I started this blog in 2014. It was a big time of transition for me and I didn’t know where this was going.

One part of being a writer is finding one’s language. Another is finding what you really want to write about. The hardest part is then to express this message, this pouring out of the heart, unencumbered, so as to relate heart to heart, soul to soul, being to being.

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Trance is a wonderful state. As a European child of the 1990s seeking the experience was a part of growing-up. Trance music, raves, strobe lights, vodka in my blood I danced to the beats each and every weekend. Rhythmically induced ecstasy at 140 bpm. I didn’t need any chemical help. Beats, spheric vocals, dancing. Awesome.

Seeing trance as either an ecstatic trip or a means to learn more about oneself (or both) is for everyone to decide by themselves. What scares the shit out of some, others consider interesting and desirable.

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Searching for the meaning of life is probably the most well-travelled bandwagon in the Universe. What is so fascinating about it? Is looking for life’s meaning really meaningful? Or does our incessant search prevent us from finding what we are actually looking for? 

You have probably read dozens of articles or books, some of those my own, on the big subject “What is the meaning and purpose of our life and how do I find both?”.

Ultimately, the question after life’s meaning and purpose is about a very basic need: “What do I do with the time given to me on this planet? What can I do in this life, that has meaning to me, that is important, that pleases and gratifies me?”. Whatever that may be for you. It might be something big or utterly mundane.

One might ask… how much do we actually do in full consciousness during a given day? What carries meaning for us as individuals? How often do we do things “simply” because we always did them like this, because it is expected from us, because we learned to do them this way and not the other? Get up, coffee, breakfast, commuting to work and some 9 to 5 to finish it off. The French call this “Metro, boulot, dodo.”. Subway, work, sleep. Much of our everyday meanderings is routine. And that is a good thing. Many of our experiences and social interactions happen within the relatively small circle of our colleagues, our family, our friends. That is comforting, that is good.

That being said, is it really THAT important for things to make sense and have meaning all the time? Does our yearning for meaning rather result from our need to spin a retrospective narrative about our last day, our last year?

Let’s shed another light on this. Simple and basal. What unites us, no matter who or where we are or how we live, is our pursuit of happiness and joy.

That’s it. To be happy. That is the common denominator.

That perspective is everything but new. Logically. But let’s look at happiness. It is easier said than done. Look at our Western society. Material plenty, little existential hardship, many many options for the majority of people. Does this make us any happier? Apparently not. Mental illness is on the rise. The complexity and freedom of choice of our modern life may be too tough a challenge for many. So who is happier? Modern, Western man or the African farmer plowing his field for 16 hours a day, because otherwise there won’t be anything to eat come fall. We will never now that and it isn’t really relevant either. What matters is our own perspective, our own measure of happiness and joy.

What I am after with this analogy is this: does our ability and freedom to intellectually and philosophically pursue the meaning of our existence actually make us any happier? Or is happiness and meaning rather the result of a direct, mindless and immediate experience of oneself in the here and now, which is so hard to find?

Happiness is no mind-game. Happiness is a feeling. And the raw emotion behind it is joy. And that’s where the problem is… within us. Happiness and joy are the sweets and treats in our emotional food chart. Three hours of laughter… but please no more. Experiencing and sharing happiness… two hours, but then back into the grinder, please. How often did you hear or speak the following sentence at work, at school, among friends: “Again with the big grin, this one. And it’s not even 9. So happy it is pissing me off. That is not natural. There must be something wrong about this guy.”. Sounds familiar?

All good things come to an end we were told. Happiness and joy are not built to last. But is that really true?

To me, joy flows from the moment. From the here and now. Breathe, feel and be. No distracting thoughts. Focus. Being deeply anchored in whatever is right now. No plans, no to-do lists, no agendas. Simply joy. Without meaning, without purpose. There is your happy wanderer.

Being in the here and now, bathing in this source of joy and happiness is something you can learn and cultivate. To the point that it does not go away anymore, ever. Of course you are still angry and sad. Sure, things turn to a steaming pile of shit sometimes. But your source of joy will be there. In the background.

“Background joy” one might call it. Our children show us how this works. Every day. Does gnawing on a spoon for 3 hours make any sense to a baby (ignoring the 50 expensive toys)?Certainly not. But it’s joy and gratitude are plainly visible.

Some practical thoughts. I personally en-joy combining what I am good at with what I want and with what I can share with others. It is more blessed to give, than to receive. Creating something with others gives me bliss. Co-creation. A great source of joy to me is contact to other people. At work, at parties, watching a game, celebrating at a festival. This is especially true for the workshops I give. And then there is the joy of performing mindless repetitive tasks. Routinely, ritually, almost automatically doing the same thing over and over again is great. Pure meditation.

Many people enjoy challenges. Many relish in enacting their life’s story publicly.

Meditation has helped me locate my mind’s off-switch and deeply anchor myself in the here and now. That is all I need. For it is from this place of meaningless joy, of pure being and sheer presence that I act in a way that only amplifies my joy, my happiness and that of the ones around me. Everything unfolds, synchronistically, from the inside to the outside.

Not doing anything thus blesses you most. That is certainly the point, where most people I talk to, yield. Just be and the rest will follow? That is very much at odds with the way we think things are.

But it works. Very well, indeed.

Maybe the meaning of life is about losing it. And along with it any intellectual concept about ourselves and the world. So that something else may surface.

Pure being.
Existence in the here and now.
I AM THAT I AM.

 

That is meditation.

Have a great week

Benjamin

One of the first things I learned over the years is that people don’t just change. Something dire, something that shakes up our world completely, has to happen first for us to develop a new perspective on ourselves. That is if all goes well.

Twist of fate, hardship and crisis may lead up to personal change and growth, to a productive inner proess and enable us to find new answers to “Who am I?” and “What do I want?”. They may also cripple and destroy us.

The main reason behind all the success stories on “crisis as an opportunity” is that the narrative of those maimed and killed by their fate, the mere survivors and those in painful desperation and helplessness are not being told.

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I know more sad and even fatal tales of agony than happy endings.

I myself haven’t changed without needing to. The cross I had to bear was depression and mania. It was quite a ride, these past 12 years. I went through a barrage of 15 depressions and 9 manic-psychotic experiences. It all started shortly before graduation from university, disrupted my everyday skills and routines to such an extent that I lost three jobs. And while everyone around me grew their lives, traveled, married, had kids and built houses I managed to stay alive. I almost died and the only reason I didn’t is everything but heroic. In part, I was scared to end my life, in part, I was to stubborn to quit. Though I didn’t accept it for the first 8 years or so, I subconsciouly knew that all these experiences had to be good for something, must mean something.

I don’t want to discuss depression or mania right now, neither delve into my personal experiences in great detail. That might come later, maybe. What is important to me right now is to show you how these experiences relate to what I do here. How this motherfucking ride made this blog possible. How it inspired me to meditate and reclaim mastery over my sensations, emotions, thoughts and perceptions.

What really drove me was the deep desire to understand the sometimes doubtful pleasure of these experiences. That led me to meditation. (Bi-)polarity is the greatest fathomable extent of consciousness experiencing itself. It forces you to transcend the confines of the human mind and explore the incredible vastness within and beyond. Communion with oneself is communion with God. It is impossible to explain this to someone, who didn’t experience this. Yet, it remains a fact. Experiencing polarity in its utmost extremes, feeling the tear and stretch of these opposing forces guided me to understand these, in essence seemingly opposing poles, reconcile them and fuse them. That took many many years. In the beginning, I had no basis to interpret what I experienced.

As far as meditation is concerned, I was also dangling my feet in the water for over eight years. I meditated regularly, but mainly for relaxation and easing my mind a little, to let go and better handle stress. I very strongly adopted and advocated the traditional psychiatric view. Both with respect to my experiences and with respect to meditation. I suppressed the deep meaning of my experiences out of fear and what that might imply. My belief was that conventional psychiatry and psychotherapy would do the trick, with meditation and whatnot as an optional add-on.

I was in that inner mode for almost a decade. It all changed in 2010, when my third attempt to restart my life went down the drain. These past 8 years, I have been through all the medication all the behavioral therapy. No joy. Nothing changed. I think it was a the sentence “Benjamin, there is nothing we can do.” that finally made it possible for me to try something new. I began to work with gestalt therapy. Deep inner work: body work, breath, sensation and emotion replaced being drugged down and the “fake it till you make it” approach of conventional psychotherapy. That and an intensified and broadened approach on meditation became the driving force behind a process that began to feel like healing, not survival. That changed everything.

The great thing was that I could use the skills from therapy and combine them with my meditation skills and experiences. And vice versa. The two practices nourished each other and melded into a powerful force of change in my life. That is not to say I was in Happyland after waving a wand. On the contrary, the hardest work was yet to come. However, I now felt that I had tools to work with, raw material to work with. All the emotions, the wealth of my experience, the crazyness, the madness, all the inner abundance from fear to unconditional love transformed. From something I feared and suppressed to something I, step by step, learned to embrace and integrate. After 8 years of helplessness and victimhood I could do something very very productive and beautiful with all that had happened to me. It was that switch in seeing myself that finally gifted me with the permission to leave my old pattern behind. Instead of just dangling my feet in the water, I waded in and began to swim.

The main difference between my process before and after was this: self-trust. Trusting my own sensations, emotions, thoughts and perceptions over any external source. Valuing my experiences as real and pertinent to my growth, however crazy or out of this world. I learned to directly sense and experience what is happening to me, within my body, right here right now. Just acknowledging it. No interpretation, no judgement, no meaning. Just is-ness of oneself. No belief system, no diagnosis, no illness. “Just” that what really is.

This inner trust chaned everything. I was no longer fighting an inner enemy, this alien body of illness within and I no longer capitulated to the genetic-biochemic determinism of conventional psychiatry. I reclaimed my inner power and develop a clear, emancipated and self-confident attitude towards myself. I learned to embrace everything inside of me and work with it. It was quite a liberation and after many years, there was real, tangible hope.

2012 was when the real rocket booster fired. I came across this book “In Search of the Miraculous”. Reading it, I was like “Yeah, that’s what I experienced in mania.” or “I had that idea, too.”. That led me to embrace my experiences as a spiritual process on top of everything else. But that is a long story for another time.

Just this, and I have written about this before, compare the experience of manic-psychosis to descriptions of spiritual awakenings and mystical revelations troughout the ages. There is no difference. Just that the intensity of the experience in mania is much stronger and more direct.

So is it a blessing after all? I leave that for you to ponder on. Just don’t accept for a second that your experiences are meaningless. They are not. And they hold the key to your healing and so much more.

“FOR FRODO.”

 

Benjamin

photo credit: Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny. via photopin (license)

photo credit: Introspection via photopin (license)

We have been getting used to starting the new year with resolutions. What do we want to do, what do we want to achieve?

In itself, this is a beautiful ritual. We look back. 2015, how was that? We gaze at the fireworks in the sky in delight. Maybe, for a little while, we feel at peace. Complete. We are wish-lessly happy (German idiom that does not translate).

And then we look at the next year. And maybe, we draw deep on our innermost wishes, from the wishing well of our heart.

And THEN, our brain enters the stage and screws-up everything. Wishes become resolutions: “You have to loose weight.”. “You have to stop smoking.”. Do this, do that.

Why? Why does everything have to boil down to doing something? Why do we allow ourselves to deprive us of our power, our force? Why does our sense of self-confidence crumble so easily in the face of “You must”, “You should” and doubt?

Why not go about it differently this time? Enter 2016 with an open mind. Leave the outcome open. Maybe, this is a good year for inner work and enlightenment? Why don’t you say to yourself: “I am going to use 2016 for self-discovery.”? Self-discovery and self-knowledge as a catalyst towards inner peace, happiness and awesomeness? Towards bliss? Towards self-confidence?

You will be surprised, I think, how powerful this decision is and how comprehensively it will affect your inner process. An inner process, that will yield oh so many tangible results over the next weeks, months and years.

Now, let us talk about meditation as one of the practices you can use to make this happen. Using self-knowledge and self-confidence as a catalyst for whatever you want.

If you are new to all of this, it would seem to you that sitting around quietly doing nothing is a complete waste of time…

However, reflect his… the smartphone with which you read this article, the chair in which you sit, the clothes you are wearing and the money you used to buy all that… all of those things are fruits of somebody’s IMAGINATION, of someone’s FORCE TO MANIFEST. The all started out as simple ideas that somebody brought to life. And you are profiting from that, right here, right now.

How does that break down for you, personally? Each and every idea you have can be brought to life. Just think about your favorite past projects. Building or renovating a house for your family. Planning your dream vacation. In the beginning there was but a wish, a yearning, a need, an idea. You see: manifestation works (and has worked in your life), if you FOCUS your attention on your idea and ACT accordingly.

Using this process of manifesting our ideas and dreams is a challenge to most of us. We beginn to THINK ABOUT what we want. And very quickly the feces-throwing rioting monkeys that are our UNFOCUSSED thoughts sabotage our heart-driven process with concern and fear. They activate negative though patterns and reinforce a negative belief system that serves itself, but not us. Our inability to consistently refocus our thoughts on what we truly want in that situation leads to what? NOTHING.

Now picture the opposite. How would it feel like if you could learn to focus thus enabling yourself to let your wonderful idea, your dream, your ideal life unfold right in front of you. The absence of unfocused thought unleashes the emotional and creative momentum you need to conceive of, think and feel your dream as something that resonates 100 % with the statement “This is who I am”. At that point, you have no choice but to act this out.

YES – then, and only then, do things start to develop in the direction you wish.

So focus seems to be the silver bullet. What can help you focus? Meditation!. A ritualized meditation practice is, so I think, the best way to lay a strong foundation for realizing your dream.

I have this project going in Germany. “The Mellowmind Experience”. My slogan is, not by chance, “more focus, more joy, more freedom”. To me, it is just that. Teach yourself how to keep your mind mellow. Focus on that. Make an experience. Experience joy and through that freedom. Experience yourself through meditation. And act this out in life. Until at one point, both become one and the same.

Meditation encourages you to accept this. To be able to just catalogue what is going on without judgement. You are not your emotions… and you are not your fear. You are you. And you are having an experience. And you may reinforce or end certain aspects of your experience at will. “Do as thou wilt”. Thank you Aleister.

Meditation empowers you, gives you self-confidence while you realize, more and more, the immense degree of control you have over your thoughts, your feelings, your body and your life experience.

Meditation helps you make better decisions. Period.

So what do you need to carry all that out? Health. Again, meditation helps you regain mental, emotional and physical health, so that you may enjoy your life to the MAX. You will begin to sleep much better within weeks. Your body is more attuned with “Who you truly are”. Your instincts become razor-sharp. I think Manly P Hall once wrote, with poetic license on my part: “Instinct is the footprint of God.”. Meditate on that. You release stress. Effortlessly. Within weeks.

How does all of this work?

Realize, that your mind is incredibly powerful. Meditation give you full access to that power. Jedi-like. You do no longer react to your life experience, you create your life experience.

Already two weeks into your meditation practice, you will experience yourself as calm. Your perception of yourself is more “positive”. Within a month you recognize increased self-mastery when it comes to your thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations. Your sensory apparatus switches from “receive” to “transceive”.

Within six months, you have laid the foundation for more focus. After a year, your thoughts serve You as a whole.

You become a creative power-house and begin to unfold your creative potential through focused and benevolent action.

“Doing No-Thing” thus preps you for inspired action. Fully aligned with your goals, your life purpose. Your action are active, inspired by joy. No longer reactive and fear-based. No limits, no limitation, no inhibition.

Meditation does not offer you a world of opportunities, it offers you a UNIVERSE of opportunities. Through being and doing no-thing you unleash your greatest imaginable potential.

How?

Through a simpler, more fulfilled life. Through joy in just being. In complete freedom.

More focus, more joy, more freedom.

Try it! The biggest roadblock in our minds is that we THINK, answers have to be complicated and heady. Many of us are conditioned to react to simple solutions with skepticism and self-defence.

But is that really you? Or just your brain, your belief system defending itself against what it believes to be its death?

Did you just hear the horn sounding, too?


 

Note from the editor:

“I thank Steven Johnson, Founder of the Brainwave Research Institute for inspiring me to write this post. I highly recommend his “InnaPeace” program, which I tested extensively in the past weeks. I also thank my coach Stia. She has been both wonderful and instrumental in bringing about the inner change that made me write this article.”

photo credit: summer’s here via photopin (license)

The New Age is coming, right?

Every “awakened”, “enlightened” and “spiritual” person knows this.

Interestingly, the concept of a new age is as old as mankind itself. The idea that the current generation might live to witness a great expansion of consciousness, the reckoning and the beginning of God’s kingdom on earth is a recurring theme throughout the ages.

So why does this idea keep persisting when it has failed to manifest itself for thousands of years? Why do we still hold dear to the concept that “it will finally happen in my lifetime”, when countless others have held the same view and been disappointed?

In my view, a big portion is ego. The need to be special. Belonging to a group of people who deem themselves special or are so deemed by others fulfills that need. I have grown very critical of spiritual marketing lingo like “awakened” or “enlightened”. In my book, using this terminology is, in itself, an expression of a dualistic, polarized world-view. I am so spritual, when will the others wake up? Come on, guys – cut it out. Is that what it’s about? Comparison to others? Seeking answers outside of yourself? Espousing an us versus them mentality while seeking out unity consciousness? Doesn’t quite sit right.

In my opinion New Age lore is – largely – a distraction. It is very interesting, for a time, and serves a great purpose, for a time.

In my personal experience, New Age concepts have a lower entry treshold than the hard-core traditional esoteric schools. I started looking into this first in 2007 with the inescapable “The Secret” and some Ken Wilbur and then, very intensively, in summer 2012. Just in time to get hooked on the 2012 stuff going around. Having been on a extended sick leave, I spent 10 hours a day watching lectures from Nassim Haramein, Drunvalo Melchizedek, David Icke, Teal Swan, Santos Bonacci and what felt like every Zeitgeist-type movie in existence. I read stuff on hermetics, the Kabbalah, sacred geometry, astrology etc. The good thing about this was, the overwhelming input made me rethink and revisit many assumptions held about myself and reality in general. All those new ideas were like a counter-infection that corrupted and exterminated my old system of belief. My memeplex collapsed.

That was great.

Other than that the experience didn’t change much. It did not encourage me to meditate any deeper, nor did it encourage me to look at myself, my inner workings more closely. For a time, all I did was relating those inner experiences to this incredible grandiose story of mass awakening, ascended masters and the eternal battle between the Pleiadians and the Reptilians. That is not to say that these concepts are useless or false. I just got lost in it. The cause of every experience seemed to be outside of myself. The whole thing was incredible confusing and my life got increasingly messed up. I lost touch with realtiy and lived in a world of symbols and stories, neglecting everyday life and it’s wonderful experiences completely.

That was not so great.

In conclusion. New Age, please drink in moderation. Use the great ideas put forth by committed and passionate teachers as a stepping stone for your own development. Don’t wait for others, don’t look towards others. Don’t wait for big things to happen in this world before taking the next step on your path. Everything you need is already there, inside of you. Everything you need will be manifested for you. Observe consciously, act consciously. The taste of your morning coffee might be as important a clue towards your next step as the one-week yoga retreat coming up.

Somebody once said, that the way towards the sacred is achieved through the profane. True, in my experience. Human life is the Great Spirit having a human experience. Sure, I know a lot about esoterics, I mediate daily, I do regular body and breathing work with a very skilled therapist, I even teach meditation. Does that make me more spiritual than my friends? They did the marriage-house-kids thing. Is that any less a spiritual experience? Raising kids – what can possibly be more spiritual than that.

I once learned that the Seeker may learn the truth in pursuing it humbly and sincerely. And that can only be achieved by being within yourself at all times. “Know thyself, and thou shalt now all the wonders of the universe”.

Truths are simple, not complicated. That’s why they are so hard to find!

Have a great week.