Sonntag, 5. Februar 2017

Some critical thoughts about Gurus and the Yoga Community

Last March I visited Rishikesh (India) - the Mecca of Yoga , for the third time in my life. The three months I planned to stay turned into three weeks, as I realized quite fast that it was not the place I was meant to be at that time.
Before I voice any critical words against the Yoga-World I want to explain, that I am very grateful for the time I spent in ashrams in India and for all Yoga has given and is giving me. Yoga has helped me to get out of a place of complete depletion, depression and taking drugs and has helped me to become a much healthier, happier and more whole person. The two months I spent in India when I was 18 years old completely turned my life around. But still I find there is a big shadow side to the 'Om Shanti - All good' world of Yoga.

Since I went to India last year I have had huge problems with the Yoga Philosophy and the Yoga community. I felt completely misplaced in the Ashram I once loved so much and had a hard time taking other people serious, talking about there love and devotion to certain gurus and there disciplined practice in order to find enlightenment. To me it seemed like they are lying to and are denying a part of themselves.

It seemed like the 'best' Yogis were those, who were the least in touch with their emotions and their true self. As a Yogi, you are supposed to always be in the high vibration of love, joy and bliss. It is not ok to be angry, frustrated, discontented, impatient, and and and. It is not ok to feel any negative emotion, or at least not to show it. Hence, it is not ok to be yourself, to be authentic. There is an awful lot of passive aggressiveness and arrogance in the Yoga community and it is no mystery to me where that comes from. Emotions don't just vanish, because you decide to not allow them. There is no way a person can be whole and happy if she or he does not accept and integrate all parts of her or his self. A completely false image of how we should be to become happy and enlightened is created by Gurus, when they only expose one small certain part of themselves and completely identify with that. Most Gurus are living a complete lie and we believe that this lie brings us happiness and inner peace. We are taught, that we should be selfless and always kind which actually can be translated to not acknowleding our boundries, not listening to our intuition, denying our emotional body, shutting up our inner child and constantly lying to ourselves. Instead of actually healing ourselves we pretend to already be healed. Instead of doing things to make us happy we pretend to already be happy. Instead of listening to the needs of our body and finding what brings us peace, we pretend to already be in total peace. 

Once you have stopped listening to the inner voice that tells you what you really want and need and started to blindly follow your Guru it is easy to get more and more sucked in, because you are on the path of self-denial. Now you can devote all your time to selfless acts and completely reject your true self.

Being in the ashram in Rishikesh, I got so sick of seeing people trying to compete in being the 'best Yogi'. It is sad to see how confused some people seem to be. Over-seriously, many have totally forgotten to be themselves, to have fun and move into the direction that feels good. You don't have to make your life harder than it has to be. Why are you so scared of letting yourself be? Of losing control? Of being authentic? Really, you don't have to be so hard on yourself. It is neither helpful to you, nor to others.

I really miss the softness in so many Yoga teachers and practitioners. For me Yoga is about showing myself love by getting grounded, providing my body with Prana (life force energy), nourishing my body with movement and relaxation and total presence. There is no need to get anywhere or be anyone.

During the weeks in Rishikesh I felt quite rebellious and free-spirited with my mindset of doing what makes me feel good and happy. No, I didn't wake up at five every morning to do Yoga, no I didn't go to Mooji's Satsang and no didn't pretend to be happy and full of bliss all the time.
I was confronted with so much disapproval and was getting more annoyed every day, that I really started asking myself 'what I am doing here?' I felt like I needed to take a break from people telling me that I don't meditate enough or good enough, that I have to become more disciplined and serious and that life is not about doing what you feel like doing. So Instead decided to fly back to Thailand, where I enjoyed lots of quiet time at the beach, gave myself space to do all the inner work that I felt was really beneficial for me, danced, had fun and enjoyed my life, allowed myself to feel sad, angry, hurt, lonely, scared or frustrated, did things that made my inner child really happy and just went with the flow and with what felt right.

Dienstag, 2. August 2016

Hand poking Tattoos

When I was 18 years old, going to art school and thinking about what to do in the future, I was really into the idea of becoming a tattoo artist. At that time I was trying out all kinds of different things, mostly practicing to draw Portraits and naked bodies and didn't really have my own style of drawing. I started working on a portfolio and talked to different people about the idea.
Funnily peoples problems with that idea weren't about being a tattoo artist (and all the prejudice connected to that), but about my drawings. During that time I was told so many times that I cannot draw that at the end it put me off so much that I never showed my portfolio to any tattoo artist.
Tattoo equipment - gloves, desinfection liquid, transfer paper and gel,
 ink, needles, clear film, paper towels and tattoo cream
After one semester I stopped going to art school. Not because I didn't like it (I loved it!) but because I hated the city I used to live in (Hamburg) and got really depressed there. After that I didn't take a pencil or a brush in my hands for years.

Some weeks ago, sitting on the balcony with my flat mate, talking until early in the morning, I told him that I did a stick and poke tattoo on myself when I was 16 and that I am thinking about giving myself another one, but this time a bit more professional - with real tattoo needles, ink, sterilizing everything etc. He loved that idea and told me he wanted one too. The next morning we spent three hours on the internet searching for which would be the right ink and needles and ordered all the equipment.

Some days later I gave him the first tattoo:

A little ghost :)

After I posted a picture of it on instagram, lots of people wrote to me, if I could give them a tattoo too. I am still amazed by the trust and really grateful. I kept drawing designs and two weeks later got the chance to give my friend another, much bigger tattoo on his neck:

On the picture you can still see all the little dots, if you look closely. In the next days I will go over it again, so that the lines will look better.
It was so much fun doing the tattoo, even though for that little design it took almost three hours. When I look at the picture, or see him I cannot believe, that I did that and more so that he let me do it. Really... I am so grateful.

I decided to make a new portfolio. Let's see what the future brings. :)

Energy Shifts

In my last post I have already talked a little bit about depression and wrote that I haven't been feeling great since coming back to Germany. The last two days I felt a major shift happening inside of me.

On Saturday two of my very good friends came over to my house. They have been traveling around India and Thailand at the same time as I have and are experiencing similar problems with being back in Germany as I do. It is good to be around people that have experienced what I have and that I can really talk to. When ever we meet we are doing some healing work, Yoga, meditating, going for walks in the forrest,  cooking some healthy vegan food, doing tarot cards, giving each other energy healing or massages... A friendship that goes beyond partying and going to the cinema. This Saturday we did exercises on gratitude and self love - writing lists saying what we like about ourselves and what we are grateful for in our lives. I feel that finding things you are grateful for is really important when you are feeling depressed and exercises on self love are anyways always really therapeutic. It was exactly what I needed. At first I was hard writing what I like about myself, because at the moment I am in such a conflict with myself and full of self doubt. We finished of the evening by watching Teal Swan Online Synchronicity workshop which was really intense - if anyone of you watched it, you will probably know why.
Just before going to bed I looked on workaway (a website for volunteering and cultural exchange all around the world) to see if any of the hosts I am going to in August/September have written anything. The plan was to go to Sweden and help at a silent retreat in the middle of nature in the beginning of August. Then the shocking news - I got a message from the silent retreat guy saying that I can't come, he is going to visit his parents in the time that I wanted to come. I was really devastated, because I was looking forward to it so much and so happy to keep moving and leaving Germany again. And now - a couple of days before leaving I am getting this message. I decided not to think about it or to let myself worry about it that evening, because I was tired and about to go to bed and there wouldn't be anything I could do at that moment anyways.

Sunday morning I had a skype session with my amazing friend Dorien (she is a spiritual life counselor). I talked to her about how I was feeling and what was going on with me at the moment. Dorien confirmed me in what I was thinking already before - that I am pulling myself down by constantly judging myself. She encouraged me to give myself more love and be kind to myself. We also did some work on acknowledging and releasing the "negative" feelings inside me and talked about a situation I am stuck in for some weeks which is really tormenting me. She gave me some amazing insights.

After talking to Dorien (like always) I felt like a different person. I feel like something in me has changes, liked there has been a major shift of energy inside me. Even though I am still doing pretty much the same things, that I have been doing for the past week, I feel different. No more subtle sadness and frustration inside me. I feel so much more free and light.

Thank you everyone for giving me so much love and support the last weeks. It was really making a difference!

Mittwoch, 27. Juli 2016

From Depression to Passion

Since I arrived back in Germany it has not been very easy for me. People who have been traveling will probably know what I am talking about. So much inside you changes, but the world you go back to hasn't really changed much. People treat you as if you were the person that you were when you left, but that person does not exist anymore. Maybe you feel like there is something bigger to life than just going to work, watching TV, meeting friends and going to clubs, or what ever your life "at home" looks like, but you are stuck in that "reality". It's really hard to talk about that to other people, because you don't want to criticize their lifestyle - there is nothing wrong with the way other people live, it just might not be yours anymore. At least this is very much how I feel. And the worst thing is, after falling into this hole, you find yourself being exactly in that same place like you have been before going on your travels. For me that is smoking, eating unhealthy food, drinking, distracting myself from myself with meeting lots of friends or guys, ... It is like having tasted the sweetest fruit on earth and now everything else tastes kind of stale. Once you have been living your dream, been in touch with your true authentic self, been truly happy... do you really want to live that life back home how you are living it right now? Well... no... but it is not so easy to change it, because you adjust to your surroundings, it is not easy fighting against it. And resistance never really works.
In the bigger sense I know that in order to find and keep the connection to my true self and be able to feel happy and alive I have to find an environment that helps me live up to my potential, that helps me be my greatest version, to keep up that high vibration. In in this moment right now, in the depression though, I feel stuck in the hole, in the downward spiral and don't feel able to move to where I want to be.

What has helped me the past weeks is finding back to one of my biggest passions. That was not so easy, as I felt blocked and unmotivated to follow most of my interests. But I found something: drawing. In the past days I probably spent more time drawing then when I was in art school (only one semester :D). Is has been something I look forward to when waking up in the morning, something I could spend my whole day on. I can't really say that my "problems" are getting solved or my little depression is over, but at least it is a little blink of light in the sometimes very grey days.

Here some of the works of the past days:

Sonntag, 8. Mai 2016

My little Book of Gratitude

What is there, when you are alive and awake, when you are truly happy and connected?
What is there when you look at the flower and inhale its beauty?
What is there when you look at  yourself and the world with loving eyes?
Is it Gratitude?

My little Book of Gratitude
Everyone knows we should't take things for granted. But really.. have you looked out there at the sky and the sun and the birds and the bees? Have you lied down in your snuggly bed and felt the warmth around you? Have you eaten your meals today enjoying every bite like it was the first or the last of your life? Far to often we forget what we are surrounded by. After a while everything looses its colour and turns into grey. But when you look with your heart, there is love and gratitude. The world becomes a magical, colourful place again, full of wonders and pleasure.

Being grateful shows me that I in alignment. When I am happy and thankful and see everything as a present to me, I know I am moving in the right direction.
When I get upset and annoyed, complain and cannot be grateful, I know that I have moved off track and towards fear and resistance.

A great thing I started doing is writing a "little book of Gratitude". As often as I can I write down the things I am grateful for, especially about myself. It is so nice to look at it later and be reminded of all those beautiful things. Sometimes I write in the book before going to bed and first thing in the morning I read in it again.

First Page - "Thank you Gioia" (in german)
When I went through a big depression two and a half years ago writing gratitude lists really helped me come into my heart. It was a good tool to come out of the numbness and apathy and start feeling again. I can advise it to everyone especially, to those who suffer from anxiety and depression.

Here some ideas of things you can always write about:

  • you probably had enough food, a comfortable bed, fresh air to breath and were safe
  • how you have dealt with "problems" coming up in your day considering the circumstances you were given
  • you have a beautiful body which you can use to move, eat, laugh, dance, ... 
  • nice things people did or said to you
  • Nature! - the sun, the moon, trees, animals, flowers, the sea, the mountains, rain, gras, snow...
  • your children, pets, parents, partner or friends
  • the food you ate
  • ...
And even if everything goes out of order, there is still one person you can be grateful for: Your self! <3 

Samstag, 7. Mai 2016

How my Tinnitus changed my Life (in a Good Way!)

When I was 12 years old I had an ear infection and the tinnitus accompanying it never left my right ear since. I went to many different doctors, but they all seemed helpless and told me I will have to accept and live with it.
Four years later I went to a Club with friends - loud techno music, drugs, dancing, smoking, and I had a cold to start with - not a good combination. I remember feeling terrible after some hours of dancing and collecting deposit bottles in the club to pay for a taxi home. I went to bed with a fever and a high pitched tone in my left ear. It stayed. And again doctors could't do much help.
Over the years these sounds became louder and louder. I would wake up in the morning and notice it had gotten louder or another sound had appeared.
A year ago I got really ill after an adventure survival kayak tour in Sweden. I had high fever for days, got a throat infection, an ear infection, my digestive system broke down and I felt really, really week, was almost sent to hospital. A new tinnitus, MUCH louder than the ones I had before appeared. This time the doctors prescribed me a really high dose of cortisone, which I had to take first in tablets than as arterial infusions. When that didn't help they told me they would do an operation on my inner ear, injecting more cortisone into it. Even though I was in deep despair I rejected this offer. Not trusting conventional medicine in the first place, that just sounded like to much. I decided to heal myself.

I believe everything happens for a reason and behind everything we see as a problem there is actually an opportunity, we misunderstand the situation and label it as "bad" or "harmful". What if the Tinnitus wasn't actually bad, what if I just interpreted it wrong?

Something was going really wrong here and it wasn't the Tinnitus. It was the direction I was going in. I did not notice I was walking against a wall, trying to fight its resistance.
So I decided to surrender, to stop fighting it - no more medicine, no more doctors, no more distraction. Closing my eyes for the first time in very long I felt into my heart and listened what it had to tell me. Tears came pouring out of my eyes and a little voice said to me: "I need you. YOU." My heart was calling me and I had refused to hear it for so long, it was time to change this, it was time to come back home.
For the next three weeks I stopped working, stopped giving Yoga classes and took all time I had for myself. Oh my.. was that an amazing time! The first evening I got myself vegan Sushi and a bottle of organic rose petal lemonade (my favorite!), put on some nice music, lit a candle and had dinner with... myself! I took a warm baths with lavender oil and went to bed in total peace. I reveled in the worldly experience, making everything I did into a pleasure. I went grocery shopping looking at all the delicious products and being grateful for what is offered to me, I drove my bike consciously breathing in the fresh air, the Prana, ate meals tasting every bite and letting it melt in my mouth. I made myself presents - got flowers for my room, bath oils, soothing teas, tried out some new healthy vegan sweets and superfoods (which I always had thought were to expensive), treated myself with going to a sensory depravation tank, went to the movies a couple of times (I LOVE going to the movies!), and lot's and lot's of other things.
By the end of the three weeks I was really happy to give Yoga classes and take up some of the work again, that I had given myself a break from. I felt like a new person. (A happy person!)

In one of his books Thich Nhat Hanhs says that in Plum Village (a meditation centre in southern France which he founded) there is a bell ringing once in a while - an invitation for every one to come to stillness for a moment and become aware of your breathing, of your body, of this very moment.
What if Tinnitus is a bell, we are constantly carrying around with us, whenever the sound catches our attention it is time to breath, to smile, to feel, to become aware.

What if Tinnitus is a very special gift God gave to you. A tuning fork calling you to come back into alignment, to wake up, to look through the facade of society, to dive deep, to see what is real, what is really important, to listen to your true self, to your heart, to feel, to become aware.
Sometimes I feel like I have been under water for a while. I hold my breath and then suddenly I see the sun rays over me and realize that I am not in the environment I should be in, I look up to the surface, swim towards the sun and when my head breaks the surface I take a deep breaths. It's like waking up from a dream. Sometimes I forget I am living in a dream, in a Matrix. I get so caught up in small things that are happening down here I forget to breath. And then I hear the bell, the Tinnitus, I see the sun rays and wake up, start breathing again, come to clarity and start seeing the bigger picture.

If you have Tinnitus you are one of those lucky people. God chose you for a special reason ;) What an honor!

And if you are still confused, ask questions. Ask the universe why you got the Tinnitus, ask the Tinnitus what it is trying to tell you, ask your heart what is going on, what it needs. If you are able to let yourself melt into that space in your heart all the answers will come. But for that, you have to be willing to close your eyes for a moment, step out of the material world, and surrender into what might feel vulnerable, into your heart, into your truth.

It is not easy to "deal" with Tinnitus in society. If you are missing a leg people will not expect you to do the same things as a person with two legs. If you are blind people will not expect you to do the same things as a person who can see with their eyes. If you have a big stomachache people will not expect you to do the same things as a person without pain. If you have Tinnitus people do not understand, that you have to follow your needs, you have to to take good care of your self, you need time and space to listen to your heart and you need to be kind and loving to yourself. They will want to give you psychotropic drugs and sleeping pills, they will tell you to listen to loud music to overhear the sound and to distract yourself from it with more work and material things. They will push you even more. You have to make the choice not to be pushed anymore and not to push, you have to make the choice to come "home", to listen, to feel, to love yourself, to surrender.

To live.

Freitag, 6. Mai 2016

What makes being a Woman so Special

As a teenager me and my friends used to discuss the question if it would be better being a man or a woman. Lot's of girls said they would rather be a man, because men don't get their periods or have to be pregnant and get babies, they don't have to put on make up and shave their legs.

Sure there are lot's of reasons why it is hard being a woman and as I grew up I figured there is even more to it - like the discrimination of women. We have so many disadvantages to men and in some countries it is even much worse than in Europe or the States. I am in Bahrain at the moment, a little Island (and country) next to Saudi Arabia. Many women walk around here wearing Abayas - long black cloaks covering their whole body, head and sometimes even the face. Underneath that they usually wear normal clothes - jeans, t-shirt, etc. And guess what, it is hot here. Really hot. And while woman are wearing black, men wear thawbs - white long dress like garments. And this is just something obvious that I see every day, but I don't even want to look deeper into the discrimination of women here, because I am sure it is horrible.

I am really happy to have grown up in a country where we aren't as suppressed and we fought for our rights over the last decades. But still I think we as women have to wake up! If we keep seeing ourselves smaller than we are, we will stay small. And if we keep comparing ourselves to men we will see ourselves as defective men and we will overlook our whole potential. I think we have a very different potential then men, because we are different then men. We are smart, we can find our own ways of doing things! We can take our own paths instead of blindly following men.

One example - during my Yoga teacher training I talked to a girl who told me the only thing she doesn't agree on in Yoga is that it was originally made for and reserved for men and that she is in a constant fight with that. Ok, let's look at what happened there. So Yoga was originally made for men - I can see that. If you look at old texts, photos and videos of indian Gurus doing Yoga you will see how rigid and harsh it was. That doesn't seem right for women, does it? I don't think so and guess what - we woman made it different. Yoga in the West today is very different from how it used to be in the old times. And most Yoga instructors today are woman! We are so smart! We saw its potential, took the things we liked out of it and made something new. We can think for ourselves instead of following blindly! If men say Yoga is not for us, ok let's make something new something better, something that fits for us. If men say we can't take part in their thing - OH WELL, we have something better and more important to do anyways! There is no reason we have to follow existing manmade traditions instead of creating or own versions. You don't like the rigid series of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga (which was created by a man)? Create your own and let your sequence be a loving dance. Give yourself what you need and what makes you happy. Be the Creator which you were born to be!

Here is a list of more things that I think make women special and what makes me love being a woman:
  • We are intuitive and compassionate beings
  • We are creators - we give birth to our species and without us it could't exist. We shape the world. The Mother is the bedrock of life.
  • We are like super humans - we see things, know things, understand things that most men can't. We have more senses, we are attentive and considerate. People say we are "sensitive" - what great news!
  • We are nurturing and amazing at giving love - to ourselves and others.
  • We carry our strengths in the inside - we are tender, but if we need to we can be really strong, courageous and powerful.
  • We are magical and alluring, like with our strengths, we don't show right away what we've got, we even carry our sexual organs in the inside. Are we really that complicated, or are we just not obvious?
  • We are in touch with our emotions. We feel when something is "wrong", we acknowledge warning signals in ourselves and others.
  • We are observers. (If we are in balance) We look at and feels things before we act. 
  • We are really smart! We use both sides of our brains and combine it. We see coherences and are able to think abstract. Instead of following traditions and old ways of doing things we create new ways.
  • We make men happy. I'm not saying our purpose is to make men happy, but men are automatically happy if they have a happy woman besides them. They "work" much better if they have a happy woman to support them. 
  • We like taking care of our body - living healthy and making ourselves pretty, and we like doing it for ourselves.

Embrace your inner Goddess! <3