Breaking the silence


It has been seven months since my last blog. Writing this blog reminds me of the moment when we broke the silence on the 10th day of a Vipassana silent retreat that I attended recently. At the retreat noble silence is maintained for ten days which means that you don’t speak to anyone (vocally or through body language). Any distractions that can possibly divert your attention are taken away (such as phone, books, writing material, exercise). You use the time to learn a meditation technique that enables you to quiet the mind, be in the moment and connect with yourself.

The first three days of silence is difficult because you feel the need to express yourself but may not. You want to check with others if what is happening to you is ‘normal’, whether they are also struggling. If you are making progress and being a good student. Instead of getting the external confirmation and recognition that you seek you are faced with your own habits of avoidance and fears of failure.

You realize that you tend to live your life from the outside in, instead of inside out. Before making a decision you first look outside of yourself to gather information, test the opinion of others and seek their approval. Rather than starting at the sensational level, your inner body of knowledge, and feel how the decision sits with you. Does it create sensations of craving or aversion within you? Can you look at it from a place of equanimity and respond objectively rather than reacting from your default pattern?

After the fourth day you start to settle in your body. Your eyes are not looking frantically around, they start to calm down and rest in the eye sockets. This enables you to begin to feel the sensations in your body from a physical level and not look at the sensations from the outside in. You start to come home to yourself. You come home to the moment as it is and not as you want it to be. In doing that you begin to accept and love yourself.

For me the journey back home was 5 cm inward, 10 degrees to the left and between 4 to 12 hours long. I realized I tend to live 5cm outside of my physical body. When we had to feel the sensations in our bodies I tried to look at it from a 5cm distance. The retreat enabled me to feel comfortable within my body so that I could feel the sensation as it arose and passed by. When you sit for 12 hours and meditate you become aware of your body posture. My head was tilted to the right side at an angle of 10 degrees. I was not looking straight ahead and facing reality as it was. At the beginning of the retreat my mind was always thinking ahead. I became aware that I was thinking about what I was going to do 4 to 12 hours ahead of time. I was not present at all. When you are not present you can’t be with life as it is in the moment. You miss out on the fullness of life and yourself.

When you start to speak after 10-days of silence you realise that you are engaging with others from a different place. A more loving and centred space. You are more aware whether you are connected to your truth or not. I stopped blogging for a while because I realised that my blogs became more about sharing other people’s opinions and insights than my own. The initial purpose of my blogs was to share my truth and how I experience the world with the hope that it will inspire others to do the same and just be themselves. As with the retreat I needed some time in silence to reconnect so that when I do speak up it comes from a place of love and authenticity.

We can’t always go on silent retreats to reconnect with ourselves. What we can do is to create pockets of silence during the day or week. Even if it is just to focus on your breath for a minute. Doing that brings you back to the universal truth that everything in life arises and passes away. We can’t control life more than we can control our breath. The act of trying to control life contributes to our suffering. When we let go of the need to control and accept the moment as it is and not how we want it to be, we set ourselves and others free.

I know it is easier said than done and probably a lifetime practice,  but we can start with this breath…


Inner Current


The sea has a powerful current

let it move you

let it stir parts of your soul that you have forgotten.


Allow it to come to the surface

and surprise you.


You are so much more than you think.

Stop thinking,

stop limiting yourself.


Let the inner current lead you

to the place you know

the place that you call home.

10 Reasons for coaching


Last week I was filled with deep gratitude when I completed my Professional Coach Training and certified as an Integral Coach. It has been an amazing two-year journey of learning and re-discovering. Looking back I know that it was the best investment I could have made in/for myself. I was reminded again (as I often am with coaching clients) of the value of making time for personal development.

The past week I reflected on the following question:

Why do we enrol in personal development workshops or coaching processes?

One of the main reasons is to learn new skills. So, why do we need more skills?

Below is a list of ten reasons that came to mind.

We develop new skills to build our capacity to:

  • stay in the discomfort instead of running away from it.
  • meet the challenges that life gives us and turn it into opportunities for growth.
  • have the courage to step into the uncertainty even though we are afraid.
  • lean more into who we are and have been all along.
  • trust and love ourselves more.
  • change in order for new possibilities to unfold.
  • serve others in a compassionate way
  • deepen our relationships with others (at home and at work).
  • connect in a meaningful way with life.
  • not escape life but to learn how to engage with life.

Learning: We develop skills not to escape life but to learn how to engage with life.

Healing question: How can I embody the skills I learn in order to connect in a more meaningful way with others and life?

Focus on the space


A few weeks ago we did a road trip through Namibia. What struck me most about Namibia was the landscape and the ample space. As far as you can see there is space. It feels as if there is nothing. As if it is just an open space.

After sitting in the ‘empty’ space your thoughts start to slow down and you are stripped of your preconceived ideas. You realise there is no such thing as nothing. Nothing is something. You realise that if you focus your attention on the space possibilities open up.

I became aware of my own tendency to rather focus on something. I would focus on a tree, a structure or a dune rather than the space around it. Not realising that I’m closing down the vastness by doing that.

This time of the year we tend to focus on the overbooked diary and busy schedule. In our life we only see the problem, the sentence in the email that we disagree with, the crack in the wall, the branches of the tree, etc. We don’t see the space between. We don’t focus on the aspects that we agree with, the blank piece of the paper, or the space between the leaves of the tree.

How might things be different if you start to see all of it? How might it open up space within you during this busy time of the year?

Learning: Focus on the space and allow it to open up space within you.

Healing question: How can you start to see space as just as important part of the bigger picture and not as an area that still needs to be filled?

Part of a team


We all have a need to belong. Whether it is in our personal life or at work. We want to feel that we are part of a group of like-minded people. We don’t just want to be connected to them on a virtual basis. We want to experience meaningful real-life connections. We want to build personal relationships and feel each other’s presence.

Research indicates that more than a quarter of people feel they don’t belong, despite the fact that they have many social platforms to connect with others. A possible reason for this is that the feel-good hormones of the body (like oxytocin) need face-to-face interaction to stimulate production. Our moods improve and we feel more socially connected when we can see and hear one another.

There are different ways one can experience a sense of belonging. Being part of a community or tribe, a group of close friends, a division at work or a sports team are some of the ways. The Iceland soccer team that is currently playing in the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament reminded me how a team sport can bring people together and create a sense of connection. It made me think back to the times when I used to play team sports.

I started to participate in team sports when I was about 11 years old. At first I played netball and later (in High School) switched to hockey. The wonderful thing about a team sport is that every member of the team has a specific role to play. Knowing that my contribution counts towards the team gave me a sense of belonging. I experienced a deep sense of connection during a match. When we all played towards a common goal it really felt hat we were in it together.

It has been many years since I last played in a team sport. Being self-employed I’m also not working with others on a daily basis. Only now that I’m not part of a ‘team’ anymore I realise the sense of belonging that it gave me. I recognise the importance of engaging with others in meaningful ways such as physically spending time  and conversing with them. When last did you really connect with someone? Where do you feel you belong?

Learning: Being part of a team gives one a sense of belonging.

Healing question: How can the way I interact with others translate into meaningful, real-life connections?

Be life curious

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When last were you curios about your life and all its aspects?

Curiosity is an inherent quality that we all have. It is our innate explorative behaviour as well as our desire to know and understand. Studies show that when we are curious about something we learn far easier at a deeper level and remember what we’ve learned longer.

When you observe 2-year old children you see that it is in their nature to be curious and inquisitive. They have a healthy fascination with their beautiful world. They explore with all their senses and a feeling of wonderment. According to Jean Piaget (a Swiss psychologist) children are intrinsically interested in novelty and motivated to improve their understanding of the world. Children actively seek problems to solve and do not wait for others to present problems to them. Their curiosity is the tool with which they acquire information and develop their intellectual and creative abilities.

Unfortunately, as we grow older we tend to express our curiosity less. A possible reason for this is the way we are schooled. The full curriculum does not always allow time for kids to ponder and enquire. We also become less tolerant of wonderment when the focus is on accomplishment and performance. Later when we start to work we are constantly reminded that ‘time is money’. The time pressure and heavy workload hinders our curiosity. Which is sometimes exactly what is needed to unlock new energy and possibilities.

 Research indicates that for the brain to develop new connections we must allow ourselves to curiously and playfully enjoy novel experiences. We must make time to ask questions, ponder and reflect. Albert Einstein said: ‘ I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.’ If you struggle with a difficult situation at work or maybe want to change a personal habit, I would like to invite you to become ‘passionately curious’ about it this week. Foster an environment that is curious and not judgemental. Look at the situation through the eyes of a 2-year old. Reconnect with your sense of wonderment.

Learning: When I become curious about life, new learnings open up.

Healing question: What will I learn about my work or life if I become ‘passionately curious’ about it?

Make time to be


Are you afraid to slow down? What will happen if I slow down or sit quiet for a few minutes and just be? No, the thought of that is just too scary I’ll keep on doing.

Keeping busy allows us to avoid things we don’t want to face. We know if we slow down one of two things may happen:

  1. The critical voice in our heads will say things like – How can you sit still you must be working? People don’t like people who are lazy. If I don’t do something you’re not productive or competent…
  2. The calling voice will start to speak up. It’s the voice that you are trying to avoid. The one you are saying to ‘I just want to do this first then I will listen to you…’.The one that you keep busy in order to distract from it. According to Jennifer Louden a calling is:‘That which is so alive, so urgent, so blissful, you must shield your eyes from it… It is that which you may think you do not deserve and certainly are not capable of giving birth to.’

Whatever voice it is that you are trying to avoid by keeping busy. Know that with everything we do in the world there is a doing and a being state. Check in with yourself. What state are you mostly operating in? Who will you need to be for the desired things to happen in your life?

Even though the thought of just being might be scary. The good news, according to Rick Hansen, is that the more we practise to just be with ourselves. We develop new neural pathways. Over time we create a felt sense of a core being that is intact.

So, how does one do it?

  • First find out what ‘activity’ allows you to connect with the ‘being’ part of you. It can be meditating, praying, walking early in the morning, yoga, being in nature, and breathing deeply…
  • Then make time for ‘being’ in your life. It does not need to be long – it can be 1 minute a day.
  • Practise regularly. Don’t underestimate the power of little things. It builds over time.

I want to close with one of my favourite mindfulness phrases by Mark Williams:May you have ease of being. Allow yourself to be just as you are: complete and whole.