Peace Camp in Amsterdam

At this moment, sitting behind my computer, I feel very limited as a writer. How do I find the words to sincerely describe the atmosphere in the room during our weekly Peace Camp sessions? I really don’t know.

Maybe it is better to start with describing what Peace Camp is. It is an hour of meditation followed by a workshop led by myself. The evening is hosted by Michael Henskens, co-founder of Bootcamp Nederland, personal trainer, avid martial artist and former high school buddy. Thus Peace Camp is where Basic Goodness and Bootcamp Nederland meet.

We started only two weeks ago, yesterday was the third time. It all started a couple of months ago when Mike shared his thoughts with me on starting a meditation group from his living room. It felt like a nice idea and I knew I would have time from November on. In a way it wasn’t such a big deal. After all, I give mindfulness courses and my former participants might welcome a weekly meditation session. But on the other hand, I’m always a bit afraid that nobody wants to join us. And in some way I still feel a bit vulnerable about how people will react when two apparently tough guys do something as soft as initiating Peace Camps.

But we bought mats and meditation cushions and turn Mike’s living room every Thursday into a beautiful candle lit zendo. We send out invitations and people show up and come back. It is humbling to see how Peace Camp is starting to shape itself, how an idea comes to live. Between seven to ten people come together to sit quietly in the heart of Amsterdam. There is something very intimate about it. Together we make a sincere effort to embrace some of the Japanese form, even when we don’t have all the right bells and clappers. The fact that we all do our best makes it beautiful.

So here we are. Almost all the faces in the room have seen the others before in the night life of Amsterdam. For years we have been judging each other on our looks. And now we come together to drop our masks. During the second hour we investigate ourselves with the help of the process my teacher Genpo Roshi developed, the Big Mind Big Heart Process. We open up. We see ourself and we see ourself in the other. We meet. We connect. And in those moments it is as if something is revealed to us. It feels sacred and a bit magical but also very joyful and human. Would this be our True Nature? I don’t know. But I do know that I feel grateful for the peace we created together at our own little Peace Camp in Amsterdam


  1. Anna says

    Yesterday I joined PEACE CAMP for the first time. I loved it. It is the recipy for an inspiring evening. A place to breathe and open up. I felt so calm, happy and alive when I went home. An amazing result for a two hour session. The combination of meditation and the Big heart Big Mind workshop, facilitated by Atalwin, is just magical.

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