A powerful meeting in Hanoi

Roof terrace dinner with Nikki and Bela

The fan is cooling me. Kind of. I am shirtless, sweaty and surrounded by backpackers. I am on on the 5th floor of the Hanoi Backpackers Hostel, the communal space with internet access, a pool table and couches with young, sweaty kids reading books, staring in their phones or preparing their bags as they are heading off to their next destination. I have a bag of lychees within reach.

I feel quite emotional, stirred up. As if I can start crying any minute. These are the times that I want to write because I know I have a chance to dig up something essential. I can feel the knot and I know I can untie it. And I am not too afraid of crying in public. But a little bit more peace and quiet around me would be helpful. So I want to write and I do not.

Unexpected love from Istanbul

Revolution in Istanbul II

In Istanbul and other Turkish cities people are protesting against their government. They are tired of getting their liberties taken away step by step. Young and liberal people are getting beaten down hard by the riot police who use a lot of tear gas, water canons and physical violence. Many protesters are getting injured. The people feel happy and empowered though: they feel united and unstoppable. People want to be free.

I care because I know people who are involved. I have made real friends in Istanbul and I have learned about their situation and complaints against the ongoing increase of government approved Islamic influence, slowly becoming more and more suffocating. I am very proud and happy that my friends are standing up for what they believe in.

The 12 Commandments For Being A Real Man

Atalwin pratices ritsuzen under Balinese waterfall

If you look at the search words that lead people to my website you would get the impression that I am a specialist in ‘being manly’. I owe my authority primarily to my most successful post “12 things every guy should know to become a real man”. Today I will review that post and see if I still agree with what I wrote 2 years ago.

What I didn’t say in the original post was that I owe pretty much all the insights to my awakening experience of March 2004, at 32 years old. That day something broke, my old ‘I” died: I shed a skin. When my old skin, my identity, fell on the floor, shattered in a million pieces, I realized that the ‘I’ I had believed to be true was in fact artificial and – more importantly in the context of today – quite immature. The moment it happened I instantly felt I become a whole and complete man.

How to deal with a Psycho Bitch From Hell


I spent the whole year of 2012 traveling and giving workshops on warriorship, leadership, courage, integrity, mindfulness and personal growth. I lived (for 1 or 2 months) and worked in Israel, Beirut (Lebanon), Baghdad (Iraq), India, Hong Kong, Thailand, Australia, the US and, currently, in Colombia. Among many things I noticed on my journey was that in guy-talk all over the planet the psycho bitch from hell pops up, that I am treated differently because I am a tall, muscular, blue eyed and – most importantly – white man (all highly valued traits in male dominant cultures) and that women are treated poorly and unjust in most cultures that I have seen. I realized that I am blessed to be born on the Western European side of the world. I also realized that my female friends have easier lives then their Indian, Arab or Chinese counterparts, even if they are going through horrible divorces or devastating diseases (which has happened and is happening). The reason is – I think – that in the western world we at least have agreed on the fact that a woman is a human being and that she therefore has equal human rights.

Being real matters


I have made it into a sport and a way of life to be continuously aware of my feelings and thoughts. I still don’t feel fully at ease with being me. One of the things I am aware of is how I alternate between feeling useful and useless every day. But I feel a lot more useful then before. Ha, yes! Now that I think of it: my experience of feeling useful is growing. Now that I think of it I can’t remember a time that I felt more useful then now. Generally speaking that is, I might have days in the past where I felt more useful then today.

This is amazing. It rarely happens that a post takes such an uplifting turn so soon.

Dreams and intentions for 2013 (and beyond)

Happy New Year from Cali

The new year has started! We are still alive, the world hasn’t changed dramatically (unfortunately) and personally I don’t feel too different although the Maya Calendar ended and all the planets were lined up. Today I am on the road for about 355 days and for me the best news is that I am indeed still alive and kicking.

The last 2 years I did an exercise for myself that I will do again now. I will sit down and write all my dreams, intentions and desires that come up in 5 minutes. I make the list without thinking and editing. When I am done I will look at my last year’s list and see if I was ‘successful’ in 2012. This is a new part of the exercise. I look forward to it because last year I found out that what I wrote in January 2011 came true.

Wishing you a happy end of the era of ego, fear and greed!

From Caterpillar to butterfly

Imagine people all over the world literally waking up to a new paradigm. In the morning they open their eyes and they realize that the world is the same only they see it differently. Instead of threats they see beauty, instead of greed they feel a desire to share, instead of a need for validation they feel moved to serve others. And this would happen to people all over the planet, from shoe shiners in Delhi to entrepreneurs in Hong Kong, tribesmen in Ghane and housewives in Philadelphia. It would happen to Vladimir Putin, Robert Mugabe, Mitt Romney and the Pope. It would happen to skinheads, inmates, criminals and prostitutes. Media from all over the world would be busy reporting cases of spiritual transformation. Former enemies would enter in constructive dialogue and come up with compassionate and selfless solutions faster than television could cover.

Don’t take your ego personal and heal strangers accidentally

Atalwin in Colombia

My lesson of today is that cultivating an open heart is not only a source of wisdom, beneficial for our personal well being, our relationships and friendships and offers an amazing and exciting personal life journey. It also touches and heals others, strangers, passengers in our life, in ways we cannot imagine. It breaks down cultural barriers and creates connections that transcend age, class, religion and race. People are hardly interested in meeting another ego. But meeting another human being charms the hell out of most of us, especially if we can relate to him or her even though he or she comes from a part of the planet that is alien of perhaps even intimidating or frightening to us.

Meeting the Teacher

Sam the Teacher

This morning I did a session with Gretchen, the mom of Sam; the baby boy that left us so soon. And sometimes when I work with people something magical happens. This time was certainly one of the most magical experiences I have had this year, perhaps even in my life.

What happened that it seemed that we connected with Sam’s energy. And I say ‘seemed’ because it still sounds weird to me when I say these things out loud. How can I connect with the energy of a little boy that is not with us any more? But deep down I totally trust my experience. Even though my rational mind can’t understand it and wants to tell me it is impossible I have no doubt in my heart.

More handsome in real life

Atalwin is more handsome in real life ;)

I was wandering around through my hotel a bit. I knew I wanted to write something but didn’t really know where to start. Then I saw the cute girl from reception that I chatted with this morning. I had told her a little bit about my work and showed my website. When she looked at my picture she told me I looked different. Now I don’t know what you think but I think ‘different’ is not a very positive word. When you just had an expensive haircut you don’t want somebody to say: “your hair looks.. eh.. different”

I assumed that the photo on my website was showing a better version of me and that my appearance in ‘real life’ was disappointing to her. Maybe it was because I was wearing a sun faded tank top this morning and a blue-checkered shirt on my website. Maybe I looked more mature and wise when I was wearing my blue-checkered shirt. Maybe I looked like a scruffy, middle of the road backpacker this morning.