Finding & Creating Myself: My Story On How I Got Into Meditation And What It Has Given Me

All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming. -Helen Keller

A couple of weeks ago in the office kitchen corner a colleague asked me ‘how I got into all this’. What she meant was how a 30-something man gets into yoga, meditation… etc. Her question was partly also an answer as she asked lightly if it all came because some ‘tragic’ emotional event in my life.

She was spot on in fact, and she is not the first person who has asked the question. Looking back today on how it started, or better rather kick-started, I am smiling and realize it has been a very long journey, with great people, self-exploration and plenty to be grateful for along the way.

In early 2011, the world I had created in my head pretty much stopped existing.

It all crashed. This was a big stab for my ego, with plenty of self-pity and a fear about what was next! My son had just turned two. He was and still is a very big part of my life and I was scared. Scared of how it would all turn out, as I did not want him to experience the life I did as a kid.

All of a sudden it was all there, all the feelings I had as a kid in a broken home with two adults going very different ways with very little understanding between them. All happening very fast. No one had taught me what to do then, other than to either blame the other parent or blame myself.

It was all a big mystery, with a wish for everything to be ‘alright’ again, though I realized nothing would ever be the same and inside I saw it coming. I just did not want to face the reality.

During the two years of my son’s life up to that point I had been away from him just a couple of times. Estonia’s parental leave system allows you to stay home with your previous full salary for up to 18 months and that’s what I did.

Daily long walks with him pushing the stroller, playing, reading, bath time, learning, just being there when he wakes up and so on, all of these set the tempo of my life. Then all of a sudden it had to change. It was hard for me and just as hard for him.

I slept only three or four hours a night as I just couldn’t get any sleep, did my freelance work into the wee hours of the morning, and somehow days were pretty good when I was busy exploring the world with a little boy whose life was also turned around.

Kids know when things are not in balance; words are not needed. Weekends without him were horrible, as I did not know how to exist, what to do. My mind was racing around like a space rocket without a pilot: ‘Gotta get this done, gotta get that done, what happened, why did it happen?, what could I have done differently, what next’ … and over and over again the same thoughts…

I tried everything from partying like a spring breaker on my two free weekends, simply boosting my ego, drinking way too much and also burning myself out physically.

That did not last too long, as I realized after another visit to a therapist (which took a while to happen as I was sure I was so tough and didn’t need it and that all would be well soon) I need a big change.

Conversations with her made me more aware of my thoughts and past, but her advice just did not make sense to me, as it was way too esoteric with no solution that I could relate to. She was a very bright person however, and her vibe always cheered me up, but I needed to find this vibe and balance in me.

On one almost 15km run in the woods, I experienced a mystical peace in my head: no thoughts, no re-thinking, no planning. All my attention was there focused on the run. The trees, little potholes, birds, wind, sunrays, my feet on the constantly changing terrain, a peace of mind I remember was part of me daily when I lived in North Florida years ago and worked on the beach (Remembering this, I realized I worked there only because of that feeling, not for the money. The rational part of my mind wanted to quit that job as I was making way more working in a bar for one night than during a long week on the beach).

I wanted that blissful state to last, where I was feeling all the sounds and sensations around me, this one taste, as philosopher Ken Wilber put it, but shortly after a quick swim the thoughts started coming back. I wanted to turn the thoughts off, get away from them, just somehow separate them from my mind. I became aware of how emotions created by all these thoughts were also having a destructive impact on my body.

Now when an emotional upset starts, it may start out of a thought process, but then it starts to involve all of the body — the adrenaline and all kinds of chemical reactions. Then often, one of the ways out of it is to work with the body. For example, running or movement. Taking a walk. Doing things which start to release the energy, the kind of chemical buildup. Because you get that kind of nervous energy when you are emotionally upset.
-Ram Dass

I have always been into books, but instead of John Steinbeck-type adventures or life revolving around startups I walked into the psychology and self-help corner in the local bookstore. Tons of new age stuff about positive thinking, visual dream boards, heal this and that, angels guiding, astrology, quick solutions, positive this and positive that and so on. I found very positive and captivating stuff there, but I just did not see any depth in these books and something that would actually work. I shortly put this stuff into the ‘esoteric crap’ basket for myself and most of the books I had bought found new owners.

One day I bought a book titled Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama

The book covers eastern philosophy, culture, history, meditation and mindfulness techniques, neuroscience and sociology.

What caught my eye on the cover was ‘Can we learn to live at peace with ourselves and others?’

That book was a big game changer. No esoteric woo-doo or deep religiosity. It was not the happiness and be present part, but the scientific approach, that my analytical mind enjoyed and grabbed on to. There was everything in it, from Buddhist teachings to well-known universities and neuroscientists – actual scientific studies and results in front of my eyes revealing what meditation does to our brain. Nothing too complex, simple things you can do daily, but in real life not that simple at all as I discovered in the coming months.

Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment. I know it is a wonderful moment.
− Thich Nhat Hanh

With a rational, somewhat busy and emotional mind I wanted to get started right away. See the results right now, in other words.

I tried different guided meditation recordings, tried to just sit still and focus on my breathing or some distant point, even different mantras. Eventually after different experiments I settled on the vipassanā-meditation, which uses mindfulness of breathing.

Sitting cross-legged for just five minutes in silence and focusing on breath coming in and then going out, watching my thoughts rise and not getting carried away into this thinking impulse was way harder than I thought. At first these five minutes felt like forever.

No quick results, but I was obsessed with giving it a try and not just stop. I went through more books, listened to different talks, and came across different studies on the effects of meditation on our brain and how it can change our lives.

I was making very slow progress, but when I looked at my notes I saw change. That five minutes which had seemed unbearable was now stretching to 15 minutes. I was more aware of the thoughts arising and did not get attached to them that easily, though there were days when it seemed none of that practice had made much difference. Sometimes you just have to make few steps back to make a bigger step.

At the time my path somehow crossed with Sigrid, whom I had met briefly. She is a yoga teacher, now a good friend, who has studied in India and has also done a couple of 10-day vipassana meditation courses herself. It was late 2011 and she was preparing to teach another three-day meditation course in early spring. Before the course she started weekly guided meditation practice to give newcomers an easier start. Together with her guided weekly practices at her studio and my own home vipassana mindfulness practice, changes were taking place in how I perceived everything.

Finally the three-day course arrived. I was excited, to say the least. The first day in and my body was not excited. Sitting cross-legged close to an hour roughly five times a day for three days in a row was hard. My mind on the other hand was more ready for the experience and despite all the thoughts which were arising, there was more space between individual thoughts and I felt at peace.

Deeply grateful for Siki and Helena. Amazing yoga and mindfulness teachers.

 There were also destructive emotions such as anger, anxiety, sadness and fear. I was beginning to look at them from distance and come to an understanding that these feelings are not me and I don’t need them.

Over these last few years I have learned to watch different sensations that arise more as a witness, not pushing them away so they can arise again when the right conditions are met, but to come to an understanding of the source of these emotions and detach myself more and more as practice takes deeper forms.

It has become easier and easier to find the present moment during the practice or just in my daily activities, with just random thoughts surfacing, that I am able to view as a witness. The real challenge, if it is even a challenge, is to take it more and more  into everyday life, again step by step.

To be mindful is to be fully present with whatever we are doing. If you are drinking tea, just drink your tea. Do not drink your worries, your projects, your regrets. When you hold your cup, you may like to breathe in, to bring your mind back to your body, stop your thinking, and become fully present. In that moment, you become real and the cup of tea becomes real. In this state of true presence and freedom you enjoy simply drinking your tea.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

To be more present in my daily activities has taken away lot of background noise and anxiety about what is coming and what needs to be done. My mind and senses are more focused on this moment. When I am reading a book to my son, then I am reading that book and there is just this story and that moment. Whatever it is, when being present in that doing, can bring so much depth and simplicity into this moment. Sure there are times, when my mind, even when reading a children’s book late at night, starts wandering around a little, but it has come easier and easier to bring it back to the present doing.

Meditation has also helped me to find peace and understanding and connection with myself and the world. Accepting things outside of me does not mean I approve of everyone’s behavior and sometimes very different actions need to be taken, depending on the situation.

Furthermore there is accepting that everything on large scale is temporary and there is so much unknown and uncontrollable. All this uncertainty of life is actually what makes it so vibrant and exciting.

Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’re ever been. The one constant in our lives is change.
-Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert on one of his TED talks

Everyone has his or her inner dialogues. Some have longer conversations, some shorter. If someone does it with a loud voice, we think that person has couple of loose screws.

As mystery Don Juan, a Yaqui Indian shaman, from the Carlos Castaneda books explained, ‘You talk to yourself too much. You’re not unique in that. Every one of us does. We maintain our world with our inner dialogue. A man or woman of knowledge is aware that the world will change completely as soon as they stop talking to themselves’.

When you become more mindful and focused, you will start to notice how ridiculous this repetitive thought stream actually is.

Ask yourself what are you focusing your energy on? If you practice gratitude, small things will make you happier. If you focus on being cold to people close to you, this coldness will expand. If you focus on beauty around you, then the beauty will appear around you in different forms.

The same applies to your personal story that you tell yourself and others.

All these different patterns become regular responses when done repeatedly. You are in charge and can change where your focus goes to form new healthier responses to the life happening around you.

This is not some new age voodoo crap; neuroscience has shown that repeated patterns of thought and action change our nervous system. Where our focus goes, followed by our intentions, our nerves fire, synapses connect, and those patterns are strengthened.

What we practice becomes habit; some of these habits are beneficial some of them are destroying us.

We can change our habits and rewire our nervous system to build new neural patterns. It takes time to transform our life and build new patterns. Mindfulness training helps us recognize habits that don’t serve our well-being and take the next steps towards a better understanding of ourselves and the world around. A more balanced understanding.

At first we become aware of the sensations that rise within us, then we understand the source, so that we can transform and sometimes even replace these patterns with new ones.

Changing thoughts is challenging as we are stuck on our stories, but once there is progress, these stories collapse. Deep inside we often have the intuition that something does not serve us; perhaps it never has, but we still have grasped onto it. We are scared of the unknown.

You don’t need much to get started. Just breathe. Focus on the breath coming in and going out through your nose. There will be setbacks and sometimes you might feel more anxious than before the practice, but the change will come if you stick to the practice.

After my first three-day course I meditated 30 minutes in the morning before taking my son to kindergarten and then another 30-45 minutes in the evening for around two years. When at home I rarely skip my time in silence, but when away it is not that easy to find the time and right conditions.

Today my practice is mainly done in the evening and I start my morning with a quick 30 minute yoga session followed by a longer Savasana (corpse pose, lying on your back and just watching your breath).

Difficult times?

It is not hard to find a balance, when all is well and we believe that life is just how we want it to be. This grand illusion that things are just the way we want them to be.

We all have faced and will face times that we label ‘hard or difficult’. Usually when later looking back at what happened, many people see these times as life-changing events. A source for growth.

These times are a great opportunity to see how the mind works and become aware of the states that arise on difficult days, days when we feel down, things don’t go as planned, there are problems, conflict, even great losses.

First we want to ignore or judge these feelings, but next time you are in this not-so-bright mental state, try observing all that arises without any judgment. It is hard. I still fall off the wagon, but I am getting back up faster and faster to notice all these states.

Sometimes life lands us a really mean punch in the gut and this is even more challenging when difficult states come in groups. Health problems, relationship problems, financial problems, all in different levels that sometimes stay with people for years. That creates lot of misery and the deeper it pulls you, the harder it is to get out of it.

When we are more mindful, while things take new unexpected turns and there is still loads of conflict, you will notice all the changes that practice has brought you and you are more present taking the actions to make the needed change.

My Biggest test arrived in early 2013.

One day just after my kindergarten morning route I received my first ever court notification and even though things between the two parents seemed fine, I knew what that paper was about. A legal proposition where our son would live, with a very emotional and just plain wrong document accompanying it.

Plenty of judgment from other people as well towards two different ‘truths’, with their own stories, who had no idea of the big picture. None of it made sense to me. Of course that was my understanding, not the ultimate truth.

What defined these moments is that I saw some true friendship and caring, plus I suddenly realized how calm my mind was. There were emotions involved, but I knew I will stay true to what I feel about the whole thing in this conflict and I have no regrets on my role as a father.

The day before the court I slept like a baby. No worries, no shame and no anger. I suddenly trusted life even when things were not looking good and knew inside all would turn out well for everyone and there is so much I can do at my end to bring peace to this situation and relationship. Eventually everything turned out well and my intuition that there is nothing to worry about was absolutely right.

It is about finding yourself, not something outside of you. You can always come back to yourself. The world will pull you along with all the daily errands and relationships, but home is always where you are. Just breathe, be aware and stop searching.

These tests continue daily and are part of growth.
A few weekends ago on another three-day meditation course, the practice was easy to find the moment and space between thoughts, but my mind was wandering around during the free time.

All of this was because the day before we went into silence, I got a very disturbing message from someone I knew, but had not heard for a while. What disturbed me was my experience, things I value in relationships and my expectations. How can someone be so cold, so contradicting in words and actions, so shallow, so self-centered, with so little empathy. This was my explanation and my way of describing it to myself.

I was not unhappy, just disturbed, trying to analyze and understand it. Though I had ended our relationship months ago, I was still holding on to it for expectations I had based on my previous relationships.

During another break between meditation sessions I went for a long walk on the beach, observing the thoughts as they arose and then disappeared only to come back again.

I did not think the time in silence is wasted, but already made my mind up that this was a busy meditation course with plenty of distracting thoughts. It was surprising how silence brought all this out. Then out of nowhere, when picking new rocks for our fish tank I found a rock shaped like a heart and started laughing.

It was almost like a moment from a Zen Buddhist book, when something silly makes the student experience this enlightening moment, resulting in a totally new way experiencing self.

heart shaped rock

I then sat down on the rocks and just started observing the waves. This pause between my thoughts was also again very long, resulting in a peaceful experience and a big smile on my face. It got deeper and deeper. Later in the sauna when I went to the woods barefoot to watch the stars above, I just stood there. There were no emotions concerning whether it was beautiful or not. It was just this one big moment of AWE.

All was good. Just my thoughts got little too busy. I realized how naive and over trusting I had been. It made me laugh how much power these little thoughts had, not her actions, but my own mind with its complex patterns. So silly, yet so useful to come to a better understanding of myself and make new changes, while constantly improving myself.

Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
-Victor E. Frankl

I had so much gratefulness for everything and also the realization that there are issues behind these emotions that have been with me since early childhood, which I need to spend more time with. Yes, the emotions need to be looked at, not the person who triggered them.

Having partly heard, seen and experienced the story of her life, I only had compassion and empathy for her, realizing she has her own individual story, a story she has hard time letting go of, a different world that has shaped her into this person she is, and in my mind I wished her patience, growth and open mind, knowing from my own experience that it is a never ending journey to become more aware of the self and the world around.

Judging her was just my way to protect my expectations and understanding of different values I am fond of. A great opportunity to be more aware of different perspectives and be more understanding.

Coming back to the difficult times, I believe, in order to truly experience the light and good in life, you also have to see the darkness. If you have not faced darkness and hard times you re less likely to appreciate the beauty of life around you. It is good to know, understand and be aware of the darkness. Remember being aware of something is different, than being attached to it.

It’s not about finding peace, it’s about being at peace with what we find.
-Jason Garner

One of my favorite explanations for understanding the mindfulness is looking at big surf waves. You can’t stop them, laying on your board will get you crushed and dragged under water, but If you become aware where you are positioned, how these waves form, where they are heading, how strong they are, what is your practice, then you will understand their patterns and will react in time to surf even the most difficult ones. And that is a great journey!

Meditation is not to escape from society, but to come back to ourselves and see what is going on. Once there is seeing, there must be acting. With mindfulness, we know what to do and what not to do to help.
-Thich Nhat Hanh

Meditation does not make you a monk, though you always have that option as well. It also doesn’t make you apathetic, you become more aware of yourself and the world around you.

I love time alone in silence, but I also love time spent with my friends, meeting new people with their stories or just doing something random. I have re-evaluated what matters to me and what does not. This is also in a constant state of flux with main values staying largely fixed. I take more action now on things that I know I can change and want to change, versus things that are out of my control. It is ok not to know what is coming next. I don’t have it all figured out. I have found trust for all this uncertainty that life brings. Focusing on things that truly matter makes life so much brighter.

As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.

There is so much talk about happiness, loving yourself and the present moment. To me it is more about finding the balance and peace within myself, because to me there are moments in life when there is no room for happiness and joy, like when facing violence, harmful people, great loss or something else very destructive that pulls us out of daily harmony.

When caught in these moments, there is however room for peace and equanimity, no matter what life brings your way.

Maybe happiness is this: not feeling like you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else.
-Isaac Asimov

To feel something like happiness, we also have to be aware of the opposite feeling: in this case unhappiness and sadness.

When I am looking at my son, then I know he is happy. Loving people surround him. He wakes up every morning with a big smile and runs to me just as I am finishing my yoga practice to give me a big hug. That smile is just so contagious when I am trying to take life too seriously and I am so grateful for it.

Yes there are times when things take unexpected turns and he feels a little down as well, but this soon passes. Sometimes he has had a little fight with his best friend and it is always so inspiring to hear how they resolved it, hugged and then continued their journey together. He is excited about life, there is playfulness and curiosity there. These are very important to me as well in both work and relationships. If I feel less excited, less curious and the kid in me does not want to play and starts taking life too seriously, I need to ask myself why. Something needs to change!

My little teacher, growing as I am growing. Together and separately...

Today my definition of happiness is defined as the state of mind I have when a long day is behind me, and there are sometimes things I did not have time to do, I have finished reading another adventure for the little one, done my evening meditation and placed my head on the pillow. I breathe in, my head is on the pillow, the room is dark and quiet, and I am smiling. This is my way to define happiness. It has been a long time since I did not have a smile on my face, when switching off from daily routines into the dream zone. That is happiness in me. My dream state also reflects this feeling. Being more balanced and mindful has made me more aware of the dreams I experience and to see the connections with daily life.

And the present moment! Sure we all take our actions in this very moment, but it is okay and necessary in my opinion to deal with the past and also make plans. The question is not to get stuck on the past and also not to get too carried away on what we want to happen in the future. Too much time in the past brings stress and too much focus on the future makes us anxious.

My mind at work almost daily deals with information from the past to better understand where we are and where we are heading, constantly adjusting as well as we can.

This also applies to some extent to my personal life. Past moments do define very often current situations, our relationships, our perspective of the world and what we want and what we don’t want.

This does not mean my mind is busy with something that happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow, but I do look back and forward.

Understanding the past also helps us understand the impermanence of life. We lost our dog Nora last December and are constantly reminded of her as she was a very big part of our life. It is hard to let go of those who have touched us deeply and gone with very little notification, but in that sadness is also so much beauty and gratitude for the time shared together.

Even now when we are reminded of her, I see tears in my son’s eyes and I tell him it is okay to be sad about what happened and we talk about the changes in life and death that are as normal as our breathing. He is still convinced that he will create a medicine to bring her back to life when he is bigger. Writing about this here makes my eyes sensitive as I remember her last night so well, when we got home from another vet with a new appointment booked and we looked at each other, her big brown eyes wide open and this mutual knowing that this was it.

I am also making plans for the future from the school our son is set to attend next fall to spring vacation plans, as this is something I can not leave to the present moment and then at that morning just step on the plane. And these are not just plans; these plans are accompanied by actions that need to be taken in different steps, in different moments. Just doing the best at every moment and then letting go.

I also get excited about future events where I have planted the seeds with my actions, like ordering new books and then being excited to know I can pick them up tomorrow afternoon, or my first guitar lesson which is scheduled for Thursday.

It is ok to have a plan, but know it will change -very likely a lot. If you get too attached to the plan and the final outcome you want, then you have already created attachment and the roots for suffering.

From my experience I know that the present moment can also be a way of avoiding uncomfortable feelings. Pushing them away, never getting to the root, which then will keep recurring, causing more suffering.

Being in the present moment is not to forget the past or to have no plans, but rather it is to be more mindful of wherever we happen to be, doing whatever we are currently focusing, including our thoughts that are arising within, noticing them, not judging, just being aware, making room for peace and understanding for a more deep experience.

This story started with my world crashing as a man with many roles, ranging from a father to a partner. I had lost myself not someone next to me. My biggest issue was my role as a father with roots in my broken childhood.

This has been an amazing journey and inner growth, that continues daily with its own ups and downs.

Looking back on all this I wouldn’t change anything as all these moments – and there are a lot that just don’t fit here – have made me who I am today. This is me. ‘Good’ or ‘bad’ is simply your opinion.

My good friends know this, but to clear up the confusion, I am so grateful for my son’s mother. There has been pain, disinterest, lack of caring, lack of talking, understanding and much more. And this both ways, with lots of judgment from other people with their own stories.

What matters is where we are today. I know from my own experience that two people can leave a very painful and emotionally destructive past aside to concentrate on this very moment to build a better future. We are on two very different paths with very different perspectives on life, but our son; this beautiful soul will always be our connection.

We care about each other, there is trust, forgiveness, we listen and talk, we understand each other more and more, we are there for each other as parents, always open to discussions and I feel we truly wish the best for the other parent. This to me is caring and love. Not romantic in any way. But understanding and love, that will carry one little boy from a childhood, into manhood, with a healthy self-connection to build a better world.

Of course it is not all unicorns and rainbows. There are still times, when as a parent I am having a hard time understanding her and two very different realities meet with no clear agreement, but I am more aware of how different we are, and doing my best to understand and make myself more understandable. That’s the truth, still struggling at times.

I recently asked myself what would I do differently when it came to the practice itself. Nothing, as this was my way to find the practice that works for me. I have a long way to go and there is no hurry, as there is no final destination. My mind is more focused, calmer and things I do are done more effectively. I am more aware of what I value in this life, what makes me tick and what not.

I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.
-Bruce Lee

Of course there are times when I feel different destructive emotions rising and are having hard time understanding something, feel tired, anxious, fear, not open towards other people, even little mad, protecting my truth when there is no real need for it, get carried away into day dreaming, jumping into judgments … These are valuable times to observe my thoughts, not force anything, accepting that I am. This is me, my perspectives, my life, my road, my values, my choices, knowing I am the only person who can change what does not serve me no longer.

The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end – you don’t come to an achievement, you don’t come to a conclusion. It is an endless river.
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

I can not tell you what is the right meditation practice. My practice is largely based on the Vipassana-meditation, which uses mindfulness of breathing and is about training the brain to quiet down, combined with the contemplation of impermanence, to gain insight into the true nature of this reality.

Vipassanā (which in ancient Pali language means ‘seeing things as they really are’) comes from the oldest tradition of Buddhism, the Theravada and there is a lot of science backed data on its psychological benefits on our mind, like producing changes in gray matter density in regions of the brain related to learning and memory, self awareness, mitigating anxiety and depression, as well as improving cognitive functions.

In silence, essence speaks to us of essence itself… As the busy edge dissolves we begin to join the conversation through the portal of a present unknowing, robust vulnerability, revealing in the way we listen, a different ear, a more perceptive eye, an imagination refusing to come too early to a conclusion, and belonging to a different person than the one who first entered the quiet.
-David Whyte

Before I start observing my breathing and all the sensations that arise I usually also do a quick gratitude check every evening, to be surprised again and again how much there is in my life to be grateful for.

Meditation is about seeing clearly the body that we have, the mind that we have, the domestic situation that we have, the job that we have, and the people who are in our lives. It’s about seeing how we react to all these things. It’s seeing our emotions and thoughts just as they are right now, in this very moment, in this very room, on this very seat. It’s about not trying to make them go away, not trying to become better than we are, but just seeing clearly with precision and gentleness.
-Pema Chödrön

Forget all the religious and mystical parts of different practices. You can meditate without believing in karma, reincarnation, hell and earth or some other belief that you are having hard time relating to.

Take meditation as a tool to transform your mind. If you want to become a better version of yourself, do more with your life, have better relationships, smile more, or whatever your goal is – meditation will help you become aware of where you are now, where you truly want to go and slowly show you the way. Have an open mind. There are so many teachers and teachings out there, don’t get stuck and carried away by big words. Don’t be afraid to experiment and don’t take it too seriously!

Remember there are no shortcuts in life, like in a video game, big changes take time, but I guarantee it comes if you stick to new healthier habits.

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.
-Lao Tzu

What next?

When it comes to mindfulness practice, I am planning to do a 10-day Vipassana course next year and will continue my daily routine, which is sometimes shorter, sometimes longer. Not forcing it in any way, but trusting the process.

Regarding this new/relaunched blog, there will be more content coming soon. Posts about what excites me like plant-based diet, yoga, movement, travel, books, gardening, people, learning and much more.

So make sure you hit subscribe below to stay updated when I publish something new.

As noted buddhist teacher and author Jack Kornfield said: You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.

I wish you the best on this adventure called life. Surf’s up☺

If you’re new to meditation, I recommend these apps:
Headspace (co-founder Andy Puddicombe is a former Buddhist monk, who is now an entrepreneur. He is a very interesting person and I highly recommend listening to his story on the Rich Roll podcast).

Related books:
Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama – Daniel Goleman
The Tree of Yoga: The Definitive Guide to Yoga in Everyday Life – B. K. S. Iyengar
I am that – Nisargadatta Maharaj
The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation 
Mindfulness in Plain English – Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion – Sam Harris
Wherever You Go, There You Are – Jon Kabat-Zinn
Tao Te Ching – Lao Zu
Stumbling on Happiness – Daniel Gilbert
The Experience of Insight: A Simple and Direct Guide to Buddhist Meditation – Joseph Goldstein
A Lamp in the Darkness: Illuminating the Path Through Difficult Times – Jack Kornfield PhD
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind – Shunryu Suzuki

Three-minute video by AsapSCIENCE summarizing the current scientific findings on meditation:

Related links:
Vipassana Meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka
How to meditate by Sam Harris
Mindfulness Meditation – HARVARDgazette
7 Ways Meditation Can Actually Change The Brain – Forbes
The science behind meditation and Headspace
4 scientific studies on how meditation can affect your heart, brain and creativity (TED blog


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