Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Have you noticed how there seems to be more noise around us lately?
There seems to be more traffic noise, more noise related to work being done; for instance with leaf blowers that have taken over the rakes and brooms of old. And with the ability to listen to music everywhere we go, a lot of people have sounds in their ears pretty much anywhere they are going.
The other night when I was having dinner with family in a restaurant it even seemed that people were talking louder, were noisier.

Some time ago I have read some research into the songs birds sing; often to mark their territories. For a number of years the songs of birds were measured. As research goes it was about the number of different birds, the number of the same birds, the time they were most active singing their songs, and last but not least, the volume of their songs.
As it turns out, since we as humans get up an hour earlier during the Summer months, adapting Daylight Savings Time, the birds adapt as well. They have started singing earlier. And as the noise level of our society has risen, the volume of the bird songs has gone up.

It seems only logical that, having sounds ~ or even plain noise ~ everywhere around us for so many hours a day, that we ourselves have grown louder too. That we speak louder, laugh louder, sing louder…

Yet when there is so much noise around us, where will we find the quiet, restful places we can retreat to in order to listen to ourselves? To that very soft, inner voice that guides us, that answers our questions, that provides us with solutions we hadn’t even thought of before? Where do we find a place where the sound of the breeze rustling through the coloring leaves is so mellow, that we can actually hear the beat of our own hearts and the sound of our breathing in and out…
Where can we still experience the quiescence of a sunrise or sunset in that perfect moment between day and night; night and day…
With all the noise and sounds and music we bring into our lives, its rhythms leading our personal rhythms into higher frequencies, its volume turning our personal volume further and further up; where can we find silence?

For it is in the silence that we can recalibrate ourselves. In the silence we can regain our personal rhythm, take a deep breath, and reconnect with the unique person we truly are…

Friday, December 26, 2014


Silence is golden, or so it has been said. The fact that we are allowed to have our opinions, and to voice them in public, doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to do it.
There is a difference between the need to be heard in a certain situation, and sharing our opinions in order to hear our own voice. In order to pat ourselves on the back because we know best and we have shown them…

On the other hand it is a good thing to stay informed and to be able to express ourselves; it is just that there are a place and time for everything, and sometimes letting a situation play out without getting involved is the wiser perspective.

But there is more to silence than ‘being silent’. Silence can be used as a tool too. An interesting one, as it can span the polarities in its use; it can either be the wise choice that allows for that other person to make their own discoveries, or it can be an aggressive statement on how wrong the other person is.

Then there is also silence to be found, enjoyed, even cherished.
The silent place in nature, and that point of silence within ourselves. The silence that comes with an unexpected peacefulness. A silences that is restful, regenerating, and sometimes even rejuvenating. It is that aspect of silence that seems to be more and more important to us ~ to our sense of wellbeing ~ and at the same time seems to be ever harder to find.

There are still a few places where we can experience that profound silence, for instance within caves. It is in that silence that we can finally hear our thoughts, our heartbeat; the rhythm of our breath. In that silence we can connect with the point of silence within ourselves and begin to observe what is going on, both within ourselves as well as outside of ourselves. We begin to notice our thought patterns, and perhaps more importantly, whether they are leading us in a positive direction.
From this point of silence we can much more easily discern what to accept, and what we want no part of in our lives. We can become aware of our true needs and desires in life; on the physical, mental, and spiritual levels of our existence.

So important do we feel this silence is, that we build ‘sensory deprivation cabins’ where we can find such a profound experience of silence…

It is something to keep in mind as we surround ourselves with all kinds of sounds in our busy day-to-day lives; silence is golden; or perhaps in the higher frequencies of today, even a diamond!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Best intentions

We all want the very best; not just for ourselves, but also for those we care about. Our children, our families, partners, friends… So whenever we take action to make something good happen for them, we do so with the very best intentions.

And yet, every once in a while that doesn’t work quite the way we had in mind.

The human thing to do, is to project that which we feel is best for us unto the lives of those we aim to help.

And this can be something fairly inconsequential like preparing the favorite dish ~ which might turn out to be our own favorite dish other than their favorite dish. Or showing the other person the best way to do something, slightly different from the way they are doing it; with no perceptible difference in the final result. Yet it can also be more major; like pushing our child to study, while the child really does want to work with his/her hands ~ to learn a trade.
Another way our best intentions may sort of backfire is through our definitions of success. When to us success involves a high paid job, a big house, and an expensive car, we may ~ with the best intentions ~ wish that for those we care about. Yet they may have their own, totally different way of defining success…

The list is endless. The more we intend to help those we care about, the more often we may find that our best intentions are different from what that other person desires, or even needs.

There are however several ways to circumvent this.
First and foremost, when we have the intention to help, we may wan tot ask the other person how we can best be of assistance. How can we help? And even when we would have done things differently, to help in that manner which the other person perceives as most helpful at that moment.
Another way is to ‘walk a mile in the other person’s shoes’. To release our own need to be helpful or even ‘right’; to truly seek out where the other person is coming from, and where they are headed.
And when we have a fairly good understanding as to the perceived best way to help from the other person’s perspective, only then do we jump in to help. With all our good intentions.

Yet the most certain way to truly help those we care about, is pretty much to support them in whatever they are setting out to do, the way they are doing just that. To be their soft place to fall when things go wrong.
And to never come with those dreaded words: “I told you so.”

Friday, December 19, 2014


According to the dictionary, transformation is a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance. And in one form or another we all strive for transformation in our lives.
As a child we want to grow up; we want to transform into the adolescent who is bigger and stronger and therefore is allowed more freedom. As an adolescent we want to become the adult. When we are stressed we aim to transform into a more stress free version of ourselves; when we are caught up in so many things that we are continuously on the move we desire a transformation into something calmer, where life moves a little more smooth.

The dilemma often is that, while we do desire that transformation (at least at some level) we tend to be dreading the changes that come hand in hand with that transformation.
There are no half packages though… With one, the other will be right there…

Yet, with each transformation we wish our lives to be better.
And as we only have limited control over all of the circumstances, happenings and events in our lives, the true transformation has to be within ourselves…
That would mean that we would not necessarily aim to transform a specific situation, but rather the way we view the world. In other words, transform our perspective; start looking at the world through ‘new eyes’. It may guide us to see that same situation in a new light; see different aspects of it, and so on. It may even allow us to perceive why that specific situation entered our lives; and therefore show us what our part in it is.

Many teachings emphasize the benefit of observing the world from a perspective of detachment. It seems like ultimately that is the one transformation we may be striving for. To let go of the emotional inner dialogue, the opinionated attitude, or even the indignation that something like that can be done to us ~ and to get to the point from which we can observe the situation as it is. Honest and truthful. Factual.

The more we an transform ourselves into that direction, the less likely we are to get caught in situations filled with drama; and if we are, we can just see it for what it is. Chances are whatever the situation is we are facing, it will become easier to handle; problems will effortlessly get solved.

As we get more detached, less emotionally involved, less opinionated, we are not stepping back from the world; we rather are giving ourselves a chance to be totally aware and in balance with the world in the present.

If we want to transform, it seems like a really good transformation to aim for…

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


The simple elegance or refinement of movement, or courteous goodwill; whichever way you interpret grace it is a good thing. It is more than kindness, it implies compassion, and perhaps one could even say that it is an inner quality that radiates outward bringing a natural elegance to the way a person moves and behaves.
Grace is a state of being that is also seen as an outward reflection of spirituality. More precisely of the spiritual standards a person may live by. For instance when a person has found inner peace which enhances their inner and outer balance, priorities shift. And as that person lives more and more according to their peaceful, balanced inner compass, this will often be recognized as a state of grace. A simple elegance.

We can learn how to move elegantly, how to be polite; do the things we do exactly the way they are done in the social circles we belong to. Yet these are all ‘polish on the surface’, or sometimes even masks we wear to fit in.
A state of grace is achieved by learning about ourselves. Learning to accept ourselves as the unique human being we are ~ with all our good sides and things that we may still want to work on a bit. And as such it is an ‘inner job’.
It has nothing to do with fitting in, or saying the right words because we feel those are expected from us. It has to do with a desire to help and support others on their paths, while being ourselves the best way we know how to, in total equality. It involves trust in ourselves and having faith in others.

But what sets those that live in a state of grace apart more than anything else is the way they may examine both polarities in order to find the point of balance between them. To see and understand both sides without judging either one of them.

Of course this doesn’t mean that someone living in a state of grace is a ‘push-over’, on the contrary! It just means that the need to be right for the sake of being right; the drawing of the line in the sand, just because you can has lessened to the point where it doesn’t rule our (inter)action, our lives anymore.
After all, the more we can totally accept ourselves, the less we feel the need to defend ourselves, our actions, our opinions…

Living in a state of grace gives us choices. And it brings a simple elegance into our lives.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Stepping Back

Whenever we find any situation gets a bit too intense, it is a good idea to step back from it. To either take a little time away from it, or to literally create a bit more distance between ourselves and the situation at hand. To give ourselves the opportunity to take a deep breath before we move on with it. To set it aside for a moment, and do something else before we focus on it again. To sleep on it.

Whichever way you choose to step back from it, the results may be the same; creating a bit more distance between ourselves and the situation at hand.
As such, it is a way of letting go, of releasing that which we are ~ perhaps overly ~ involved in.

It is a letting go that is not aimed at losing it forever; or removing it from our lives necessarily. It is more that we need some space in order to see all aspects of that situation clearly. To not just see the details, but also allowing ourselves to get that overview perspective. To see the ‘bigger picture’.
In the process we create a bit more space for ourselves to maneuver; a bit more room to position ourselves in order to get the very best outcome for that situation we can imagine.

We may all recognize the wisdom of doing so when we find ourselves in tense or difficult situations; or when we are facing complicated or tough decisions.
We may not do it as readily in our normal, everyday lives.

And yet, it is a good idea to take some time before a decision, in order to see the consequences for all involved. And that includes ourselves of course (interestingly enough we tend to forget that more often than we realize…). We benefit from allowing ourselves some space to observe what is truly going on, before we move forward. To hold that which is in our faces at arm’s length to have a good look at it…

Even when it is not something that strikes us as a hard decision, or a complicated situation, it will help a lot to step back from it for a moment. To take a breath. To sleep on it.
It brings us in the best position for making balanced decisions; balanced steps forward on our personal paths. And as our decisions and our lives become more balanced, arguably our spaces become more balanced, and with that those that touch our spaces, are touched by balance.

So the next time something ~ expected or unexpected ~ happens in life; step back and the a deep breath before you react or decide on your next step…

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Space and Time

Every area has its own energy, its own culture, its habits, its language… It is what makes every place, every space unique! Over time all of these things are subject to change, some slower than others, still there is hardly any part on the earth today where everything is like it was for instance a hundred years ago.

Even within a small Country like the Netherlands, there are many dialects, many sub-cultures that have strong historical roots. Through immigration from other places it may seem that those more ‘original’ subcultures are fading a little bit; although to me it feels more like the influx of other cultures has enriched the ‘space and time’ of the area we call the Netherlands.

It doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to see how all these areas with their cultural values, their language, their dialects, in and of themselves are like a tapestry. If we would then weave the separate pieces of tapestry together, the whole world becomes a grand, three dimensional, woven painting of space and time as it exists today. Underneath the surface might be the roots where the energy of each area is growing from; while tomorrow might be woven above that which is now…

And yet, the world is not expanding. Arguably its energy may not be expanding either.
It is just being woven into different patterns, showing different pictures at different times. And whether we want it to or not ~ whether we believe in it or not ~ it is still one tapestry.
One space and time.

Looking at it this way, it may seem that changes on a personal level are small and insignificant. Even changes that are brought about by small groups seem, when looked at from space and time as one tapestry, may seem inconsequential…

Yet in this giant tapestry, each thread has purpose. Each single color is important, no matter how small an area is woven with it. And if it wouldn’t be there, it would surely be missed.

On a world wide scale, at a precise moment in time, there appears this beautiful color in the tapestry. A color that most of us don’t remember ever seeing before. And from this single strand of beautiful color, pretty soon other colors emerge. Each of them unique and beautiful in their own right. And somehow those colors spread through space and time in a way that no one might have foreseen. Wherever they appear, individual strands of new color start coming up in the tapestry…

And that is one of the most precious and beautiful things one can behold!

Friday, December 5, 2014


There are few words that have so many ‘negative’ connotations as the word ‘darkness’. It’s literal meaning is the partial or total absence of light. Yet according to the dictionary it also means wickedness or evil; the forces of darkness; unhappiness, distress, or gloom; secrecy or mystery; lack of spiritual or intellectual enlightenment; ignorance.

In a sense one can say that in most of the more ‘negative’ meanings the person or situation lacks light; whether it is as clarity or enlightenment. Or plain common sense. The one meaning where this is not as obvious is in case of ‘wickedness or evil’. Those are choices that are made; perhaps unenlightened choices, yet choices nonetheless.

It does bring up the question why we have so much of a charge with darkness.

It is true that when there is no light, or hardly any light, it is hard to see where we are going. It is hard to determine what is up ahead ~ whether that is on the road we are traveling or on our personal paths. And when we cannot see what is there, it tends to make us uncertain. And before we know it we start doubting ourselves. Can we get there? Can we do it? Can we handle whatever we will encounter as we proceed into this space that lacks light, that makes it hard for us to see what exactly is going on?

The thing with darkness is, at least from a physical perspective, that it refers totally to us relying on our sense of sight. And to then let our mind run away with it… As soon as we start listening to all of our senses, we tend to be less filled with doubt, perhaps even more courageous as we venture out into new and unknown territory.

When the darkness we encounter stems from ignorance, from a ‘not knowing what is at play’, we can always choose to inform ourselves. To actively pursue the acquisition of knowledge, and to purposely seek to know both sides of the issue. The more we know, the greater the clarity, the more light is spread upon the situation; and before we know it, the darkness is gone.

That leaves only one true perspective on darkness; and that is the conscious choice a person can make to be wicked. To consciously choose to do evil things; to do the things that cannot bear the light of day. To venture out in those things that thrive in darkness…

This all being said, darkness is not really this dark and negative force, but rather an invitation to us to let our lights shine, to enlighten ourselves!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Short days

The further North (or South) we live, the greater the difference in days and nights as we move through the cycle of the seasons. And while we may like those seemingly unending Summer days, that may not necessarily be true for the subsequent short Winter days. Especially when the days are overcast, the amount of daylight seems almost non-existent.

I imagine that a hundred, or even a hundred and fifty, years ago this was far less of a problem. When it got dark to the point that one couldn’t see what needed to be done anymore, there clearly was no need to do it at that time…
That made for long Winter nights, and possibly for large families.

Come the next Summer, the long days were filled with hard labor in order to prepare for the short, dark days and the cold of the next Winter.

However, in todays world we tend to stick to a different rhythm. The rhythm dictated by jobs, family, social contacts, and so on. And with lights everywhere, there is really no need to feel held back in any way by the short, dark days of Winter.
And just in case we do prefer a bit more light, a bit longer days, we can solve that too! Either by using specialty lighting, or by spending those Winter days elsewhere. Anywhere where the days are longer and warmer…

And while it is a good thing that we can solve problems like that; that we don’t have to feel ‘under the weather’ because of the lack of (day)light; in a sense this also causes a kind of ‘disconnect’ from nature as it exists in the area that we call home.
It is like we are forcing ourselves into a year ‘round ‘Summer rhythm’, in which we choose how long our days are and with how much activity we fill them. The natural period of rest and internalization, the time in which we would have huddled with the family around the open fire telling stories, is all but gone.

And so the old way of things, the old stories are forgotten.
We aren’t taught anymore how to spin tales, how to imagine new stories…

Still, when the days are shortening I feel a desire to drink hot chocolate, to eat soup, and to read a good book. To curl up on the couch and reflect about the things that have come and gone over the past year. To rest.
And to start making plans for times ahead, when the days will grow longer again…