A few days ago, I joined a Whatsapp-group to take part in the 21 Days to abundance-Challenge of Deepak Chopra, along with friends of friends and many people I have never even met. The challenge is about inviting abundance into our lives and relies on the assumption that we can create our own reality: if we believe that we deserve what we want, it will come into our lives. If we don’t believe it, it can’t happen. I have believed in this for a long time and I firmly believe that the universe listens to us and cares for us.
And someday I will fly into space. But that’s another story 🙂
Part of this challenge, are short daily meditations working with mantras, led by Deepak Chopra himself, which I enjoy very much and for which I like to take the time.
For a while now, meditation has been an increasingly important part of my life, and I have the feeling that the same is true for many people. We are many who question traditional predetermined ways of life and who want to lead a more conscious life.
Love at second glance
My love story with meditation began a few years ago with guided meditations. At first, it was very difficult for me to sit still and focus. Often I simply fell asleep, missed the whole meditation and only woke up at the end when the teacher told us to slowly open our eyes or when the gong woke me up. Oops …
And sometimes it was the other way around: I was much too jittery to sit still with my eyes closed. My thoughts were racing, my eyes flew back and forth and finally opened and after less than five minutes I was on my feet again. Most of the times, I was simply bored and felt, that a thousand other things were much more important …
And then one day something changed that I cannot really explain. I reached an inner silence and meditation developed into something that I enjoy very much. When I meditate regularly, I feel more relaxed, authentic and conscious.
In addition to different guided meditations, which I practised in a meditation centre in the south of Berlin and which focused mainly on the awakening of the chakras, I regularly practised a darkness meditation, about which I have already written here in detail. This really prevented me from going crazy in a very stressful phase of my life and helped release the stress-related headaches and sleep disorders that I was suffering from at the time.
Then I got introduced to various active meditations, such as those developed, among others, by Osho, including Nadabrahma and Dynamic Meditation, which I liked very much. Through them, I discovered that meditation can be a joyful experience and an outlet for all kinds of feelings and involve all senses. There are many active meditations which include dancing, shaking, humming, as well as other movements and sounds. They are all about freeing oneself from the masks that we modern people wear all day and behind which we hide – the so-called “social conditioning”. They also help to pierce through the layers which cover up our inner stillness and can help us to finally tap into this silence, once the mind finally shuts up for once. The accompanying music is a way to support the process. However, it is important to understand that all these tricks are “only” devices, a method, a technique – but not the goal in itself.
Meditation can a pleasurable experience – How I realized this while sitting in utter silence
At the same time, I started to regularly meet with neighbours and friends for Vipassana meditation sittings à la Goenka. Goenka was a Burmese-Indian meditation teacher whose method was to sit motionless for an hour and scan the entire body. By doing this, the meditator observes the coming and going of all physical sensations, which are similar to thoughts and feelings, and experiences with their own body that nothing remains and that everything is transient. This approach is the complete opposite of the active Osho meditations. So contradictory that I often ask myself how a meeting between Osho and Goenka would have gone. Would the two have gotten along with one another?
To experience the real deal for myself, I applied to take part in a Vipassana retreat in Indonesia early this year and got in. The retreat consisted of practising this motionless body-scan meditation in silence for 10 days all day long from 4:30 a.m. till 9 p.m. Many people I had talked to before had described the experience as life-changing. For me, it was not. Nevertheless, the experience helped me realize, among other things, that I am more the type for active meditation than for this silent motionless style.
Many people immediately think of something very stiff and uptight when they hear the word meditation. They think it means you have to sit for hours in silence in lotus position until your legs go numb. Many people don’t know that meditation can also be a joyful, pleasurable and life-affirming experience. This had to change! I wanted to spread the word and decided there and then, that I wanted to become a facilitator for active meditations.
On my way to becoming a meditation facilitator
In fact, I had long felt the need to create a spiritual, meaningful balance to all the paperwork I usually fill my professional life with. So I booked my flight to Athens and left Berlin to spend five weeks of this summer to live on the beautiful island of Lesbos at the Osho Meditation Center.
There I lived in a tent under an olive tree, meditated a lot myself and also took part in the facilitator training for active meditations, in order to then share my knowledge as a certified facilitator with the world.
In English, we speak of facilitation. But what does this actually mean? Synonyms are to „help”, „ease”, „further”. I also like to add the concept of „holding the space”. Well then!
The facilitator, in this case, myself, is there to give the instructions, to explain the different stages of the meditation, to answer questions and even to anticipate them and to hold the space for the meditators to meditate in. She should know the meditation inside and out, ideally already having practised it herself (several times). She knows its effects and possible pitfalls in the execution, as well as small inaccuracies that can sneak in. She must make sure that only the instructions are given without sharing own interpretations or experiences, in order not to influence the experience of the meditators. She has to make sure that – depending on the setting – no dogs or other animals run around and distract the meditators, and to deny all late-comers entry … She can participate, but should always have at least one eye on her group. After the meditation, she gently guides the meditators back into „reality”, so that they get up and clear the space for following groups.
One of the most important aspects, in my opinion, is to always welcome the meditators with an open warm heart and from a place of love and to meet them with a loving, never judgmental attitude.
In „normal life” I sometimes still struggle with judgement, mostly against my will. But when I facilitate, it is pretty easy for me to love everybody and to see their purest essence, their glow. I simply love it. There is hardly anything more beautiful for me than to meditate together with other people, to feel and share their energy and to jointly create a field that lifts us all up to a higher level. Facilitating has also taught me humility and has increased my respect for the elaborate meditation techniques. In this role, I feel joy when caring for others, placing their well-being and the quality of their experience before my needs.
From the first moment of the training, I felt like a sponge, greedily absorbing all the knowledge. I wanted to know everything and learn how to become a really good facilitator. Our teachers – Kaifi from Greece and Satsanga from Germany – were wonderful and I couldn’t have wished for better. They brought in all their years of experience, wisdom and humour and met us with wide-open hearts. In this environment, learning felt almost ecstatic.
We worked a lot in small groups, helped and supported each other very much, practised together and gave us honest and constructive feedback. Our teachers also threw us into the deep from day one. Just the way I needed and wanted it: As fresh “facilitation students” we were allowed to lead meditations immediately, even those, we had just learned on that very day. This felt really exciting. My first experience consisted of the facilitation of the Gourishankar meditation, which works with a special breathing technique, candlelight and gentle movements.
If you breathe the „right way”, you can reach a kind of meditative trance, like in high altitudes. That’s what the name alludes to: Gourishankar is the name of the highest peak in the Himalayas. About 15 participants came that evening. Although it was my first time to lead such a large group, I was not nervous at all. I strictly followed the instructions, felt calm and full of confidence. The feedback was really good: „Your presence is strong, you facilitate with all your heart. You beautifully hold the space.” First exam passed, yeah!
First steps – crucial and particularly beautiful experiences
After we completed the training we were immediately involved in the weekly planning of the centre’s meditations. I had the privilege of facilitating the Vipassana meditation for a whole week every morning at 10 a.m. in the Buddha Grove, a beautiful open-air marble field with an old wild oak in the middle.
In the Osho world, Vipassana means sitting in silence and concentrating on the breath. Even though it is mainly a silent sitting meditation, we count it among the active meditations, as it involves 15 minutes of silent and slow walking in the end. Also, unlike with Goenka, you don’t scan your body. Instead, you are aware of your surroundings, you include everything, every sound, every sensation, nothing is a distraction or disturbance.
These daily morning sessions are still one of the most beautiful experiences of my summer. I have learned so much. Among other things, that it is not a good idea to freestyle the instructions on your second day only. I tried it and forgot several details. In this case, it wasn’t quite so bad, as everyone present was very familiar with the meditation. But in another context, where you might only be dealing with beginners, this simply should not happen. Even if the instructions are simple and you think the participants might get bored if you tell them the same thing every day, it’s better to stick to every word, especially at the beginning. However, the more experience you gain, the more you can freestyle and vary. However, your way of facilitation always depends on the group: Is it a group that you lead regularly or are they mostly beginners who have no experience at all and for whom it may be the first time? A good facilitator also has to pay attention to such things.
Another particularly beautiful experience happened when I facilitated a meditation called “No Dimensions”. This meditation starts with a kind of choreography in which everyone dances together to the music, causing a kind of trance. In the second stage, you whirl like a dervish or a child. My assistant and I joined for the dance part, as the risk of injury is very low in this stage so that it is completely fine to turn your back to the group.
In the second stage, the whirling part, however, we withdrew from the meditation, because the relatively small room was pretty crowded with almost 20 participants and I could not risk any collisions. So we stood at the edge to make sure that nothing happened. As if by a miracle, everything went well, just as if everyone was totally focused on themselves, while at the same time their antennas were stretched out to feel the others. Mindfulness at its very best.
To see the bliss on the faces of those spinning people was indescribable. It felt as if they were my children. I felt great tenderness for all of them and tremendous warmth. I wanted to do everything I could to make them feel good and to give them a good meditation. That was the only thing that mattered at that moment.
Of shared happiness and new challenges
In the meantime, I gained a lot of experience and my confidence has grown. Now I am much more flexible in dealing with unexpected conditions, and I feel confident enough to set different emphases during the instruction or to read out a particularly suitable quote, which I believe conveys the essence of the meditation well and can give something to the participants.
What remains unchanged is the feeling of happiness that I experience while I facilitate. I know that it shows on my face when I am completely blissed out in some meditations. But to see the same expression on the faces of the people sitting in front of me, trusting me, is still marvellous and intensifies my own happiness every time it happens.
I am so grateful to be able to share this gift of meditation with people. I have also received much gratitude from the participants, through words, looks, gestures or simply through their presence.
Facilitating is never about the facilitator as a person and there is really no space for ego here. However, I am sure that every facilitator will tell you that he/she loves to share these emotions with people. Even though these feelings are already present in each one of us and are only brought to the surface by the meditation.
Just recently, I had a very special experience. It was during Burning Man in the desert of Nevada. I decided to offer two active meditations in our camp, as my personal spiritual and energetic gift to the community. I wanted to „give back”, which is a very important aspect of facilitating for me.
Since I wasn’t quite sure about the setting in which this would take place, I opted for two meditations (Kundalini and Nadabrahma), which work well even in high heat as they don’t require massive physical effort.
Unlike in Greece, where potential „disruptions” during meditation were only two sweet dogs, and sometimes people chatting quietly at the bar nearby, here, we suddenly had to deal with 40 degrees Celsius in the shade, booming basses from next door, stragglers and the general festival madness that sends out very different vibes than those you find in a meditation centre.
The participants were also very different each time and the groups were very heterogeneous: Some were already familiar with meditation, one was even a real „Sannyasin”, an Osho follower, while others were absolute beginners. One came on purpose, others only stumbled upon the event by pure chance and joined spontaneously, because they had nothing better to do.
My biggest concern in this context was that the music next door would be too loud, too good, too stimulating and distracting, and also that it could be too hot and just generally speaking too agitated a place to meditate in.
But in the end, as so often in life, I had no choice but to let go of all those thoughts, to trust that everything would be all right, to hold the space and to be there for my meditators. In the end, of course, everything went well. It was like in Vipassana: Nothing is a distraction, nothing is a disturbance, everything is part of the meditation because everything is part of life. Afterwards, the participants told me that neither the music nor the heat had felt like a disturbance to them in the slightest. Instead, they felt rejuvenated and refreshed, deeply relaxed, light and happy. The thanked me for the beautiful moment and I thanked them. For their trust, for the shared energy.
Now I am very much looking forward to facilitating in my hometown Berlin and to share this energy with you!
You have a first opportunity with the Nadabrahma Meditation, which I will offer on 30.11. at Nelli in Berlin Hot Yoga in Friedrichshain.
I’m looking forward to seeing you! See you soon, all love and Namasté <3
Facilitation in a nutshell:
- facilitate always with a loving heart and without any judgement
- the focus should be on the meditation not the facilitator as a person
- follow the instructions and do not share your own experience
- freestyling in an early stage is not a good idea. It’s better to gain experience first
- the more you know about the technique, the more you will respect it.
- the more you practice, the better you can embody and teach meditation