How we enjoy silence and taking it slow

I had the most exquisite Sunday afternoon I could wish for. I visited someone I recently got to know through my work. When I entered her apartment I entered a fairytale. I entered a different era, it was as if I travelled through time. In the middle of the living room I stood still and absorbed the feeling of magic she had created.

……

Hmmm, writing this blog drew me into a pause. I tried to describe what I saw, but I just don’t know where to start. I just leave it like this: it was like a fairytale, wanting to turn the page to read how the story continues, to want to be pulled into the magic, just like I wanted to discover every corner of her house, mirroring her soul.

She poured us tea and the following topics past in our conversation:

  • The pull of the fear of death on train tracks, an intercity train passing by and while standing on heights feeling the pull of gravity,
  • The electro-magnetic field of a smartphone; how you can feel it moving into your limbs and how it enters our eyes,
  • How the digital world is taking over everywhere we go and how it annoys us in respect to connecting with other human beings in public areas and stores,
  • How it is so much easier to learn when you hear the word, read the word and see the object,
  • How we as children don’t want to be restricted and yearned for the attention of our parents,
  • How we enjoy silence and taking it slow.

In the middle of the conversation she handed me this amazing book with beautiful drawings and spells in English. Spells to bring back the words that have been long forgotten in children’s minds. And she shared: ‘How often do we get a book in our hands and sit still with it, feel it? In this digital age in which you go from screen to screen.

I feel so much gratitude reliving this magical experience over and over again. I breathed deep.

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Self-healing: I don’t want to be in pain anymore

So this morning I got up and gave myself a rebirthing session. I couldn’t do otherwise. This pain on my left shoulder has been there since end of Christmas holidays. At the beginning of this week I woke up and my body felt paralysed. I couldn’t move. Another pain which arose on my chest was hurting me. This pain was strongly connected to the pain on my left shoulder.

I thought of a yin yoga pose and put a cushion under my back. In this pose I started doing the conscious connected breathing. The pain on my chest moved downwards to my belly. It felt like cramps, but not from the inside out (from my stomach), but more like just under my skin. I’ve cried a couple of times. Afterwards I removed the cushion and took my time to let the pain melt down. I knew it wasn’t over, I knew I hadn’t achieved my goal. This was merely to get myself going again. Getting up, being able to work and parent.

On the same day I felt at ease with my body, but the next day I woke up with a clouded mind. I knew this was inflicted by the emotional pain which hid in my body. This pain would surface as physical pain as soon as I would have the time to help myself with a rebirthing session.

The days after the pain on my left shoulder had spread to the right side and I also felt it moving downwards over my back and to my left arm. For a couple of days now I thought about asking my friend who works as an osteopath to give me a treatment. It would definitely get the energy in my body moving. But thinking about the upcoming work week I didn’t see time to recover from the treatment. This and also the current amount of pain I was in motivated me to help myself as soon as possible.

I was about to last evening, but taking my youngest to bed I fell asleep. Probably I was super tired, because of having walked around with these pains.

After more than 12 hours of sleep I have been doing the conscious connected breathing for 40 minutes on the couch. During these 40 minutes I discovered a new position which stimulated the pain on my chest to move away from the chest. The position was derived from a yin yoga position I knew. I folded by chest towards my legs which were straightened with a tiny bend in my knees. My arms laid next to my hips and legs on the couch. So the pain on my chest started moving with every in- and out breath I took and space was created in and around the pain on my left shoulder.

While going through this pain I felt and thought the following:

  • It hurts, I don’t want to be in so much pain anymore
  • I have work to do, you ( the pain) will not keep me from my work
  • I wish I could have known my great grandfather who lived in China. The whole village went by his house to be relieved from physical pain caused by severe heat
  • I was (again!) cursing in the dialect I grew up with (Wenzhouhua). To me this means I was freeing myself from the sadness of my mother and grandmother

I will continue my self-healing work at some other point. Now Saturday begins and I have like 30 minutes left to continue with the preparation of my third FB Live on HSP & Love.

Would you like to read more on rebirthing? Click here…

Vipassana: Brainsurgery without anaesthetics

About four months ago I completed a 10-Day Vipassana course at the Dhamma Medini Meditation Centre, just north of Auckland in New Zealand.  I am not sure if and how much I should share with you about the course by writing this article. However, I read a lot of Vipassana reviews and stories myself and still had a completely different experience than I was expecting.  Haha, so it probably does not really matter what I write as you would probably interpret everything based on your own life experience anyway. Moreover, the beauty of the whole experience stood out for me and it really touched my heart. Therefore I could not just leave things unspoken and I hope that my story and information inspires you to go out there and see for yourself.

What is Vipassana?

That is 10 days of meditation in the meditation hall or in your private room. Wake up bell is at 4 am and the last meditation session ends at 9 pm. Breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea are provided and there is some time to rest or have a walk on the property. However, exercise in any form is not allowed. The food is completely vegetarian as no (involvement in) killing of any being is allowed. Other rules to keep the mind free from impurities are to abstain from stealing, from telling lies, from all sexual activity and from all intoxicants.

To help with these rules men and women are separated and you spend the days maintaining noble silence. That means no physical, verbal or even eye-contact with fellow meditators and servers. The only human contact you have is with the teacher during question and answer periods twice a day.  Before starting the course you have to commit to fulfilling the complete 10 days. Sounds awesome right!? I mean, who does not want to commit to an isolated 10 day meditation prison.

And what is the idea behind all this? 

In the end the goal is to become a Buddha or in other words to become ‘awake’ or to reach ‘enlightenment’.  This Dhamma, the way to liberation, was first taught by Gautama the Buddha and eventually by Mr. Goenka who spread the teachings around the world. Although Buddhists based their religion on the teachings of Gautama, it doesn’t mean that you will have to become a Buddhist to practice this technique. Gautama never intended to create a following of people separate or “more developed” than the rest of humanity. The technique he taught is universal and thus transcends all religions, sects, races, sexuality and so on.

Vipassana literally means to see things as the really are.  The theory is very simple and scientific. It all starts and ends with anicca, the universal law of nature. This law states that all things are impermanent and constantly changing. Instead of just accepting this, we tend to hold on to pleasant things and run away from unpleasant things. Through this process we create our own suffering; we crave for things we do not have and feel averted towards things we do not want to have. This reaction pattern is so deeply rooted into our minds and to change it we have to work deep within ourselves. Therefore Vipassana works at the experiential level, the level of body sensations.

The course is split into two parts. During the first 3 days of the course you work with Anapana meditation. Anapana is simply directing your attention towards the natural rhythm of your breath and the accompanying sensations. This practice has a couple of benefits and lessons for us. Since the breath is controlled by voluntary and as well as involuntary processes it functions as bridge between consciousness and unconsciousness.

Becoming conscious of an unconscious process helps you to become more aware of what is actually going on for you and your body in the present moment. You become aware of more and more subtle body sensations and of the mind-body connection.

That is, by observing the natural rhythm of the breath you realize how it is affected by impurities of the mind such as lust, fear, anger, envy or greed. Also, by trying to focus the attention on the breath you start realizing the tendency of the mind to pull you into the past or future. In short, Anapana trains the mind to be calmer and more focussed on the present reality so you can adequately practice Vipassana.

Vipassana is the real deal and it starts on the 4th day of the course. Vipassana can be seen as a very thorough and analytical study of the body. With a calm and concentrated mind you start scanning the body from top to toe and from toe to top. While scanning, the goal is to remain equanimeous. That is, observing what is without generating feelings of craving and aversion. If one manages to remain completely equanimeous while observing body sensations, no more feelings of craving of aversion are being generated.

In other words, no more conditioned responses (called saṅkhāras) are being created or reinforced. Moreover, remaining equanimeous actually provides the opportunity for old saṅkhāras dissolve. These are felt in the body as gross sensations, for example as painful, numb or throbbing sensations. Conclusively, Vipassana meditation is about developing your equanimity to dissolve all (even past-life) conditioned responses and eventually live a life free of suffering. By relieving one’s suffering, one notices that deep feelings of gratitude, love and compassion towards all of life arise naturally.

My experience.

Overall, the 10-day course was one of the most beautiful, insightful and healing things I have done in my life so far. It was also a challenge and there were times that I felt quite horrible and really dreaded the coming meditation sessions. However, in my journey, I have realised that healing and personal growth is never completely comfortable. Taking steps towards a more fulfilled, joyful and peaceful life is often quite scary and/or painful. In the Vipassana course, it was especially the physical pain that stood out for me as it was unlike anything I had ever experienced before.  On the other side the course did leave me with a more calm, present and positive mind and I can honestly say that the pain was well worth the gain. Therefore I titled this article: Vipassana: Brainsurgery without anaesthetics.

My biggest insight/transformation was regarding my aversion to pain. When we started the Vipassana meditation, I experienced an intense pain in my lower back. In spite of the pain, I managed to sit through the first three determinations sessions. In these sessions you try to meditate for one hour straight without changing your posture. Although I barely moved, the pain did not dissolve and it actually got worse.

I started experiencing feelings of despair and failure: No matter how hard I try, this backpain of mine just won’t budge.

Then, a sudden realization came to me: This is me, working hard and yielding nothing but disappointment and it is happening everywhere in my life; from striving to impress my dad so he would come back to be with me to trying anything and everything to cure my nasal polyps. However, all without result… A short mental conversation followed:

” So I guess I will just have to observe the pain, is that right?”
” Yeah man, just watch the pain, sit with it instead of through it.”
” Ah, I really do not want to.”
” Why?”
” Because it really hurts.”

Man, I cried my pants off. How obvious it became how I just never truly accepted my father not being there. How I never accepted my nasal polyp being there. I absolutely hated the pain. Absolutely hated how sad it made me feel. I had made the connection intellectually before but at that moment I was able to really sit with it. I was able to really watch the sadness for what it was, at the experiential level of body sensations. Since I was finally just observing, I gave the opportunity for the pain to dissolve. Now, I can’t say (yet) that I am completely free of suffering but I am fighting pain and hurt less thereby enabling myself to better observe, let go and move on. I even feel as if my nasal polyps are clearing up hooray. I shouldn’t get to excited though…Stay equanimeous.

This correspondence of patterns at the sensational, physical/health and social levels reminded me of a documentary called inner worlds and outer worlds (http://www.innerworldsmovie.com), where they explain that the smallest particle contains the complete pattern of the whole. For example, the same pattern might occur in the very cells and atoms of my body. And on the other side, I might actually be a dysfunctional cell of a massive organ that we call the Milkyway. To me this shows how important it is to make changes within as we actually influence everything around us. As a person who was always quite focussed on helping and wanting to change other people that was quite a relief. It created more responsibility for my own thoughts and feelings and gave me the freedom to work more on myself.

I was really impressed by the amount of progress one can make in 10 days and I improved in ways I never thought possible. In the beginning, I could barely concentrate on my breathing for a couple of seconds and it was quite interesting to see to what crazy, creative and often destructive pasts or futures my mind would take me. However, in the end I was able to concentrate on breathing and sensations for long stretches and forget everything around me. On the last day we watched a documentary and there was literally no background noise in my head and I was seeing and hearing like I’d never done before.

Furthermore, I was able to notice subtler and subtler sensations as we kept on practicing and eventually became so aware that I started to wonder if the sub- or unconscious mind actually exists. Maybe it is just a matter of “not being aware of the present”? Mr. Goenka says: “The mind is a strong wild beast, however, imagine if we could actually tame it and make it work alongside us.” I say we would be present to our needs and those of others and we could fulfil all our dreams without being distracted and with limitless creativity. Although my mind now is not as calm and present as it was on the last day of the course, it has definitely helped me become more present and to “catch and reset” myself when I am drifting of in vicious thought patterns.

On the tenth day we were allowed to speak to each other again. This was the best experience of the whole course as well as the most confronting. I noted that not being distracted by my own troubles and stories at that time really enabled me to connect with other people.  I felt so much love and gratitude for seeing how beautiful and unique everyone was. On the other side, it was really confronting to realize that I always thought I knew what was going on for everyone and especially of how negative they thought about me.

There were so many stories, opinions and expectations I had made up around my fellow meditators. Thankfully, they didn’t make any sense at all. Sometimes I would not even know that I’d already made up a story about a person until they started talking and I would suddenly be surprised that he was actually very kind or, for example, had a really high pitched voice. Knowing this now helps me to better connect with the actual person instead of with the person I think they are. Furthermore, I am starting to see that most people are actually way more supportive and accepting than I always believed they were.

Finally, the great thing of the course is that you can actually experience everything you just read for yourself. For me, that was awesome. Especially since I was often (sometimes still am) looking for answers outside of myself.  I spent hours on internet searching for my best diet, for what yoga and breathing techniques I should use for nasal congestion and what movies I would definitely like according to IMDB. All very useful information but very dangerous if you actually never ask yourself and your own body what works for you. In my opinion, modern life unfortunately works like that. From the day we are born we are told what to do and what to believe. Amazingly, the Buddha does not want you to believe but invites you to come and see.

Oke, what now?
If you are interested in doing a course I would refer you to the Vipassana website: https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/index. There are a lot of countries where the courses are being given. Note that you often have to book a couple of months in advance as the courses are quite popular. If you want more information feel free to ask any questions or watch the documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkxSyv5R1sg.

Furthermore, a friend of mine has some explanatory videos about Vipassana on his YouTube channel. (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9o_6dH1fbdHvglkU5AqHaw). If you don’t want to do a course, that is also perfect. If you are worried about the physical pain please note this: Everything always happens within the limits of you and your body and friendly Mr. Goenka will be there every evening to treat your wounds: “Patiently and persistently, you are bound to be successful.”

Written by Ramon.

Create space for self-love

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Today I had a session with a highly sensitive lady who changed her appointment to a videoskype session. Since she experienced several coaching and rebirthing sessions in my practice in The Hague she felt at ease with the idea. And the session was awesome. Especially the breathing-and-expressing-the-sound-of-her-soul part. It connected her with her emotional body and during and afterwards she was able to connect with the pain. She let her tears roll down her face.

Along this intense emotional process she is developing herself as a relax and relief masseuse. At the moment she is building up her practice. As I told another highly sensitive lady coming in for her first session today. When you choose to be guided by me you choose for inner growth and putting everything you learn into practice. These are two processes which are intertwined. When you feel relieved by having expressed sadness, anger and fear you create more space for self-love and the need to do what feels good.

So back to the sweet lady who is building up her practice as a relax and relief masseuse. She got into a burnout two years ago. Since then she is out of work and before she started coaching and rebirthing with me she had reached a very low point. She felt lost. During the sessions we spoke about her family and the culture she is from. In the family she grew up were a lot of fights. Both parents lost control often and this resulted in physical abuse of the kids. She has a strong and loving soul. While many of her siblings and cousins act out their frustrations on there children and their partners she turned her frustrations into actions out of love to support her family.

The negative energy she had absorbed from her parents and family was turned inwards. She overthinks, feels insecure and is afraid to show her true self.

So this is the main focus of our sessions: to release all sadness, anger and fear and refill her with lots of self-love. And while she is going through this intense, but satisfying process life reflects her inner growth. She feels secure enough to ask for a compensation for her massages even though she is the stage of practicing and gaining experience. She is conscious of negative family-energy and is still finding a way to distance herself from it. She is working on an intimate relationship with her partner.

In conclusion: she is on her way to experiencing a 100% of self-love. And on this journey she is also on her way to build the life she desires.

Yeah! She is doing it.

For more information on my work as a life coach for highly sensitive people please visit my website: Orchid of Life ~ HSP Coaching & Rebirthing 

Receive the sound of your soul

Over the past month I’ve guided highly sensitive women to receive the sound of their soul during rebirthing sessions. It’s that “Aaah” sound pushed forward by contracting the abdominal muscles. It has been an amazing journey hearing different soul-sounds. After several tries each and everyone of them carried out their sound effortlessly. All of them struggle in their own way with their highly sensitive identity.

  • What do I feel?
  • Who am I?
  • What do I want?

These are highly sensitive woman who struggle with the following topics:

  • Knowing what your added value can be within an organization, but finding it difficult to share what you feel about workload and pressure and deadlines
  • Being burnout with severe physical symptoms and still questioning if you’re allowed to be sick
  • In love: being able to imagine the possible pain of your partner which holds you back of choosing for yourself and being heartbroken of breaking up with the person you were in love with
  • Having no place to rest and be yourself
  • Feeling responsible for someone else’s problem

What makes them struggle? It’s because they feel, think and act out of pain. Pain of their parents to which they were exposed when they were a child and pain which was caused in them. The pain is a mixture of sadness, anger and fear. It’s the pain which makes them behave like their parents expect them to behave.

Rebirthing is a simple breathing technique which connects people with their body, with their own energy. During the process they will slowly rediscover their own energy. The one which can be described as inner peace, wisdom, strength and calmness. During the first phase the attention goes out to process every emotion which covers your own energy from sparkling love and abundancy.

Guiding the sound of the soul is an intervention which I use when people experience a high level of physical tension which doesn’t find a natural way out through crying. Hearing the sound of these women was amazing and impressive. These women weren’t used to using their own voice to stand up for themselves, to choose for themselves. After having heard the sound of their soul they were in awe of the power they felt flowing through their body.

Reactions of coachees

At the beginning it was kind of strange to hear my own sound. After a couple of times I noticed how it got my body moving from within. The tension flowed away. The pressure on my belly disappeared and a warm feeling appeared.

When I think back to the session of yesterday I feel lots of sadness. Fear. I am afraid of the power within myself. Why? Why is this power not allowed to be there? I am afraid for my own voice. It does happen often over the phone that people don’t understand me. I find it hard to speak up and to speak clearer.

The session was heavy, I can’t remember if I have felt this tired at the beginning of this session compared to previous sessions. I didn’t want to say “A”. When someone else acts weird it’s fine, but it’s not something I would do. And this loud, I do not dare. And what if I can’t produce any sound? I felt stuck. Then you offered me a way out. This activated another part within me: I wanted to go through this fear. It was still scary, but hidden behind your “A” I managed to go along and produce a sound.

This session was absolutely special. Beforehand I knew I wanted to continue with the sound of my soul. It was allowed. My first try didn’t go well. My head was interfering too much. Afterwards it went better and I started to enjoy to play with the sound and follow you.

After having cried a couple of times I decided to scream it off of me. To produce the same sound as in the sessions in your practice. Anger arose, frustration and while I was producing the sound I hit hard on the bed with my fists.

A specific characteristic of the sound of the soul is the easiness with which it leaves your body. The sound keeps on coming from the belly without any effort. Easy. This level of easiness is a reflection of how you can lead your life while sharing your own voice, your opinion.

Sharing the sound of your soul will result in the following:

  • it will get the energy that is stuck in your body moving
  • it connects you with your emotional pain of your body
  • learning to cry out loud instead of crying in silence
  • getting to know your anger and learning to express anger
  • receiving the sound of your soul with love

Are you interested in getting to know the sound of your soul? Make an appointment for an introduction session. Working via videoskype is possible.

Click here for more information…

 

Snow. Lots and lots of snow.

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Snow. Lots and lots of snow. To me it was quite unexpected. I never check the weather forecast. So this day started with a cancellation of a session and more cancellations followed. I only had one session to guide; someone who lives on walking distance. The rest of the day I spent with my kids. My daughter (on the photo) was thrilled to go outside and play in the snow. My son at the other hand wasn’t at all pleased with the snow landing on his face. I had to protect him by changing the position of the buggy. Can you imagine pushing a buggy in this pile of snow? It was quite an exercise for this mom. I loved watching my daughter run around, scraping snow from cars and making snow balls. I even, in between pushing and pulling the buggy, managed to make some of my own and play with her. When arrived at home I was exhausted.

Note to self: always have enough diapers at home. Especially when a snow storm decided to cross through your city.

Eat greens and your child will follow

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So this is how we do it. When I do grocery shopping with my kids, this little fellow wants to push his own cart. As you can see it’s filled with lots of greens. That’s how we roll in our kitchen and with our believe that parents can teach their children to eat greens. Our kids are a great example. Of course they have their own taste and preferences, they don’t eat every available vegetable, but they do eat lots.

The trick is to keep on offering the greens, a wide set of differently prepared greens.

This guy eats broccoli, zucchini, paksoi and haricots. Just to name a few. He also eats loads of vegetables like carrots (oké, which child doesn’t eat carrots?), eggplant, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, pumpkin, potato, pea, sweet potato and beetroot.

And he loves tomato, which is by the way a fruit, but many people still regard it as a vegetable.

We taught our kids to eat vegetables in 3 simple ways.

  1. We started out by mixing vegetables with white rice or buckwheat. Or it was a smashed potato dish. With these purees we chose to add only one vegetable so they could get used to the taste of the added vegetable. We varied the purees with cooked or steamed vegetables they could eat out of their hands. (around 5 months)
  2. After the puree phase we cooked or steamed the vegetable so they could see, for example, the white rice separate from the vegetable. They used either their hands or a fork or spoon to eat their meal.
  3. We also offered vegetable soups. You could prepare pumpkin soup in such a way that your child can spoon it up himself. If it’s another type of vegetable you can add potato or even sweet potato to thicken it. Adding a bit of coconut flour is also an option. Actually any type of grain or rice is possible to thicken your vegetable soup.

And again: the trick is to keep on offering the greens and veggies.

Another good thing is to set the example: eat loads of greens and veggies right in front of your child’s nose. Children imitate. And while imitating they discover their own taste.