The Sacred Centre

sharing – daring – caring – writing from the heart

Category: Lessons of a Lifetime

Back into Darkness

P3201418.JPGI still mourn the loss of my most cherished follower who left my blog while I was recounting my last stay at Plum Village, now nearly two years ago. However much this upsets me (incredible that it does at all) I can see why he unfollowed me. My writing and my experience of life, more so of Plum Village, had changed.

It was the start of a new journey for me. Out of the depths of darkness that is depression, into a confusing time of change with medication that I never intended to take. You might as well mourn my death as well, as the person I was and the believes I once held have changed.

It is not so much the medication that did this, contrary to my own popular belief, but simply me, deciding to take the medication in the first place. I was always against medication, believed I could get along just fine with a healthy diet, yoga and complementary therapies. To make the decision to take medication was a last resort, there was not much else left at the time.

After I got out of the initial adjustment phase I enjoyed a few months “normality” where life was good and I got on well with the world. Then I began to feel the anxiety return, triggers hit harder and deeper and when I felt myself return to that dark and exhausting place, I literally begged for a higher dose.

Everything went a little bit lighter and easier again for a while, but never again quite so beautiful as when the medication first worked. Once you have the direct comparison between how beautiful life can be and how bad it can get, you will do almost anything to get back to the good time. Your every addict’s explanation for hitting that next high just one more time.

So up went the dose again but not much changed, the little lighter phase hardly recognisable. Then I had my first proper panic attack with blackout and A&E. All tests returned normal. It is clearly all just in my mind…

Then I got started on a different type of medication with terrible side effects, leaving me even more tired and yet strangely motivated to voice my darker inner world and follow my suicidal ideations, with the only positive, albeit not a positive at all, being that instead of bottling up my anger it now shot out of me at any opportunity, unpredictable like a dragon spits fire. And I still had yet another panic attack.

At my wits end I write a long letter to my GP, explaining what I find difficult to put into spoken words, who finally refers me to the local mental health team. I’m in a very dark place, they think it is not because of the new medication but rather that the dosage isn’t high enough.

“Hang in there, we’ll get you the help you need. You will feel better”, they say.

So I’m hanging in there, half dead, half alive. Live has turned pretty meaningless and it is my job that provides stability and routine to get me out of bed and gives me at least some sort of purpose and sense of meaning, however difficult it is at times to focus and put on a smiley face.

Then someone sais: “It can’t be that bad if one can still go to work…”

And the struggle continues, walking on that tight rope above the deep darkness, one minute hoping to make it to the other end, the next just wanting to give up and let myself fall into the darkness, where I can simply give into the tiredness, to sleep and not having to struggle no more to keep it together for society’s sake.

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I have so far avoided to write such dark thoughts onto this blog which was meant to be uplifting and enlightening. But the Sacred Centre was also meant to represent my inner self, to acknowledge what is there and let it come up to be healed. This is my attempt to acknowledge this shitty dark place inside of me. Even though it isn’t a very likeable one, it is still a part of me, and it deserves a voice just like the others do.

Another reason I haven’t posted anything for a while is that I seem to have lost everything I have believed in. So this might well be the biggest personal and spiritual crisis I ever had or simply an undiagnosed mental health condition that I have tried to cover up by focusing on the positives in life with the help of practical self-help solutions, which to be fair did help. But I now feel that I’ve exhausted all avenues of conventional and alternative treatments and still feel worse.

“It’s normal to feel like this at times”, is a common well-meant encouragement.

But it portrays nothing of the very “unnormal” struggle inside myself, or for any other person suffering from a mental health condition. So what’s the solution? Other than simply follow my suicidal thoughts, I’m yet to find out. I will sure keep you updated once I do. In the meantime I’m pondering on the thought that I need to allow myself to fall into the darkness and live it because otherwise I will never be able to truly be myself.

If you would like to read more about mental health, I have written more under “Mind over Matter” on my blog “The Cycle of my Life“.

As Yet Untitled

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I think I’m finally on the mend.

I had a little cry today (while watching “The fault in our stars”).

I’ve been longing to cry since an “accidental” outburst nine months ago when I learned that my boyfriend had spent all afternoon alone in our hotel room in New York just in case I would come back and didn’t have to be alone after I had disappeared in the nearest underground after what I would call an episode of sorts in which my nerves just snapped and I had to get away from our friends while on holiday and legged it to the Brooklyn Bridge on my own.

Since then I’ve been having a tough time keeping my act together for another couple of months until my GP urged me to accept that being singed off work was a good thing to allow me to rest and recover, of which the recovery itself took a further three to four months until I finally found another job and escaped a stressful job that had plainly been making me ill.

And suddenly I not only had a new life ahead of me, but also a surprising amount of close friends, I found my distant dad and had a first real conversation with him, began painting again, joined a really lovely supportive new working environment, started to cook and bake a little more, and quite frankly am pleasantly overwhelmed by my sudden busy social life after years of social anxiety and persistent tiredness and lacking motivation.

I had found myself again.

So for me, finally being able to allow my tears to fall, is synonymous with allowing myself to feel a range and depth of emotions, which supposedly had somehow got blocked, either through my own pride of not admitting my weaknesses to myself and others or because I didn’t know where to direct them.

In the past month I had incredibly eye-opening talks with individuals, whom I never considered to have stories like those they shared with me. But by opening myself up, showing my own vulnerability, they must have felt save to share theirs with me, which added a whole nother connection between us, adding depth to growing friendships.

I’m still experiencing occasional bouts of anxiety but I now am aware of when they arise and am able to use new found tools to keep them under control, even if that means simply having to sit and breathe with the horrible wave of nausea instead of following the strong urge to run away and hide somewhere save.

Having been wanting to put all these suddenly emerging emotions into words over the past few months had proved difficult for me, there just weren’t enough appropriate words to describe what I was suddenly feeling. And I’m not even sure what I want to say, just that I am incredibly lucky to be alive and to be able to feel what I’m feeling, see what I’m seeing, hear what I’m hearing, taste what I’m tasting and sense that this life is a gift, that I should cherish and not waste with worrying about the future or past, but to just live it one step at a time while keeping in touch with myself and those around me, to connect with the world, its people and nature.

That is the simple truth of life: just live it.

With love
Anna

First Day – Irritation Rises

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While travelling to Plum Village I kind of naively believed to be travelling and arriving on my own until half the train got up to leave at the same station. And the girl that sat next to me on the plane also stood there! Having been to Plum Village before I found it easier to settle in and be. I slipped straight into my comfy yoga pants and poncho and looked forward to a wholesome week of calm, despite the strong headache I experienced on the evening of arrival.

However, as it goes, the first irritations already came to the surface right on the first morning. I woke up from the 5am bell, not having slept all too well, and was looking forward to laying in the dim morning light for a little bit longer while listening to the gong, when instead my room mate’s mobile phone alarm was going every five minutes for the next thirty minutes and persistent plastic bag rustling ensued from the other.

I had a rather enlightening dream though, which helped me feel really good about my unsure thoughts to look for a new job. In the dream I made that decision and announced it openly, which felt liberating and good, a feeling of relief that still registered in my tired bones when I woke up.

My irritation grew further during orientation, when a retreat participant with a persistent sniff sat right behind me. The meal time rules seemed to have gotten more complicated too, or did I just not realise the last time? Breakfast: noble silence, fill tables and only eat when table full with at least six others. Lunch: Noble silence, sit anywhere, only eat when everyone is seated at all tables, don’t get up for at least 20 minutes. Dinner: Noble silence, sit anywhere, start eating straight away. My back started to hurt from sitting unsupported, the Sister kept going on and on… Too slow, collection of mats at the end, too slow… but I’m also able to leave it be better than the last time.

I’m diving into the anonymity of the group of participants without feeling alone. Where else can one be with a large group of people from all  over the world without the need to talk or interact and without feeling left out? Maybe I’m excluding myself too much. It’s still early days, the group still needs to find itself.

I still feel rather restless, like as if I should be doing something, can’t stay down very long, get up and walk, slow walking. I’m somewhat in a hurry to I don’t know where. It must be my anxiety, though I always thought it is enthusiasm, curiosity drive. The lump in my throat came up during walking meditation but went again at some point. During the committed quiet time at lunch and while weeding during working mediation I felt trapped, angry, impatient and had a strong urge to run.

The last time I was here it took me 48 hours to unexpectedly cry. It was crucial for me in my process of letting go and I’m hoping it will happen again this time. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.

 

 

When time allows

Have you ever noticed how slow time passes when you don’t check for time?

Having purposefully left my mobile phone switched off over the weekend I find myself swimming in a see of calm and peace with very little worry for anything other than making the most of each moment. And the moments keep coming. Every now and again I throw a casual glance at the kitchen clock when I happen to pass by and am left wondering why there is still so much time of the day left. This is a beautiful feeling and I am savouring every long moment of it.

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The need to check my phone for missed calls, messages, emails, the weather, news and facebook updates had become obsessive. And I don’t even like it! It’s the reward centre of my dear brain that urges my nervous system to act and find new stimulation to increase my happiness, and thus a lot of time is wasted picking up my phone and checking stuff. But instead of making me happier I felt increasingly more stressed.

I just finished reading “The Time Keeper” by Mitch Albom which has a crucial message about the invention of time: “Once we began to chime the hour we lost the ability to be satisfied. There was always a quest for more minutes, more hours, faster progress to accomplish more in each day. The simple joy of living between sunrises was gone. Everything man does today to be efficient, to fill the hour, does not satisfy. It only makes him hungry to do more. Man wants to own his existence. But no one owns time. When you are measuring life, you are not living it.”

So I urge you to claim back your time, stop watching it go by and start living it! Go out and brush through the yellow autumn leaves on the ground, listen to the wind in the trees, watch that squirrel jump about, smile back at the occasional burst of sun and for once, even if it is just for that one moment, forget that time exists!

Have a lovely day!
Anna

That moment where you finally stop and take a deep breath

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Amidst the confusion of suddenly having nothing major to do after two years of university did I find myself taking the first conscious breath in what seems a lifetime.

It is very very strange. I was soo looking forward to finishing, sitting here fidgeting in my chair in front of my computer writing the last few paragraphs on my essays, that I was rather surprised at the sudden feeling of sadness wash over me on the actual last day of university. Is it just again the concept of “endings” (click here to read all about it) that shakes me? That things won’t be the same? Some of us started a bit later on that day than others in the group but I felt the strong need to come in earlier at the usual time, because it would be the last time we all sat together in the canteen.

So now that it is over, two of the most stressful years of my life, that brought so many changes to myself and my practice at work, I am left in a dazed state of confusion, in desperate need to relax but unable to just stop. It is good to have that time to just sit and breathe without feeling guilty that I’m wasting time. But it also takes a lot of effort on my part to not just carry on and look for the next project to embark on.

Many times over the past year did I feel like writing about all the changes taking place and new epiphanies arising but simply didn’t find the time for it. And how nice a feeling to be looking forward to writing from the heart again, compared to clinical evidence based practice.

This is just the confusion stage, once I’m over it I can begin to listen to my heart again and share it’s story with you.

Until then

With Love

Anna

Thinking – A Forgotten Art

After helping out a fellow student of mine today he asked me why I was so clever. I was just as much taken aback as flattered to hear him say that. Without thinking much about it I replied that I wasn’t really very clever, just interested, with an open mind. In actual fact, I said to him, when I was much younger, my school teacher was adamant that I belonged into a school for special needs, because I was quiet and she didn’t think that I was very clever at all.

He laughed and said that when he was younger his teacher send him home to write lines of “curiosity killed the cat” because he had asked too many questions. I myself had numerous occasions where I was told to stop asking silly questions, only because some people couldn’t do with my heightened interest or 10-step-ahead thinking procedure.

So there we were, so called mature students, that were unable to gain access to higher education when we were younger (at least this is true in my case) based on a belief that we were either not clever enough or not supposed to find answers to our probing questions.

And how sad is that?

A little unrelated yet fittingly so, I also found myself thinking how much we are actually prevented to think on our own in general. Watching the white prints on the station platforms at each stop on the way home, reminding us to “mind the gap”, a thought occurred to me: instead of the well-meaning warnings that are ever increasingly popping up everywhere to prevent accidents and harm, there will come a time again where accidents will be on the rise because we have stopped assessing our surroundings for danger, a natural process that we do without thinking, and assume that if there is no sign to warn us of any danger, there surely can’t be any either.

So why are we being stopped from thinking?

What do you think? 😉

Love
Anna

The Essence of Who We Are

Today a cheerful little colleague of mine felt the need to tell me of how much she thought I had changed over the past years. She said that when we first started working together she wasn’t sure whether I even liked her. To her I appeared quiet and reserved and didn’t respond much to her at all, like I had put up a façade. Now she feels that I am so much more confident and open, and we have actually grown quite close.

My heart both hurt and rejoiced while listening to her. To tell you the truth, I couldn’t get on with her at all back then. She was like a whirlwind that had lost it’s quiet inner core, something that is really difficult to deal with as a solid introvert like me. Yet, over the past years I have warmed to my surroundings, gained my confidence, had grown up. My colleague on the other hand had noticeably calmed down and one day we happened to meet at a level that we both felt comfortable at. I now lovingly call her “Chiquita” because she not only stems from Brazil but is also much older than me albeit looking half my age. It hurts me to think that my behaviour might have upset her back then.

Some say that people never change. And it may be true that the essence of a person, their genetic blueprint, always stays the same. However, on a behavioural level, or even from heart level, we are able to change, adapt, learn, adjust and warm, as well as harden, to our surroundings, depending on what we encounter.

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Having analysed the development of compassion over the past year (read “Compassion in Practice“), wondering whether compassion can be learned, I grow more and more confident in my thesis that compassion grows together with your heart: the more you nurture it, the more it will grow. As long as you remain true to yourself and respect your surroundings you have as much the chance to change for the better and develop compassionate values as anyone else, regardless of their childhood issues or “wrong” upbringing.

Who decides what’s right or wrong anyway? What norms are we measuring society with? Wouldn’t we all be much happier if we had the chance to develop according to our own soul’s calling instead of letting society tell us which of our behaviour is acceptable and which is not? Just don’t go about hurting others and cause damage. What I’m much more referring to is the gender and age specific stereotyping which is probably enough to destroy compassion for self and others even in those with the best upbringing and early childhood experiences.

Life has so much to offer, why don’t we let it? Why won’t we learn to let life guide us and let our heart decide what’s good for us? Speak up for yourself, especially if you are not being respected as the magnificent human being that you are. Apply some common sense. Anger and spitefulness won’t get you anywhere. Whatever you gained by force or took without permission from another was never yours to start with and will only ever bear a negative memory. Happiness won’t settle until you follow the true calling of your heart. So whoever you are, whether you are already following your heart or have served many sentences, you can change direction any time.

And as I watch the big orange sphere of the sun disappear behind the horizon, I am filled with a deep sense of connection to everything around me. I feel truly grateful for my life and the many opportunities that came my way and shaped me into the person that I am now as well as the many versions that I resembled in the past. Only you will know who you want to be. Who will you be tomorrow? The choice is yours.

Love
Anna

Beyond Words

Writing for me is coupled with emotions, an urge to express myself and my feelings, something that can often be difficult to put into words. However, the process of finding words to describe emotions has been hugely beneficial in that it made me look at myself and help me understand the connections between my feelings and the way I react to them. Often I found myself looking for more information on topics I was writing about and even learned a thing or two on the way.

And I can certainly say that I have changed a great deal since I began writing a couple of years ago, even believe that the writing process helped me to lay some issues from the past at rest. After the initial burp of endless blog posts I have calmed down a little. As if I have found my inner peace at last. I don’t seem to get outraged so much no more, often don’t even feel like writing about thoughts that pop up. I find myself smiling at them and watch them flutter away like butterflies.

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Reading through some of my past blog posts I find a lot of wisdom and am often surprised at the almost accidental knowledge and insights that I unearth while writing. Whether anyone else has benefitted from my posts I won’t know for sure, but I am greatly reassured by the vast knowledge that is seemingly hidden within me, be it inspired from a higher source or simply just hidden from view, only available when the present moment requires it.

Recently I have become very angry and upset with the electronic developments of our time. What good are they to humanity in the long run, especially since we are depleting the planet of its natural resources to fund them. We’re getting way too dependent on them and won’t be able to live without them, which makes me very sad. I got so angry with Facebook and mobile phones that I came to the point where I silently made the decision to cut any electronic related hassle out of my life. I even refused to write another blog. Easier said than done. Because how can I condemn all the other users of electronic gadgets but still use it myself? And where was all the anger coming from anyway?

The funny insight came after I had calmed down a little and I realised how threatened I felt by a device or system that wasn’t actually posing any direct threat to me. It was just my own dissatisfaction with the development of machines and the thoughtless use of consumers using them that upset me. Once I had acknowledged that I took a deep breath, dropped the anger and allowed for the clever gadgets to co-exist without interrupting my peace of mind. For it is presently not within my capacity to prevent humanity from using any electronic equipment and revert to prehistoric living standards. All I can do is find my own peace of mind and live a happy life which maybe others will take note of and begin to make small changes themselves. The secret is to take advantage of today’s clever gadgets with a mindful approach but to not be sucked into their mindless maze of activities and waste precious present moments of your life.

Ask yourself: Am I taking a photo or am I living the moment?

It is so important to find peace of mind, and yet so difficult to actually achieve it. Years of practice doesn’t sound promising to most and albeit it is necessary if you want to permanently achieve mental calmness, so the process starts with the very first minute that you simply close your eyes and take a deep breath. Note the thoughts that arise, smile at them and let them move on with the wind and the clouds. If a persistent thought won’t leave you in peace, maybe consider writing about it and find out what it tries to tell you.

Happiness is a peaceful mind, not a Facebook update 😉

Love
Anna

First Impressions

A fairly high-ranking individual from our work place once described her experience on the first day of starting here. Since nobody knew who she was she was treated accordingly, with little attention and getting mostly ignored. I know that I myself walked past her a few times one day, because I was busy, because I didn’t know who she was, because in my eyes she didn’t seem to be very important.

Why would you only pay important people the respect you think they deserve? When is someone important enough to warrant your immediate attention? What is it that signals our brains how to react and who to pay attention to? Is it their appearance or our past experience?

I felt bad that I was just as guilty of ignoring her, although I usually pride myself in greeting anyone I meet with at least a smile and ask if I can help when someone is clearly looking lost. Could it be that our important lady didn’t look lost enough? Did she maybe have a subtle demeanour of reassurance about herself, the kind that only she knew about, the power to sack you on the spot, yet which nonetheless seeped through and radiated a sense of not really needing directions?

This humbling experience made me even more conscious of the fact that you just don’t know who you have in front of you. And it really doesn’t matter whether it’s the Queen of Timbuktu or a street dog that crosses your path. Anyone deserves a certain amount of respect. And ever since I have made a double effort to treat everyone with the same respect – not anyone any more or anyone else any less.

Today I went to all the different departments at work to distribute a leaflet for a regular gathering of a certain grade of employee. The multitude of different reactions I got from every single department still goes through my mind. Mostly I encountered the expected initial few moments of being ignored. Some I had to tap on the shoulder after waiting patiently a few more moments, others decided to see me and ask if I needed something. Some reacted stressed, others disinterested. A few looked at me suspiciously, a few others were really open and interested. One barked at me what it was I wanted now, another wasn’t quite sure why I was talking to them.

I was at all times open, friendly, smiling, asking for the kind of employee I was after. The difference in reactions was astounding, interesting and most of all exhausting. Such is the human genius I suppose. I like to think what it would be like if I was someone with a high influence that would deserve an equally high level of respect? And again, why don’t I deserve that kind of respect as a simple enthusiastic individual on a mission to unite a workforce of employees and to help them have a voice? Are we humans really that ignorant to separate low-ranking from high-ranking people and treat them accordingly?

According to what?

May I suggest you stop judging others and start respecting them instead? The world would definitely be a much better place that way.

Love
Anna

Personal Development

Yay, I won the Personal Development Award at our annual staff awards ceremony! That is a real honour and something I wasn’t expecting at all. It almost feels like I have taken someone else’s award, because surely somebody else would deserve it more than me? And yet, I have indeed come a long way. I’ve worked tirelessly on improving myself and the world around me, at work as much as outside of work. But I only did what I felt needed doing and where my passion was directing me. I didn’t do any of it to receive an award.

Being given this award meant more to me than “just” being honoured for my work achievements. It takes me back, once again (I whish I would just get over it), to my non-existent father and my teasing and misunderstanding teacher who both instilled in me the believe that I am not only not worth knowing but also that I likely won’t achieve much in my life. Thankfully I was also born with a fierce will to survive and grow, the latter of which was ironically fuelled by the constant let-downs of my teacher and the lacking acknowledgement of my father. I spent the majority of my life proving myself to the world.  This award to me is the acceptance and acknowledgement that I was longing for for the past 30 years. Am I ready to accept it?

The winners of all categories were given a yellow lanyard that had “Trust Staff Awards Winner 2014” written all over it and it was suggested to wear it at work because we could all be proud of our achievement. Putting it around my neck the next day at work gave me a minor panic attack, almost like as if I was on my way to the executioner who was going to hang me with it. I was unable to wear it. Why this irrational response?

Something in me can’t accept it, can’t deal with the hype around it, doesn’t feel worthy of it, worries that it won’t be as well received by others and that it will make me look like being above my colleagues. It was as if all the sudden acknowledgement was too much in one go. I was used to quietly get on with things and when it came to present changes to others I was easily defeated by their opposition to change and my little suggested improvements often fell on deaf ears by fellow colleagues. It is interesting to note that it is more management that liked my ideas. For staff it presented just another new addition they didn’t really have the time or desire to get into, which is another factor why I felt insecure about my award.

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I’m not really much of a talker, more a doer. I have done so many things in my life, all driven by my thirst for knowledge and interest in how the world ticks. And when I realised that I wanted to work more closely with people it was as if I had found the key to my purpose in life: to help others realise their potential and to assist them back to health as much as possible for them to continue with their own life purpose. Another acknowledgement came unexpectedly from a patient a couple of months ago. He said that he always wanted to have a daughter, and if he had had one he would have wanted her to be like me. The realisation of the overall meaning to me only really set in on my way home: why do I wait for acknowledgement from my father if I’m being acknowledged by so many others?

When I realised that I wanted to work with people I was working as a Housekeeping Assistant at a General Hospital. I didn’t have any care experience and therefore no luck of working in healthcare at the hospital. Instead I worked a year as a Care Assistant at a Nursing Home, which kindly provided me with an NVQ2 in Health and Social Care. This was my ticket back into hospital. There I worked for a year on the bank and accepted an offer for a permanent position on my favourite ward. Three years later, after increasing my hours from 24 to 36, I was offered the Level 3 Diploma in Clinical Healthcare Support. And before I even finished that I was already applying for the Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care Practice.

All of this was offered to me, based on the good work I delivered. And to be accepted at university, for the first time in my life, in a language that is not my mother tongue, whereas my teacher was adamant that I would be better suited for a school for special needs, is quite extraordinary to me. And then I was nominated for a Personal Development Award. Is it maybe also because I would have been the only one of 200 to raise my hand at the awards ceremony when the guest speaker asked who gets out of bed in the morning feeling happy and looking forward to the day? I didn’t raise my hand by the way, because, you know, that is embarrassing 😉

But it was also that very same embarrassment that stopped me from wearing my lanyard. And what morale can we draw from this? That it really doesn’t matter what others say around you. That everyone is perfect just the way they are and that we should all strive for the best in all areas. And to not wait until you have enough time or are paid to do something that you feel passionate about but to simply grab an idea and make something of it. This is how change happens. It starts with an idea, a feeling, the sense to do something. So go for it! Don’t let yourself be held back by past hurts and let-downs. Let them be the reason to change!

To change and a better world!

Love
Anna

When Happiness Returns

Suddenly I felt this pure happiness wafting through my body. Like as if a window had been opened in a stuffy room to let the fresh spring air in and awaken the sleeping mind. I admit it had been a while since I last felt it. We’re probably talking a good 5 years. My goodness, what had happened that I spent all that time semi-unhappy?

What kept me going those past years was that last memory of a sunny morning that I woke up early in my little studio flat, refreshed after sleeping sound through the night, went for a run along the seafront and settled with a good read on the sofa. I had a little patio on which I grew as many vegetables as possible in pots, even a little apple tree. And I felt happy, really happy. And ever since have I tried to get back to feeling happy just like that.

The decline followed on after a big depression which was the result of an emotionally abusive relationship, the shockwaves of which would follow me around more or less for most of those years. The foundation was fear. The fear of either living a life under the control of someone, which I didn’t want or living with the consequences of leaving the confines of control and be subject to harassment. I chose to break free but from then on didn’t sleep properly, couldn’t eat properly, got an adrenaline rush every time I heard a noise outside or spotted someone in the streets that looked like my ex and my menstrual cycle was all over the place as well. This naturally is a disaster recipe for unhappiness.

I have come a long way since then and sensing that glimpse of happiness made me realise how much work I had done on myself and on my surroundings. It would be great to assume that happiness is something that is freely available, but I don’t think it is. And it may also be interpreted differently by everyone. What happiness is to you might not be happiness to the person next to you.

Opening up to a new partner was hell for me and I only got through it because he was so patient and understanding, something I will be eternally grateful for. What I have learned over the past years is that if a relationship has no mutual respect and understanding for both parties, neither will be happy and sometimes the only way to be happy is to get out, however hard it may be.

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Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to find lasting happiness. This means to give up something you like or release people from your life who get you down. My sacrifice was to move in with my new partner into a small second floor flat along a main road to safe money for a better place. There were always people shouting and suspicious groups of people hanging out outside and I missed my connection to nature and to grow my veg. Together with my fear of commitment based on my last experience this meant another dip in spirits. But now I have been rewarded with a lovely little house and beautiful garden in a really quiet area with views onto the magnificent green hills of the South Downs. And here it was that suddenly my happiness perked up. Totally and completely 100% undiluted happiness.

“WOW”

My menstrual cycle is still a bit out of sync but thanks to acupuncture treatments as well as my own applied acupressure, healing, meditation and yoga I’m not as affected mentally, the ups and downs of which were the biggest obstacle to happiness. Food is also still an ongoing battle because I find that there are more and more things my body reacts to with tiredness, fatigue, aches and pains.

So, to keep your spirits up and be truly happy it is crucial to be with people who appreciate and value you, who listen to you and who understand who you are and what makes you tick. To release people from your life that cause you unhappiness isn’t an easy one. When I was in that situation I read somewhere that by raising your own happiness, to be yourself, to not let yourself get down and to surround yourself with people who contribute to your happiness will quite likely lead to the natural disappearance of those who don’t contribute to your happiness. The Law of Attraction says that you get more of what you put out. It sort of worked like that for me. We’re all annoying at times, we all have our ups and downs, but if you can reflect on yourself and acknowledge those around you, to laugh with them and sometimes even without them on your own, just for the sheer joy of it, then you will have found happiness.

If you then support yourself and others with a simple diet that is full of fresh ingredients, swapping common sugar with natural sweeteners (read my “Sugar Hangover Diaries” if you would like to know more) and enjoyed with “gusto” you will find that your body will be a good vehicle from which to shine your light of happiness. We well and truly are what we eat and food has a big effect on us, how we feel, how we act, how we present ourselves, which I belief isn’t nearly given as much attention as it deserves. We’re all such individual personalities that one rule doesn’t fit all of us. So what I find important is that you figure out who you are, what you need to be truly happy and to give you more of what you need, not only in food but also in people around you and the space you live in. It all starts with the simple thought of what you want.

You can change and create your life just how you want it. Down to the very T 🙂

Love
Anna

The Extrovert Detox

I was born an introvert, quiet, highly sensitive to my surroundings with the purpose of changing the world for the better. These might be at odds and you might wonder how a quiet introvert can possibly take on the challenge of changing the world. The answer lies in the adaptability of life, the life choices I make and the actions I take on the way.

Being highly sensitive means that I take in more than others of clues and information that I encounter every single waking minute of my life. At night I have vivid dreams that seem to overcompensate for the quiet life I choose to live. Because of my highly sensitive nature I can often feel overwhelmed. A simple conversation or group activity can leave me feeling mentally exhausted and ready to hide somewhere alone, just to try and recuperate.

Being like that, however, also has its positives. It means that I spend more time thinking and evaluating what I encounter. I read more, learn more, study more. A self-confessed know-it-all, this is the best preparation to challenge the world to change its thinking. Mainstream doesn’t work with me, not very often anyway. I tend to question, wanting to know the whys and hows and what ifs. Often this approach hasn’t gotten me very far in discussions with others because they either couldn’t understand the complexity of my question or didn’t know the answer. All too often I was told not to ask such silly questions.

Self-doubt has been, and still is with me most days. But again, it helps to evaluate myself, my behaviour and the reactions from others. One might say that it is a lonely path I chose, an idealistic freedom fighter on the way to unknown territory. The fact that only about 20% of the world population is introvert makes it harder for us to prove our validity and to explain why we choose quiet solitude over crowded parties. The majority of people loves to go out clubbing and listen to loud music and to talk exuberantly as if there was no tomorrow. And they have come to understand that most people like that sort of thing. That’s what today’s mainstream marketing is aiming at. At the extrovert fun and action loving people.

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This makes it even harder for introverts to stand up for themselves and say it is okay to be like I am, because all through their life have they been told that it is not. That they were too quiet, that they were geeky, that they were boring together with plain weird and not worth wasting time on. But if you ever spent that time on that quiet person in the corner, you will not only find a really interesting personality but also a friend for life that you can trust and who will listen deeply, offering good advice and who would will inspire you to be more like them and less like the actual boring drunken people who scream and shout before stripping off and jumping naked into the pool. I suppose it adds a little excitement to your life if that’s what you need.

Evaluative question: why am I writing about this? Maybe because I feel so misunderstood by society. My whole life have I played some strange copy of Jekyll and Hyde in a weak attempt to adapt to people around me. And whereas there were times when I enjoyed drinking and exhausting laughter I remember mostly that this were times where I wasn’t truly myself. But it is a long and arduous trek to accept that you are simply different and don’t want to play this game no more.

I have all but given up table sugar and changed my diet to a great deal to avoid food groups that I don’t agree with, which was a battle of its own. And I am now ready to give up on that false reality of pretending to be extrovert and wholly accept my introvert and sensitive nature and not so much avoid extrovert groups but more so make choices to participate in activities that I feel happy with and to not just do what others expect of me because it suits their idea of fun.

There have already been times where I declined going for a drink or to a club and had to undergo the exhaustive discussion to explain why I didn’t feel like it without offending anyone. I was often lost for words. The more true to myself I become, the less I begin to worry about the complexity of words. A gentle smile, a grateful word a gentle decline. Not a problem, if you learn how to.

This whole topic on introversion and high sensitivity have been much clearer to me after reading the book “Quiet” by Susan Cain and “The Highly Sensitive Person” by Elaine Aron. It was almost as if I was reading books about myself. All the confusion about who I was and who I was supposed to be settled and merged into a much stronger version of my quiet self. “Quiet” even explained that it is possible to grow out of being shy and to adapt a much more dominant mannerism, something that I had already observed in myself.  The more you practice something that causes you stress, the more your nervous system, particularly the amygdala, will calm down.

Reading this reaffirmed to me that it is indeed possible as an introvert to conquer the world. When I was younger people said about me that I was shy. I didn’t like it, but not knowing the difference between being shy and being a highly sensitive introvert I accepted my shyness, maybe even hid behind it at times when I couldn’t be bothered to do something. In recent years, however, have I morphed into this outspoken individual that reaches for as many stars as she can reach and doesn’t stop at a barrier. Instead she carefully dissembles any barrier and carries on with her quest to the infinite answer.

The important clue in this is that you can do anything, however shy or introvert you may be, as long as you are standing up for something that is close to your heart. It’s almost like as if your heart itself will give you extra power to succeed. Try it! The next time you have to do that presentation or lead that talk or whatever else it may be that makes you feel insecure and causes you to go blank and trip over your tongue, make sure there is something in that talk that really inspires you and that you feel will create a positive change in the listeners. And don’t forget to breathe, as this is vital for your brain function 😉

Read my associated posts on “Seeking Solitude in a Loud World” and “Dizzy Bliss vs Forgetfulness“.

To a happy and quiet life!

Love
Anna

Accepting Grief

The days rushed by without coming to a conclusion whether I should take the trip to the continent for my Godmother’s funeral. And when the day came I was still struggling between the stress of travelling on short notice and the worry I would feel that I had missed out on the last opportunity to spend time in my Godmother’s surroundings.

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So this morning I went up onto the rolling green hills of the Sussex South Downs and flew a small kite as my very own little memorial service to an inspirational individual who has had a big impact on my spiritual growth. To the kite I had attached Tibetan prayer flags and a little bundle of flower petals. The weather couldn’t have been better, blue sky and a warm spring sun. A soft wind blew my prayers and flower petals towards the East, towards the continent where the funeral was being held.

I had also draped my little stone Buddha in flowers and petals and attached the prayer flags to the bushes around it. I felt thoroughly happy with it. It looked joyful. The celebration of a new beginning, not the mourning of an ending. That works for me. Though, once again, I wonder, how much it matters what the person that has passed on thinks of it. How much is their own belief paramount to my belief when it comes to dealing with the passing of a soul?

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This does kind of prove my thesis that it is much more about those who stay on. And I see in my own behaviour how important it is to come to a closure, however trivial it might seem. The feeling to do something extraordinary and beautiful for the passing soul is quite common. And little rituals like this can make the transition a little easier. I took the day off work as well. It just didn’t feel right to simply carry on with the ordinary when something out of the ordinary had happened. I felt that I needed that day to fully come to terms with it. My closure.

My little kite excursion felt like something my Godmother would have been up for. And I’m more than convinced that she thoroughly enjoyed it too. I don’t class myself as religious. I simply picked up a few ideas here and there and feel comfortable with some Buddhist practices. “You don’t need to be a Buddhist to practice Buddhism” I was once told by a Buddhist monk.

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Acceptance, as part of the five stages of grief, is coming to terms with the passing and to move on. Does taking part in a belief system make it easier to accept death? Or even, does it help to carry on living our life and to fill the hole a passing soul has left? And getting back to my thoughts on denial: do we need faith and religions to come over the denial phase, the inability to accept that someone is simply just not here anymore? Would we break if we didn’t have anything else to look at than an empty hole? Is that why I decided to feel their presence after their passing, or do I just happen to sense them anyway?

I don’t think I will be able to answer that question any time soon. I need to experience more, learn to listen more deeply to other dimensions of existence.

Love
Anna

P.S. It would greatly interest me to hear form any atheists out there who have undergone bereavement and to learn what their thoughts and emotions were.

Understanding Grief

The last few months I found myself increasingly more so occupied with thinking about death and the influence it has on those who live on. I came to the understanding that it isn’t only about those who die, but also, maybe even more so, about those who stay on after. Because it is them that have to deal with the gap the passing of an individual leaves.

More and more did I develop compassion when caring for my patients at work, opening up, becoming vulnerable, to be able to understand what others feel. A couple weeks ago did I attend a training session on end of life and advance care planning. A week ago I was talking to someone about my personal, insignificant, experiences with bereavement. A few days ago I received the news that my godmother had passed away.

It felt a bit like this was all a cunning plan. Another piece in the puzzle to understanding human feelings and behaviours. And although the news were sad and accompanied with the old lump in the throat, I still feel like I didn’t have much time to think about it properly. Almost a little too sober.

But then I have to say that there are different rules at play. A good 30 years ago, my godmother had been given about six more months to live, if at all. She dedicated every single minute of her life to helping others. She was very ill, sometimes gravely, for most of those 30 years. Still, she loved what she was doing, loved to help. She was deeply connected with the subtle world, the energetic dimension of our existence. She made good use of it, since her physical body wasn’t always very helpful, extending her sense of helping others by mere thought when unable to leave her bedroom due to another bout of illness.

Explaining this in more detail would take me away from what I try to discover. But it might help understand why I feel this deep connection with her despite the fact that I haven’t seen her all that often in the last few years. We lived in different countries. She in Denmark, I at first in Germany, now in England. When I was a child my mum and I visited her about once a year. It got less as I grew older. The last time I visited was two years ago. We spoke on the phone last at Christmas. She had sent me a book she had written.

mao

I do miss her. And I’m asking myself whether all my past recordings of sensing those around who have passed on are a mere denial of the fact that they have simply been and gone. Talking about the different stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Denial is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle.

Whatever I think, whatever I want to express, whatever I want to write it is not happening. Tears have started to well up unexpectedly but not come out properly. It is building up while I’m trying to make sense of it. The situation is made more complex by the fact that “normal” grieving just doesn’t fit in here. I know that she is still around, I can feel her. I know that she is able to do an even better job now than she was ever able to while still in physical form. It is just that the communication is a little more tricky now.

The day I found out, I was at work, and after putting the phone down a trusted colleague came in and I told her. She hugged me and I felt understood. I was called away to another phone call straight after for someone to meet me. Then I had another meeting, with the chaplain (completely unrelated to talk about their work and bereavement!) and when I got back to work my boyfriend suddenly appeared saying he was in the area and popped in to say hello.

Now, this is a very untypical few hours to spend for me at work! And may I say that it really does feel like my godmother had her say in the running of it. To send another phone call straight away after I had received the news (I only very rarely get phone calls at work), as if to say that I shouldn’t start worrying and simply carry on. So typical of her! The meeting with the chaplain ( which had previously been cancelled) was another way of giving me the opportunity to talk should I feel like it (I didn’t). And then to send my boyfriend in the area (who was on work duty himself, and only did this about three times in 5 years) felt like yet another sign of ensuring I had someone there to make me feel supported. When I arrived home after work, a book I had ordered on my brothers recommendation was waiting for me. It is written by someone who was diagnosed with cancer and talks about the travels and experiences he had for the years to come. Very apt in line with her own life.

I like to see signs in things like that. Especially when they accumulate like this in a short space of time. She was always the one I thought of asking when something strange and unusual happened that nobody could explain. She was the expert in that field. Understanding and reassuring. We didn’t have enough contact, but both knew full well that the connection we had was always there. Tight and strong. And it still is.

I find it difficult to make it to the funeral. Travelling from England to Denmark on short notice is a bit of a trek. Driving is long and flying I find uncomfortable. On top of that is the university commitment, which I could skip for a few days. The unconventional thing is that I don’t need to go to someone’s funeral in order to…whatever you do at a funeral….say goodbye? I don’t need to do that. But I long for feeling her surroundings one more time, as if she was still there. Waiting for me, welcoming me, making me feel at home.

Is this what bereavement is? That this comfortable sense of belonging is broken? I worry that I will regret not going to the funeral. There will only be one. I whish life was easier than that.

As usual, I’m probably making more of a fuss about this than I deserve. I also realised that the older I get, the more these experiences will occur, the more I will learn about them. I suppose this is all part and parcel of life. A never ending cycle.

Love
Anna

Seeking Solitude in a Loud World

This moment I feel complete. I have dug up my vegetable patch in bright sunlight while a strong wind had ruffled my hair. Now I’m sitting in serene stillness at my big window, a wide smile spreading across my cheeks, rosy and cold from the wind, as I look out over the adjoining gardens toward the green rolling hills of the South Downs. This beautiful stillness is accompanied by the occasional scream of birds, flittering beneath the open sky, and the creaking roof boards caused by the wind that is blowing huge white bubble clouds across the wide, blue sky.

That’s all it takes to give me a sense of peace. And I think it is one of the advantages of introversion: one doesn’t need much to be happy.

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Seeking solitude to recharge batteries is something introverts long for. Yesterday I conquered the town centre with a big list of things I needed to do. I came home feeling totally drained and agitated. Too many people, in the way, not looking, not aware of their surroundings, pushing, bumping, stressed.  This is another reason why I feel less and less inclined to go out for a drink with others. It gives me the feeling of being trapped in a cage and prodded with sticks by loud people who laugh at me.

And I have more recently come to the conclusion that this is not just a social phobia, insecurity or seriousness (“you’ve become so serious”), but simply a way of life that doesn’t suit me. As society has developed, introverts have more and more been misunderstood, pushed aside, moved out of the way and simply not listened to by loud extroverts who can’t comprehend quite solitude and misjudge those who are quieter than them as being of lesser value, lower IQ, simply not worth their while.

Why? Only because louder is heard better? Because pushing forward into the limelight is seen as stronger? Says who?

Reading “Quiet” by Susan Cain puts this into perspective and analyses just what happened that the world has become such a loud place in which the quieter people are generally ignored. She looks at schools, universities, big companies, who all claim that putting yourself out there, showing initiative and work in big groups is the way forward. But she also talks of many quiet interesting individuals, who made a massive contribution to the world, because being introvert, they took the time to sit and think on their own, giving them the opportunity to change the world.

Bill Gates, for example is said to have been just that, a quiet introvert. And this is really not an insult, as it may sound. It is something to be proud of, something that generates a lot of clever ideas, as opposed to the loud group work brainstorming, team-work exercises, which generally seem to create a lot of great ideas, however, if compared to the work of individual people, it doesn’t generate nearly as much.

So if you are of the quiet type, don’t stress yourself by feeling you have to be louder to be heart. Whatever it is you are doing, as long as you give your best, you will succeed. And for those of you who belong to the louder population, don’t write someone off straight away because they sit quietly in the back row. Try to listen to them, hear their story and I’m sure you will be amazed.

Love
Anna

The Wonders of the Conscious Universe

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That’s what I’m thinking after listening to Jim Carrey (yes the actor) talking about conscious thought, the present moment, happiness and that he is a Buddhist, Islamist, Christian and anyhow, that it didn’t matter anyhow since it was all the same.

A proper wow-moment for me.

Watch it for yourself:
http://www.social-consciousness.com/2013/03/jim-carrey-the-power-of-consciousness.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfWN5EW5eo4

Last night I picked an oracle card as a little guidance for the moment, having had a very low point again a couple of weeks ago after a disagreement with someone. But despite the worries and feeling shaken by it the incident wouldn’t touch me as deeply as similar events had done in the past. It was like as if I had matured in some way and was able to deal with the situation from a more detached angle instead of drowning in it with my heart and soul.

In the video Jim talks about negativity going through you, without taking hold of you. We only hold onto negative emotions as long as they serve us. The reason why we react with upset to them is so that they can be resolved by dealing with them. The more we deal with them the less they will appear in our life.

He then spoke about intention, that with intention we create our universe. The oracle card I picked yesterday suggested that I wrote down my intentions…

One of my biggest intention, the one that drives me most, and equally gets me down most (as it did two weeks ago), is to save the world. At the end of the Jim Carrey clip it said: We all want to change the world, but most of us don’t know where to begin, concluding that it is our emotions and consciousness that make the difference.

During the clip it was also mentioned how the magnetic field created by the human heart during certain emotions has a tremendous influence on our world, the climate, people, everything. Such is my amazement that I have been actively working on helping people to become more conscious of their heart space (The Sacred Centre) for the past couple years now, to open it up and connect with their Inner Self, that it feels incredible to hear this confirmed and to realise even more so the importance of it.

Especially when we get together with others to focus on the same intention. That’s when we really have an influence over the world.

So I have been working on myself, my own development and have inspired some people on the way. Only now, that I have reached another threshold, am I able to hear my visions and intentions confirmed.

Such is the wonder of the universe we live in 😉

Love
Anna

Compassion in Practice

And once again did I find myself closely accompanied by death. Maybe it really is time to make friends with him, for the more compassionately I engage with others, the more they open up and tell me about their thoughts about dying.

For a long time have I hidden myself closely behind a wall, keeping a distance that I thought to be safe. Safe, as in not getting involved emotionally, to keep up my appearance, to not loose control and to not accept that one day I will indeed shake hands with death.

Compassion is something I have been reading into lately as part of a university project on the fundamentals of care. There is so much about it in the news at the moment, especially after many an inquest into neglect and failings of care standards, that I began to wonder why some people are naturally compassionate and others weren’t. And if the government proposes a more compassionate approach in care, how can anyone ensure that those working in care will suddenly release their zest for compassion and become better people? Surely that isn’t the case.

I wondered, can compassion be learnt? Looking into past research that had been done on the development on empathy, the foundation for compassion, I learned that it is the sense of connection to our mother as infants that aids the development of empathy (Goleman 2009). So, if that connection wasn’t there, research suggests that it might be the reason for psychopathy, the inability to feel for others (Lang, Klinteberg, Alm 2002).

However, some research also suggests that we are much more resilient and are able to pick up on and learn empathic behaviour through later life experiences (Clarke 1976). My conclusion is that it is likely not possible to learn compassion, however, with the right mind set and under the right conditions, compassion may be developed. But it needs personal awareness and the ability to reflect on yourself and your actions in order to change your behaviour.

Being compassionate on a busy NHS ward can be difficult. Compassion needs time, which isn’t always available. But once you take that time and fully engage with your patients, listen to them actively, acknowledge their whole being, not just the condition their in with, you will get a lot back in return.

But you also open up to the other side of life. After a life of pretty good health, with his mind still fully active, now with persistent bleeding in hospital, this 95 year old said to me: “Maybe it’s time to give in now.” He had a good life and lived it to the full and knew all too well that his body would likely not carry on in such good condition for all that long. Earlier he had told me that he has been writing into a diary every day for the past 30 years but had accepted that this was not possible now that he was here in hospital. So I went to get him some paper and a pen and suggested he carry on writing, it might put his thoughts into perspective.

A little bit later in the day, when checking on another patient of mine, he indicated that the doctors had just told him that there is nothing else they can do for him. “Them doctors were so blunt”, he said to me. I thought maybe that they were just very busy, but no, he insisted that blunt was the right word. He worried about his wife, who was of course terribly upset by the news. He then turned to me and said: “I want to go home to die.” I tried to make him comfortable, set up the radio for him which he appreciated and the last look I remember of his deep blue eyes was filled with exhaustion as much as sadness and gratitude. He passed away within two days. We couldn’t get him home in time.

Sometimes it is not the grandiose gifts and efforts that make up compassion. Quite often it is the small things, to enable someone to carry on writing, or to set up the radio for someone who needs to escape the world for a little while. I am glad I was there to do this and hope it helped. And I am saddened by the thought that some people don’t have the awareness to do something similar when the need arises.

Somehow I hope that just by me writing about it, someone might be able to develop compassion, to begin to feel for others, to develop the awareness to go that little extra step.

To sum up the essence of compassion, lets have a think how we can be more compassionate, especially when working in a care environment. Building on simple empathy, seeing the world from someone else’s view, treat others as you would want to be treated. Encourage independence. Caring with compassion doesn’t mean to take away someone’s independence by smothering them with your well-meaning care.

Listen actively to what the individual has to say, make eye contact, stop what you are doing for a moment. And when it all gets too much, time running away again, staffing low again, stop for a moment and take a deep breath, remembering that our brain needs oxygen to function properly and that to be able to emphasize we need a state of calm. And smile, even if you don’t feel like it. Chances are you might brighten someone else’s
day.

Leading by example means you act compassionately and others are more likely to follow suit observing the difference you make rather than lecturing them about it. And last, but certainly not least, help build a strong and positive team. Together you can make the client’s stay much more endurable and feel supported yourself at the same time.

There is certainly much more to learn about it, this is just a brief glimpse of my insights that I wanted to share with you. I hope you gained something from it.

Love
Anna

A Button Society

And no, I still cannot simply ignore these strange embodiments of seemingly ordinary people that appear to be powered by small hand-held devices. They seem to otherwise be detached from their surroundings yet carry out every-day tasks as normal.

As if on auto pilot do I see them pushing prams, walk dogs, go shopping, exercising in the gym, walk along footpaths or through parks, sometimes holding an equally surreal being on the other hand, driving cars and even riding bicycles with their gaze transfixed on the small screen in their hand.

What is it they have that I don’t have, I wonder. Am I missing out on something here?

I daren’t say that it might be them missing out. Not noticing the change in weather or even the seasons. Not seeing the smile on other’s faces, nor the frown when suddenly stopping in their way. And then they suddenly look up and talk, eyes glazed, staring into nowhere, yet talking as if an ordinary person.

It reminds me of the quirky movie “The World’s End” with the notorious Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. There the world is being taken over by alien robots, which kindly gave the world internet and mobile phones, yet in the process hollowed them out and turned their brains into blue gloop, all in the face of eternal youth.

I wonder if we would be happier filled with gloop instead of a self-functioning brain and proceed to conclude that it is hardly happiness, more a bland neutral state of interbeing. How boring.

Why is it then that there are so many people psyched up about computer games, a complete illusion that does technically not exist. Do they give them something real life can’t? Please don’t let me get you down simply because I can’t comprehend.

It’s just that I have come to understand the difference between essential living and non-essential living. The first can live on its own, the second depends on an array of electronic devices, a tangle of cables, artificial electricity and some surreal invention called the world wide web.

All clever stuff, don’t get me wrong, just maybe don’t rely on it too much and base your whole life on it. Because what will you do if one day it won’t exist no more? What will you do while pushing prams, walking dogs, going shopping, exercising in the gym, walking along footpaths or through parks, sometimes holding an equally surreal being on the other hand, driving cars and even riding bicycles?

Would you feel bored? Or would you be overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and variety of the world and people around you? And would you be able to use the absence of distractions to find inner peace?

Would you know what to do when someone smiled at you in the streets? Would you know how to talk properly to someone? Would you be able to live with the consequence that you won’t be able to quickly call up your best friend? And would you be able to cope with the fact that you quite likely won’t even be able to get to your best friend at all unless you started walking now and maybe get there in a few years?

It’s a scary world we live in, either way or the other.

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The other day I went into town for a few errands and I managed to go into several shops, buy things and leave without talking to a single person. This was greatly thanks to self-checkout tills. On the other hand, when I went into a games shop to pick up the latest release of a computer game for my dear boyfriend, I found myself staring dumb fold at a shop assistant who had asked me something that simply didn’t register in my mind nor did it resemble anything I have ever had to do with.

Oh boy, I had stepped into a completely different world and felt accordingly alien while cuing patiently, yet mortified. No, I am not saying that one is better than the other, just that one depends on so much electronic equipment to sustain itself. We live in a “button-society” where I can’t just go to the canteen at work and buy a small bowl of stew to top up my lunch because there is only one button on the till that charges for meat stew with rice and vegetables and it went beyond the comprehension or capability of the person operating the button to simply charge me half the price.

We loose our individuality, being reduced to a mere number in the system. When I need to check someone’s blood sugar level at work I not only have to first scan a barcode that is dangling from my ID card but also the other’s barcode on their ID bracelet and then the barcode on the test strip. I can also do bladder scans, avoiding the old scanner because it is way too complicated for I have the choice to use one that can be operated by, you guess it, a simple button. And then there is the heating that can not be regulated as and how needed but is controlled by a computer somewhere in the basement. Even when I want to order a photo in a certain size and go into the shop to ask for help because I couldn’t find the size I wanted online, all I got was a friendly shop assistant that was eagerly pushing buttons on the “self-service point”. And it only took her 10 minutes and several nervous sighs to find a size close enough to the one I wanted.

This is not me being picky! This is society being controlled by norms and guidelines that simply don’t fit. So the half-decent result is a reasonable product that we get to keep for a regular amount of money until it is deemed not worthwhile or not good enough anymore, considering it was actually never what we wanted in the first place. So it ends up littering the earth we walk on because it is cheaper to buy another half-decent product than fix a broken one and near to impossible to get one we actually really like.

Once the world collapses, and I rather wish it does it sooner than later so I can get on with it, “essential living skills” will be needed. These include gardening, arts and crafts, hands-on therapies, interpersonal skills, musical instruments etc. Anything that can be used without plugging it into walls, or people, for that matter. Anything that enables you to simply sit, breathe and smile. And as a side-effect we will likely be developing other senses, understanding premonitions, and probably even enable us to communicate at distance without hand-held devices.

Noticing how quickly we destroy this magic planet by eradicating anything it has on offer and then suffocating it with the end result, I wonder how many planets in our solar system and beyond have been populated and destroyed accordingly. Once we have exploited this planet to its fullest extend, we either carry on on another planet, or we simply survive as “life force” and begin yet another cycle of evolution, also likely on another planet, as simple single cell organisms.

Unless we learn form our mistakes and begin to work and live with the world around us instead simply just on it, this process will never change for eternity. And I am fully aware that this is a process that may take a long time, maybe even more than eternity, but it begins with awareness, the preparedness for whatever is to come and the readiness to act on the essential stuff that we really need.

Happiness can not be man made. It has to come from within yourself.

Love
Anna

A Gentle Nudge

Cringingly I remember the moment in class when I was about 12 and tried to open up the possibility to a class mate that God or the devil could potentially be female.

My word did that go down the wrong way!

Against me stood many books and paintings in history that clearly showed that they were both male. So why would I want them to be female?

Not so much wanting to, more thinking that they could take any form they like. It was the beginning of my understanding that there is a much more subtle world around us that is different to just being male or female and could certainly be mere energy, a cloud of atoms, at its most.

I have always been different, keeping to myself, busying myself with my own interests, exploring other ways and digging in holes that opened up new dimensions. My class teacher certainly couldn’t cope with the way I was, a quiet little girl, not very bright in her eyes, a failure at maths and geometry, way too overburdened with an additional foreign language, which is why she suggested I would be better off in a school for kids with special needs.

Heyho, nothing wrong with me, said the school psychologist, just a bit lazy. Or, in my own words, just not interested in maths 🙂

I decided against the holy communion because I didn’t like the fact that angels had to have fluffy wings like in the pictures and that I didn’t see why I should honour that bearded man on the other pictures, whereas I had seen and felt beings of light around me that were nothing like that – though some of them do have wings after all.

Never mind. I was born a fighter, coming into the world against all the odds of my father’s request of abortion to having the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck twice and not wanting to breathe at first. But after my first breath was taken, there was no stopping me.

This sense of having a special task in this life has been with me as long as I can think back, however, what exactly it is wasn’t always that clear. But maybe that is what life itself is – the discovery of yourself.

Along came indigo children, light workers, Superman, Mother Theresa, Joan of Arc, Gandhi, Buddha, the Dalai Lama … the world is certainly not lacking in heroes … just who am I?

I jumped form one branch to another, never falling off the tree, but never quite sure on which branch to settle. I am lucky to be blessed with insight and the ability to see truth in both sides of an argument – though it can at times feel more like a curse – not being able to settle on one point, feeling like a traitor, split between friends and foes alike.

The sense to help has always been strongest, just that there is soo many ways to help. It took yet another change in profession into healthcare to somewhat satisfy that urge and give it a scope to work with. Ironically the one profession I did not intent to do after having watched my mother and grandmother working in the same field.

But it turns out to be the only job I have done so far that well and truly fulfils me and gives me a purpose to wake up to every day of my life. Just one tiny thing was still missing. Just how could I incorporate my knowledge and awareness of the alternative approach to life, which is not acknowledged in general medicine?

I had set up a complementary business next to my main job, addressing the Inner Self, the Sacred Centre, helping with Subtle Energy Healing and Acupressure Massage, but I don’t have enough time to fully commit to it. But it is there, and when the time comes it will all mould together into one big perfect piece of history. I might be an indigo child as well as a light worker but certainly am no Superwoman (well, only apart from the flying ;)).

I am neither nor – I am the bridge stretching from on to the other, a guide that leads you, a foundation that carries you, a walking living library that is available for questions.

It is not up to me to heal you, but I can help you heal yourself. Awareness of the Sacred Centre can be the beginning of that healing process.

And as I sat quietly, breathing in and out, aware of the Buddha within myself, my heart lotus opened it’s petals and radiated warmth outward, heating up my entire chest. I was wondering if I could maybe use this to warm the hearts of others and bring about a change of hearts just by being there, with them, without words, just with a smile. Would that be my next learning curve?

I have definitely come a long way since my above mentioned account of trying to make someone else see my side!

And it’s really not about the money. Really not – despite how many people have told me to value myself and to not give of myself for free. There is a reason why I have been supported with a good job that offers me free education, even sending me to university (all this in a foreign language – would love to know what my teacher thinks), so that I can spend my free time offering the world a little bit of my wisdom, as and when it needs it.

I have noticed so many times in my life that if you are true to yourself and listen to the gentle nudges of your Inner Self, that support will materialise. It might not be in form of a pot of gold, but certainly recognizable in the shape of whatever it is that you need most at the time.

Trust yourself!

Love
Anna

A Subtle Difference

As a world nation with different ethnic backgrounds and even more diverse believes and outlooks on life, we get it pretty wrong at times.

We look what others have and compare ourselves to their looks, their money, their success and downfalls, their strengths and weaknesses and somehow end up thinking that we are either better or worse than them, creating within ourselves a believe that separates us from our very own self and thus creates war not only within our own hearts but also between nations.

I myself notice far too often a sensation of inadequateness when I look at other’s success. And sometimes I look at others and see what they are lacking that I have already found for myself.

We are quite quick in judging others, usually within the first few seconds of meeting someone have we come up with an idea of what this person is like. This is a natural reflex of our brain trying to understand what’s going on and assess potential danger. Just how wrong we often are only emerges should we choose to get to know someone better. And by judging others we ultimately judge ourselves.

However, a simple solution is at hand: If you were to realise that you are in essence part of those around you, you can learn to love yourself even more. Genetics suggest that we are all to some 98% chimpanzee, and currently we are estimated to decent from only 7 mothers. Bring in the soul aspect, the one consciousness that combines us all, and you have an idea why we are essentially more the same than our small differences suggest.

You might have noticed how similar individuals from other ethnic backgrounds appear at first glance and we are quick in identifying an Asian origin by their eyes, but its only when getting to know them more that you realise that there are many subtle hints that sets them apart from each other and separates Asians into Chinese, Nepalese, Japanese and so on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So by assuming that we all still simply originated from chimpanzees and taking into account that we all started off in Africa to populate the word, it might help you to see a little bit of yourself in any member of the world population. And if you then love someone, like your partner, family, friends, your own love will reflect back to you from your own particles that connect you with these people and all you have to do is accept that love.

This goes back to the well know thesis to “love yourself”, but by believing that I should love myself as an individual, I may be in danger of isolating myself form the collective consciousness. But by recognizing myself in everyone around me, I can become whole.

The question to ask yourself is why you either feel inadequate or better than others. What caused you to believe you should prove yourself to be better than others, and why is it that bad if you are not the best? When I overhear someone complimenting someone else, I immediately take it to mean that I am clearly not good enough otherwise they would have said it to me instead. On the other hand I find it hard to actually take compliments, thinking that I don’t deserve it and worry that others won’t like me now because they think I am somewhat better.

None of it makes any sense, yet it registers within me as a failure. Realising this is the first step to begin the healing process. The subtle difference is instead of “wanting to be the best” you should simply “just be the best”. Honour the present moment instead of hoping for the future. Instead of looking for perfection within others, look for it within yourself. Instead of starting a war because you disagree with someone, sit together and discuss it peacefully over a cup of tea.

If only it was that simple, the world would be a much better place. So spread the word and hopefully we will all soon be drinking tea together 😉

Love
Anna

Life, Visions, Doubts and Passions

Insights come in the most unexpected ways. It might be a coincidence that this post comes while chopping up mushrooms for my risotto. Dish of the day, huh? 😉

After reading someone’s blog I left the comment:

“Life is based on visions – and you decide what your life’s vision is!”

and following on after the author’s comment to keep it in mind the next time doubts would creep in I concluded:

“Doubts are necessary because they make you re-evaluate your visions.”

And suddenly I wondered what had happened to my own vision. Maybe a little re-evaluation of my own little business wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

This comes after re-evaluating the Awareness Spa Mini Retreats, which I am part of, deciding to take a step back and simply hold the space, inviting people as they come and show interest. We all felt such relief after a year of constant advertising, which was three times as exhausting than actually running the retreat once a month.

I have changed. I now embark on another new step in my life which gently forces me to stop and do something different for a while. I am starting a two year university course in clinical health care as part of my employment.

It has been a passionate of mine to set up a little complementary business next to my main job. I have attended many interesting courses, met even more interesting people and took part in arduous networking meetings with little understanding of what I was supposed to talk about nor what it actually was that I wanted from it. It was all a great learning curve. So instead of spending my time advertising and feeling disappointed that I don’t get much response, I will now concentrate on university and let happen whatever will happen.

It’s almost like I have been creating different identities of myself in recent years, creating different blogs for different audiences because I didn’t feel that one could cope with the other. But I see now how beautifully they all work together. It’s an amalgamation of who I am as an individual, and of a life that I am proud to be living.

My previous website was build with simple HTML to keep my web design skills up but it got more and more difficult due to time and bothersome techniques to even update a single sentence, whereas I could spent hours blogging about a topic I felt passionate about here on wordpress. So I chose to transfer some of the content from my website onto my blog site since I am on here most of the time anyway.

First part of the amalgamation has been done. Now I can relax.

A passion to help is great – just that you can’t help if someone doesn’t want to be helped.

People rather have you fix their problems for them instead of genuinely wanting to solve them with your help.

Symptom control is impossible in the long-term unless you change something in your life. If you’re not happy to change your life, you might have to live with the symptoms.

I actually feel like I can be even more open in expressing myself through my writing now that I don’t have the burden of attracting potential clients. Too much have I been indoctrinated by several different codes of conducts relevant to whichever course I went for to behave and talk in a certain way.

Whereas I fully respect a professional appearance and a non-discriminatory approach and to refrain from practices that I am not qualified in, I also felt like I couldn’t fully be me, unable to breathe, stifled by the code and conduct’s suggested demeanours and crippled by my insurance’s terms and conditions.

My passion to help is joined by my passion to teach. So what better approach could I choose than simply be myself and lead by example. If someone would like to understand more about what I do they can ask. And I will be more than happy to fill them in.

I draw inspiration from my own experiences and thoughts as well as what I observe in the world around me. I don’t mean to offend anyone with my thoughts, they are merely expressions of my Inner Self, hence the term “The Sacred Centre”, in case you were wondering.

I refer to the Sacred Centre as the Inner Self that lies within you, in the centre of your chest. Seeing the world with your heart, not with your head will put a smile on your face. It brings you one step closer to the rest of the world, one step closer to yourself.

Writing brings clarity into my mind. With each story I share it feels like I am getting closer to finding inner peace.

To a new future filled with fun 😀

Love
Anna

Destiny

I try to be still, breathing in and out, calming my thoughts, but internally I writhe and twist under my mental turmoil.

Nothing major happened, just an accumulation of occurrences that whirl around in my head, unable to find a niche to settle in.

Let’s try and create one. Where do I even begin?

It’s actually all down to other’s opinions and behaviours. Just why does it affect me that much? Is it because it stirs something in me? Connects to memories and experiences that unsettle me?

Like, being unable to deal effectively with confrontation and disagreements. It’s scares the hell out of me. It makes me feel very insecure. It makes me want to run away. And in running away I am very good. I swallow my anger, my frustration out of fear that letting it out will create unrest around me and rather silently disappear a few years down the line, when the build up has gotten too much.

Coupled with the anxiety I still feel when seeing people on the street that resemble an individual that caused me a lot of emotional trauma, I came home mentally exhausted and collapsed on the bed.

Now I was left facing the last issue which is infesting my mind. Irritatingly it goes back to my father issues once again. How many times?

There is a young dad who has decided he can’t be a dad yet. And whereas I know him I am nowhere near enough to him as to know the exact details. But every single fibre in my body wants to tell him to please consider what effect this can have on his child in the future. Purely based on my own father issues, or rather his non-existence.

Just who am I to tell him that, considering everyone else is already miffed with him after having made his decision. I wonder what made him decide he didn’t want a family. At the same time I know that it is completely different to the decision my father made 30 years ago.

It’s interesting to note that there is a young man, pretty much the same age as my father was when I was born, and I am watching the whole scenario from the position of a person sharing the same age and yet with the emotions of a child that wasn’t wanted by it’s father.

If I had the chance to talk to him what would I say? If I have had the chance to talk to my father at the time he decided against me, what would I have said to him?

Would I say he is making a mistake? Surely it is his decision, he can’t be forced into something he doesn’t want to do. Maybe it’s even better to not be there at all than being a crap dad because he can’t be bothered.

Would it help either of them to have the perspective of a 30 year old future child with all its faults and perfections, all its dreams and anxieties, all its hopes and fears?

Would it change anything? Would it make them reconsider? And least of all, what would it change for me?

Does tempering with other’s destiny solve anything in the long term? Or is it destiny that someone came and tempered with it?

Either way, I will have to think about it a little more, but for now at least it helped me put these thoughts into a comfy niche and put my mind at rest for the night.

Love
Anna

A State of Mind

After two busy twelve hour shifts I awake tired and achy, unwilling to move or do anything for that matter.

I force myself out of bed at 10am only to get back into it less than three hours later. There I lie, reading a few pages in my book, before I loose the rest of my concentration and focus for the world and roll over in an attempt to sleep a little more.

Just sleep doesn’t want to come. I waft in and out of a dozing half-sleep state, a few thoughts making their way through the processing centre of my brain.

I actually enjoy this state of interbeing, being one with everything without actually doing anything. In fact, I was way too tired to sit upright and meditate and even my yoga practice was abandoned prematurely due to a slight sensation of light-headedness and lack of limb control.

As I lie there, one of the patients I was looking after over the past two days came into my mind. He has tetraplegia, paralyzed from the neck down, with just a little uncoordinated movement in his arms.

Once again I try to put myself into the position of such an individual, which is impossible, and unfortunately I don’t see it as acceptable to ask such an individual how they feel about it, especially not from my position as the care-giver.

However, the question has been with me for years and since I can’t find an answer it comes up again and again: how is it to be unable to move?

Even if I was to ask an individual and would be invited to gain an insight into his/her thoughts and emotions, it would only represent this one particular individual, not all those who are paralysed. Books  like “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” or stories like Tony Nicklinson’s case help to gain an insight, though both of them were unable to communicate verbally.

What I always find remarkable is the contentment I encounter in individuals who are paralyzed but still able to talk. Rarely have I come across someone who represents a difficult individual with a negative mindset. The majority are witty people with a wicked sense of humour.

Is it vital for us humans to communicate in order for life to make sense?

In cases of those who are paralyzed and able to talk, apart form the fact that they can’t mobilise, they seem to enjoy a mentally engaging life. Some learn languages, others travel abroad, and a lot of those I had the pleasure of meeting talk about their state of the art TV set that they can control with the blink of their eye which offers them much more than just TV and internet. As the story goes, some care homes even arrange escorts on their resident’s wishes. (watch “The Sessions“)

Dare to smile?

Another burning question: are they really happy?

As I blissfully enjoy my lazy state of interbeing, my legs all heavy and my back achy, I wonder if this is what it feels like for a paralyzed individual. Are they happy that they don’t really have a care in the world beside requiring others to look after them and enduring the processes of manual evacuation and washes under the constant eyes of others? Dare I wonder if they enjoy not having to move, having to go shopping, having to cook? Or is this too patronising and violates their dignity and respect?

Their sheer joy for life seems to stand out. It must give them something, otherwise they would have given up by now, like Tony Nicklinson, for example. I have seen the process of simply giving up so many times, that I can say that if someone loses the will to live, they usually begin to loose their appetite first, followed by a physical deterioration resulting in poor health and unless they can bring the spark back into their lives, they will simply cease to exist.

This does apply a lot more to the older generation, who have lost partners, most friends, don’t have many family members, have a physical ailment and are tired of being ill and don’t want to be a nuisance to others. It is quite sad to watch, but I can also emphasize and understand their point.

In paralyzed individuals who are able to communicate effectively, I observe a gist for life and a very healthy appetite. I would assume that it means that these particular individuals have accepted their condition to be part of their life and make the most of it.

I suppose all the above questions and contemplations refer back to myself and my very last question: would I want to live like that?

Considering I am a very intellectually active person, loving to teach and spread my acquired knowledge, and also bringing in my awareness of a much subtler world around us that can be engaged with by thought, I think I would be happy to still have the chance to be able to share my knowledge, even if my physical body wasn’t any longer following my mental commands.

In the case that I was unable to express my thoughts properly, I think I would rather like to go back to the state where I came from before I was born, in which the physical world doesn’t play a part, wherever that may be.

I have developed a huge respect for these paralyzed individuals followed by an ever increasing compassion towards them. And at the end of the day I have to say that I see this as the purpose of living, to learn about ourselves as much as we learn about others. And when we are able to understand others, we will also be able to understand more about ourselves.

And vice versa 🙂

Love
Anna

Natural Selection

I notoriously try to avoid the news. I just can’t bear to listen to all the negativity, deaths, assaults, wars, economic disasters and poverty and starvation in poor countries.

It makes me very very  sad, touches a seed inside of me that I do not wish to water. Why is it that bad news sell better than good news?

Is it naïve or selfish to prefer to live in my little bubble of happiness, trying to keep my little candle alight amidst all the disasters of the world happening around me?

I do like to help others keep their candle alight, teach them a way to practice life more peacefully and at ease with themselves. But ultimately it is their own responsibility to look after their candle light and to ensure it isn’t blown out by the threatening wind created by bad news and other’s opinions.

There are people who predict the end of the world quite frequently and others who say the financial system is going to go bust and that America is going to go down just like Atlantis did.

They don’t mean to upset anyone, they actually try to make us aware of what is about to come so that we are prepared for when it happens.

Just when is this extra knowledge worth the worries? Wouldn’t it be much better that we aim for a peaceful way of living and dying instead of spending our life preparing for a possibly disastrous end?

And why is it that we need to survive by all means? If I think that a massive wave of water is going to hit our coast and make its way inland over the flood planes, is my house going to survive? How about I ensure my car has inflatables build in underneath so that it can float for a little while or even build a helicopter type construction under the roof so that it can lift me up to the next higher hill?

You see, that’s the effect bad news has on me. They send me a little barmy. My innate sense for survival kicking in and looking for solutions to survive straight away.

What are we in the face of evolution?

Now, I do believe in the power of thought and law of attraction, as it has worked repeatedly in my favour, and also, I hasten to say, against me. What you put out you are likely to get. So what about these conspiracy theories? Wouldn’t it be basic law of attraction at work, should we all worry about the end of the world, that it will indeed happen?

Shouldn’t we instead focus on simple life changes to bring about a healthy planet and inhabitants?

There is a reason I don’t listen to the news or engage in political polls or discussions. Call me ignorant, but I simply don’t see how it is going to change anything if we all trust into someone to make changes for us instead of beginning with the change within ourselves.

If you want a better world, begin to create one instead of waiting for someone to create it for you!

Natural disasters have been part of shaping the universe long before the existence of humans and it will likely carry on happening. I suppose we have to accept that and consider looking at it from a slightly different angle, seeing it more as natural selection than a catastrophe, despite the obviously sad impact on family and friends that may have lost against nature, which is sad, I don’t deny that.

But I also think that, if we ourselves weren’t so ignorant to believe that we could live forever, and face the fact that we will all die one day, that maybe this acceptance of our ultimate vulnerability would lead us to value our short existence on this planet in the face of human and planetary evolution and make the best of it.

So build yourself a bubble to protect your own light, lead by example and create a better world now!

Love
Anna

A New Perspective

“Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are”.
Berthold Brecht

When I started this blog I was hoping to fill it with interesting topics on alternative health and complementary therapies and to bring the idea of the Inner Self closer to others. I also thought it would enhance my own complementary business that I had just set up.

A full year and a half later I can say that it neither gave me more clients, nor that I have written many blogs on alternative health options. But the mere act of writing had a transforming effect on me. It greatly helped to understand myself, where I came from, who I am, who I want to be and what is shaping me on the way and mostly to make peace with myself.

And I realised that it isn’t important for me to master the unseen energies surrounding us, neither is it important to convince others of their existence.  I came to understand that it is actually much more important for me to live my life as a leading example.

Remaining calm when disagreements occur, smile when others get angry, breathe and listen when someone cuts into my sentence, prepare and eat simple nutritious foods to keep me going, meditate to maintain my inner peace, practice yoga to keep flexible as age gets on.

Even more so did I see how much the extra knowledge I have acquired over the last two decades influences the way I carry out my main job. And even though I can’t apply any of my complementary skills in my main job, the background knowledge still filters through in the way I think, converse with others, handle situations and express myself. It enables me to see others from a different angle and somewhat see more to them than they themselves would.

Setting up your own business is a tiring process that requires a lot of determination and dedication. Especially through the initial starting phase where it looks like its just not going to happen. It depends on whether this job will be your main income or whether you will have another job in the background that will keep you above water while your new business is growing.

In my case I was never going to give up my main job, more likely reducing the hours should I get busy with my own business. It might be that this is a reason why I don’t have very many private clients. I might simply not have put enough effort in because it wasn’t like my life depended on it. I also have been continuously in education since I sat up my own business. I simply didn’t have enough time to direct my whole attention onto it, despite my passion to make it happen.

Now I have been very lucky to get promoted at work which means I will go to university for the next two years and will have to put my little business on hold. And it doesn’t bother me a bit. Something inside of me already knows that I will be much better off once I finish this course. I will be stronger, more knowledgeable, ready to take on the whole world.

It’s just strange that, now that I am in full anticipation to start the new course, people suddenly get interested in my complementary treatments. Or is it because of the new course? Does it make me more appealing or trustworthy in a professional sense? Or am I being tested once again from higher sources to see what I really want to do?

The promotion came after having held a strong vision of mine for a good two years. Call it cosmic ordering, or law of attraction, I got what I wanted without much effort. And although I initially feel like I am cheating myself, converting from complementary therapies to a more clinical practice, I know that it is all part of the parcel, part of being more accepted by the world as a whole.

Regardless of what your vision is, and regardless of whether it changes from time to time, as long as you have a vision, you know where you are going.

Interestingly, now that I move on to another topic, away from healing energies, I find myself get embarrassed when asked about it. It almost feels like I have grown out of it. Don’t get me wrong, I am still fully aware that these energies are there, but I have learned to acknowledge them and work with them in such a subtle way, that I don’t need to address them openly anymore.

Over the past few years, when I began to attend courses in Energy Healing, that was the only thing I was interested in, and was equally keen on getting others interested too. But I only know now that it doesn’t work that way. Only because you are interested by something doesn’t mean that others will be interested. Even if you see that they would benefit from the extra knowledge.

You can’t force others to heal, even if you have their best interest at heart and only want to help. They need to find their own way, and if it is supposed to be, their paths will cross with yours.

That’s just the way things are 🙂

Love
Anna

Life is a Roundabout

If you have encountered one of the “magic roundabouts” you know just how confusing it can be. But having made it through alive and without damage to you or others, you also realise that things will be okay as long as you go with the flow.

Just what does it mean??

The other day I was waiting by a roundabout for a friend and since there was nothing else to do, my mind wandered and naturally focused on the most engaging option, the traffic going round the roundabout.

After a few unconscious minutes of staring at the cars whooshing by, my awareness was alerted by the realisation that this roundabout was a spitting image of the concept of life and the cosmos.

Not only did the central island represent the sun and the cars somewhat the planets circling around it, but also did the whole appearing and disappearing of cars resemble the coming and going of life, death, rebirth and also the theory of cause and effect – what comes around, goes around.

This idea was born when I recognized some drivers and seeing how different everyone behaved and interacted with each other. Some steered confident and self-assured through the roundabout only to be beeped at by someone who thought that it wasn’t going fast enough which in turn upset the anxious driver in the lane next to them who worried they made a mistake.

Regardless of individual’s driving styles and experiences, everyone left the circle of life at some point and took with it a different view based on their own experience. The only thing that remains the same, a constant observer, is the centre island, affected only by the seasons.

Representing a similar entity to what some would call a “God”, the centre island would also be our haven, a peaceful sanctuary, a point from where to see all and everything, an oracle that could tell you what happened and why. Although it was actually designed to block off the view for the opposing oncoming traffic so that they would focus on the traffic coming from one side only.

An even higher authority designed the layouts and decided that this was a good way to make traffic run smoothly. Of course not everyone obeys the rules. Most people don’t stay in their lane and cut through the middle, especially if there is no centre island. Recently I was doing my best staying in my lane when going straight over the roundabout, only to be cut off by someone entering the roundabout right in front of me. He probably thought I was about to leave the roundabout at the first exit because I was in the outside lane instead of cutting through the middle, like most probably do.

Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand

When I was about to visit New Zealand I was shown a picture of a roundabout layout by a friend which at first glance looked very terrifying, considering I was a German national and about to drive on the “wrong” side of the road. So before I went to pick up the car I had hired downtown Auckland, I walked the first few blocks that I was about to drive on, just to make sure I wouldn’t crash right away.

But soon I swerved gently through the traffic and actually had more trouble back on the roads in Germany adjusting to driving on the “normal” side of the  road, as I had been taught. Now that I have been living in the UK for over 7 years, I avoid driving in Germany because I find it too confusing and intimidating, despite it being the roads that I initially learned to drive on.

Roundabouts are a beautifully choreographed version of life and watching the traffic circle is almost like meditating. And although cars may or may not be the best example to compare life to, especially since they stink to heaven, excuse my choice of words, the epiphany that derives directly from simply watching is grandiose.

An interesting comparison from my point of view is that in Nepal I found that, stepping out to cross over a road, I myself became a centre island around which the traffic swerved frighteningly. But that is just the way it goes there. There are mini buses, taxis, motorcycles, bicycles, rickshaws, dogs, cows and people of all ages, genders and professions on the road, swerving and veering around each other in a beautiful harmonious chaos. The idea is to just go and everything will just swirl around you. Just don’t stop. A wonderfully exhilarating experience.

Roundabout in Kathmandu, Nepal

Roundabout in Kathmandu, Nepal

So we all have our own parcel to carry, or drive around. And what we do with life is up to us and us alone. If you ever wonder why life is the way it is, sit yourself next to a roundabout and watch. The answer will come to you 😉

Love
Anna

Ode to an Unknown

During my stay at Plum Village I learned about the writing of “love letters”, listing all the good things about someone that you have fallen out with or stopped communicating on bad terms. This came in connection with a talk about our parents, but can be applied to anyone. Our awareness was particularly drawn onto picturing our parents as 5 year olds, in order to maybe gain some insight into their behaviour.

Having had done some thinking in recent years about my feelings in relation to my non-existing father, I wondered what difference it would make to write to him again, since he simply ignores all my letters. But the nun at Plum Village strongly encouraged us to do this, citing numerous occasions where people had found together again by this simple act of kindness.

At first I didn’t know where to start, I didn’t even know my father properly, how could I possibly know anything good about him? For a brief moment the feelings of resentment came up again, the anger at him for not seeing me and how he simply sticks to his decision to not wanting to be involved in my life.

Then suddenly I realised that this was indeed a sign of extraordinary willpower and strength, which in fact I found quite admirable and which I can see in myself. I wondered how much more I could find out about him by considering my own character traits.

A monk at Plum Village suggested that if we can’t understand our parents, we might be able to find out what is going on inside of them by watching our own thoughts and habits, because it is the same genes at work. So I began to write yet another letter to my father. This time a different one.

I admire your willpower, that you make a decision and stick with it. It shows strength and endurance, what evidently helps us  to get along in life.

I see this this willpower in myself. It is very helpful when I try to get somewhere, but it can also lead to stubbornness. There are many things I didn’t get or experience because I was too stubborn to see that my thoughts or decisions weren’t right. I am often too proud to admit that I have made a mistake. But at the same time I am also very courageous and often embark on new adventures.

For a long time did I have a certain sense of sadness within me, a feeling of abandonment, which made it impossible for me to fully acknowledge myself. Then I realised that my thoughts and feelings are way too dependent on other people, instead of simply being happy with myself just the way I am.

If someone smiles at us we take it as a sign that we are being acknowledged and liked. If someone shouts at us, we think we did something wrong. If someone is being totally ignored, does that mean that one is invisible? How does one feel when one is invisible?

With this also came the realisation that my urge to run away, hide, to not commit to long-term commitments, must have been the same that you felt when you ran away from me. You still hide, just like me. I even moved to another country.

When I was in first grade, every Monday morning, we were allowed to talk a little about our weekend at the beginning of class. On just such a Monday morning I had seen some bunnies crossing my path to school, which excited me as a six year old very much. This excitement I was eager to share with my fellow class mates and particularly with my teacher.

But regardless of how often I raised my small arm, she didn’t seem to notice me and didn’t give me the chance to communicate. Out of this deep disappointment did I make the decision, that if I raise my hand and am not picked, then I simply won’t raise my hand again ever.

And over the following weeks I used my strong willpower and consequently suppressed the need to raise my hand in class, even if I actually would have wanted to. I conditioned myself to a behavioural pattern, which affected the rest of my future education and social group activities and negatively influenced my oral participation in class as well as my abilities to communicate in larger groups.

All I wanted was to be seen. I am working on correcting this decision of mine, which isn’t at all easy, just as it probably isn’t easy for you to see and acknowledge me.

Life consists of an array of decisions which ultimately form the cobbles on our path. Our decisions shouldn’t create problems, just like our path shouldn’t have any tripping hazards. Trip, however, we can anytime, even over our own two feet. Sometimes there is someone to help us up, other times we are left to our own devices.

Sometimes, our path leads us in circles, sometimes it takes a sharp turn. Sometimes it goes arduously uphill, sometimes way too quickly downhill. With every step, with every decision, we are changing, learning more about ourselves and those around us. Sometimes we share our path with others.

One day we will wake up and realise that our whole life hasn’t been lived to the full, for we were by far too much concerned with not stumbling along our path, instead of simply taking it just the way it is.

Despite the negative effects, I am grateful that I carry your willpower in me, for it gives me the drive to create a better world.

But above all am I grateful that I have the possibility to make all these fantastic experiences and live an interesting and complex life, which wouldn’t be possible without you.

To this day I have not had a reply, but I am not expecting one. I have learned that the mere act of writing, of focusing one’s thoughts, can act as a way of coming to terms with issues and make peace with it.

Just like I was strongly encouraged to write a “love letter”, so I would like to encourage you to do the same. If you don’t feel like sending it off, then don’t do it. But I dare you, that the question whether it could possibly change anything will not let you rest until you send it off 🙂

And the person you are writing to doesn’t even have to be among the living anymore. And you might as well write a love letter to yourself as well. We all deserve to be loved!

Love
Anna

The Buddha Within the Sacred Centre

Now this is interesting.

A year and a half ago I decided it was time to create a business around my idea to help people. This was mainly driven by the thought that I ought to declare any extra income so I don’t get into trouble one day and have to pay a silly amount of money to the tax man.

At that time I didn’t have a regular income outside my main job but was naively believing that I would one day. I still don’t take much more in on the side but beside the reassurance that I am abiding the law (however irritating and confusing the self-assessment tax returns are), it actually helped me to pin point what I really wanted this little extra business to be.

My main drive was to help and I wanted to do this by sharing my own practice together with knowledge acquired along the way. While searching for the all important internet domain, I settled for “The Sacred Centre“. The decision was certainly mainly fueled by my omnipresent gut feeling and possibly because it sound good. But mostly it resonated with a sensation inside of me, in the centre of my chest, that I had come to see as a space where my Inner Self resides peacefully.

Fast forward a year and a half, after having lead many workshops on raising other’s awareness of this “Sacred Centre” within, I found something even deeper at Plum Village, a Buddhist Retreat in France.

Statue at Lower Hamlet, Plum Village

In that same space that I had stumbled across a few years ago, I found what a Buddhist nun referred to as the “Buddha within”, a sense of pure happiness and joy, so beautiful, I have no words to describe it.

Discovering my Sacred Centre was like standing in a doorway, fully aware of the room inside, yet the most vital feature within that room was still out of reach, hidden by the mists of the past. It was no doubt a vital discovery, but having been able to completely wind down and relax for a week at Plum Village enabled me to shift that mist and see the Buddha within clearly, understanding what it means to “really arrive, to be truly at home“.

And upon my return home, after nearly two years living in a flat that I didn’t like, surrounded by loud traffic and screaming people, I was able to be happy where I was, in the present moment, with the Buddha within me. Only three weeks later arrived the long awaited offer to buy the flat, giving us the opportunity to move on to live in a much calmer environment of our choice.

I have often made the discovery that if someone, me included, wasn’t happy with their place of living, they would also encounter difficulties in selling or renting a new place. However, as soon as they made the decision to stop looking and redecorate, thinking if they have to stay they might as well make themselves comfortable, the offers came in and they moved out of a beautifully redecorated house into another!

I did a lot of cobweb dusting during working meditation at Plum Village and it truly applied to those around myself as much as those inside of me. Clear your inner cobwebs, redecorate and smile and breathe deeply from time to time! In truth it doesn’t matter where you are, as long as you are happy with yourself. If you aren’t happy with yourself, your surroundings will let you know 😉

Love
Anna

Fullness of Mind vs Mindfulness

What on earth possessed me to spend a week at a Buddhist monastery somewhere in France?

Do you really want to know?

It was a simple smile from an Asian woman on a page in a magazine, that touched my heart and stirred something inside of me, that was serenely humble and yet still a little fragile at that point. In fact, her smile had such an impact on me, that I not only had to include her on my vision board collage that I was creating at that time  (read about it here), but also looked her up and upon realising that she had created Plum Village, a Buddhist retreat, together with Thich Nhat Hanh, a well known peace activist and author of a hundred books, I booked myself in straight away.

Looking at this collage again now, two months later, after having experienced the wonders of Plum Village, I see that basically all the word snippets around the smiling Chân Không describe what I found during my stay at Plum Village! To start with, the moon was exactly like pictured, slowly increasing. There was a lotus lake and though there were no lotus blossoms yet, I found a card with the photo of a lotus flower that spoke to me with the saying “No mud, no lotus.”, which has a profound meaning to me.

During that week, my mind became indeed “luminous and empty”, I meditated on a mat pretty exactly like the one on the collage, even the same colour, believe it or not! Intentional change, path of peace, life’s journey… very vague, but apt. Plenty of Buddha statues, and roses and feelings and love.

“A life free of fear, pain, insecurity and doubt is not only possible, it’s our birth right.” This peacefulness I found at Plum Village. It was my “season of awakening”.

I would like to share my path to mindfulness with my mind ever so full of stuff that didn’t serve it anymore. Read on if you would like to join me on this liberating journey to peace of mind!

Love
Anna

Defining Self

As I was running errands in town today and stopped at a pedestrian crossing, a tourist bus passed me by and I noticed a young boy’s head eagerly taking in anything he could catch of the world that was passing by on the other side of the window.

For a brief second I saw the world through his eyes, filled with excitement and wonder at the buildings, streets, sea gulls and people that were new to him. More in particular I saw myself, standing slightly annoyed with a hue of impatience at the traffic light figuring out how to best tackle the oncoming front of mothers armed with fully loaded prams.

This I suppose is what one would call self-awareness, which I often see lacking in other people. Whereas I tend to have too much of it, which can be frustrating if you have perfectionist tendencies and are forever trying to reinvent yourself on the way to becoming a better person, the urge of which is driven by minor setbacks evolving from interactions with others.

Deepak Chopra says in his latest book “Super Brain”: “Self-awareness changes perception. The subtle regions of awareness are where the real power lies. The more aware we are, the more power we have over reality.”

I believe it is this awareness that makes it possible for me to help others as much as myself to heal, or at least to straighten myself up a little and put on a smile every now and again. Although I still have the notion of doubting myself, which, coupled with my perfectionist thinking and the disbelief of others, is destructive to the power of healing and, as Deepak says, reality.

I get profound messages popping up in my mind at times, usually when I least expect it, when I am just about to fall asleep or have a vacant moment while daydreaming. Listen to this one: “There will be a time when the need to prove and explain oneself and their gifts will simply fall away, become unnecessary. Then we can be fully integrated beings, functioning at our highest level.”

It is true that we really shouldn’t have to explain our existence. However, if you feel that the purpose of your existence is to heal the world, or even to prepare the world to heal, this can be pretty challenging, especially if it isn’t always very clear how this is supposed to be done. The little messages I get every now and again may be reassuring and open my awareness a little bit more to the profound possibilities the universe has on offer, but to then go and explain that to others who don’t have the concept or understanding of this can be ever such a tough journey.

Ego aside, I am not the one who actually does the healing. I see myself more as a road sign that can give you an idea where you are going compared to ridding you of all your problems there and then. Life is a journey – and I am just a sign on the way. There is no need to name my skills or gifts. They just are who I am. I aim to help opening the gates to a higher awareness, not carry you there single handed. This is a developmental process. The first step towards a new aspect of the self, which works differently for different people.

Looking at my main job in clinical healthcare it increasingly dawns on me that my extrasensory abilities and awareness are needed there especially more than in any holistic or alternative environment. Although I am not permitted to practice my complementary skills at my work place, it is my deeper insight, understanding, awareness and additional knowledge that enables me to treat a patient in all aspects and see them as more than just a person with an illness.

Gandhi said: “The patient is the most important person in the hospital. He is not an interruption to our work, he is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our hospital, he is part of it. We are not serving a favour by serving him, he is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.”

Sometimes I can see into people’s soul and work with them on that soul-to-soul level. I look inside them, not at them. This brings about a great amount of compassion and requires the ability to truly listen – with heart and head.

My task is not to fix or heal you, but to help you heal yourself.

Love
Anna

The Look in His Eyes

I have spent the last few days caring for a man with Multiple Sclerosis. He is unable to talk properly and move any part of his body other than a few facial muscles. At first it was difficult to find out what he tried to communicate to me but with every day it got a little bit better. If I wasn’t sure what he meant I asked him to blink once for a yes and twice for a no. It was quite funny at times when I asked him to blink only once to confirm if I got it right and he just stared back at me blankly, yet with a light grin on his face trying not to move or accidentally blink which clearly meant that I had gotten it wrong again.

We have quite a few patients coming in from the same home that he is living at. They are all paralysed in one way or another to a more or lesser extent. Some had sudden accidents that had damaged their spine and others succumbed to an illness like MS, that creeps up on you slowly.  Most of those patients are hard work, physically, because they are unable to move properly and need a lot of care. This only from the outside. From the inside, however, they are absolutely wonderful people with really interesting personalities and quite a wicked sense of humour. Only rarely did I find that someone from this care home was grumpy and unhappy. They all seem to thoroughly enjoy a happy life. I wonder, what gives them the drive to carry on living?

Last year we had Tony Nicklinson in the news, a man who was also unable to move his body, fighting for the right to die but wasn’t granted his wish. I wrote a blog on the topic of death and dying back then already. Interestingly, the man I have been looking after over the past few days didn’t want to die at all! He appeared tremendously content with himself. Sadly he is currently quite unwell and needed intense hospital care with his chances of recovery being slim. But he insisted for quite a long time to remain for resuscitation. Again the question in my head: What gives him the urge to carry on living? And how did it all start?

I asked a friend of his who came to visit him regularly if she could tell me a little bit more about him. She said that she had known him for the past 10 years and told me that he used to lead a very active life as a Civil Servant until the onset of MS when his wife left him because she didn’t feel like she could care for him and has only two other relatives that visit him occasionally. His illness started with numbness in his little finger about 20 years ago. The past 16 years he had spent paralysed at the special care home. He has a huge telly that he can operate with eye movement where he gets his entertainment and information from. His friend also mentioned that he has a very strong will and has areas of interest that he follows.

When I met him first I was taken back by his intense eyes, full of information, full of expression full of unspoken words. These eyes are on you whenever you look at him. This morning they were vague and turned upwards to the ceiling and my heart sank at the thought that his condition had gotten worse. But during the course of the day he perked up a little and was even able to throw a few surprise sentences into the room. For example, when I offered to switch the radio on for him and went to get some headphones he hissed “No I don’t want those” quite clearly. Not so clear was the information that he didn’t take milk in his tea, which, for English standards, is rather unusual hence it took me a little bit longer to work it out. There are so many things that I would like to ask him.

It must be so hard to not be able to bring your point across properly. But I guess that at his home he is happy because people there know him and he has everything he needs. It hit me surprisingly hard when I was told earlier that he would be moved to another ward because we needed his bed space for an emergency admission. After all the effort to try and get to know him, to begin to communicate, find out what he likes and especially for him to get comfortable in an unfamiliar hospital environment, he was now to be moved to another department only to start all over again. And I don’t want to make it sound like the staff there won’t look well after him, but I did worry that it would worsen his condition and that he would give up on himself. I escorted him to the other department and left with a big lump in my throat after a much too short goodbye.

What does it mean anyway? Who is he to me – who am I to him?

These emotions topped a recent encounter of the daughter of a former relative who recognized me outside work and said that I had looked so well after her father and that he used to call me his angel. Her little daughter chirped in straight away: “He used to say that to all of the nurses.” Of course he would, he was a lovely gentleman. Gentle in any way. Though there must be something about her saying this to me, because at times he would decline help by other members of staff insisting to wait until I was available because I “had a certain way of doing things”, as he would put it. He passed away a week ago. But he was also happy.

So what more do words express compared to the look in someone’s eyes? If we had only a certain amount of words available, what would we spend them on?

Love
Anna

A Matter of Perception

“And what colour is it?” did I overhear a mother ask her young daughter who was merrily trying to keep up with her mum’s long strides while attentively looking at her new toy. “It’s green”, announced the little girl proudly, to which the mother explained candidly that it was actually red, not green.

It makes me wonder how much of a red her red was to her daughter’s red. Who determines that what I see as blue is in fact the same blue as yours? Is it pure childhood conditioning? What about those who are diagnosed as being colour blind?

There is no way to know if we see the same colours or in fact feel the same about something! Watch this interesting YouTube clip!

So it must have to do with conditioning, our parent’s and peers telling us what they see and us adapting to their names and descriptions for what we see, just as much as they have done when they were younger. And it is so easy to take on what other people say, especially if they are older or simply more dominant.

I do remember the day a class mate said that Santa Claus didn’t exist, which completely threw me. Of course I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t knew this already, but inside of me something special broke. Just like my favourite birthday party game of “pot hitting”, where you crawl around the floor blindfolded, equipped only with a wooden spoon looking for a pot underneath which some goodies have been hidden. If you find the pot by hitting it with your spoon, the goodies are yours. One year someone decided that we were too old to play that game, and another part of me broke. Not only was I deeply saddened because I felt that I could never ever again play this game, but also did I feel like a fool for believing in something that others clearly didn’t approve of. And finally to the time when I was jumping around in my underpants in our town’s fountain one hot summer day, only to be reminded by my slightly embarrassed friend that I really shouldn’t do this anymore.

All these happened around age 8 or 10 and marked significant changes to the end of childhood and the beginning of adolescence. And if it isn’t you that realises that you possibly ought to start growing up, then it will be your peers or parents who put an abrupt halt on a joyful time. What a sad end to the infinite childhood experience! Though I wouldn’t recommend you should still be jumping around in the public wearing only your underwear at 30 plus 🙂

I believe that the same goes with out sixth sense. We all have it, right from birth and beyond. However, unless someone tells you that you have it or helps you develop it, chances are that it will just be forgotten, like Santa Clause, a myth that was never real. Even more saddening is the fact that you are quite likely seen as a weirdo should you dare expressing your extrasensory perceptions. Or at least will have to work hard against an army of mainstream lay people who don’t know it any better. Though it might actually be worse if someone knows it better, because then the same conditioning as above applies, which can actually suppress your individual talents if they are not recognized by the know-it-all whose talents might be completely different from yours.

Unfortunately there is a fine line between paranoia and premonitions. Someone once suggested that the majority of psychiatric patients would probably be pretty good mediums. While one can’t generalise this, I know from my own experiences that a heightened awareness and perception of subtler worlds beyond the material can be a scary place as much as it can be truly magnificent. Sometimes you can’t be sure if you are going nuts, having an out-of-body experience or are indeed surrounded by outer worldly beings. The astral plane can be very deceptive and what you pick up from it is subject to a lot of things, which might never make it into reality. Then there is the increasing understanding that you can have and be whatever you want. You create your future, it is jus not always how you had planned it to be. I briefly touched on the topic in my last blog.

There I express that sometimes I can’t get my head around whether it really was my thoughts that created the outcome, or whether these thoughts were premonitions of an event that was inevitably going to happen. How much can I influence and accordingly change the outcome of such events? This can truly drive you insane if you don’t keep it under control.

Especially when working in this field one can get pretty strange requests. A recent phone consultation revealed a healer desperate for help with energies that had become too much, giving her a funny pressure on her head that she already felt upon entering her house. There was a blockage somewhere and she felt she couldn’t progress to what she had attuned everything around her. Unfortunate for her, she believed that I wasn’t competent enough to help her unblock her dilemma. She wanted something specific that I believe she was unlikely to get unless she opened up and allowed to receive whatever it was she would need. I was trained to allow healing to take place and not to force it to where you want it. This example showed me that if you get in too deep, you might not be able to get out again.

Personally I am ever so conscious to stay in contact with the earth, to remain grounded and to not just disappear somewhere in space like an astronaut that has drifted away from his space station. It dawned on me that it isn’t just about becoming a master of the subtle realms and to sell spirituality as if it was the latest kitchen equipment, especially not like all the psychic stuff on telly, but to rather simply just live it, incorporate it into my daily activities. Stick to your day job, that is if you are happy with it, and carry it out with all your heart. Become aware of a bigger picture. Let your heightened awareness and understanding of your origin, from source or a mere atom floating in space, be part of your life – not the total sum of your life. I don’t believe in defining myself as a spiritual or psychic or any of the like. I simply like to help others to incorporate this awareness into their life, to become more settled in whatever they choose to do with their life. There surely is a reason why we are who we are right here and now, human beings with a purpose. Well, I suppose, having said that, maybe I should give psychics that have taken to the media more credit.

There are just too many words to describe experiences that actually can’t be described with words. How often do I find myself writing, rewriting and deleting words, phrases and whole paragraphs in search of relaying what I actually mean. And what is it that I mean? Is the reason why I feel that I am contradicting myself in my writing and verbal expressions that I am not sure what to believe in? Or am I trying too hard to accommodate other’s ideas and believes because I don’t want to upset or criticise them, or, even wore, don’t want to be criticised myself? I’ve written before about “The ideal truth of a dreamer“. How can I best describe that I feel a deep connection to something that I like to call source to avoid giving it neither shape nor gender, and at the same time just as deeply consider my own DNA and atoms that have reproduced and evolved over million of years?

Our ideas and perceptions could be regarded as a “catch 22”. Nobody will know for sure why we are here and what happens before or after our life, just like nobody can prove that your or my experiences are real or imagined. In the end it boils down to how you deal with this. Whether you let your ideals direct your life or let other people lead you. Regardless of other’s belief in you or whether you believe in others. If you can see or were born blind, if you can see all colours of the spectrum or if you can see more than others but don’t know it yet. Does it matter? You decide what you let get in your way of living your life happily and to the full!

“You have achieved enlightenment when you realise that there is no enlightenment and at the same time that you have been enlightened all along.”

Love
Anna

The Magic of making the Sun shine

Off and away for a few days and of course I wanted the sun to shine. It did, however, only peek out occasionally from behind big bubbly clouds, so I thought lets make it shine. Heard of “cloud busting” before? Watch “Men who stare at goats“! 🙂

Rather than staring at clouds hoping they bust and let more sun in, I visualised on the sun shining already, which to me makes sense since you attract what you put out. Want more of something? Assume that you have it already.

Soon after it got a little brighter and finally the sun was casting its warm rays across our roofs. It didn’t last very long thought and in the end I got tired of trying to keep it out from behind the clouds and let the weather do what it thought was best. A thought came up: “What if others are desperately trying to create rain at the same time? Would this be the cause of a hurricane? Is the reason why  we never get the weather we want because everyone is trying to get theirs?”

In the end we didn’t have any sun at all for the whole next day and instead a complete grey cloud cover looming above us. I did feel a little guilty for possibly messing up the weather by messing with it in the first place. But then, did I actually ever change anything that wasn’t going to happen anyway?

My brother happened to be in Bali when it was my 30th birthday, and if you care to read my blog in preparation to my birthday as well as a previous blog about the Naga Buddha, you will understand why I asked him to try and find me such Buddha while he was in Bali. In short, the Naga Buddha is a Buddha figure that is sheltered by a king cobra and happens to be the Buddha allocated to Saturday, the day I was born. I also recently learned that this year is governed by the snake, which together with my year 11 is just incredibly fascinating stuff. I told you, read the above mentioned blogs!

Anyhow, the only reference by brother had was my blog about the Naga Buddha which had a photo of one in it. I assumed that since the tradition of allocating some of Buddha’s events to days of the week is practiced in Thai Buddhism, that it would be found in Bali too. Please forgive me if this sounds like plain ignorance on my part not fully understanding the cultural difference. So my poor little brother was looking high and low for this mysterious Buddha and did not find it. Just those where the snakes resemble the Nazgûl’s winged fell beasts, which I had explicitly asked not to get me. In the end he actually showed a local crafts man the picture who made one especially for me.

Naga Buddha

This reminds me of a story I read once about someone creating a vision board about the perfect house they would like to live in one day, only to realise years later when digging up the old vision board, that they were actually living in exactly the same house as on the photo on the vision board without being aware of it. I now held a Buddha in my hands that came close to what I wanted based on a photo I had looked at so many times hoping I would find it one day. These are only two examples in a line of events that had recently made it from thought into reality.

I remember looking at some photographs of Stonehenge on the walls of the ward I did my first shift on about five years ago. Back then I thought that these might as well be mine since I had some with a nearly identical motive. Ever since I could not shake off the thought of one day having some of my photographs on display in hospital, only to realise last week that my photos are now hanging on the walls of that exact ward that I had the initial thought.

And just to mention on the side that back then I wasn’t permanently employed and that the department that I had been working permanently on for the past three years now had moved twice in that time, only to end up on this one initial ward, which now has my photographs on the walls, all thanks to my manager who suggested it one day after I mentioned on the side that I paint sometimes…

The same goes for our “Awareness Spa“. Within six months we had gone from brainstorming to having led three engaging Mini Retreats. We had a vision and we worked on making it reality. Also the same I found with my on-going training opportunities at work and my arrival in the UK exactly 7 years ago, which you can read more about too if you like. I didn’t have much to live on back then but “knew” that it would be fine. I was on the search for who I really was and on the way I completely reinvented myself. It is almost like writing a script and then acting it out on stage. And it all starts with a single thought.

On the other hand, visions can create equally negative things in your life. For example, somehow I dreaded the thought of slugs in my lettuce which went as far as worrying that one day I might find one in my frozen peas. Unfortunately, I could not shake off this weird thought and one day it happened. Oh the drama of it! 🙂

And then I also used to worry at times that I would meet my ex in the streets, who caused me a lot of fear and anxiety. And yes, he crossed the street as I was driving in a car with my friend and bizarrely cycled along the road when we got back about two hours later. Twice more did I see him cycling past where I live when I “happened” to look out of the window. It has not happened since. I had managed to make peace with it.

The one thing I can’t get my head around sometimes is whether it really was my thoughts that created the outcome, or whether these thoughts were premonitions of an event that was inevitably going to happen. How much can I influence and accordingly change the outcome of such events?

The first law of Esoteric Healing is that “energy follows thought”. How apt and true this is. But in order to use it for our highest good, we first need to learn to become aware of what we are thinking. If you don’t want negative things happening to you, like frozen invertebrates in your peas, aim to try and think in more positive ways. Don’t underestimate the “Power of Thought” and “trust in yourself” and what you believe to be true. Just “know” that it is going to happen, regardless of how ridiculously illogical and unfathomable it may seem at the time. You never know who will be just around the corner (or sitting in some workshop in the centre of Bali) who can tailor fit your dreams to your reality.

A few days ago I created a vision board in view of our latest project, the “Awareness Spa“. Feel free to look at it here. I wonder now if I will soon meet the lady monk with the beautiful serene smile on her face. I have already booked into a monastery that she helped set up 30 years ago. This was another funny thing: Someone enquired if our Mini Retreats (Awareness Spa) were like mindfulness yoga. I had to look this up since I didn’t know what exactly it encompassed. The first person that came up under mindfulness was Thich Nhat Hanh who set up Plum Village (the monastery I just booked). The day after I find this lady monk while creating my vision board and really felt like I need to include her, although I don’t usually go for faces in vision boards. Looking her up later I came straight back to Thich Nhat Hanh, with whom she, as it turns out, had set up Plum Village. And to stretch it even further, Wikipedia’s first sentence states “Mindfulness (Pali: sati,Sanskrit: smṛti; also translated as awareness)”. So back full circle to our Awareness Spa and on the way I had found two people that I possibly can learn from a lot.

Oh look, the sun has suddenly come out again 🙂

Love
Anna

Ocean of Bliss

How often do you feel so lost and low that you finally stop and listen to yourself? It might not happen often, sometimes this marks a once in a lifetime moment that can change everything. When we arrive at a point where we think we can’t carry on anymore, be it due to prolonged illness, mental turmoil or abuse, we are faced with two options: end it or make the best of it.

Which option gives you more room for improvement? Like how I would put it: “What have you got to lose if you have hit rock bottom anyway?” That’s it, you might as well get your knees off the dirty and cold floor, take a breath of fresh air and look at what you could do next. Because, believe it or not, there are millions of options to choose from.

When I found myself on this literal floor once again last week, battered by some out-of-control hormones on an emotional destruction derby which the general medicine calls PMS, just to clarify the situation, I found myself hopelessly asking for help from some higher source that I so believe in. But the returning silence also made me wonder how mad I could be to do this, to believe in something that wasn’t even acknowledged by the majority of the population, least of all science, and concluded with the famous “What’s the point of it all anyway?”

As I lay back on the floor, I was actually practicing yoga at the time, I wouldn’t really just lie on the floor, I sighed deeply and gave up expecting an answer from the mystery force which may or may not be out there and switched off. “Whatever happens, happens for a reason”, was my surrendering thought at which I was flooded with a nurturing warm sensation that extended from top to toe and gave me back my hope that all will be well.

I was pleasantly surprised, almost a little bit too surprised since this was not the first time it had happened. I just seem to forget, clouded by the fumes of the destruction derby in my endocrine pathways, that it is so much easier to just surrender to the universe instead of painstakingly ask for help.

You’ve got to see the difference in energetic vibration these two emanate. Asking is an active “wanting of some kind”, which can mean that you might not get it if it isn’t part of your parcel or you aren’t actually ready for it yet. At the same time it may block whatever else tries to reach you.

Surrendering on the other hand is a passive “accepting whatever is for the highest good”. It enables you to receive exactly what you need at that precise moment in time, which essentially serves as a building block for the next task. In a world driven by a “who comes first gets it first attitude”, a simple task like “just letting it happen” can be difficult. We are task orientated and are taught to actively get on the case to reap the fruit of our labour.

Of course it is okay to ask, just don’t expect anything. Instead just let go and assume the surrendering process. This is the basic Law of Attraction.

And especially if we are not thinking clearly, which we likely won’t if we are depressed and can’t see a way out, it becomes even more difficult to remember to just let go and surrender. Yet, when you are, you will be swimming once again on the ocean of bliss that life can be, if you let it.

Love
Anna

Previous related posts:

The Power of Thought

Trust – The lesson of a life time

 

To Practice What I preach

You see, it took me a good week of a persisting cough to actually start using my knowledge of acupressure to push the pressure points said to relieve the problem. And the few reluctant attempts at gargling with salt water or aspirin and the one occasion that I actually laid down to give myself some energy healing are nearly not worth mentioning.

This problem has occurred to me on numerous occasions, at times I even got really irritable if someone gave me advice that I would usually give others, only because I was clearly not using it for myself. I even found myself turning a deaf ear to my mother’s advise to make cold compresses.

The biggest light-bulb moment came when I was asked in a therapy session what I could do to release a build up of anger that wasn’t needed. I timidly explained that maybe I could do the same as I do during my daily centring, connecting and grounding routine, namely visualise a white light washing through my body, taking with it all negative feelings. And while I said it I felt such a fool for doing this procedure EVERY DAY, yet being unable to apply it when I actually really needed it. Why did I train in Energy Healing for two years only to still not get the actual message four years later to simply heal myself with intention.

Why is it so difficult for us to do something about our suffering instead of waiting for someone to take it from us? “Don’t wait for someone to heal you, assume that the healing is already taking place.” Anna

Do I really believe I can help others heal, all the while I completely ignore my own healing? What a hypocrite. Maybe I didn’t learn to heal in order to help humanity, but to actually help myself. Anyhow, healing takes place within us first, after which we can go round the globe and attempt in healing others. I think our ego is not only preventing us from accepting ourselves for who we are but also stops us to deal with our deepest issues, which need a lot of attention and patience and probably endurance as well to get to the core of it.

Why does the ego do this? Quite likely because we have become used to who we are (not to be confused with acceptance), warts and all, and it would not be acceptable to suddenly not have anything left to complain about. We wouldn’t need anyone to look after us if we were all healed. We would fear that we would end up alone because nobody would need us anymore. And we have become so used to rely on others for our comfort and wellbeing. Doctors always have something to prescribe and our friends always need something from us. This gives us the idea of being looked after and also to be of value to others.

So if I was suddenly getting up and began healing myself, what of this cosy comforts would be of need to me? This concept needs a certain amount of getting used to. And it is also partly the same issue why some people simply don’t heal. Because their ego unconsciously tells them that it would mean to let go of all old patterns that define who they are. A very childish version of my inner child sometimes creates a bit of drama just so it can get a sympathising word or a hug. No drama, no hugs? Of course not! No drama, plenty of hugs free from conditions and full of love!

Just sit back and think for a moment. Who do you think you could be by allowing yourself to fully heal and, best of all, be the main contributor of that process?

Love
Anna

The Many Stages of Grief and Belief

I have just tackled the last unit on death and dying in my diploma. I wanted to do this unit because it forms such a big part of my job and is also an interesting topic that I wanted to learn more about. However, it took me a good year until I finally actually started it. And this was not only because nobody passed away while I was on duty, which should be a positive thing really, but probably more so because a little insecurity signalled that I might have to begin to look behind my emotional barriers and address my own issues to do with endings and the passing of others and myself.

Death is an uncertainty. Yet, the only certainty is death. This concerns humans as much as animals, plants, the whole universe. But because we only know life as it is, it can frighten us to not know what will happen. Uncertainty is often worse. A saying by Paulo Coelho goes: “Fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself”.

Death can happen at any time, yet we walk around with a distinct sense of security. This helps us to live our life to the full, which we wouldn’t be able to were we to worry about potential dangers around every corner. Death at a young age is usually seen as more tragic, compared to a natural end after a long and successful life. Just, how much more tragic is a gradual decline with Alzheimers, which can weigh heavily on relatives and carers, not to mention the individual himself, compared to a sudden death, maybe due to an accident, where the suffering might be more intense but shortened? At what point are we considered to be “at the end of our life”, if we know that one day we will quite definitely die anyway? How accurate are diagnoses in relation to life expectancy, if some outlive theirs by a few decades, whereas other’s comes to an end unexpectedly quick? These questions remain mostly unanswered, partially because we have no control over life, even with all the medical enhancements, and also because we all experience fear and grief differently.

While working my way through this unit I happened to stumble across a related article in a newspaper. It was about a young doctor that had recently been diagnosed with cancer and had written about both sides, her experiences as a doctor and now as a patient. I ordered both her books straight away (intake goes to charity) and am following her blog (http://drkategranger.wordpress.com). She is exactly my age, which, together with my current thought processes on dealing with death and worrying about ovarian cysts, found its way into my deepest inner self. How would I feel if I was suddenly diagnosed with a terminal illness? What would I do? On top of it comes the worry of my partner that I would rather die young than undergo invasive treatments, since I tend to prefer the natural approach to illnesses.

Since we are all individuals with different life experiences and beliefs, we will all deal with death differently. Some get overtly emotional and cry, others simply withdraw, unable to talk about their feelings. There are those who express anger, who don’t want to give up, who think they have many things left to do and can’t see how they can possibly do it all with the time they have left. They would give anything for a little more time. There are worries about pain and suffering. And there are those who accept this part of life for what it is and often become the rock for their relatives and friends, who might have an even harder time coping with the upcoming loss, since they are the ones left with a gap in their lives. All these responses go hand in hand with the five stages of grief, as outlined by Kübler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. These can affect everyone involved in someone’s death. The dying individual as much as relatives, old acquaintances and those involved in the care.

How we deal with death depends on our belief or religion. Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs for example, believe in re-birth, whereas the belief of a Jehovah’s Witness is that their whole existence stops forever when a person dies. Atheists do not hold any belief at all. Christianity proposes that life is a gift from God which is available to all who believe and seek forgiveness and the Mormon Church views life as a test to see if we are ready to return to God after death. Judaism holds the belief that death is the end of earthly life, but that eternal life is offered if we have the right relationship with God. Islamic practises see death as a transition from one state of being to another as part of the will of Allah. (From The Royal Marsden Clinical Nursing Procedures)

Some people only begin to find solace in a religious belief when they are in despair, even if they didn’t belief in anything whatsoever during their whole life. The opposite can be the case as well. Sadly I have known someone who was very dedicated to his spiritual beliefs during his lifetime but was said to have lost all his faith just before he died, making his passing very unsettling for him and those near him.

Then last night there was a documentation on TV about death row in the US. They interviewed those on life sentence and talked about those who had been sentenced to death. This takes on a completely different view on death. Surely, these prisoners must have done terrible things to be sentenced to death. How do they deal with what they have done and what will happen to them? With homicide as much as with euthanasia, the question is: who can justify a killing of another being?

I could probably say that I find it easier to cope with death than the process of dying. I am generally quite open to anything, yet there comes a point where I encounter a natural barrier, something that stops me opening up too much to a situation in order to avoid getting upset. Or maybe even more out of fear that I would lose control over my emotions.

I would do most things for my patients, but sometimes I rather feel like not getting too involved in their care, or with them personally, because I fear I would be overwhelmed with emotions. Sometimes I feel that I am unable to offer all my sympathy and concern a situation requires and end a conversation with a pat on the arm and a reassuring word and smile, which appears rather awkward and foolish to me.

It was a huge moment of change for me when I began working in care, at first being terrified to apply personal care. This has now become routine for me over the years, but it doesn’t have any personal emotions attached to it. Even though you consider dignity, personal preferences and apply a professional standard, there is a difference between a routine bed bath and a comforting hug or holding someone’s hand. It requires a different set of emotional awareness, and actually also preparedness.

The worst is if someone, and this relates to anyone, even in my private life, begins to cry. My immediate response used to be to just run away, to just not have to deal with it. More recently I have begun to remain calm and just listen. To give the individual time to get the first tears out, let the first steam out of the kettle, and then to offer constructive support, to just be there for them, without being overly sympathetic. I am aware of these processes and am still working on them. Attending a course for basic counselling skills has hugely contributed to my awareness and development.

Very “coincidental” came the natural conversation with a patient about his acceptance of death being the gate to eternity, as he called it. He was talking about how he had served in Australia during the war and had only come back to the UK to see his parents, when he fell in love and ultimately become a Christian because of his mother-in-law. He never used to believe in anything in particular before that, if anything than rather more in guides. Now he sais that he has ticked all the boxes that allowed him to go back to God. He had asked for forgiveness for all his sins, had lived a good and interesting life and was rather excited to see what would happen when he finally passed over. He was actually doing really well for 93. I liked his open and cheerful attitude towards death. Of course, a natural death after a long and happy life would be the best option. Wouldn’t it?

A year on after writing about endings I have maybe come a little bit closer to accepting that everything ends one day. Still, we won’t know what will happen after. But I firmly belief that it will be our own belief that will influence that moment for the better or worse. Which way will you choose?

Love
Anna

The New Year’s Runners

On Sunday I woke up early and since there was a beautifully serene atmosphere outside, I decided to go for an early walk, aiming to forego the masses of Sunday walkers usually about on the seafront at the end of the week. Yet, at 8.45 am I encountered hordes of runners in bright coloured garment, who probably thought the same as me. I might be terribly tactless, possibly even a hypocrite, for I once was one of them, when I refer to at least 60% of them as “New Year’s Runners”. It is really quite obvious compared to the rest of the year.

Bless them, they are clearly trying to get back into shape after all the treats and indulgence that Christmas had on offer, by totally overworking their bodies to achieve something, they just aren’t prepared for physically. You can find the single experienced runner cutting through the crowd like a razor blade. Then there is the single de-oxygenated runner, near the verge of cardiac arrest. There is the pair runners, one starting out, one training the other. Support groups, three leading, five mingling in the middle, chatting and laughing out of breath, one trailing behind, unable to talk. The ladies’ duet, middle-aged women committing to each other’s endurance, one only as strong as the other. And lastly the pretend runner, looking extra efficient when passing by, yet dying to collapse on the floor but not wanting to look like a weak fool in front of the others. Well, that was probably just me.

Why did I begin to run one year in January? Because I wanted to be fit so I could run away really fast in case my ex would live up to his threats and would come after me. And also because I was hoping to apply for the police where I would have to pass a fitness test. How long did it last? With varying commitment way into the year after. I just don’t really like running. I started kickboxing instead. Not at New Year’s though, I hasten to say 🙂

I’m sure that every single New Year’s Runner has their very own dreams and ideas which gives them the incentive to start running. Just why do we tend to do it on New Year’s?

Caesar instituted January 1 as the first day of the year in 46 B.C, partly to honor the month’s namesake “Janus”, the Roman god of beginning, in an attempt to bring the calendar back into sync with the sun after some changes that had occurred over the past centuries.

But the tradition of New Year’s celebrations is actually said to date back as much as 4000 years to the ancient Babylon, which celebrated the first new moon after the spring equinox as the start of the new year. They celebrated the cutting of barley (Akitu), their sky god Marduk and also crowned a new king during that time.

As the different calendars in different cultures changed around the world, the day of the new year was typically linked to an agricultural or astronomical event. In Egypt, for instance, the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice. In medieval Europe, Christian leaders temporarily replaced January 1 as the first of the year with days carrying more religious significance, such as December 25 (the anniversary of Jesus’ birth). Knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry. It was Pope Gregory XIII who reestablished January 1 as New Year’s Day in 1582, the start of the calendar as we know it now. www.history.com/topics/new-years

These calendars are still not exact. Nor is time. Humanity has simply tried to coin a point in time (read my blog on “The Funny Thing About Age“). In order to realign the Roman calendar with the sun, Julius Caesar actually had to add 90 extra days to the year when he introduced his new Julian calendar. The motivation for the Gregorian reform was that the Julian calendar assumes that the time between spring equinoxes is 365.25 days, when in fact it is almost 11 minutes shorter. This results in a drift of about three days every 400 years. At the time of Gregory’s reform there had already been a drift of 10 days since Roman times, resulting in the spring equinox falling on 11 March instead of the ecclesiastically fixed date of 21 March. Because of the connection with Easter in the Roman Catholic Church, this steady movement in the date of the equinox was undesirable. (The Mayan Calendar also didn’t really match ours … I leave this clever person to tell you all about it 🙂 http://jameswatt.me/2012/03/07/mayan-calendar-and-the-gregorian-leap-year/)

And again I’m asking: Why do we start with new resolutions on January 1st? It might well be that we just follow the crowd and adapt to regional customs. Personally, however, I wonder, how much influence the small amounts of extra daylight has, that has slowly been trickling into our life since the winter solstice. But even more so do I personally want to make you aware of the influence of personal shifts and developments.

Besides personal life changing experiences, there are different theories about how our character is affected by certain life cycles of development. For example there is a seven year cycle, which doesn’t only include the complete change of the cells in our body, but also comprises of the understanding that we change mentally, evolve, mature and possibly even change in personality. Then there is also numerology, which I never used to pay much attention to, but was hooked the first time I did. A numerological year begins and ends with your birthday. You can determine which year you are in by adding together your day and month of birth with the current year. For me, these numerological years have much more significance, and influence, than New Year’s Day. I can only recommend the book “Zillionz” by Titiania Hardie. Overall meanings shouldn’t change much with different books, just the way information is given.

Every day is a new day for change!

Happy New Year! 😉

Love
Anna

Reaching for the Stars

Having just watched the mesmerizing “Life of Pi”, I wonder, when is a story just a story? When is a dream just a dream? When does reality begin and phantasy end?

Our whole existence is crammed into a universe, that is reflected as a tiny microcosm in every single cell of us.

A human cell contains about 100 trillion atoms. The Milky Way consists of an estimate 100 thousand million stars. That is twice as many zeros in a cell than in the Milky Way! If my math is right.

Imagine the nucleus of a cell gazing up to see more stars around it than us. Imagine we also are just a cell in an organism that we can’t yet comprehend!

This morning I stumbled across a piece of paper where I had carelessly noted a thought process of mine, which I presently can’t place, but which perfectly fits in here: “If your dreams suddenly collapse, or your realise that you are the dream and not even real, what do you do? Would you rather be a dream dreamt by someone else, or would you be better off as the one having the dream?”

In “Life of Pi”, spoiler alert, he offers two different stories. One is to please those investigating the sinking of the ship. The other is the one that leads to God. Which one will you believe? And where will it lead you?

If something as simple as a story can lead us to a higher being, wouldn’t it also at the same time lead to ourselves? Reverting back to the cell and it’s nucleus,  being just a particle in an organism that we can’t comprehend, we become what we see, hear, feel and eat, and yet we already were what we are about to take in long before we even began to engage all our senses.

The reality of ourselves is what we make it out to be. We will always be perceived differently by different kinds, yet we remain the same. The moment we surrender to the macrocosm, we will come to understand the microcosm. And if we stay true to ourselves, to who we are, macrocosm and microcosm combined, we will grow one day, to reach all the stars in the sky.

Love
Anna

Of Toy Horses and Existence

After eight years I have finally moved out of my mother’s house for good. Don’t get me wrong. I had actually left my home country of Germany seven years ago, just with a suit case and bare necessities. Most of my stuff I had left behind, knowing that they would be save where they were.

Initially I had taken most of my belongings 300 km south where I would be studying for the next year and a half, only to move them up again once I had decided to live in another country. From there, twice yearly visits turned into once yearly, but still, every time I took something that seemed important enough with me into my new home across the English Channel. It is incredible really if you think about the stuff we accumulate and hold dear. It’s our most innate habit: existence, holding on to things that define who we are.

In an interview with Ophra, the Dalai Lama remarked: “Even when a person has all of life’s comforts—good food, good  shelter, a companion—he or she can still become unhappy when encountering a  tragic situation. Physical comforts cannot subdue mental suffering, and if we  look closely we can see that those who have many possessions are not necessarily  happy. In fact, being wealthy often brings even more anxiety. On the other hand,  those who don’t have a life filled with luxury may have a home filled with  compassion, based on their choice to be content and to practice self-discipline.”
(Read more: http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Oprah-Interviews-The-Dalai-Lama/2#ixzz2H2GUEuwD)

When my mother mentioned she might move into a much smaller accommodation, I decided it was time to rid myself of the extra belongings that had not been in use since I had left them. By no means did I think it would turn into an ordeal with the extend of a near breakdown.

It was mainly the memories that arose with each single piece from dust-covered boxes. Most were school related, arts and crafts, paintings, including end of year reports which reflected the negative impact my teacher of eight years had on my upbringing. There were notebooks with terrible handwriting and yet pretty interesting content. All my Barbie dolls plus an impressive array of horses, one of which could even walk, resembling some peculiar Michael Jackson move, providing you put batteries in. None of these I really needed, yet they were part of my childhood, part of who I once was, the part that made me who I am now. How can you just chuck that part away? You wouldn’t cut out a piece of your thigh and continue walking as if nothing had happened, would you? Yet, some people never even had the opportunity to accumulate any worldly possessions…

2012-12-23 20.48.40

After the first sorting run, the second already proved less emotional. With the third, I had thrown away another half of what I initially was unable to part with. Now I had gone through the process of remembering, the joys and pains, and had come to realise that there was no need to keep it and was finally able to let go. Though I did worry that in a decade or two I would be looking for some memorabilia, that would not be there no more. It was more about “just looking at it and remembering”. The other thing, however, was to try and fit it all into an already crammed tiny flat.

It might be a coincidence that this process of letting go also applies to a change in my diet, mainly excluding refined cane sugar, which I am currently writing about in a separate blog. Being back at my mother’s house at Christmas, the place I spent all my childhood, I find myself reverting back to the little child I once was, with the reflection of the wax candles in my eyes only merely covering up the gleam of near insanity, or child-like joy, at the sight of granny´s big Christmas plate filled with lebkuchen, stollen, biscuits, marzipan and chocolates filled with the most delicious mousse and cream, all wrapped in all the colours of the universe. And somewhere deep inside I wonder whether I will ever be able to abstain from sugar for good.

Of course, my 30-year-old self still couldn´t help itself in view of the Christmas treats, though it was more in control than the last years. I had cut down on sugar in every-day life, with the exception of festive periods. With every sugar-coated almond, chocolate coated marzipan, chocolate nougat ball, poppy crumble cake, waffle topped with hot cherries and rice pudding I ate, I said my last goodbye, knowing that if I want to change, I will have to just do it.

The same goes with my material belongings. If I want to be free and filled with happiness, I will have to just let go of things that don’t serve me no more. I know that it is about time to let go and I vow to myself that I will lovingly do so. And if it isn’t so much letting go of all worldly possessions yet, so it will begin with thought processes. The past is over and gone and has no impact on me. I acknowledge it as a stepping stone that made me who I am today. My life is full of joy, laughter and fun and I fully love myself and those around me. I choose my own future and create my life to my highest good. Wherever I go, life offers me splendid opportunities to grow. I only hold love in my thoughts, speak truth with my words and warm others with my radiant smile.

2013-01-03 13.11.28

For this is not happiness 😉

To a new year, filled with new adventures.

Love
Anna

On Auras and Empowerment

Last month I had a polaroid picture of my aura taken. “Anna. . .what? . .really. . .what r u on about?” Someone promptly asked.

An aura is the energetic field around our physical body. Besides our  electromagnetic field it can represent our emotional and mental states and can indicate where we are in life at the moment. A clever Mr Semyon Kirlian accidentally discovered in 1939 that if objects with a high-voltage source are placed on a photographic plate, they produce an image on it. This was then called electrophotography or “Kirlian Photography”.  To take an aura photo you put your hands on a metal detector which distributes your electricity to the camera.

Though there is still a lot of debate about the buts and ifs and hows of this mysterious energetic field and it’s photographic evidence, though not proof at all, I think it is good fun and worth it for the sakes of a colourful polaroid and an engaging reading with a medium or clairvoyant. What you think of it and do with it is up to you.

It is now about five years since my first aura photo. Back then my picture was mainly blue and green (excuse the poor copy quality). The medium then spoke about my own form of healing in connection with “Atlantean Healing”, mentioned that I learn a lot and that it will still take a few years until I will establish my own healing business (to my disappointment). He also said that it was unusual that the clear blue was so close to my head. He also mentioned creativity, nursing and typing on a computer, which all apply to me.

Ever since I have been wondering if there was much difference if I had another one taken. In all fairness, it would probably already look different 5 minutes later. Anyway, the opportunity came on the London Yoga Show last month where there was a stall for aura photography. I had been looking for the polaroid photo version because the computerised photo prints are just not as nice, but also seemingly difficult to find.

So here I was, five years down the line, full of exciting new projects, and a completely different person to who I was back then. And my god did it show!

I wasn’t even recognizable! A shear explosion of red and yellow, nothing else. The clairvoyant said it was very unusual that the colours would hide the person. He estimated my face to be somewhere in the yellow area. He also identified two colour hues that he had not seen as such, a dark purplish red and a faint greyish blue in the centre of the photo, again, very unusual, he said. The red on the outside stands for practical work, with hands, whereas the yellow represents the mental plane, teaching and knowledge. The purple spot on my right side is my spiritual sense and knowledge and the faint green on my left is trying to create balance. All in all I am full of activity with a lot of potential and only need to find a way to channel it all into a good practical skill.

And that’s where the problem lies. Over the past five years I have changed, have learned a lot, acquired many new skills – energy healing as well as more recently acupressure massage – and was now at a point where I was full of it and didn’t know how to give birth to the idea to help others improve their lives and themselves. I had, however, started to teach and offer workshops tat the beginning of his year.

A mere two days prior to the day I had the last aura photo taken I was attending a networking meeting. When it was my turn to talk a little bit about my project and what I had on offer, all I did was babble along, spitting out words as they appeared in my head and henceforth caused utter confusion in the group.

“What is it exactly that you do? And what do you want to tell us?” Oh the embarrassment of it.

I just want to help. And I have all these fantastic tools, yet feel that others either don’t understand them or simply don’t understand me. Ah, yet another epiphany 🙂

In the nicest possible way I was told that: “I dont need to advertise all my skills and knowledge in one go – most of it will shine through in my daily work anyway”. I need to concentrate on one point, one aspect, and work on perfecting it.

The clairvoyant advised me to wear more red to turn my knowledge into practice. I don’t particularly like red…

With these two recent experiences in mind I entered the Kundalini Yoga Workshop. All good and fun until we were asked to turn to the person on our right. Both people on either side of me had turned and vanished somewhere else (kinda like sports class back in school), and I suddenly found myself facing the very small lady that had been standing in front of me. Again, first judgement: she is soo tiny.

“You are very tall”, she said promptly. We giggled awkwardly. Turns out that this exercise was to acknowledge us and others just as we are. We had to put our right hand out with the palm of the hand facing close towards the other’s heart and to look into the other’s left eye. We were to see our inner self reflecting back at us, for we are all one. The little lady had to reach high to come close to my heart and I could tell she found it difficult to hold her gaze on my left eye. Her eyes kept wandering off and at one point I feared she would burst into tears.

Suddenly I was very aware of the power that was emanating from me, my red aura, pouring over this small being. I tried to hold it back, to smile a little, to soften my gaze, to minimise the effect my tall appearance had on this much smaller person. I felt like I was towering over her, like a huge stone statue, and I didn’t like it at all.

When I was 12 I used to test my “power gaze” on the priest of my communion class. The custom was for the priest to hold every child’s hand upon entering the hall and to say a little verse. I was the small one back then, but I stared straight up into the eyes of the priest, strong and bold, which lead to moving eyes and some stumbling over words at times. No idea what I tried to prove back then, but in the end I was the only one out of a group of 30 who refused to receive the holy communion.

But now, this situation didn’t need power, it needed empowerment. At the end of this exercise everyone hugged their partner and returned to their space.

I don’t want to be scary!  I only want to help. I just need to find a way to better articulate myself and focus.

Love

Anna

An Encounter of a Different Kind

About three years ago I was walking along the seafront when I spotted a noticeably unusual figure at the horizon. It was just before Christmas and remarkably cold, yet the afternoon sun shone bright from a blue sky and all I could see through my squinting eyes was this black silhouette against the sun, and something was different about it. It looked almost like as if it was someone walking on sticks.

It was like a God from ancient history, emerging straight from the heavens, surrounded by blinding light, and he wore no shoes.

My nose was cold from the freezing December air and the rest of me was wrapped tightly in hat, gloves, scarf, boots and winter coat. Yet here was this odd figure walking past me, barefoot.

My curiosity rocketed and many thoughts, assumptions and judgements soared though my mind. The first concrete thought forming was that he could do with my wooly socks that I had just sorted out and I briefly considered asking him, but was held back by fear to insult him with my socially awkward questions.

He surely was on a mission, he didn’t have the aura of a mere homeless. I said to myself that should I see him again (what is the likelihood) I will ask him then.

However, three days later he happened to walk along the road I was living in just when I came back from work. In a rush of excitement and adrenaline I charged inside, picked up my wooly socks and ran after this mysterious person.

He was amused and acknowledged the gesture, but declined my socks. He said he is vegan and doesn’t believe in using any animal products. Working in a healthcare setting, my indoctrinated care program kicked in and I pointed out how important it is to keep his feet warm, but he replied that he had something in his bag to keep his feet warm at night.

I was curious to learn why he was walking around town barefoot and he said that there were many reasons. One was to keep in contact with the earth, considering that animals don’t wear shoes either. Anyhow, he said, shoes weren’t all that good for our feet, causing us many problems and most of the earth’s population does actually not wear shoes at all, or simply doesn’t have the money.

When I asked whether he had somewhere to stay and something to eat, he said he had plenty and that he offered to share the food he had on him with me. Humbled I declined.

Walking without shoes was like meditating, he said, because it makes you walk slower and more thoughtful, and he added that people with shoes tend to just stomp on the earth angrily without giving it a second thought. He also talked about the stars, walking underneath them, and the influence they have on us. He felt very connected to the earth and the skies.

I like walking barefoot, though usually only if it is warm enough, and there are many reasons why it is good for you: 125 Reasons To Go Barefoot

His main aim was to raise awareness toward climate change and he was soon off on his walk to Scotland to attend a convention on climate protection in May. Mind you, we were currently standing on the English south coast and he would walk all the way up to Scotland over the next four or five months!

Wow, what a life! His humble approach to life, yet with such great meaning, is inspiring. And now that the days are getting colder again he came back to mind and  I wonder if he is still walking. In all seriousness, I look at so many out there running about to find the best option for a Christmas present, stomping on the ground with heavy winter boots, and all the while forgetting about the actual meaning behind it. I wish there was some more insight and simplicity behind some of their thoughts.

Many questions only came up after this strange encounter and were left unanswered. Who was he before he started walking? How long has he been walking? Will he ever get tired of it? What happened that made him who he is today?

He was like a real-life Jesus or, to keep it in the presence, Forrest Gump. This encounter reminded me of my thought to walk into the Himalaya. It always used to be, and probably still is, my emergency plan should I fail to find work and sustain accommodation and food. I would jokingly say: “If things don’t work out, I sell everything, pack a bag and start walking.” Destination Himalaya, the highest mountain range in the world.

Something in me connected to this man and a longing developed to be free from ties and responsibilities. A month later I actually booked myself onto a volunteer job to teach English at Buddhist monasteries in KathmanduNepal, surrounded by the Himalaya! Life never was the same again after.

Was it a coincidence, or just the way life goes?
Either way 😉

Love
Anna

The Crack in the Egg

Ok, the egg has cracked, and it stank to heaven (it was a foul egg by the way), and somewhere deep inside of me something else has cracked. I didn’t notice it at first, but it surely opened up to something that is neither tangible nor easy to understand or put into words. Words…whatevery they mean. But it is there. Right in front of me, and I shall follow, wherever it may take me.

I wasn’t even going to blog today. I’ve been feeling very tired the last few days. Worn down from the massive thought processes winding their way through the narrow passages of my brain, creating new links to old events and opening new doors to life.

I feel beyond caring what others think, and I usually give a great deal to that. But in all honesty, it is very, very tiring, tremendously exhausting to try and please everyone. And nobody, really nobody is giving a s*** about my worries and fears. They are my own, to hold and carry around.

Now I am soo excruciatingly tired of it, I am finally ready to let go of all self-imposed expectations that have been sitting on my shoulders for a time that feels like eternity. Instead I shouldered my inner child, so that I can finally grow up without being under continuous scrutiny by criticism and expectations, which my inner child simply couldn’t deal with. It is by far better off on its view point from where it can add to any situation without being personally affected.

Something is changing. I can feel it, yet I can’t name it. I am more at ease, less edgy. And though I might relapse every now and gain, my core runs at a different frequency. Is this what its like to grow up?

I remember the day I stopped chewing on my fingernails. I was 12 then and my fingers were in a truly horrific state. Many things I had tried but nothing would stop me from chewing on them again, until the day I decided that it was enough now. I have never chewed on my fingernails again since.

A few weeks ago I decided that it was time to let go of some individuals whose past encounters were seemingly holding a tight grip on my life. And I simply dropped them, just like that. They do not hold any power over me anymore.

I acknowledge that I have come a fair way to meet the person I am now. I am an idealistic dreamer, hopeful fanatic, full of pride and remorse, shaped by the past like the Grand Canyon by water. My present moment is here and there and everywhere, just never quite where it should be, subject to behaviour-controlling matter-forming molecules called hormones.

I am a lacking painter, fascinated photographer, marvelling spiritualist, exceeding health care practitioner, overwhelming story-teller, vivid scientist, aspiring world teacher, ambitious student of life, a human female with eternal heart, reluctant philanthropist, caring soul, eager explorer, never tiring first aider, bright eyed and bushy tailed, beautiful in the eye of the beholder, excessive thinker, homeland escapee, curiosity induced, certified graphic designer, foreign language secretary, clinical healthcare supporter, energy healer, acupressure massage therapist, contradicting my own rights, worrying warrior, inspirational individual, self-appointed entrepreneur, obnoxious perfectionist, incapacitated know-it-all, occasional musician, indigenous earth dweller, lover of flowers, trees, nature and all elements, enthusiastic gardener, excited vegetable grower, allusive cook, avid raw chocolate advocate, night sky watcher, sunrise lover, sunset marveller,  moon notorious, trying self-imposter, peace-loving kickboxer, encompassing yoga practitioner, elusive new age meditator,  a being on the verge of perfection and yet not perfected at all, aware that I know a lot, but not nearly enough to know at all.

Who will I be tomorrow?
Who will you be?

In all honesty, crack the egg!

Love
Anna

The Sugar Hangover

Presently I am feeling slightly queasy and mildly unwell. And despite my face only being slightly puffy and my nose only a little blocked, the overall tiredness, listlessness and ill feeling in my tummy are the common tell-tale signs that I am currently acting out a sugar hangover. And yes, I do vaguely remember reaching repeatedly into that luminous biscuit box and also unwrapping some chocolates hidden in mesmerizing colourful tinfoils.

In case you are wondering: sugar has been having an increasingly detrimental influence on me. I have been watching it for a few years now and already have previously written about it here. I even raised my hand and admitted that I am a sugar addict. But despite my awareness and my continuous effort to educate others about the damaging effect of the common white sugar on our health and wellbeing, I still find myself relapse again and again and again. It raises the question whether it is even a much bigger issue than even I had dared envisioning.

What is it that gives me this longing feeling of needing sugar and why can’t I control it despite repeat experiences that I will feel ill after?

As with all addictions, there is something else running in the background that might need to be addressed first. As I once was reprimanded by an insisting Irish catholic (no offence): “Only Jesus can fill that hole in you!” Well, I obviously preferred biscuits and chocolates.

Addiction in general terms is a compulsive recurring behaviour that is difficult to stop, despite harmful consequences. Biological or psychological factors may play a part here too. Researchers say that sugar and the taste of sweet is said to stimulate the brain by activating the same chemicals activated in the brain by the ingestion of heroin and morphine. Sugar stimulates the release of endorphins which makes us feel good. So when we’re stressed, we crave foods that trigger this sensation. However, if we try to cut it out of our diet, we can experience withdrawal symptoms.

Watch this sweet little poem about the sugarcane:

www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/grace-nichols-sugar-cane-poem-only/1360.html

Sugarcane is a tall growing grass, which mainly grows in warm southern regions of the globe. Interestingly, it is one of the largest crop produced in the world, with the main produce being sucrose which is being processed into other forms of sugar for food or ethanol for fuel production. It appears that sugar found its way around the world as an expensive sugar spice after the sweet reeds were discovered by Persians and Greeks in the 6th and 4th centuries BC in India. It wasn’t until after the 18th century that cane sugar became a world crop and arrived in the form of white granules in our kitchen cupboard.

Is that the reason why it is in nearly every prepared meal or snack on earth? Just for a cheap flavour adjustment? It is just unfortunate that the whole process of extraction, bleaching, filtering, heating, drying and the ultimate use in food products completely destroyed most properties that would have been good to start with. We are unwittingly made addicted to it because of the masses of it that we encounter in everyday food. Sucanat (sugar cane natural) or organic whole cane sugar is the most natural form of sugar because the juice of the sugarcane is simply evaporated at low heat. It can be found it in health food stores or online.

The glycemic index plays an important role too. High GI foods cause our blood sugar to soar up and drop down just as quickly. This is not good for our body and can not only lead to diabetes and obesity but also impacts on us with tiredness and lack of concentration hence we grab hold of the “next sugar fix”. Refined sugar has a GI of about 64, compared to raw sugar cane which has a glycemic index of  30 to 40. I only just heard of raw sugar cane juice which can be found in India, for example, but which I did not have the pleasure to try yet. It is packed with calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, vitamins, antioxidants, proteins and fibres, to mention but a few.

Sugar is basically a naturally occurring substance in most fruits and vegetables. So are carbohydrates, which are a common food source said to give us energy, and also one that we crave for most. But carbohydrates are actually not an essential nutrient since our body can get all its energy from protein and fat. High carbohydrate foods are amongst others fruits, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice and, guess what: sweets. Refined sugar is composed entirely of carbohydrates. We really do not need it to survive and it is also most likely linked to obesity and diabetes.

I found this article of great interest: www.processedfreeamerica.org/resources/health-news/405-the-truth-about-evaporated-cane-juice

I have a predisposition to compulsions that include food. It literally fills a hole in me when I feel anxious or stressed. Every single cell in my whole body gravitates towards those biscuits in times of need. I might not even be aware of any particular anxiety, but when I listen deeply, I can feel this subtle restlessness coursing through my bones. My anxiety unknowingly started somewhere in the middle of my teens and carries forward until today. It has been years since I last brought up a binge eating attack, following the guilt of eating way too many cakes and biscuits. I have learned, I am still learning and I will learn for the rest of my life. And what I learn, what you learn, what others learn will hopefully lead to a better understanding of ourselves and of how we behave and what we agree with best.

Many different sources claim that refined cane sugar has a negative effect on our health, and I totally agree, but don’t have any credibility or evidence other than my own experiences, to prove what I believe to be true. I believe that many many people out there are addicted to refined cane sugar and that most of their little niggling ailments will disappear should they be strong enough and withstand the felt need and longing to consume it. Just be aware that once you can live without it, don’t think just one won’t do you any harm! You will only relapse and will have to start the battle again.

I am working on it, swimming against the tide as much as I can. I actually don’t even buy any commonly mass produced chocolates or sweets and rather make my own raw chocolate with natural sweeteners. The pitfall presents itself at work, where there is always a tin of chocolates on the table. Most of the times I master the control needed to ignore it. Just sometimes, especially at certain times of the month, my body is just stronger than my mind, or maybe rather wildly out of control. But I am working on that too, in the hope that the world will one day come to its senses and rethink where we were coming from and where we are heading.

And now the authorities want to force us to consume genetically modified foods and on top of that change all food labelling so we really have no idea what we are eating anymore? It is better anyway to cook from scratch, just to find the time… 😉

Love
Anna

By Trial and Error

A few months ago, I had a water leak at home. In came the plumber and upon noticing my Tibetan Healing bowl we got talking and it turns out that we both know the same yoga teacher. On his next visit, he handed me a card from his wife, who offers holistic massage treatments and the minute I saw the card I knew something was on the way.

Since the beginning of the year I had cycled past a sign advertising “Natural Wonders Therapies” and I kept saying to myself that I ought to see if they had treatment rooms for hire. But when I did look on the website, it didn’t look like that was the case and I put the thought to investigate further aside for the moment. Until the plumber gave me this card.

Of course it was the same as the sign! It was only a couple of weeks earlier that I had actually been on her website and now it seemed like the universe was giving me a gentle yet stern nudge to do something about it. When I rang her up she was not surprised and said she was about to call me too. It turns out that we were both born in Germany and had wandered abroad to live and explore. Having worked as a massage therapist she was at the point of opening up to the more subtler energies of life whereas I had been studying energy healing for the past years and was just about to embark on a massage course.

It was at this cross road that I met Elke. We spoke about our dreams and visions and we soon found ourselves talking about a joint workshop. Shortly after she introduced me to Corina, an artist and psychotherapists, and suddenly we were at full speed ahead planning our Awareness Spa Mini Retreats.

We had a vision and we had something to tell and we also had repeat bouts of worry that we wouldn’t be able to see it through. Life goes like that sometimes. It sends us on field trips and makes us hike up to the top of the highest mountains to reach for the stars, and it is only on the way up that we realise we forgot to pack wooly socks and a hat to keep us warm on the summit. Yet the view is breathtaking and well worth the rugged ascend. We forget all aches and pains and the smile on our face tells us that we did reach our highest goal.

After three months of brainstorming and concrete planning we were finally there. The fear of the unknown broke through every now and again but took no hold in our eager and strong hearts to accomplish our vision. The first setback on the day of our first Mini Retreat were three cancellations, which however, enabled us all to take part in each others segments and to go along our trial run without any signs of stress.

After an initial flutter of nerves, the retreat began with my workshop on finding the “Inner Self” with meditation and inspiration and I delivered a relaxing sound bath with my healing bowl. After my workshop I was pleased to be able to participate in Corina’s workshop on Art from the Soul which gave me the long sought after time to engage in colours, shapes and paint on my fingers again. When we had managed to get most of the paint off our hands, we covered them in delicious chocolate as I introduced an easy to follow recipe for a raw chocolate treat while Elke prepared a refreshing and filling Raw Lunch Snack with lettuce boats filled with humous and a green smoothie. After lunch, Elke and I gave our participants a massage and we closed the retreat with a grounding circle amidst the warm autumn sun outside in the garden.

It truly was a successful day and I felt more like taking part in a retreat than actually leading it. It was a very rewarding day after all the preparation we had put into it.

Our vision had become reality and we are now fully prepared and set to start monthly Mini Retreats in the new year. Do get in touch if you are interested!

And never stop following your instincts and your dreams!

Love
Anna

via By Trial and Error.

Of Fears and Phobias

It is commonly acknowledged that one way of treating phobias is to actively engage with the object of fear. Of course, this is nearly impossible, one will say of the mere thought of facing their fear.

What a joy it was for me to bump into the spotting image of someone, who has been reason and cause for a lot of upset and ultimately fear for the past few years.

The word “phobia” derives from Greek and literally means “fear or morbid fear”. It is an anxiety disorder that displays a strong, at times irrational fear of something with  little or no actual danger resulting in the avoidance of and interference with usual activities while expressing signs of distress. Actually, up to a few days ago, I didn’t even compare this particular fear of mine to a phobia.

In contrast to “common phobias” of spiders, snakes, confined spaces, to mention but a few, I saw my issue as a simple result of engaging with the wrong person leading to threats and controlling behaviour which ultimately ended with a massive drama of further threats and the believe that one day I might find myself attacked and would possibly die as a consequence. Now that I understand that the words “phobia” and “fear” are actually the same, I can say that my behavioural reaction to this morbid fear is in fact what would be classed as a phobia.

As much as my fear was based on real threats, just as much was there no evidence for further danger. The rest of my fear played itself out in my own head. I feared facing this person and would also avoid any places where the likelihood of such event was heightened. This was difficult, because one of the proposed threats had been that I would be “hunted down at all my places of work and interest”, so basically, wherever I went, I would feel an immense sense of dread. I would get a sensation of shock when I spotted someone in the crowd showing vague similarities and generally fleet from one corner to the other, taking a hide whenever I could. The two occasions I actually really spotted the dreaded face on the streets were followed by an immediate panic attack but fortunately nothing else.

A few years and many counselling, psychotherapy, acupuncture and EFT sessions plus a lot of personal reflections later I thought I was nearly there. I was lucky enough to find a new partner that seems to really understand my worries and fears and appears to have a bottomless jar of patience whenever I would delve into yet another episode of panic.

But when the dreaded face suddenly appeared in an adjoining department at my place of work, I threw a right panic. Now the threat of hunting me down had happened in the most unlikely circumstances, and no matter how unlikely this situation was, there was just no other explanation for it. The world that I had just build up again so full of hope began to crumble again around me and it needed more EFT sessions and further meetings with a psychologist to make sense of my reactions and arising feelings. On top of that came three more such encounters near where I lived which all didn’t make any sense! Why now? Why now that I had just come to terms with it and had finally begun to move on?

Looking at it from a spiritual point of view, I think it was just time to deal with the last niggling fear that was left. And in order to deal with it, it had to be brought up to the surface so it could be cleared away. And yes, to be honest, there were still a few little avoidance techniques on auto pilot, running quietly in the background. For example, I had been avoiding any photographic evidence and had not been mentioning any names. Seriously, I believed that something bad would happen would I say the name out loud. Instead I would use the term “evil ex”, which to be fair, as a good friend pointed out, meant that I made it even worse by emphasising the bad experience I had. Of course I wouldn’t be able to make peace with the past if I kept calling it “evil”.

Instead, it would be much better to make peace with it and choose a more positive term. Just how to think about it positively??

Basically, you simply just let go of all grudges. You accept the situation for what it was, learn from it and move on. Suddenly I was actually able to see the funny side of it. Regardless of how dreadful it had been at the moment, suddenly I could laugh out loud at some memories, which was very healing. I did a lot of cathartic writing too, just like this blog, which helped immensely to understand my feelings and bring clarity into my thought processes.

Still I wasn’t sure what to do in the event of actually standing face to face. But I managed to set up a step-by-step plan during one of my sessions with the psychologist which further supported my sense of security. And then, a few weeks ago, the face appeared on my department at work. Not next door, no, right in our staff room.

Shit.

But, hang on…what? This isn’t who I think it is – but it looks just like it…can’t be.

Yes, my fear had materialised out of thin air right in front of me. But compared to my past memories, this version looked much more kempt, sane, in good health and was kind, caring and very well articulated. Yet, it was the perfect lookalike. It took me a few hours to convince myself that this really was someone else, not the actual person my fear was based on just looking a bit more healthily. And honestly, this encounter with the lookalike of my biggest fear helped to shift absolutely everything that was left in fear, worry and uncertainty. I could make actual peace with something that I never thought I would be able to. I desensitized without fear. I would even say I made friends with this situation. Not to mention that this person had factually been the same I saw before on the adjoining department. The first sight of him brought the fear up, the second took it right away. Incredible how it goes sometimes!

I feel soo relieved, so happy, so much more uplifted. I even look forward to seeing the face, and I have been seeing it a lot at work recently. Embarrassingly, I find myself staring at it, still thinking whether they cold possibly be related. This is the perfect sample of good and bad, love and hate, trust and disbelieve.

Whatever your phobia, even if you didn’t knew it was one, work on it! There is a lot of help out there, find whichever way suits you best. There might be more than one. There really is nothing wrong with therapy and seeking professional help! You can only benefit. It’s so worth it!

Love
Anna

About the Naga Buddha and fighting Fear

Yesterday, I stumbled across a little stall with beautiful old South East Asian statues on the London Yoga Show, and was promptly introduced to the Buddha of my birthday (Saturday), namely Naga Buddha (pang nak prok). According to Thai belief, and influenced by the philosophy of Buddhism, there are seven postures of the Buddha, depicting a state of being, resembling actual happenings on each day of the week.

Now, the only thing I don’t like about this Naga Buddha is the fact that “Nāga” is the Sanskrit word for a deity  or being, taking the form of a very great snake, specifically the king cobra, found in Hinduism and Buddhism. However, on the other hand it didn’t surprise me a bit, considering that the term snake has been on my mind rather vividly for the past six months up to the point where I thought I’m about to lose it because I had the weird fear that they might come up the toilet and every time something moved near me, outdoors as much as indoors my first thought was it could be a snake. Let me explain.

I do not, at the best of times, like snakes and avoid swimming pools for the unrelated fear that there could be some in there (nearly impossible in western Europe) and even feel repulsed by pictures of them and feel the need to switch channels should anything related pop up on TV. I suppose this isn’t necessarily a phobia but merely an excessive innate response to danger, which all of us humans share to a certain degree.

A few significant changes have taken place this year so far. Not only did I start a new year one, but also did I start a new year seven cycle, the 5th, to be precise. According to numerology, a year one shows a new beginning, a fresh start, full power and potential for new projects and the determination to see it through. A numerological year begins and ends with your birthday. You can determine which year you are in by adding together your day and month of birth with the current year. Then there are different sources that talk about the seven year cycle, which doesn’t only include the complete change of the cells in our body, but also comprises of the understanding that we change mentally, evolve, mature and possibly even change in personality.

So quite naturally I jumped into this new chapter of mine setting up my own complementary business, offering workshops, learning new skills and just as naturally found myself including Kundalini Yoga in my usual yoga practice, which, surprise surprise, talks of the sleeping coiled up serpent at the base of the spine.  Kundalini is actually the Sanscrit word for “coiled” and  the aim is to awaken this sleeping energy and enable it to rise up the spine to the higher energy centres, ultimately in search of enlightenment. Some call it the yoga of awareness because it focuses on raising consciousness.

I found the idea of a sleeping serpent at the base of my spine rather unpleasant and would avoid thinking about it. But it wasn’t long after that I had a strange experience during meditation. I suddenly became aware of a huge snake curling itself around my crossed legs and rising up behind me, covering me with its massive head and open hood. Ok, there I was sincerely trying to accept this situation as it was, not letting fear reign my responses and trusting in the good of this unusual event. An image of Buddha came to my mind, where he sits in crossed legged meditation when it begins to rain heavily and a large king cobra (Mucalinda) comes in and provides shelter  and protection for him, just like the snake in my vision. While I just sat there, trying to figure out the meaning of it all, I finally came to the conclusion that it probably is just about trusting in the good of everything and that this snake was not here to scare me. However, I still found the proximity of it rather unpleasant, so I kindly asked it to leave, which it did without remorse.

The first, and until now the only time something similar had happened was when I was much younger, maybe 13, when I was playing in a tent in the garden when I became aware of a presence, which turned out to be a big snake. Just to make this clear, I grew up with the awareness of other dimensions and beings that were not presenting themselves in physical form. So this snake was just like the encounter described above, an energetic link, to something I had no idea of at the time. Back then I wasn’t particularly frightened, more curious and the snake didn’t stay very long.

Now to the mythology behind this mysterious Nāga. In Sanscrit, nāga is a cobra, a specific type of hooded snake. In Hinduism, particularly in India, nāgas are considered nature spirits and the protectors of springs, wells and rivers. They bring rain, and thus fertility, but are also thought to bring disasters such as floods and drought, but usually only when they have been mistreated. They are snakes that may take human form and tend to be very curious.

Varuna, the Vedic god of storms, is viewed as the King of the nāgas. The nāgas also carry the elixir of life and immortality. There are a few stories that involve fights with Garuda, the eagle deity, which gives the impression that the snakes are evil, but reading up on the story it emerges that it all boils down to a failed bet between their mothers.

Shining the light back onto my own little story, I find it interesting, even with little impact on reality, that I chose the nickname “Storm” for online applications in my teens, which I now know is the king of the Nāgas. And I always refered to water, which I mainly drink, as compared to hot or fizzy drinks, as “the Elixir of Life” since I believe that it is good practice to drink plain water to keep the body hydrated. Also, my zodiac and moon sign is Aquarius, which, despite the fact that it is an air sign, is depicted as the water carrier. These are just a few seemingly insignificant details which, however, weigh heavily on my intuition sense. Could all these small little things actually mean something? Are they just small indications of a bigger system that is beyond our comprehension?

It really did cost me great strength to type king cobra into google to find out more about it, fearing all the nasty photos. It was nearly as bad as actually going directly into the snake department at the zoo. The specific name for the king cobra is actually Ophiophagus hannah and I notice with a slight grin that it even sort of has my name “anna” in it…but hey, let’s not get too superstitious here 🙂

The question arising at the end of all this is: What is it that I don’t want to acknowledge about myself? All the signs are there to indicate that this serpent, or Nāga, is my personal symbol to work with and achieve my goals, even to protect me, and it has been trying to present itself to me soo many times, yet I still block it because I feel so repulsed by its mere image. In the end it is fear that is stopping me from fulfilling my higher purpose, which is something I really ought to start working on resolving right now! And I think that is the whole reason behind all these snake references I have encountered over the past months. I am now ready to face my fear and stand up for myself. I can work towards becoming who I innately know I am, and stop worrying that I’m won’t be capable of being that person.

As the magnificent Maya Fiennes said on yesterday’s Kundalini yoga workshop: “If we wanted to be perfect, we wouldn’t have needed to come on earth. Life on earth is not supposed to be perfect. We are here to experience, to live and to learn.”

And just what a fantastic journey life is!

Love
Anna

Against all Odds

I spent my first day at kindergarten glued to the spot next to the door that I had come in, leaving the nursery workers in a state of alarm, fearing that I would run away. When my mum came to pick me up at the end of the day, she decided to stay with me the next day, just in case. It left my mum in a state of unrest and bewilderment, especially considering all the information about the new place and it’s people I had on offer despite the nursery nurse’s report of my excluding behaviour.

The next day, however, I vehemently made it clear to my mum that this was my kindergarten and that she was not supposed to be here. Amidst the confusion shared between my poor mum and the nursery workers was I, cheerfully taking in the place that I had closely examined the previous day, although most, if not all, had assumed that I was just standing next to the door waiting for the perfect moment to do a runner. But actually I had been taking in every single movement, story and event that was going on around me.

Despite having been an open, cheerful and interested child, something had happened around the age of two that noticeably changed my behaviour. From that point on I was more socially awkward. Generally I would not communicate at first when introduced to new people, similar to the kindergarten story, but I would also, for example, not shake anyone’s hand, despite how many times my mum would urge me to do so. The more embarrassed my mum would get, the more urgent her pleas and ultimately the more I shut down.

I was fine with my own company and would avoid large groups of people. Especially when it was an environment new to me or it came to talking in front of the class. There were a couple of occasions where I would even pretend to have lost a presentation and rather get a poor mark than having to stand and talk in front of the class. It also didn’t help that I had a rather invidious teacher who saw very little potential in me. A few years later, at art college, I held a presentation about the colour yellow and had prepared a little bag filled with all things yellow which was passing through the class while I was talking. After the presentation, my teacher told me that maybe I should consider for future presentations that this bag was distracting others away from the actual presentation. Little did she know that this had actually been my intention!

About six years ago I attended a spiritual development group, which mainly consisted of aspiring future mediums whereas I was simply interested in finding out more about my own unexplained experiences. I have long since moved away from the realms of mediumship, however, one thing the group facilitator had said still rings in my ears now: “One day you will be standing in front of a large audience and I want you to be prepared for that moment!” She said that she herself never thought she would have to and my own thoughts went very much the same line. “Why should I if I don’t want to?” She persistently tried to engage us in talking in front of the group to gain more confidence. I hated it and decided that I will not talk in front of an audience, regardless how big or small it may be. Full stop.

How ironical, really, that I did exactly that two days ago. And it felt like the most natural thing in the world! Ok, now, I have been practicing over the past two years. It all started with the longing to go to India which was overridden by a program to teach English at Buddhist monasteries in Nepal. So suddenly I was a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) teacher and found myself surrounded by young monks. Then I offered a few workshops on finding our inner self based on meditation and self-healing and finally secured myself a stall at a wellbeing bazaar which was a great way of talking to many people and which I also really enjoyed. Lastly I also made many attempts to educate my fellow workers to improve the ward that I work on with little effect. Mainly because my position doesn’t give me much credibility. However, as part of my own current professional learning, I had chosen a unit on teaching which ultimately gave me the honour of teaching a group of the latest new starters to the trust, with the possibility that I might be able to do this again.

And with pleasure would I do it again! I was, and still am, so excited and passionate about sharing my knowledge and expertise. It shows you just how much life changes you over the years. Many setbacks occur, childhood traumas sit deep and growing up isn’t the easiest of lessons, but the mere act of growing up is what makes us who we are. And even if we don’t always know where we want to be once we’re grown up, as long as we trust that we are here for a reason and that we will get where our destiny will take us, then it will be alright. Fear will always be part of life, just don’t let yourself be held prisoner by it. Instead use it as an inspiration to try anyway.

Like Ralph Waldo Emerson sais: „Always do what you are afraid to do.”

And one day, life and fear will have taught us enough about ourselves so that we are able to share and to teach others about it. And as soon as we have found something we feel passionate about, teaching really comes quite naturally.

Love
Anna

A Rocky Day

One day, on my way from Kathmandu to Pokhara (both in Nepal), I found myself facing a massive rock that was quite insistently sitting in the middle of the road leaving no other way than to turn around or climb over it.

The question was: Did this really have to happen now?

I had made the decision to leave Kathmandu a day earlier hoping to find some much sought after solitude in peaceful Pokhara. Now, the rock would have still been there the day after, but I could have avoided it altogether simply by choosing to fly over it, like a friend of mine did the next day. But then I would have missed out on an invaluable life lesson.

The day started early, with the bus (a proper big bus, in rugged 1970s style) leaving Kathmandu at 7am while the City was still pleasantly quiet. The journey was said to take 7 hours and in all honesty, I was quite looking forward to a sightseeing tour without the dangers of being attacked by leeches, as opposed to last weekend’s trek…

Three hours later and we had already ground to a halt. When it emerged that there had been a landslide, the only option seemed to be to wait until it was cleared so we could carry on.

And we sat there for the next four hours until some brave and clearly restless backpackers decided to leave the bus and trek along the long line of busses and cars in an attempt to get by the landslide on foot. They seemed to know what they were doing so I decided to walk with them, on the promise that the bus driver would either pick us up on the way should the convoy of vehicles get moving again or that we could use the bus coming from Pokhara in case it would have to turn around. To me that sound sensible, so off I trodded in a loosely formed group of strangers.

One and a half hours later we realised the extend of the whole holdup: the main rock measured about 5 square metres and had formed a proper road block together with other bigger and smaller rocks from the slope that it had slid down to the river that was busily rushing past. Fantastic, did I thought, as I watched locals and tourists scramble over the massive pile of scree. The others didn’t seem too fond of the idea to copy the climbing either. It had started raining a little while ago and every now and again there was an outcry when more mud and stones made their way down onto the road.

Four options: 1. Chicken out and go back to Kathmandu. 2. Climb over the stones. 3. Go past the stones below along the river bed. 4. Climb up the slope and pass the block overhead.

While I made a bit of a dance turning back and forth while thinking what to do, and hoping no stones would drop on my head, the most experienced of our makeshift group, a Canadian, said it would be best to go down to the river bed and walk past, despite the risk that the whole mass could easily slide down and either bury him or push him into the river and bury him then. Having talked to him a little bit during our trek, a small but significant voice had said that I should follow him regardless of what he did. So one decision at least had been made: follow the Canadian. If he goes to the other side of the rock, so will I. If he turns around and heads back, so will I.

Just did I not agree with going down to the riverbed, nor did I see a way up the slope. It was too steep and muddy. So off I went as I watched the red rain coat of the Canadian disappear, adrenalin pumping through my body, and set my first foot onto the massive pile of stones. It was tough. I had a heavy backpack on my back and a smaller rucksack on the front and I worried that the sheer weight of me would make the stones move, carrying me straight into the river where I would drown not just under stones but under my heavy bags. But hey, there were locals and police and army at hand who smiling and cheering just got on with it, lending you a helping hand, pushing and pulling you up on the next stone and supporting me when I descended down on the other side.

 “First time in Nepal?” a local asked cheerfully. “Yes”, I said, gazing up as he offered me his hand. “Have a great time”, he said and jumped down the rock he had just heaved me up on.

I was exuberantly happy to be back on the road and caught only a small glance at the stone pile from the other side before I was ushered along by police indicating more debris rolling down the hill. The three Polish guys, one of them a girl, from our makeshift group made it over just after me and we began looking for the promised bus that would hopefully take us to Pokhara.

By this time I was absolutely soaked and full of mud since I literally went up that rock on hands and knees. After about 20 or 30 minutes along yet another line of buses and cars we decided to settle for the next best mini bus that shouted Pokhara at us and we settled inside, tired and exhausted.

When the drivers had decided that the mini bus was well and truly filled to its fullest extend, and to Nepali standards it really was, we finally got going. It was already beginning to get dark, so I didn’t see much else from the rest of the journey. There were no street lights, just darkness, interrupted only by the occasional beeping oncoming or dangerously overtaking car or mini bus. I survived the day on three muesli bars, nuts a banana and 1 litre of water. 12 hours without a loo!

 At ten o’clock we arrived in the dark Pokhara lit only by taxis that were clearly awaiting us. They descended upon us like vultures saying yes to anything you said just so you would pick them over the others. I was too tired to fight and just gave in to the first. It turned out that he didn’t know where my pre-booked guesthouse was, and that it had indeed just been a “yes” regardless. He was, however, rather courteous, addressing me with the traditional “sister” (didi being Nepali for elder sister) and calling the guesthouse when he thought we arrived, after a few rounds around a dark block and narrow side roads,  just to make sure I wouldn’t go into the wrong house and get into trouble.

And when I finally lay down that evening it dawned on me, that none of my family or friends even knew where I was and what an adventure I have had. And a sudden realisation set in that I might as well be buried underneath a landslide face down in the river or be kidnapped by a crazy taxi driver and still nobody would know.

It took me back six years to my trip to New Zealand, where I also would just rent a car and leave for the weekend not knowing where I would go myself. Back then already, my host family would say how brave I was. But to me it wasn’t braveness. I was just excited to discover a part of the world that was new to me, ignorant to the unbeknown dangers that were lurking behind every turn. But if I had let myself held prison by my, or other’s, fears then I would never have discover the beauty and surprises which also lay behind each turn I passed.

And not to forget all the strangers that I have met over the past 12 hours alone, who were helping as they went along, without any reward (apart from the fact that neither the mini bus driver nor the taxi driver were able to give change, meaning that they got more than they had initially asked for).

So, lying on that bed somewhere in Nepal, I suddenly felt completely at ease. I even enjoyed the fact that nobody knew where I was. There was just me, on my own little adventure, having conquered my destiny, and feeling absolutely fine about it. I sighed, smiled and fell into a deep, deep sleep.

Ignorance is bliss after all 😉

Love
Anna

Home is where the Heart is

Just what is home and where is my heart?

Having been born and bred in Germany on the mainland of good old Europe, one day, having just turned 21, the growing feeling of something missing got too much and I escaped for a few weeks, off to see the bottom of the world, the glorious New Zealand.

Just a year earlier I had been adamant that I wouldn’t ever go very far from my localities, namely family and friends, with more emphasis on friends at that time. It just happened that this big and merry circle of friends broke into many pieces after a few personal indifference between the many male and few female counterparts which lead me to re-evaluate my current status.

Did I really want to stay in this area? Did my temporary job as a web programmer really make a difference to the world? Would a full-time employment really give me the reward I craved? Was I prepared to keep travelling the 50 kilometers to work every day, or would I even dare consider moving into this bleak industrial city?

The decision was served on a silver tray by my boss announcing the arrival of a new member of the team who would not only take over my work load and foreign correspondence but also be permanently employed… Oh the bitter-sweet epiphany.

Lagunenfeuer von Anna Hoffmann

Suddenly the sun rose on my horizon. And it was a very wide horizon indeed. The whole world was open. I had no ties, nothing that held me back. For the first time in my life I was ready to take a leap. And leap I did, though a little shaky, onto my first plane ride ever, 25 hours to the other end of the world.

When I got back I brought with me a little bit of the smiles and openness I had encountered in the land of sheep and decided that I would very much like to live there one day. Adamant to fulfill that dream I changed career and studied foreign languages (only German, English and a little bit of Spanish to be precise).

I vividly remember the moment that I stood in the hallway of my mother’s house, which had been a home for the past eight years and thus for most of my conscious youth, and it suddenly struck me that the minute I walk through that front door, life will never be the same again. And for a few seconds I actually struggled to move. Memories from childhood flooded in, the comfort of a home, of family, security, knowing that you will be looked after, all this I was about to give up. But I also knew that if I wouldn’t give it up, I would never grow.

And I’m glad I did. I certainly lost a part of my heart to the ever so beautiful old town of Heidelberg in southern Germany, and made many good friends. I even said that this would be the perfect place to spend the last few years of my life. I don’t know for sure whether it was just the fact that I had left my mother’s house for the first time, or if I just really loved this place, but despite my obvious desire and curiosity to go abroad, I well and truly had arrived in a place where I felt home. But the niggling feeling to go further afield never ceased.

It did, however, stop the minute I arrived in England. And nothing, absolutely nothing, could have sparked it anew or made me leave again. And I did encounter a few nasty incidents over the years. One told me to “f*** off back to my own country”. Well, here I was. Everything around me was new. I discovered a part of me that had long been suppressed by other’s ideals and concepts and which could now just be and grow without having to justify itself. And the little voice that had pushed me so hard to finish my education and move abroad had become silent.

It’s place was taken over by a much stronger voice. This new voice reminded me again and again that this was my place to be. No lack of money, job or accommodation could stop me. I was given an easy option out by means of a coach driver who was working for the German student organisation that I had come over to work for as an intern, who quite happily would have taken me back to Germany the very day I had quit the internship, but hey, that would have been far too easy.

I well knew I had to stay, because I felt wholly and completely at home. Considering the lack of financial security or the mere prospect of work or a room to stay, which most people would associate “home” with, I had arrived in my heart, which in turn provided enough space to call home. It created a feeling of happiness, a little excitement too, a sheer sense of being and  happiness about it.

And exactly this sensation was my driving force. It propelled me forward to finding work, from the shittiest cleaning job to  jaw-clenching boring data entry and finally lead me to the health care sector, in which I, by all means, never wanted to end up. But somehow I did. And turns out it actually is the only job I have ever done so far that gives me that rewarding feeling that I actually do something good to someone else on a physical as well as mental level which I never got from my work in front of a computer.

So, having found myself and something that fulfills me, was” the key to my home”.

Why, out of all places, it had to be an island that gives me the sense of freedom, I don’t know. Compared to the vast opportunities on the Eurasian continent, from Spain to Russia to Africa to  China and India, all of which I could theoretically reach by foot, here I will have to either be a really strong swimmer or have a boat at hand to ship me over. Neither of which I can count to my personal resources. Yet, I feel happy and content when the fresh sea air wafts around my nose and the green grass of the South Downs collides with the white chalk cliffs surrounded by the inherently beautiful blue of the sea and the sky.

Of course, now that I begin to settle, I dream of a proper home, a house, that will provide me with shelter, a garden to grow food and a green and serene surrounding to relax and unwind. But this place won’t be possible, unless I am happy with who I am, as a person on the outside as well as a spiritual being on the inside. And as long as I have a good cause which will contribute to the improvement of society and the world at large, either in terms of full-time employment or even as a hobby, nothing will stand in the way of me, my heart and my home.

Love
Anna

A Letter to all Fathers and Mothers who may have abandoned a Child

A part of me is missing and for a long time I firmly believed that I didn’t need it. There would be no reason to miss it since it has never been there in the first place.

The desire, or curiosity, to discover this part, however, has always been there. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

The last time I had the chance to closely analyse this part, a meeting in person, I was too shy and intimidated, for this part suddenly appeared to be rather foreign to me. Twenty years have passed since then.

A couple of times I plucked up the courage over those years to explore this part from a distance, to understand what I was possibly missing. A very tiny piece made its way to me in the form of a letter, which rather served as a punishment than a bonus. This was ten years ago. Many others were left unanswered.

I have now arrived at a point in life at which I realise that I will never be whole, for a part of me has been kept away from me. I sincerely tried everything to get by without it. I denied the gap, filled it with other things, attempted to accept it the way it is and adapted to the flow of life.

However, these tactics didn’t last for long. Again and again, I would become aware of the gap and now understand the implications it has on my life and me as a person.

It hurts to not be wanted as a person. Any rejection of any kind, be it in relationships, at work, with friends, foes and the like, would sadden me deeply. I believe, that whatever I achieve is never good enough. My sense for perfection drives me to exhaustion and I am continuously aiming to prove and justify myself, to explain my existence and with that give my life a purpose. I fear that people I meet dislike me or don’t want me around. I don’t know how to engage with the opposite sex or how relationships work. This is information which is to be found in the missing part.

No acknowledgement, no praise, no recognition can please me, for a part of me is missing. And until I have found this part, I won’t be able to see myself as a complete being.

I am nobody without this part. No, I am something. Something that moves through life and has wonderful experiences, discovers the world, makes friends and enemies, follows it’s calling, finds its true purpose, learns, experiments, laughs, cries, falls and gets back up again, carries on, enjoys the little things in life and yearns for acknowledgement for all the wonderful deeds. And every now and again it asks itself: “Who am I and where do I come from?”

One thought comes up repeatedly: “I wish you could see what a magnificent person I have become and what fantastic experiences I have made and how many people I have influenced. You would be so proud!”

And you really have any reason to be proud that a part of you exists that has such a positive influence on the world! I just wish I could hear your thoughts and understand what this part is, that I am missing.

Dealing with these arising emotions is part of my life and ultimately makes me who I am. Out of the mist of confusion and lack of understanding has stepped a strong individual who cherishes life and aims for the highest goal.

Children are a miracle and a blessing and deserve to be fully acknowledged for who they are!

Love
Anna