Tag Archives: mindful

Why leave when you feel at home?

Why would you leave somewhere when you feel at home there? That’s the question I have contemplated about for weeks at the beginning of this autumn. Because I do feel so at home here, at Dzogchen Beara, Buddhist retreat centre in Ireland. And yet, I made the decision to leave. This week. Back to the Netherlands, as a new starting point for whatever comes next.

So why am I leaving? Because after almost 1 1/2 year here I feel to isolated in this far away part of Beara. I don’t have a car and there is almost no public transport in this area.It was a difficult decision.

I love this place, the work, the people, the cats, the overwhelming nature and the energy. It’s nurturing and challenging at the same time. But by time I realised that there are parts of me that don’t feel nurtured. Like the part of me that wants to be more independent. Which is quite difficult if you even need a lift to get to the nearest supermarket or bus station… I also like to be on my own in a busy place, to observe people, contemplate and write. Sit in the library and go to a museum. And there is a part of me that likes to be with friends: go for a drink, a dance, a walk, a movie. And when I am out and about I would like to go back when it feels right for me, instead of when the person with the car wants to go back.

I arrived as a volunteer in August 2016 and for some reason I felt connected right away. I took my cleaning- and hosteljob serious and grew naturally into doing extra tasks. Felt responsible for things. Had a deep longing to take care of this place. So instead of the usual 2 months, I stayed longer and longer.

My habits and assets fit so well here. For instance: they appreciate that I notice a lot and mention it, even the others managers and directors. An amazing feeling. I had many (voluntary) jobs in live where my awareness wasn’t appreciated. Here it was. Here I was. So I grew and learned and thrived even more. I gave a lot, and I gained a lot.

Started assisting my accommodation manager within a few months. Left here after almost half a year. Tried other things and came back within 2 months, to fill in while my manager had a holiday. Felt deeply that I wanted to stay longer. Got and took more responsibility. Got a part-time paid position in the general office as well as assisting my manager. And when she got sick I ended up as the fulltime accommodation manager. And the last two months I divided my team as manager and in the general office.

I joined so many meditation retreats and lots of guided meditations here, guided by wonderful people. And I had the good fortune to join retreats with these teachers: Sogyal Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche, Chagdud Khandro Rinpoche, Ringu Tulku en Dzigar Kontrul Rinpoche. And all in this beautiful place, with an overwhelming coastal view.

It is quite special to live and work in a Buddhist based environment. And every time I leave this nice bubble, I am so surprised by how the reality can be for others. That so many people react to all their feelings and thoughts, with no awareness (or believe) that there is a choice not to do that. That there is always a choice to be more peaceful and kind.

What I want in live is to learn and grow as a human every day, while trying to be a good person. This is the perfect place for it. An open, confrontational, loving and kind place. With place for humour too! At the end of the world, at the cliffs, so really no place to hide from yourself.

So soon I am going back. Although this going ‘back’ actually feels more challenging then when I left the Netherlands to go on this Ireland adventure. I will have to find my way again, in a world that I knew, while I have changed. Feeling and deciding how I want to live, where I want to live. Because right now I have no idea.

I hope to bring lots of mindfulness and Loving Kindness with me! And plan to live my life in such a way that I can come back here regularly, back to this place where I feel at home, at the end of these cliffs.

 

– Do have a look at my earlier blogs, where I write about living in the hostel and other experiences.

– And I post pictures on my Instagram.

 

 

Inside or outside

Yesterday I decided to have a day without checking my email, Instagram or anything else on the internet. I did that regularly when I was still living in the Netherlands and I felt it was good to do it again.

This morning I went to the guided morning meditation here in Dzogchen Beara. Later I had my first internet-time this day: I had a look at Instagram. I saw pictures of my friends and other people I follow. And this time I was very aware of how much it affected me. An hour before, when in was meditating, I was connected with myself, my inside. Now, by seeing all these pictures, my awareness went outside of me. 

Within a few minutes my attention went from people in the snow to concerts to travelling. And my mind had a lot of thoughts, associations and reactions. It wasn’t a nice feeling. It felt so restless all of a sudden.

It was quite fascinating though, to be so aware of these changes in myself.

It also became clear for me, once again, that although I do like to be in touch with other people, and the things internet has to offer, I have to find a way not to be carried away totally with it all. To find a way to stay in connection with myself, my inside, as much as possible.

My first experience of mindfulness after my throat tonsils were removed

My thoughts just went back to a time, more then 20 years ago, when I experienced for the first time how it felt when there was a gap between my thoughts and saying something out loud.

I was 18 years old and my throat tonsils had to be removed. It was my first (and only) time being in a hospital to stay for a few days. I wasn’t really in agony, so I actually quite enjoyed myself there. It was important that I drank a lot to keep my throat moist, so I was allowed to get lemon lemonade as much as I wanted. My parents and some family visited me sometime and that was nice, although they had to do most of the talking, talking was quite painful. For the rest I was reading, sleeping and watching tv.

Eating was a bit painful because I could only chew and swallow very slowly and mindfully (although I don’t think I knew the word ‘mindfully’ back then already) even though my food was chopped into very little pieces to help me. After 4 nights I was released back home again. I did live in a student house at that time, but still was at my parents place often. Just like then. It was the week before Christmas and my sister was at home too. And I remember family visiting now and then.

What I mostly remember though, was that I wasn’t able to join the conversations.

Talking was painful (and I probably was advised to keep it to a minimum), so I didn’t do it much. I did have pen and paper with me, to I could write things down.

But I noticed that most things that I wanted to say, didn’t seem so important anymore after a few minutes. The momentum of them passed. So I listened more. I read a lot. I was in the room with people, but I really wasn’t contributing as much as I used to.

And I found it fascinating. Sometimes annoying, sometimes pleasant.

Looking back, I think this was my first experience of mindfulness.

Where does a thought go when you stop thinking about it?

Isn’t that a most interesting thought?

The idea that we are not our thoughts, but instead we have them is not new to me.

I think the first time that I became slightly aware of that was when I read the book ‘ You can heal your life’ from Louise Hay, about 8 years ago now. My mind was always busy and the idea that I could choose my own thought was revolutionary to me! It openen up a whole new way of thinking, of living. I had some ‘control’, something to say about where I would go with my mind.

Since that time I read a lot of books, watched a lot of teachings and video’s, participated i n courses and meditated and contemplated about it.

The mysterious life of thinking and thoughts still fascinates me.

Sometime in the last months, during one of the retreats with a Tibetan Buddhist teachers (*) here at Dzogchen Beara this sentence came up:

“Where does a thought go when you stop thinking about it?”

A sentence, a thought that comes back to me sometimes. Because after all this years, this image suddenly made it so clear for me: a thought is just a shapeless ‘thing’. And as long as we give it attention, energy, it stays around. The minute, even the second, we stop thinking the thought: it is gone.

So we are in control about which thoughts we keep around. And which ones we let go.

Of course, that is easier said than done. Like other human beings I can stick to a thought, a happy one, a sad one, it doesn’t matter. I choose (most of the time subconsciously) to keep the thought around. Repeat it in my head. Sometimes exactly the same. More often in various words and shapes.

But if I let the thought go…. it is really gone. It disappeared. It is no longer there. Like it was never there in the first place.

Isn’t that the most fascinating thought?

(*)
(I can’t remember which teacher by the way… I think it might be Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche).

Disconnect to connect more

Before I came here I was used to be online most of the time. For the last years I had a mostly online business: online coaching, online courses, organizing events that required a lot of mailing. At the end i longed to be offline more and more. I planned days and weeks without internet and mail. I loved it.

And when last May a few of my longings came together and i decided to go away for a while, it was obvious for me that i also would be less online for at least a few months. No new blogs on my other site, not visiting Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest (I already said goodbye to Facebook the year before). And to leave my smartphone and instead bring a old mobile phone.

And then i came to this place. With only a few spots with mobile phone connection. A -very old and slow- voluntary laptop that i could use at one specific place at certain hours. A sort of secret Wifi spot where i could connect with the outside world, but only after 5 pm and at a dry but quit uncomfortable place, where the only place place to sit is on the ground.

When it is so much hassle to get online, you get so much more efficient. And lots of things are not really worth the time and effort. Typing on a little tablet screen when sitting on a cold floor makes sure that you don’t type or browse to much.

Offline most of the time. I love it.

you are hereBesides, most of the time i have to work or spend my time walking, reading, having nice conversations, looking at the beautiful view or just sit with one of the cats. It is quit a relief to be in a place where not everybody is looking at their smartphone all the time.

Since a few weeks i made the decision to slowly get more online. My smartphone was send to me, so Whatsapp is back in my life. (Although i told that to almost no one until now).And i started to share pictures on Flickr and Instagram again. And i started this new site. Everything is a bit handier because i have sometimes access to a normal computer. 

I also felt the downsides of it all again. Checking Instagram and my mail quit a lot. It made me more anxious sometimes. Until i realized again that i don’t have to do check all this all the time.  And I can always make the decision, like last weekend, to not go online for a few days.

Because disconnecting actually connects me more: with myself and the people around me.