When we are open to it our days are filled with all kinds of little surprises and miracles. Who would have guessed an hour ago that I would sit outside writing my blog (now with two dogs trying to play with me. Ah, the dogs kicked sand all over my precious AirBook. That’s it, Mr Adventurous is going back inside). Where was I? We have a choice. We can either try to control, manipulate, avoid or decrease our experience (as we generally do, just observe your inner commentary on everything if you don’t believe me) or we can embrace it as it is presented to us. We can open up to the moment. It is not a nuisance that the moods of your co-workers can differ every day; it is a miracle. The sun comes out: people start to undress and flirt. It rains: people become moody. Isn’t it fascinating? The world becomes a field of play.
Day three of my solo retreat: 3 hours of meditation, a hike, a swim and healthy food. I just came back from the restaurant. Everybody warns you about things that could involve tap water but by now I have found out that salads, ice coffees and fruit shakes are fine. Yes, sometimes being a warrior means you daringly try the salad in India even though the Lonely Planet tells you not to. The outcome was a relief. I ask the waiter to leave out the French fries and to double the veggies. Now I am happy.
It is interesting to see the influence of sunlight, healthy food, nature and peace and quiet on my system. Obviously, it is very good for me. Also, all these cliché thoughts come up. Like: we don’t need much or all that running around in the city is senseless. I catch myself fantasizing about which paradise island has decent Internet. With the help of Skype and PayPal I can sustain myself and be of service to others simultaneously. Why work from a rainy and chilly place if the reception is good under the coconut palms? I will roam the planet until I find the perfect place for my retreat center, all sustainable and eco-friendly of course.
I feel good about myself. I started my solo retreat. I meditated about 1 hour and 45 minutes today, swam about 1 km, did some strength exercises and ate healthy and moderate. I feel my system is quieting down, I feel that nature is taking care of me.
I am reading a book called “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda and I find it very fascinating (and humbling). It is published in 1946 and written by a yogi who lived from 1893 to 1952. He was the first yogi master to come to the United States. I have read about 200 pages and at this point he is still called Mukanda. He talks about his spiritual path and the remarkable encounters he had. The thing is, all these stories are mind-blowing if you can believe them or just or just ludicrous if you can’t.
I just meditated for 45 minutes and saw another layer. Not only do I have a deep-rooted feeling of being not good enough, I also have a conviction that ‘it won’t work out for me anyway’. Both are connected to a need for love, acceptance and approval. Deep down I feel unfit to be loved. Making a ‘wrong’ intuitive decision like buying train tickets without looking on maps, triggers a feeling of failure, which in my mind confirms the loss of my relationship. I have a voice saying ‘you see, this is why women leave you, boy: it won’t work out anyway’. What happened, and this is rare for me, was that I could see the little boy in my meditation and I could tell him he was ok.
There is not much we can do about negative thoughts than observe them over and over again. Meditation helps to not take them too personal. We are not our thoughts. And by just observing the experience, the experience changes. This will ultimately clear things up. Happiness is a by-product of the clarity.
Mumbai, India. It is another hot morning in Mumbai. I have stuck around my CouchSurfing host because she wants me to meet her spiritual group that comes together every Thursday. If I understand correctly there is a guy that channels messages. Supposedly the guy is good and integer. I am curious. I am not very […]
Istanbul is a beautiful city. First of all it is enormous, and it is diverse, eclectic, busy, green, old and very Islamic. Turkey is supposed to be a secular country but it doesn’t feel like that. Like in all the other Islamic countries visited you will hear a call to prayer coming from the mosques five times a day. Speakers in the top of the minarets amplify the sound so the sound carries a long way. In Istanbul the call to prayer is louder here than in any other Islamic country I visited. It is the only country I have been where you can’t continue your conversation.
That is paradoxical because I don’t see the mosques being flooded with devotees here. I mean, in Egypt you see virtually all the men rushing to the mosques. And if they can’t make it, you will see them pray in the back of their shops or on the street. It feels like there is a completion going on: many loudly ignore the loud call.
Today is my last day in Iraq. Tomorrow I will fly to Istanbul, Inshallah. Let’s hope the roads are open and that I get on the plane without too much hassle. There is a stamp missing in my passport, I was unable to obtain it because of the closing of the administrative offices during the summit.
I feel like looking back. I turned 40 on the 24th of November and my original plan was to leave the 25th. I missed that deadline and made the next one: 14th of January. I am now on the road for 2,5 months. I visited Israel, Lebanon and Iraq with short transitional stops in Greece, Jordan and Egypt. In some way I feel that I didn’t go out enough, I didn’t make an effort to see the highlights of the country. It was quite hard to eat healthy and to get enough exercise. There were expectations not met and ideas that needed to be adjusted. Before I left I was afraid of being so exposed and at the same time creating the circumstances to maximize that exposure. I feared to be overwhelmed by media attention and hordes of visitors. Also I envisioned the possibility that I would attract so many Skype clients that I would have no time to leave my hotel but would create a generous income. This did not happen. Yet. But that doesn’t mean I am disappointed. Not at all.
I just saw a movie called Bliss, it came out in ’97 and was directed by Lance Young. The story is about a young couple. The man loves his woman dearly but she is emotionally troubled. Their relationship is challenged. They go to therapy but without too much success. Then the man finds out his wife is cheating on him. Turns out that the guy she is ‘sleeping’ with is a sex therapist called Balthazar (played by Terence Stamp). Initially the husband wants to beat the shit out the therapist for fucking his wife. Later, as the therapist explains his work, he becomes his student, devoted to heal his woman. The movie explains what a tantric path is about, how sex can be a path of healing.
He shared another beautiful thing, insightful for me. He told me how important he feels a woman is. In Islamic tradition the genders are very separated. So as a man your wife is the only source of feminine energy and vice versa. I realized the same thing during the workshop. After a sharing exercise that gives people a strong experience of connection another participant asked me in disbelief “are we equal?” and I asked him “what does your heart tell you?” He checked in with himself and said, “yes, we are equal” It was an extremely powerful moment because the answer came out of the mouth of a devote Muslim whose tradition learned him that women are inferior. In that moment I myself saw how extremely important equality is for me. I don’t like my woman to be equal; I need her to be equal to balance me. Today my iraqi friend agreed with me.
Somewhere in the beginning of the course I had expressed my sadness about the loss of my relationship. Two days later I am in the car with Dr. Chudr and Dr. Salah. Dr. Chudr is driving us to a restaurant where we will have lunch. At some point he asks me: “Can I ask you a personal question?. I say: “Yes”. Then he says: “What is a girlfriend?” Now I have been asked often in my life if I had a girlfriend or what is the name of my girlfriend. But this was a question I had never answered before. I made me realize that we had very different paradigms wherein we lived our lives.