To me, this sounded fairly easy. At least I thought I understood. What I understood, however, was the logical comprehension of the requirements only. And since real understanding only comes through the experience itself, I was lacking the knowledge of the consequences. So why do we need to be brave-hearted choosing a life in the now? In order to embody the above-mentioned requirements, we need to overcome our psychological-self, our ego. And if we haven’t realized it yet, it has to come first. Now our psychological-self is all we know, it’s all we think we are. Living now from this perspective, requires one to give-up its identity. Everything one believes he / she is. The good news is, you won’t give up your identity in real. We release only the illusion we clung to through belief of who we never truly were. Nevertheless, the illusion seems to be the only truth, which requires courage to break away from. I was struggling to accept this at the beginning, like we all do. Normal, since no one knows it better at that stage. The “I” is all we know, hence, that’s us. Thanks to lots of therapies, I learned about my psychological-self. My self-esteem was negatively impacted by beliefs I developed as a result of my grandparents favoring my older brother. Just to say that a mere suggestion such as "Follow your brother's example." can suffice to diminish one's self-worth for a lifetime. Or a simple comment such as “You could have done better” when presenting academic results would not contribute to its improvement. I bet these are common examples that most of us experienced as a child in one or another way. No, it doesn’t need a severe trauma. Each of these constitutes already a traumatic experience in itself. This is not to blame our parents and grand-parents. We all live and manage our lives with the best of our knowledge at that specified moment. Looking back, we’re always wiser. I realized that the unconscious lessons we learn from our experiences are deeply ingrained in our psyche, to which we hold a profound belief. A conviction that this dictates our identity. A further thought about the concept of “belief,” it became evident to me that our bodies are continuously responding to them and that this shapes our well-being / feeling. (Referring to the Circle of Thoughts and Emotions) Someday, a thought came to my mind that if my current identity is formed from my experiences, then who was I before I had any experiences? Who was I at the day of my birth? Although I didn’t know the answer. That’s where my mind opened and allowed other options to exist. Eventually I gained hope again while realizing that anxiety, depression and stress are caused by my psychological-self and will disappear as I reconnect with who I truly am. Yet this is only the first step, and with it, the journey can begin. I call it a journey in which you become a researcher, an observer of your own inner cosmos. The beauty in it is that you don’t need to rely anymore on external information. While you still can inspire yourself in others, you don’t need to ask yourself whether the answers you’re getting from someone are trustworthy or not. As you become more aware of yourself, the answers will come naturally from within you. Going that way, paying attention to how your mind affects your experiences will gradually loosen your attachment to hidden beliefs. As you gain in consciousness about it, you will soon notice the shift in the responses of your body. Events that kept you dragging for ever suddenly dissolve after a shorter time. Instead, inner freedom takes place. My free eBook: Living Now - 4 steps to relieve stress, depression and anxiety, is all about preparing the path. Realizing how our psychological-self is kept alive through our thoughts, our mind. Yes, it requires courage to dare the first step, setting the sails. But the experience is priceless and enriches your life in a way that no money can ever buy. Enjoy the moment

  • Anticipation: Gift or a trap?

    Yesterday, I had a conversation with a very close friend of mine who is battling with feelings of self-doubt caused by rejections he has been facing. A period that we all know and have been through multiple times. Having always put 100% in a relation following rejection takes down our self-esteem. Feelings of having failed, not measuring up, or anger become our companions. As we spoke about our ties to certain beliefs and the methods to break them, we discussed anticipation and its power to make us feel good. The poetry is all in the anticipation, for there is none in reality — Mark Twain We’re all doing it. Especially during hard times, we picture how our next holidays will be or how enjoyable it will be when meeting a longtime missed friend. It is absolutely normal since we want to return to a comfortable state in which we feel good, welcomed and accepted. And there’s nothing bad with it unless we remain unconscious about the depth of this process. Anticipation! It occurred to him that his anticipation was more pleasant to him than the experiencing — Patricia Highsmith If you haven’t already, you might want to read “The circle of thoughts and emotions,” our body reacting to whatever we experience, including our thoughts. “How enjoyable something will be” points to the illusion to which we trap ourselves. We create a belief in this moment of thinking that we’re only able to feel better if our wish comes true. Waiting unpatiently for the future to happen. Remaining closed to this present moment. The only time where you can heal and feel better. The only time where life happens. Let go of hopes and wishes for some sort of future salvation. Experience yourself in the present and realize that nothing makes a difference unless you let the difference happen now. If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever. — Dan Millman Since anticipation is not real, experiencing the reaction of your body only relieves the suffering temporarily. Experiencing bliss in this present moment requires nothing more than becoming conscious about your own existence in the now. Free from expectations and judgements. No, this is not a decision and off you go. It is re-education and takes time. And you can get there while following these simple rules day in and out. Give up being an expert and adopt a beginner’s mind. Face everything with curiosity in this present moment, no matter how often you think you have seen or experienced a situation. Let go of all expectations. No one can tell about the future. Holding onto a self-constructed future prevents you from realizing that bliss finds you here and now. Give up qualifying and judging everything you’re facing. There’s no good and no bad, there are only experiences. Your mind doesn’t need to understand what happened. Whenever you feel stuck, remind yourself about rule 1,2 and 3. When you find yourself getting lost in your thoughts about the past or future, remind yourself that all you'll ever have is this present moment. All that remains from the past is knowledge and every moment is unique. Hence, preserving you from the past repeating itself in the future is a mere fantasy. Enjoy the moment

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