Ängsbacka revisited: in with the new…

My second time in Ängsbacka was amazing, again. But different. Because of the familiarity I felt more comfortable with the family and the program. I did not go through as deep a spiritual journey as the first time, but became aware of these new insights: that staying mindful, connected with the now, is threatened by living in repetition. The body stores away sensations and experiences in deeper, less conscious parts. As to make way for new things. But in that growing feeling of family I also felt a deeper love, one that grows by proximity. We were caring, loving, expressing, enjoying, massaging, playing. We came so close and grew so much love, that I started connecting more to my bigger purpose: to enrich each others lives by being me, in all my beautiful facets. Living a life from simplicity, not adding to noise. Bringing clarity and joy. And touch! Didn’t I say to myself last year that I would start doing massage courses? Didn’t do any, not yet. But I did massage every day at Ängsbacka again, which fuelled my determination to really make it my main practice.

But I also became more aware of me rejecting what I have in me. Could I integrate it all? Maybe there was a way to take my old career into the next evolutionary stage: instead of programming myself, maybe I could use my enthusiasm and knowledge to evangelise my technological vision. So I built out my vision into a demo stack and had around 10 interviews, all aimed at becoming just that: leading tech teams into the future of computer automation. None worked out. Mostly because I could not commit to a year long of full time work, and sometimes because it wasn’t a good fit or timing, but also because I didn’t fully believe in my own silly endeavour to get back in. So I was done playing that game. Universe says no!

At the same time it became clear that I had to go to Mexico, because my parked car had to be removed. The family I paid to watch over it said police started asking questions and neighbours started talking about it. So in January 2018 I booked a ticket, and early February I went back, together with a friend. We traveled from Cancún to Tulum with the car, and stayed at the beach for almost 3 weeks. Only relaxing, swimming, exercising in the water and on the beach, doing yoga and having fun. And dealing with my new found family of beach lovers. Many beautiful souls, but also a lot of dysfunctional men that were yearning for love and peace inside. They had attached so deeply to their identities, that they didn’t want to or couldn’t let go off them. These identities were major obstacles on the path to freedom and sensitivity (which is needed to be in direct contact with reality), but their innate need for love and connection revealed itself over and over through smiles and talks. I was grateful to be there. It felt as if I was needed there.

My friend went back to NL and it was time to move on. Some of the beach family joined and we journeyed via Bacalar to Palenque. Here I stopped to help out a friend from Tulum, who was overwhelmed by his duty taking care of two friends that ended up in hospital after a psychosis. I thought my grounding presence might help, and so we walked, ate, felt, touched, slept, and then decided to do a road trip to San Cristobál de las Casas. Slowly reality came back to them, but we felt trapped in the city. So we decided to continue to San Marcos La Laguna, Lago Atitlán. My friends fully recovered in that last week there, being in nature, paddling on the water, and making plans to go back home. And when they did I was grateful to have met them, and care for them. Such wonderful people!

Del Lago

I stayed in San Marcos over a month and found a new and nurturing family. Such a spiritual vortex! Ecstatic dance every week, chocolate ceremonies, stunning views and nature. But most of all, so many open people leading their own open life. Vulnerability and uncertainty are at the center of being, hiding nothing, without pretense. It was there that I came across the Shiatsu course of Lazio Luna, and so I decided to jump in. It felt so natural! I received many compliments affirming I was on the right path. Every time I gave someone a massage I felt rejuvenated. I was meditating on their bodies, being only in the moment with what was in front of me. I felt such alignment and sense of purpose! During my time in San Marcos I also felt a growing need to put all of my strengths and qualities into service, not only through touch. I have witnessed people gain more clarity in my presence many times. When I connect with the source and step into the flow of universal wisdom, it feels as if that wisdom is revealing itself through the words coming out of my mouth. But only in full awareness of what is now, and staying connected to just that. Not going into ideas, nor judgement, nor patterns of thought, nor any of those tricks of the mind that make you lose contact with reality.

So I am trying to capture my simplistic views into writings. To support others, but also myself in crafting invitations for upcoming meetings. Because there lies a greater potential for healing the mind: helping each other discover and break through the veils we created ourselves. Finding your own blind spots can be very hard ;) And maybe I will be able to combine my gifts into a powerful session: helping to relax through massage and touch, and creating clarity in life. Ultimately leading to that peaceful trust in life and oneself, however uncertain the future may be :)

My first Ängsbacka: out with the old…

After working for over 8 months I was in pain. I needed to make a shift. I was invited to join a community in Sweden organising conscious festivals. My first experience in Ängsbacka in the summer of 2016 was life altering. After 3 beautiful days there I decided to stay longer than the initial week planned, and ended up staying 7 weeks.

We worked, ate,  shared, swam, danced, expressed, sang, loved, everything together in Harmony. That is also when I started massaging people regularly (almost daily in the sauna), because it felt as a calling and I needed more practice. I became so healthy in body, mind and soul, that I decided not to go back to my unhealthy old line of work: crafting software for money. Instead I would focus on massage.

So I also decided to travel away from my concrete environment and keep moving my body. Luckily Dariush (whom I met at Ängsbacka) visited my house and never left: he became a dear friend and brother, and offered to take care of the house and Airbnb guests for me, while even paying rent for the penthouse on top. I booked a ticket to California, bought a car to travel with and had an amazing time there with friends and nature. Then I drove south to Mexico, travelled around and stayed in Baja (which is an awesome place by the way) for over a month at Proyecto Amor with friends.

17 days of silence followed in the Hridaya yoga school in Mazunte, followed by another 21 days of yoga module 1. Such bliss and revelations, and such wonderful people! I did find out that such a controlled life in a retreat community is not for me, as it is mostly aimed at letting die of the old. There was no attention for life in all it’s facets, and the whole of my being yearned for expression and exploration.

By chance my dear friend Shay (whom I befriended the summer before in Ängsbacka) also arrived in Mazunte, and we became brothers seeing each other daily. I was pointed towards “embodiment” by him: every moment in life is to be felt, and through relaxation one can de-arm old patterns of contraction. He had learned a lot through his relationship with Aisha Salem. I already understood what I needed, but mostly from the mind: flow with what is, remove any resistance. But now Shay made it seem more practical. When emotions are felt, be present with the feelings and relax. Relaxing away contractions that stemmed from trauma made it lose it’s grip on the body.

Shay suggested reading Krishnamurti. After reading “Freedom from the Known” and “The awakening of Intelligence” my life had become even simpler than before. Being with what is, and becoming aware of the tricks of the mind that take me away from the now, was my major concern. As always I trusted myself to know what to do when it needed to be done, and so I set out on this new path of embodiment. It felt like a relief to embrace the fullness of life, instead of becoming a teacher at Hridaya, which I had contemplated on before while in stillness. Life it is!

Shay joined me going back to the Netherlands, where he would live in my house and deal with my Airbnb guests, and I would be going back for my second summer in Ängsbacka :) I felt so grateful to have been living an organic and adventurous life, and now it was time to go see my family again: my blood relatives, as well as my hippie brothers and sisters! Me, Shay and Dariush lived for some weeks together and shared many stories and emotions, such brotherhood! But then came the time for the next summer in Ängsbacka, and so Dariush left in his travel van, while I took my own car som days later, and we set out for Sweden once more.

Coach Surfing: next steps

After 5 sessions of Coach Surfing this year, my fellows from De Universiteit and I felt the urgence for taking our form of peer coaching to the next level. We sat down with a core group of four people and decided we should host a series of gatherings for those willing to step up and participate. The first of these gatherings last week, with no less than seven passionate people was very fruitful, and brought a lot of insight into what’s needed for this organic group to grow. Two new members came to the round table, willing to inject their passion and knowledge with regards to coaching and group dynamics. Wonderful!

Not only that, we also managed to find a very inspiring place to host these sessions: Huis a/d Werf in Utrecht, a stage/meeting place for the arts and the creative industry. They immediately saw the possible synergy between our group and the people that come there during the day, working by themselves and with others on their own projects.
Now we have 4 dates lined up there, till the end of the year, with 2 sessions each month, one afternoon and one evening (to cater to those who work 5 days a week :).

For the next phase in our evolution we foresee more people stepping up, bringing their knowledge, tools and baggage to the table, with the hope that the group will be self organizing, as an organic and flat structure, allowing room for those who are willing to add to the mix of peer coaching potential.
We also hope to quickly cristallize this vision and knowledge into  guidelines and tools, enabling others to take Coach Surfing wherever they see fit.

All of this we do for free, because we have felt how wonderful it is to be coached by each other, and believe that our work together ultimately leads to a better world, through refection, mindfulness and helping each other.
I do hope however, that by immersing myself into this new way of thinking and collaborating, that it might one day be feasible to sustain myself through this work I so much enjoy ;)

The Art of Hosting

Man am I glad that I went to The Art of Hosting workshop in Karlskrona, Sweden, last week!
130 people from all over the world joined in a circle of trust. We left our egos at home, and stepped into a safe space to learn from each other. To explore a sustainable future for our inner selves and the world we live in.

The art of hosting community consists of a growing group of people taking leadership of their own lives, to help others find theirs. To allow them to start or facilitate change. In social structures, in organisations, or whatever group of people that are bound together.
The community has no structure, and is all about self empowerment.

Some of the founders of the movement, together with many volunteers, took up their role of “stewards”, enabling us to become host to a group of souls to find their own answers.
Inspiring us with every step, they kept reminding us to differentiate our pure selves from our egos, to be truly receptive and helpful.

The first day was about “stepping in”, to become acquainted with each other and the practices. To allow us to become familiar with the tools. To know which to use for each situation, and for the different groups we might be dealing with: policy makers, managers, workers, fellows…
We ended with story telling, because each of us has a story to tell that shows who we are. Four stories were so amazing, beautiful, thrilling and inspiring, that their ‘writers’ were asked to share them with the group at large. And so they did.
Tears fell. Into an awakening pond.

The second day was about “stepping up”, to help out with the work at hand. Most of us helped in any way we could. Some helped with each days’ starting ritual, the check-in, asking us to do physical exercise or contemplate, or meditate. Others helped with the various types of “harvests” we wanted to gather. The harvesting of our experiences and insights is an essential part of the process. It not only serves as a binding memory of what we are trying to accomplish, but also as food for others not with us at that time. It was amazing to see so many artists draw up such wonderful maps of our journey, and others willing to spread the word online on twitter, facebook and websites. I started a poetry dialog, and asked others to add their part. Music was made and songs were performed. Wonderful!

The third and last day was all about being proactive. 24 people could host their own group to get help with their own questions, issues and projects. 28 came forward, and extra space was created to attend to all of them. Wow!
Many got involvement in concrete, not so concrete, small and large projects. Lots of connections were made, and many got even more inspired.
I hesitated when I was one of the last to come forward. Most of the others were so much further with their growth and visions, but I had my own personal questions, so I overcame my insecurities and was glad I did.
Since long do I wonder what the conditions are for a sincere and most open initial encounter with a fellow human being. So I asked what those were, and if we could put this into words. Into sentences that would set the stage for the rest of our interaction to be fruitful and without prejudice. But we discovered that we touched upon the magic of life, and such beauty should be left to discover by our own.
For long I felt this was the case, and with a lot of help from my friends I saw that my hopes were remnants of the old me. The logical, solution focused part in me that wanted a grip on life and the insecurities it brings. But our vulnerabilities are what binds us. They are not to be waved away with a magic wand.

Thank you my friends!