Everything is temporary: emotions, thoughts, people, sceneries. Do not become attached, just flow with it.

I made it. ūüėȬ†For me, the experience of meditating Vipassana for ten days, restricted from the outside world was mentally the toughest period of my life.¬† In many ways this was a¬†similar experience for me than reading for the business school entrance exam. It¬†required a tremendous amount of determination, motivation,¬†patience,¬†persistence‚Ķ You are so independent, no one will make the work for you. Though I was often playing¬†with¬†the thought of giving up, deep down I knew I‚Äôd never do it. I questioned if the prize in the end is worth all this, but I was curious enough to go find out, day by day. Like 5 years ago, the prize definitely was worth it. ¬†Learning the technique of Vipassana, gaining so much practical and intellectual knowledge from the Eastern wisdom of life, this experience opened so many new ways of seeing things for me. As a byproduct,¬†I got a good reminder that you can do anything when you have the determination. As¬†a person who loves to start new projects before finishing current ones, this was an important finding for me ūüėÄ

 

But oh gosh it was tough. The daily timetable of meditating from 4.30am to 9pm was consuming itself, yet it was not the hardest. At least this kept us busy – the few moments of free time after meals were perhaps most challenging for me.¬†So tough it was to have your freedom restricted – no communication with others even with body language (instead having to remind myself that I need to wait another week to deliver my thoughts to this person :D), given strict daily timetable, no¬†exercising, no intellectual stimulation, no writing, no option to choose when and what to eat, no contact with outside world‚Ķ¬†Needless to say I‚Äôve never had such a long separation of my¬†iPhone¬†ūüėÄ I felt so lonely and useless! As a person who wants to constantly learn by sharing stories with others, create something and experience through adventures and trying out new things, this made me anxious. Thus the strict meditation timetable was a blessing.¬†Also the evening discourses in which the teacher from Burma helped us to understand the¬†technique, motivated me evening after evening to do pull off another day.

 

Freedom is such a privilege, a tremendous gift that I pray for every human being.

 

I had put no thought or expectations on the actual meditation. It turned out to be anything but pleasant visualisation through affirmations or anything I have learned before. The technique aims to purify your mind of any negativity by transcending into the so called unconscious mind, which however is conscious if you have the skill to access it.

 

 

For the first three days we practised sharpening the mind by observing breath. I wish I knew then how helpful it is for Vipassana meditation and perhaps I would’ve developed even sharper mind. The fourth day was Vipassana day where the technique was introduced. Vipassana is about observing the sensations throughout the body by being objective. The key is awareness and equanimity. The intensified body sensations can be sensed with a less sharp mind, but a person who has not sharpened their mind by concentrating on one spot (in Vipassana you start with nostrils) cannot feel the subtlest sensations. During the meditation, you go through the body through awareness from top of the head to tips of the feet. If you’re feeling gross, solified sensations, you keep your attention there for a minute or two by being completely equanimous Рnot developing any dislike toward this unpleasant sensation. Whenever the sensations you’re feeling are subtler, pleasant, being aware of them through objectivity is again crucial, to not develop a craving towards them. Attachment is the root of all misery. The law of nature is such that everything changes constantly. Molecules reorganise constantly. This is a scientific truth. As a Vipassana meditator, you learn this through practise. One can know this truth on an intellectual level, but it is not valuable for purifying your mind Рthis has to be done on the deepest level of the mind.

 

I also learned that no miracles happen in 10 days. Purifying your mind of all negativity that the unconscious mind has accumulated for 25 years needs layers and layers to be purified. Therefore I am dedicated to continue practising on daily basis. People often think that meditation is always about praising a certain god or goddess or any spiritual character, or visualising. Vipassana is purely scientific, based on the law of nature. You do not visualise or verbalise anything while meditating. You simply observe your breath and scan your body for sensations of the body. You eradicate these by focusing your attention to them objectively Рwith a detached mind. You consider these sensations impersonal Рyou do not develop a craving or avortion towards them. This is how the sensations lose their power and eventually come to the surface and release.

 

I was also surprised to learn more strongly than ever how I love to constantly run a movie in my head. In meditations, I was struggling most in keeping my attention in the moment. When your mind wanders, the thoughts are one of two kinds: either memories, or future related. I struggle with both. I guess it is normal to get even very old, unconscious memories when you meditate 7 hours a day. However, I was amazed to realise how much I love to plan the future, develop dramatic twists of potential scenarios or what I’ll do at a certain period of time. My teacher reminded me that though planning is tempting, forecasting future is always just plans Рit is unpredictable. Therefore it is so important to be mindful and present in the moment. This is something that I’ll need to focus on, and instead dedicate own times for planning.

 

The course is¬†definitely¬†not for lighthearted people. It is working hard and diligently for ten days in simplistic environment, without any intellectual stimulation. However, I wish all people would learn the law of Dhamma and practise Vipassana to gain more peace, harmony, love and happiness to their lives. I know I will keep on practising. ūüôā

 

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Meditation, because some questions cannot be answered by Google

I‚Äôm about to do one of the craziest things in my life. ūüėČ It‚Äôs time to put all the theoretical knowledge of emotional and spiritual intelligence I‚Äôve gained through teachers and by doing research, into practise. For the next 10 days, I will be focusing on being present and accepting things the way they are.

I’m highly fascinated about Buddhism and body mind connection. As I cannot travel to India right now, what better way to discover more about myself and the ancient technique of Vipassana than here in South Africa. The timing is perfect as I am about to close some chapters in my life and opening new ones. I feel like it is time to reflect and ask myself, what is my next vision and purpose. Also, I am hoping to develop my weaknesses

I also love to challenge myself. 10 days sitting still, without any devices, communication and connection with other¬†people, doing¬†sports or dinner is definitely making this one of the biggest challenges of my life so far. Can’t wait to see how I feel after!

“Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was rediscovered by Gotama Buddha more than 2500 years ago and was taught by him as a universal remedy for universal ills, i.e., an¬†Art Of Living. This non-sectarian technique aims for the total eradication of mental impurities and the resultant highest happiness of full liberation.

Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.

The scientific laws that operate one’s thoughts, feelings, judgements and sensations become clear. Through direct experience, the nature of how one grows or regresses, how one produces suffering or frees oneself from suffering is understood. Life becomes characterized by increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control and peace.”

Let my personal Eat Pray Love journey go on the next level (this is the same thing Liz did in India).

xxx

PS. Vipassana courses are taught all around the world. I think closest centre to Finland is somewhere in Sweden… The course is donation based which means it is anything but commercial. Many people keep coming back, I’ve read about people who have been going for 15 years.

Every human has four endowments – self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change.

My notes from the book Emotional Intelligence in Action: Training and Coaching Activities for Leaders, Managers, and Teams
by Marcia Hughes and James Bradford Terrell
Emotions are what move and motivate us. In anything we do, there is always a feeling involved Рsomething that we are avoiding, and moving away from or something that we want and are moving toward. Fear and desire are two of our strongest emotions and have long been considered the most powerful motivators in the animal kingdom.

The chemistry of emotions can help us change our viewpoint and see the world through different attitudinal lenses depending on how we are feeling. When we create and maintain positive thoughts about ourselves and our world through self-talk, we support positive emotional states such as resourcefulness, optimism, and motivation. Emotional intelligence refers to the capacity to reason with emotions and emotional signals, and to the capacity of emotion to enhance thought.

Our ability to remodel, update, and upgrade our identity, to solve problems and conflicts, will be dependent on how consciously or unconsciously we process our emotions. If we, through self reflective processes Рmake ourselves more conscious of processes that determine our behaviour Рwe will be more flexible and tolerant, and have available to us a larger repertoire of behaviours.

15 competences of Emotional Intelligence

1. Self-regard
Skill of liking ourselves just the way we are, including self-confidence and self-respect: how good we feel about ourselves and our ability to accept ourselves. Without self-regard, we cannot participate authentically in life, be truly reliable in work or love, or fully express the gifts we have to give.

2. Emotional¬†self-awareness ‚ÄúAn awareness of one‚Äôs own personality or individuality”

The ability to recognise our feelings. To differentiate between them, to know what we are feeling and why, and to know what caused the feeling. To communicate our feelings to others. It helps us to keep our eye on the ball and stay aligned with our true motivations. Do I know what I am feeling and why? Did I notice when it first started, or did it sneak up on me?
We can consciously tune in to our emotions and ask ourselves questions about our current emotional state and identify the reasons for our emotions. Being aware of our emotions is key to successfully interacting with our environment. People typically project onto others what they feel inside. To improve our interactions and relationships, it is necessary to examine what is going on inside ourselves. Once we are in tune with our emotions we can develop strategies to eliminate the emotions that are bringing us down.

3. Assertiveness

 
Emotional strength that allows us to confidentially tell others what we like and want more of, what we dislike and will not accept, and what we stand for
1. Ability to express feelings
2. Ability to express beliefs and thoughts openly
3. Ability to stand up for personal rights

Assertive people are able to express their feelings (often directly) without being aggressive or abusive.
Ability to stand up for your rights, opinions, ideas, beliefs and needs while at the same time respecting those of others. Assertiveness empowers us and helps us define ourselves to others. It feeds our sense of self-regard because we are caring for ourselves by announcing our desires, feelings and thoughts and by clearly setting our boundaries.

Assertive responses¬†involve¬†standing up for oneself, yet taking the other person into consideration. The assertive style involves openly and confidently expressing personal feelings and opinions, valuing oneself equal to others, being prepared to listen to the other‚Äôs point of view‚Ķ‚ÄĚ

How much happier and more effective would we be if, in risky situations, we were consistently able to state our positions yet maintain or even deepen relationships? Assertiveness enables us to be true to ourselves and to respect others.

4. Independence
Ability to make decisions based on your own best-informed assessment and understanding of a situation without having to satisfy the perceived emotional needs of everyone who has an opinion about the matter.

5. Self-actualization

Competency of being able to set goals for oneself and then meet those goals. Our own measure of how successful we feel. You are engaged in life, fulfilled and willing to try new things because you know you’ll learn from them.
 
How be better actualise yourself?
– Get engaged with what excites you
– Set attainable goals and reach them
– Acknowledge your achievements¬†‚Äď reflect on what you have already achieved
– Identify your values¬†‚Äď journal about the things that are important to you and use your time accordingly.
– Accept yourself: believe in yourself, live aligned with your values. Increase self-awareness by doing Myers Briggs personality test
6. Empathy

Ability to listen and pay attention so we understand how other people are feeling and why, and even how their feelings might be likely to change.

7. Social responsibility

Being able to care and discipline our work efforts to serve the interests of individuals and groups outside of our personal needs, goals and concerns

8. Interpersonal relationships

Being able to initiate and sustain lasting relationships. Our skill in interpersonal relationships givers whether other people in our lives will feel eager to see us again or dread it. When our relationships are working well, they provide the common ground where we get to enjoy our own experience of humanness through sharing it with others.
‚ÄúThe ability to establish and maintain mutually satisfying relationships that are¬†characterised by intimacy and by giving and receiving affection.”¬†
9. Stress tolerance

Coping skill we use to keep the unavoidable pains, threats and intrusions of life form weaking our physical and emotional health. How can we build stress tolerance?
РTechniques to manage psychological impacts of stress: structured breathing, visualisation, affirmations
– Exercising
– Healthy diet
– Sufficient amount and quality of sleep
– Reprioritizing activities and involvement
– Apply generous doses of¬†humour¬†ūüôā
10. Impulse control
Ability to regulate the buildup of nervous energy that accompanies stress without projecting it as anger. Problems in impulse control are manifested by low frustration tolerance, impulsiveness, anger control problems, abusiveness, loss of self-control and explosive and unpredictable behaviour. Controlling impulses will increase productivity and improve self-regard. It is liberating and empowering to use determination and higher order reasoning to overcome compelling urges.
11. Reality testing

Correctly evaluating the nature of our current situation according to objective criteria.

12. Flexibility
Skill to change direction rapidly without resistance and protest, and needing to be convinced when our reality changes. The ability to adjust one’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviour to changing situations and conditions. Ability to adapt to unfamiliar, unpredictable and dynamic circumstances. Flexible people are able to change their minds when evidence suggests that they are mistaken. However, flexibility must be exercised without compromising our values.
13. Problem solving

Process through which we solve problems in the world and thus are able to change it to better correspond with our needs and desires.
14. Optimism
Skill of positive expectancy that faithfully holds the vision for potential improvement in the future.
15. Happiness

Emotional skill of being more or less consistently content and satisfied in the present moment.
Tip from Basil Leonard, our motivational teacher: Stop trying to change other people. Be the change and influence them. You can change nobody expect yourself.

Love letter

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I‚Äôm feeling melancholic today. My soul sister and¬†best friend is gone. I think it is natural that I need to grief for a short moment, as PJ was the central character in my life here in South Africa until now. ūüėÄ

To be honest though, I cannot feel sad as I am too excited for the adventures that awaits her.¬†She will first race in lifesaving in Germany for the Australian national team, and then head to New York for couple of¬†months to explore and support her sister. CJ (Pamela Jane and Catherine Jenna ūüėÄ ) is building an amazing career as an artist there (check cj_hendry in instagram, such an inspiration).

Any worries I had because of arriving two weeks later than others proved to be unnecessary, thank you to this very special girl. PJ is one of the most energetic and social girls I‚Äôve met. Within half an hour of meeting each other, we had decided to attend chocolate and beer festival, go horse riding, boxing class, quiz night, hiking, cooking class, weekends in Cape Town‚Ķ. She introduced me to hidden gems that still remain my¬†favourite¬†places for brunch, dinner, coffee,¬†cocktails. The list of activities has gone on since.¬†I really feel like she was a big part of my¬†identity¬†here. And now I had to let her go. But it is time for new adventures for both of us, and perhaps also time for me to take responsibility of coordinating my social¬†calendar myself (she loves to¬†organise¬†people together whereas I just love showing up ūüėČ ).

We are so different yet share many traits. I admire PJ’s social skills. Only she can keep track of the size of her¬†network of friends, if even. Whoever has told me I am a social butterfly, I can tell you that this girl takes the title to a new level. ūüėČ Her time management is enviable as well, I‚Äôve never seen anyone be able to do some many things in a one day. She will train twice a day, have breakfast with a friend, attend classes, take an acting, horse riding or boxing class, go to yoga,¬†Skype¬†with her family to Australia or New York and connect new people together over a dinner.¬†She‚Äôs the best¬†facilitator¬†of any conversation. If there‚Äôs any chance of¬†awkward silences,¬†take PJ along and she will handle the situation ūüėČ Also, if it wasn‚Äôt for her, I would‚Äôve not met mr A. They met randomly at the street as he offered help for her with a broken bike. ūüėÄ

PJ then says I have taught her the¬†importance of having deeper relationships in your life.¬†Indeed that’s what happens in the company of Florentine and me, you have to face questions about your dreams and fears in life. ūüėČ

Feel so grateful to have met you. Missing you already my social butterfly. BUT I am comfortable knowing that you will spend new months in the best city in the world, with your sister. Also can’t wait to hear your adventures and meeting my NYC wifey soon there. Wish I was there!!!

xxx

“When you’re values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier”

“Who you are, what you hold dear, what upsets you, and what underlies your decisions, are all connected to your personal values.¬†Your values reflect what is important to you. They are a shorthand way of describing your motivations. Together with your beliefs, they are the causal factors that drive your decision-making.”

It took me few years to get myself on the right track with my studies. ūüėČ At the time, I did find management accounting, brand management, digital marketing and other subjects interesting, but it has only been recently when I understood where my true interest lies. I want to understand better how the human brain works, how our attitudes and beliefs affect on our behaviour and how we treat ourselves and others. And how this forms our reality, what kind of relationships we tie, what path we choose in life.

I‚Äôve enjoyed learning about sources of motivation, conscious leadership and multiple intelligences while writing my thesis. This week I‚Äôm fortunate to learn about being a leader as a coach and emotional intelligence taught by world class professionals. I‚Äôve never been as attentive at classes as this week. ūüėÄ

Do you know your life values? For me, it is important to get to constantly know myself better in order to make decisions, pick the right opportunities and know how to say no with a clear mindset. Also, knowing myself better, I have more to give for others. As I find identifying my life values just with mind work challenging (some more meditation needed), I’ve used help of a value assessment since I started learning about psychology.¬†I‚Äôve done it several times before and always chosen slightly different combination of values depending on where I am in my personal life at this time.

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“From the values you selected it is cleat that:

  • You are starting to really live your sense of purpose and are cooperating with others for mutual benefit and fulfilment.
  • You are a person for whom meaning is important. You have a strong set of moral standards which are important in how you treat others and how you wish to be treated.
  • You seek to uncover more of your authentic self by looking to develop and grow. You are starting to overcome your¬†anxieties and fears.

Your values show:

  • Your ability to think imaginatively and come up with new ideas helps you to be flexible and respond well to change.
  • You look to¬†constantly develop yourself and seek harmony in your life by pursuing a¬†sense of¬†balance in all that you do.
  • Demonstrating an upbeat, passionate approach supports your efforts to make positive change for others.
  • You are protective and considerate of¬†others.
  • You like to ensure information is clearly understood and expressed.
  • Sharing the lessons of your experience to support and guide others is a focus for you.
  • You have the¬†strength to face your fears and to speak up even when things may be difficult.

The type of values you selected indicates that your individual capabilities are most important to you. From your choice of values¬†you also demonstrate care for the greater good (making a difference). ¬†You also demonstrate care for the greater good (making a difference). ”

I find it amazing how just by picking ten words you get an accurate description of your mindset, which you could not put as words yourself. Though my analysis is very positive and I hope people around identify me from these statements to some extent, I know I don’t always behave like this. But reminding¬†yourself or your values acts as a powerful motivator whenever I feel like I’m lost or confused – going back to the values remind me¬†of how I want to be like, how to treat myself and others.

Take your Barrett Values Centre value assessment here

xxx

“It’s perfectly okay to not have your shit together at 25.”

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My people here in South Africa made sure that I’ll¬†carry the memories of my 25th birthday forever with me ūüôā Such loving and warm day with my favourite people.¬†Pam woke me up with a big hug and bringing a cupcake to bed… This reminded me of my second day in South Africa, when I had just met my flatmates and we bought 20 different cupcakes for the birthday girl Pam, who apparently liked cupcakes and sweet stuff. Well, I now know that it is one of the deepest truths ever… any-dessert-with-Chocolate-will-do Pam. Next up was a breakfast date, Arne took me to be the most scenic wine estate restaurant, Cafe Postcard. He said doing picking a spot for me was not the easiest task (wonder why;) but he definitely nailed it. The view was stunning, by a lake and surrounded by mountains 360 degrees. Later lunching with Pam and the guys¬†at Botancial Garden. My talented friend Maxim Piessen ended up being my professional birthday photographer and most of these photos are taken by him. Thank you Max!

Later that evening I was lucky to get most of my new friends around one table, though few loyal students were missed! I had the best time and hopefully everyone else too ūüôā¬†I even got a birthday¬†song in three languages ūüôā

Missed my people all over especially a lot on this day ‚̧ miss you so much!

PS thank you for the most stunning presents mr A and Mom & Dad. ‚̧ Can’t believe I’m carrying a watch again, no excuses anymore. I’ve learned it the hard way that Germans indeed are punctual. ūüėĬ†And love the stones mom picked for me… “Iolite is a vision stone. It clears thought forms, opening intuition. Helps you to express your true self, free from the expectations of others.” She also learned that the cross does not necessarily need¬†to symbolize religion but rather spirituality. “Oh, well my daughter is certainly spiritual.” ūüėÄ ‚̧

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Garden Route

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Since first time planning my time in South Africa, I knew I need to go the Garden Route. Thus I was happy that my visitors from Finland and Sweden wanted to do it as well. As an extra bonus, they had planned everything very well (I’m the last one to plan anything in advance). Also, I got to drive a 20 years more modern version of my Mercedes for couple of weeks ūüėČ I had told my parents that surely we can all five use my car to do the Garden Route. Well, they changed their mind when driving couple of days in Cape Town with my car with no air con and falling pieces inside the car.
Our first stop was Hermanus, where we stayed in a gorgeous guesthouse by the sea. We were really lucky with whale watching, getting a private show from the huge animals, surrounding our boat for over an hour. I knew they are huge yet I was surprised by their size.
Next stop was Plettenberg Bay. Here we had the most amazing seafood lunch ever, at the Fat Fish. Be sure to go there if you are ever around.¬†We spent the last night in Knysna, in the most stunning villa on top a of a hill, called Head over Hills retreat. Let the photos speak for themselves… This is a place where I would happily spend my honeymoon…. Wink wink for whom it is more relevant. ūüėČ

I am happy I’ve seen Garden Route now. Especially the whale watching was an memorable experience. However, I must say that¬†I know how to appreciate the coziness, liveliness and beauty of Stellenbosch and Cape Town even more now, that I have seen a large part of the country. I could not be happier to be home now, riding my bike to the campus and cafes. Go to gym and yoga, share meals with friends (starting tomorrow!)… Normal life feels good after all the traveling. xxx