Holding on to that which serves no purpose 

About being scar(r)ed for life.

It had been a rough second week. There had been emotional dramas all around and as the course progressed into what she felt was a mayhem of unresolved conflicts and unpredictable outbursts, she withdrew deeper and deeper into a cold state of fear.

With the logic of a twisted mind she told herself that this was good for her. That she allowed herself to feel fear. Probably something great, like anger (!), would come out of it. So she took care of that fear by cradling it and crouching in corners, sobbing into multiple layers of Kleenex, and by choosing to sit with some distance to the group, covering her ears when it got too much.

To be fair nothing bad had happened to her that week, nor had she discovered some terrible suppressed memory. She had only witnessed others fall down or crack. Yet in doing so she inevitably felt the chaos of rumbling feelings that lay a mere two millimeter below the surface as soon as all the participants entered the big room, where all meditations and therapeutic exercises took place. However, by being exposed to what she felt had no border or limit, the lightest shift in energy or the smallest remark simply sucked the life force out of her.

Rock bottom came when she completely lost connection with what was real. She could no longer distinguish what was her pain, a pain from the past, or something of the present, and what was other’s hurt. Naturally, she refused more and more to enter her body as there were way too few handles to hold on to, no emergency break to pull, and what met her just made her cry. There was simply no protection available, and no guarantees of survival were given.

She sat there with tunnel vision and tinnitus, could not feel a single part of her body except her high pulse that kept running all over her body. Her hands shook, shoulders were tensed and her stomach a tight not. She cried (a lot) yet she wasn’t entirely sure why, but the waterworks kept coming. In a place like this, where there’s always someone on the floor crawled up in fetal position bawling their eyes out, she thought her reactions were a sign that she was normal.

Professional advice: Give this feeling you’re experiencing a movement and a sound. 

But how does one give a sound to the loudest silence you’ve ever heard? What movement represents that of frozen terror?

Ironically, the theme of this second week was about staying in touch with your body. An easy one she had thought, as she truly loved the body she was currently in possession of. Yet somehow, she had spent most of the week dissociated from herself. Had it not been for a couple of brilliant exercises that gave her exactly what she needed, some truly amazing insights, then she’s not sure she would have dared to continue. Had it not been for the post-course, unwavering support of the best psychologist she knew, then she probably would not had felt so good about going back up there again.

This friend of hers, because that is truly what the psychologist was, had a practice named Kintsukuroi. To repair with gold. To repair the cracks with gold to make the once broken object more valuable by letting the scars be the unique point of beauty. She loved this idea. He friend helped her understand what had gone wrong for her that week and what she could do differently. She was not afraid to face her pain and fear, but she had completely misunderstood what it meant to take care of your own feelings.

Professional advice that feels doable: When it gets too much; move around a little. Start communicating what is going on.

Now, a month later, I feel ready for the third week. For seven days straight we will connect with our inner child and poke around in the deepest of wounds, the longings of the child. Everyone say this is the toughest one, and one of the best. Prepare for endless sadness and anger.

I am ready. Nervous, yet confident in my survival skills.

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Scarecrow spotted in Bali, Indonesia.

FLawesome

About the good and bad in people.

We are there because we long to be free, want to heal, discover a greater potential in ourselves, or maybe getting help to start the life we were truly meant to live.

The group has almost 30 participants, plus a wide range of different therapists each week, the miraculous masseuse and four assistants. Each course is filled with yummy vegan/vegetarian food (because my body is my temple), active and silent meditations (because all answers lie within), therapeutic work (yeah, we all need that) and loads of dancing (and we dance like no one is watching). One week at a time the group take on a different theme and play life with each other.

There are lots of hugs and tears, howling and roaring, as trauma, desire and secrets are shared in the group. Some people ramble on like there’s no end to it. Other freeze and can’t bring themselves to speak a word. Shame. Fear. Love. Silliness. Craziness. All kinds of crazy actually. Some hide the truth behind sad stories or permanent smiles. Some share their normal reality and don’t realize they’ve told the saddest story of them all.

Together with this group of young and old, male and female, mostly Swedish, very normal people (seriously, not a single freak just one or two groovy souls), I try to stay present, try to let go, try to hold on, and most of all I try to only go nuts when told to.

Thankfully there is silence at all times outside of the big room where we do all excercises. There is no small talk, no chitchat, and no need to make friends with anyone. All and any conversation should be held with oneself. Repeat your personal mantra and meet yourself!

Phones, laptops, books, candy and other distractions are surrendered upon checking in and is kept locked away until it is time to leave. Our only means of distraction are the journals we are given to write in. The surrounding nature is gorgeous and there is absolutely nothing else to do around this house. So we quietly sit and stare into space, journal frenetically, walk along snowy paths where few, very few, people walk. And when it is the right thing to do we walk close to each other, hug in the hallway, or whisper for hours in the dark.

I always get some sort of revelation about myself or about life when I am in that house. And I always spend a surprising amount of time fantasizing about very inappropriate things. I guess it is part of the package. To enable my maximum potential (yup yup, that’s why I am there, spiritual growth and inner peace is secondary) I must also discover and accept my flaws.

I kind of thought I had it all nailed by now, especially considering how much of this hippie stuff I have been doing since the past couple of decades. Not to mention the many hours of therapy. But somehow there’s no end to what can be found and explored. Good and bad. Doing this course, is quite the sandbox of living. For me it is above all a chance to disconnect from my intellect and at a safe place go all in emotionally.

Because sometimes I have a serious problem with seeing the obvious, recognizing what I feel. I spend so much time in my head that I unintentionally twist my emotions around. Or shut them out. In life, what really matters is after all the people we keep close and the experiences we gain as we chose to live our life to the fullest. I do not want to miss out on that. I do not want to miss a single moment of ecstasy, boredom or whatever else is.

On Monday the second course begins. I am ready. I am flawesome. It will surely be heart-wrenchingly fabulous.

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Photo credit: Bethany Chuah
For a selection of fabulous courses that will take you on an inner journey towards yourself; check out baravara.se*

*I am not sponsored by Bara Vara, and I take absolutely no responsibility over the development of your soul. Peace!

Going crazy in the morning

About dynamics

The sun is not yet up so the big room with its whitewashed wooden walls is kind of dark. But in about an hour’s time the first sun rays will join their dance, and when they all take of their blindfolds it will be morning. With the exception of some pillows here and there, the floor is empty and there’s a light smell of something clear and fresh that lingers in the air. A couple of guys are stretching, trying to rid the night and sleep from their bodies. Others sit still and stare into inner or outer darkness, caught in thoughts or emotions. Almost 30 people are about to die and come into existence again.

She is cold and trying hard to convince herself that doing this morning mediation each and every darn day of this course will be good for her. Her mind has some serious doubts about it. Maybe she’s doing it all wrong, maybe she will waste all efforts by not giving her all for those first three horrible phases of the meditation, the painfully long first half hour. She loves the last two phases, so it’s maybe not that bad. But does she really have to breath, scream and die? Some people just aren’t very angry you know. At least they’ll work up a sweat. She will get her heart pumping. She tries to get herself into meditation mood. Observe what’s happening. That’s it, nothing more. No expectations. Ha!! Who doesn’t have expectations of dying?

The meditation starts and for 10 minutes her breath is forceful and chaotic. There is not a lot of space for air to flow through her nose. Assisting the breath with her entire body she flaps her arms, gently bouncing her knees. Keep focusing! All around her air is forced out in strong unrhythmic pulses. It’s easy to lose oneself in breathing. To stop witnessing what’s happening, to stop meditating, to be nothing but air. But she knows it’s coming and her scared mind runs around high on oxygen. She hears dragons fly through the room.

Catharsis. Go crazy. Go all in. 30 people scream their lungs out, hate, cry, talk back, laugh, kick mattresses, hit pillows, push down walls, whatever you do don’t stand still. The room starts to get hot and energy levels are rising with each roar. Have you ever heard a bunch of respectable grownups shout as loud as they can? Hold nothing back. Let shit go.

She’s relieved when the next phase starts and now all she has to do is die. Jumping up and down with her arms stretched out over her head, each hard landing on the floor is met with the mantra Hoo! This brutal compression and exhaustion of the body shake things up. Shoulders start to ache, sweat drip, her breath is short and she feel strange. Her body feels weird. She is supposed to completely exhaust herself. She doesn’t dare.

Stop! Freeze wherever you are, and be nothing but a witness to yourself. Listen to whatever comes up. Hear your true voice. Be real. Be perfectly still. She gets nauseous. Thinking she might faint. Again.

The sun starts to find her way in through the windows, filtering the air, making the room glow. A group of 30 mildly insane people start to dance. They celebrate the day. Celebrate life. Knowing that it is good to be alive. 30 brave spirits twirl. It’s a new day. It’s a new life.