Into the woods

For one year I asked Lisa Moser whether she knew someone in Austria who could help me with organizing events for the Power Flour Journey, her answer came the same day: yes, me! And from there the co-creation was smooth, easy and precise. On Friday June 15 we had a Dance Now evening in Salzburg. Lisa offered her meditation dance practice and at the beginning and in the middle I offered light bodywork and stillness meditation inspired by the work of Eckhart Tolle. It was a lovely combination and a beautiful evening. A soft landing for me of offering the teachings in Austria for the first time.

The next day I had the pleasure of taking people on a Stillness Walk, which was co-created by Emmerich Lehner and Suzanne Standingen. We gathered in Suzanne’s amazing winter garden, where we listened to the sound of the small river going passed her lovely house and she took us out into the silence of the fields and woods. What a joy!! On our way we stopped a couple of times, just to dive a little bit more into ourselves, into the silence and into the great connection of awareness, breath, body, sound, sun and earth. To our great surprise she had also made us a delicious lunch….what a treat!

Sunday June 17 I gave a Live-Now Workshop at Lisa’s & Hayo’s retreat centre: Into the woods, in Neukirchen near Salzburg. For a year it has been an address, no image of it, no idea to what kind of place I was actually going. Driving up a steep and curving slope in first gear for a mile with my old camper was a next level of trusting my Mercedesbenzie; the grid under the tires made a loud noise and the further I got the more I hoped I had taken the right turn…the more I recalled Lisa saying ‘it is quite in the middle of nowhere’….and with every bent in the road I hoped to find this sign: ‘welcome in the middle of nowhere’…..as I also realized….there’s no possible way to turn my camper…here…or now. And suddenly out of nothingness I heard Lisa’s voice….hi Evert you’re almost there. I parked my car as Robert Redford in Out of Austria…I made it.

Into the woods is an oasis where time doesn’t exist, nature is overwhelmingly beautiful, stillness is tangible; without any effort you simply fall into slow motion and surrendering to the world of your senses. Hayo Stam created this peaceful place –with an amazing tree hut- and together with Lisa, they fine tuned it and opened up the space for retreats. Me as lucky bastard being the first one to make us of it! Thank you so much Hayo and Lisa!

I could feel as the group one by one arrived that they had also left time and a lot of their troublesome minds behind down below in the valley. They opened up…listened, felt, moved, danced, meditated, saw, smelt, laughed, ate, drank, cried….became silent…and felt the depth and ease of ‘I am’ beyond the senses….this field of being beyond the chattering mind and the feeling of disconnection. The wonder of being alive. The wonder of breath. The wonder of each cell of the body being endlessly  massaged by breath. Sensing instead of answering the question: who am I?

 

Neukirchen, June 19

 

Zen and the art of getting rid of goat shit

I was born and raised in a very small village in The Netherlands, where my dad had his –excellent- butcher shop. Every friday at 8 am sharp a woman would come in with her usual repertoire of who was divorcing, ill, dead, almost dead….or she wanted to be dead. She spoke so loud that if we would all speak so loud, we’d still have no need for hearing aids. At this particular morning she was even more excited as normally.

‘What did I hear, what did I hear; holy lord what did I hear?’, she made her own echo.

As my dad grew accustomed to her gossiping over the years, he didn’t quite get the question and without reacting he just went on with making everything ready for her, because she ordered exactly the same every week. Although she would, at a certain point in her weekly routine, bring her fingers to her lips while looking at all the meat in the display and moving her head slowly from the left to the right and back again, murmuring in herself: what shall I have this week? As she finally made up her mind and ordered what she wanted, my father handed her her order straight away and she would just remark without a trace of understanding how this was possible: ‘oooo, well that’s quick’.

‘I’ve heard you’re going on a holiday to Italy? Is that true?’, she squeaked at the top of her voice. ‘All the way to Italyyyyyy?’

Mind you we’re talking about the early seventies of the last century here, where the unknown corners of the globe were still a thousand times bigger and not brought in our living rooms yet by the everyday news. My dad picked up the word ‘true’ and looked at her in full amazement.

‘Yes’, she continued, ‘I’ve heard that you and your 9 children are going to Italy this summer.’

It no longer seemed to be a question, the biggest question she had was still to come. She put her shopping bag down on the floor, lay both her hands on the counter and looked my dad deep in the eyes. ‘I get it that you can drive all the way down to Italy, but how do you think you’ll ever be able to find your way back?’

Both fell into a deep lasting silence as they were lost for words….for completely different reasons.

And yes we went to the Lago Maggiore in Italy for the first time that year, found the romantic village Cannobio and came back to that village dozens of summer holidays. We mortals all create our habits. One of the things we used to do every year was climbing the Monte Giove; an epic adventure of conquering a mountain of 1600 meters above sea level. For us flatlanders it equaled the Everest. Early rise at 5 in the morning, getting your stuff together in complete silence, leaving the camping site and when we approached the first small village on the hill, StAgatha with it’s beautiful view over the lago, our first whispering would start. My recollections of our visits to Cannobio are great spells of sheer happiness and joy; the sound of the swallows on the lake side, the colours, the smells, the icecream, the football pitch, the peaches, the grapes and this endless time of not having to work, to study or to worry. What a bliss. ‘I believed in my soul….after school’, is a lyric line of Van Morrison that fits in here completely, and the need of ‘I got to get back’; not as much to this small village as well to this feeling of inner peace and tranquility.

So in the process of making my schedule for the Power Flour Journey last year, a short visit including a Stillness Walk to the top of the Monte Giove was a must. I hadn’t been there for 42 years. Sometimes it’s better to cherish the memories and to safe yourself from the shock of reality, I now realize…again. Over the decades Cannobio had become a Swiss-German enclave; the romantic and authentic Italian chaos had made, or had to make -as the law of economics has it-, room for a new and different approach.

Wherever I went in the three days I visited this tiny village, I heard, saw, felt, smelt and tasted the atmosphere of the countries I drove through to reach this little island of bliss; now changed forever.
But there was still hope in me that perhaps some far and remote corners of this little island of bliss might still exist.

So at the second day at 5 am I left my camper and the camper site, accompanied by black birds that were singing there morning song and seemed to guide me on this journey within the Journey. And yes I spotted some changes on the way up, not worth mentioning; the stillness was heavenly, the scent of the flowers overwhelming, the views astonishing and breathtaking and the soft cool breeze coming from the Swiss mountains a delight for my heavily sweating 58 year old body. It was beautiful to reach the top, to be there on my own for a while and yes I grinned even the goat droppings were still part of the scene and the smell. What a treat!! I felt joyous! I just sat. Felt ‘completely Zen’ and just sat.Watch part 1 

At the same moment as I stood up to go downwards, two young guys arrived. I thought for a moment Zorba the Buddha was playing a trick with my imagination. Where did they suddenly come from and how did they get here with this heavy equipment? They nodded friendly and slightly apologetic in a way. One of them murmured, in a sort of Bob Dylan rendition, something like: ‘Tourist complaine of smell of goat shit, so we now blowing it in the wind’. What a strange answer my friend, it didn’t make any sense to me. I just continued in getting ready to leave the hill top.

The next moment I was completely back in reality…watch part 2: we can find our way into economic growth….but how on this planet earth will we ever be able to find our way back?

Cannobio June 2 2018

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Inspiration

Coming back from a rather long walk through the fields and woods surrounding Freiburg, I went for a drink in a pub near the University. The atmosphere in this neighborhood is very lively, fresh, sparkling and creative; this combined with the sunshine, a gentle breeze and a magnificent Weizen beer was so delightful to my senses.

Thereafter I went for a stroll on the University Compound and when I entered the main building I was struck by a very gloomy and darkish sculpture by Bettina Eichin, tucked away in a corner, Die neun Musen, The Nine Muses. It was as my breathing suddenly stopped and an almost overwhelming feeling of sadness and fear came over me. I gasped for some air, what a contrast to how I was feeling just a few minutes before.

In my meditation instructions I often refer to the inbreath as a moment of taking new life force, new inspiration, new energy in. I invite people to really connect with this natural phenomena that does not ask any effort, control or directing. Our breath is simply there, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; what a miracle! Just letting the flow of breath in, through and out. To just simply connect with this wonder, instead of immediately using this new energy or new inspiration for an activity in some sort of form as we modern human-doings tend to do. How interesting from the moment I was confronted with this sculpture, my natural flow of breathing was suddenly gone.

These disconnected look-a-like muses were, robbed from their instruments, totally lost in grief and apathy and looked like waiting for some new inspiration, reanimation or a kiss of life. Apparently no longer aware of the fact that that’s exactly what they use to offer us. If they represent the present state of our inspiration, than the only thing that can come out of it is: we all become look-a-likes as well. That we’re all just looking for ‘likes’, thumbs up and thumbs down, success and failure, black and white, in or out….

Ooooo thank you mother nature, suddenly there comes this inbreath again…fills me up, lifts me up and makes it clear to me that it was just a trick of the ego trying to get me back into endless and fearful thinking.

 

 

Badenweiler, May 29

Meditation on becoming famous

It started with just a post on Facebook, one in a billion a day, of a guy in Freiburg who’s music was inspired by the work of Eckhart Tolle. I listened to it and I believed his voice, his words and his music, it felt very authentic to me. So I got in touch with him if he was in for a co-creation, his music combined with my awareness training as part of the Power Flour Journey. I explained to him that I always use music in my trainings and that live music gives such an extra dimension, as it is created on the spot…right here and now…what more do you want for a Live Now Workshop.

Erik Git Thoma, the singer-song writer, didn’t give it a second thought and agreed straight away. So we had a few chats, mainly about soccer, over the phone and yesterday was the day we first met in order to get our story straight for the Live Now Workshop we are due to offer coming Friday in Freiburg. We met in a small Biergarten –no I’m not going to say it- and it was brief and nice; a handshake, a hug, a cup of coffee that didn’t come through as the new waitress forgot all about it. We agreed to meet again today, doing an experiment in the city center with Git playing his music and me trying to get people into a connective meditation circle.

It was quiet on this very spring like Pentecost Monday as we arrived on the square near the beautiful Munster of Freiburg. We unpacked our stuff near a fountain in which a pair of ducks felt totally at ease with us being around witnessing their spring game. There weren’t many people around but Erik’s music very fast drew the sincere attention of a young boy sitting with his parents and younger brother enjoying an ice cream. He stood up, came closer and with his arms folded over his chest he listened very carefully.

He moved back to his table to join his family again, came up to us to throw some money in Erik’s guitar case – 7,30€ he collected so no dessert today- , went back again and circling around us like a very shy young tiger waiting for the right moment to come in for his very first kill…. The music stopped and there he was….’can I have your signature please?’, he politely asked. Erik got his pen out and a piece of paper, wrote his signature down and with a big smile he gave it to the boy full of wonder. ‘Thank you, this is my first signature of a famous person…’. And off he went, showing his treasure to his family members. What a beautiful meditation we had.

Freiburg May 21

Sun, shadow and rust

I was thrilled that my eldest sister Jeanneke wanted to organize the first Stillness Walk in Belgium for the Power Flour Journey and she suggested the Zoniënwoods -dating back to the year 1000AD- near Brussels could be a perfect place for such a walk. And so it was!

Enormous beech trees with tree trunks that climbed up like pillars in a straight line for over 20-25 meters into the endless blue sky, before they spread out their might and strength into tall branches eventually ending up in very subtle, soft, fresh green just unfolding leaves. Not yet leaves though, altogether they formed a majestic transparent green roof and although a soft breeze was playing in it, no rustling sound could be heard. Their form still so delicate, even when I touched them on the small one year old sprouts near the ground, I really could not feel what it was these leaves were made off…..so tender and delicate, like the wings of a caterpillar just transformed into a butterfly. Such a world of wonder.

After the Stillness Walk I was sitting in a friends garden and I saw the sun producing clear cut black shadows of solid iron bars on a concrete base. The bars stayed unmoved and stubborn in place and the shadows performed a slow and gentle pirouette around them. The brighter the sun, the clearer the shadow…..without the sun there would not even be a shadow, but the bars were reluctant to bother about that. On this side of the iron structure there was a pattern of irregular rust patches formed over years, totally independent of the sunshine; a lasting and undeniable echo so it seemed of the shadows. It simply marked the inevitable slow crumbling process of even the most solid looking structure and its shadow.

Hoeilaart, May 5 – 2018.