lunes, 1 de diciembre de 2008

Do You Love Killers?

Hi all,

I was asked a couple wonderful questions! In my previous post I wrote that for me, there are no strangers, because I believe that we are all one Consciousness, and all permanently connected with each other.

Question: When you have the belief that "Everyone is my friend, there are no strangers", what about people you don't like?

My take on this:

There are people I don't like. When I'm being honest, I realize it has nothing to do with them, and everything to do with me. I don't like them

because I'm judging them or part of them in some way
or because I see in them something I don't like about myself (again, because I'm judging myself or part of myself for that)
or because I'm scared of them in some way (and this too is a consequence of judging either them or the situation)

Basically, it's always about judging, them or myself, with or without fear as a consequence.

My answer to this is present moment awareness. When I'm judging, it means I'm not being present. When you're being present, you cannot possibly judge. To judge, you need to label things. You need to give them a name, a value, a "good" or "bad" tag, to think of consequences they might have in the future or in the past, and so on. It's impossible to do this when you're being totally focused on here and now.

Therefore, a high present moment awareness means no judging, and no judging means I can't dislike anyone, because I dislike people on the basis of some judgment. So when I notice that I don't like someone, putting myself immediately back into a state of presence solves the problem.

What also helps is to ask myself what it is exactly that disturbs me about the person I don't like. If it's fear, I face that fear and shine Love on it. If I'm judging them or seeing in them something that I judge myself for, I practice Acceptance. I remind myself of the fact that there is no right and wrong, that all choices are valid and that everything is perfect the way it is.

I also work on loving all that is unconditionally. Since we are all One, all manifestations of one Consciousness, those I don't like are aspects of this Consciousness: parts of myself. It doesn't make sense to hate some parts of myself and to reject them because they're not as I want them to be. This would only create disharmony, separation and fear, and harm the whole system.

Instead, I practice loving all of myself unconditionally, both internally and externally as other people and the world around me. I especially send Love to those I don't like. I think accepting and loving them instead of resisting them has a healing effect, on me, on them, on the world.

I see not liking someone as disconnecting. When I'm being fully present and connected, I love everybody. My goal is to make this my permanent way of being. I'm not there yet but on my way. I'm convinced that if everybody were fully present and connected all the time, there would be no such thing on this planet as not liking someone.

Question: What about people you've met and decided you don't want to associate with them for one reason or another? Do you still feel they are your friend, or does that belief "Every stranger is my friend" holds true until you've gotten to know the stranger and decided that stranger is not someone you want to be friends with?

My take on this:

It happens that I decide, for some reason, not to associate or not to spend much time with someone. However, this doesn't mean I don't love them. Loving someone does not mean that I have to spend a lot of time with them, it does not even mean that I have to communicate with them at all.

There are people I love dearly, but have decided not to meet again. There are people who have chosen to leave my life. There are people I'm simply not interested in spending time with for some reason. I love all of those people though and feel one with them. I send Love to them. Just because we can't be together in this lifetime doesn't mean I have to disconnect from them! Why on earth would I??

Choosing not to associate with someone is no personal attack, it's no rejection either. It's a time-management choice. You can make this choice from a place of Love and still feel loving and connected towards those you don't spend time with.

Question: Even with killers and toxic people?

My take on this:

Toxic people are never toxic because of what they are, they're toxic because of what you are. Only what resonates with you on some level can affect you. So if someone influences you negatively, drains your energy, makes you feel bad, etc, then their "toxic" part resonates with something inside of you in some way. If one person's toxicity totally does not resonate with you, you won't be affected by it. When you become so strong that you don't resonate with some person's toxicity, then this person is not toxic to you anymore. No matter how negative she is, it won't affect you.

Which means that toxic persons are wonderful opportunities to grow. Solution: check what, inside of you, resonates with this person's negativity and work on yourself. If you don't feel strong enough to spend time with this person while simulatneously trying to change yourself, because contact with this person would reinforce the part of you that resonates with their toxicity, then you can of course choose to temporarily not associate with them. But that's not a reason to disconnect.

Same with killers. If you think it's better for your personal security not to meet a sadistic serial killer in person, don't. As I said above, loving someone does not mean you have to spend time with them. I can see no reason to disconnect though. Protecting yourself does not require that you reject others and disconnect from them.

There's a big difference between disconnecting from someone, saying "You are someone else. I don't love you, you're not my friend, go away", which is turning your back to Love and negating that we are all one, thus fragmenting yourself - and simply choosing not to concretely spend time with someone, while still loving them and feeling deeply connected with them.

Everybody is lovable, no matter what they do. There's absolutely no reason not to love everybody. Why would you turn your back on a part of the Universe and disconnect from it?

One reason I can see is judgment. You see "them" as separate from "you" and want to punish them for doing something you think is "bad" or "wrong", like killing or draining you. That's your mind judging them. When you're being present, such a thing doesn't happen.

That's how I see it. What do you think? :-)

jueves, 27 de noviembre de 2008

How to Connect with Strangers

(This post is the how-to part of Chit-Chat with Strangers.)

For me, talking to strangers is very easy impossible. There are no strangers!

I believe that we are all manifestations of one Consciousness. All others are me too, just in another form, and I’m everybody. I feel one with everything that is, all other humans, animals, plants, inanimate objects, etc.

I also believe that we all permanently communicate with each other. We are one huge network, constantly exchanging information.

This way, you don’t need to connect in the first place: you are already connected, and have always been. We’ve known each other forever. Talking to a “stranger” for me is just recognizing them and acknowledging the bond which already exists between us.

That’s why I behave as if I already knew the people I talk to. Duh, I do! They’re old friends. I just hadn’t met them yet in this life. Time to catch up!

It’s all a matter of mindset

The beliefs I described above allow me to connect with others very fast and easily. It just happens naturally without me trying to do it intentionally. I don’t need to go out of my way for that.

I’m convinced that social skills are a matter of attitude. If you have a hard time connecting, you probably have some blocking beliefs about yourself, other people, social situations, or your own social skills. If you could get rid of them, I’m sure you would be able to connect with strangers as easily as I do. It would just become natural for you to do so.

Here is the description of one possible mindset (incidentally, mine) that yields good results in social situations.

How to do it concretely?

Okay, what to do to connect with a stranger? Connecting is paying attention. Where your attention goes, there goes your energy as well. Therefore, focus your energy on this person.

Look into their eyes. Many people are so afraid of others that they’re too embarrassed to allow eye contact. If you want to connect, you have to be open for connection, and that means eye contact. Looking away is hiding away.

I’m not telling you to stare at someone with a crazy or aggressive glance. Just allow friendly eye contact, you can look away once the person has seen and acknowledged you. When they look back at you, smile, but only if you spontaneously feel like smiling. A fake smile is a turn-off.

And then it’s simple really. If you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything. You don’t need to talk. When you’re being open, others feel it. If they’re being open too, and in the mood for communication, they’ll probably start talking to you on their own.

If you feel like saying something (like “hi”), then just say it. No matter what it is. You need no caution or shared interest. Feel free to talk about stupid or crazy or trivial things, it doesn't matter. I'm very spontaneous, so sometimes I say really strange things to people! But you won't believe it, they like it. Once I saw a guy in a CD shop. The next day I came back, and he was there again. I was so surprised that I stared at him and vigorously exclaimed "You again! What are you doing here?!" To what he replied "And what are you doing here?!". We both laughed, the ice was broken.

Some people tend to be way too attached to figuring out which words to use. But the energy you're sending off in that moment is way more important than the content of what you're saying. If you're attached to making a specific impression, you're likely to be self-conscious and to send off a stressed out and unpleasant vibe. If you're feeling self-confident, connected and loving towards this person, they will feel it no matter what you say - and that's what they will get.

And feeling self-confident, connected and loving is a matter of mindset...

Being present is key

I’m not fond of watching one’s body language or using lines, tricks and strategies to socialize. When you focus on what you should say or where to put your hands, you’re not being present in the moment. And that’s not what you want. You can’t connect if you’re not being present. When you’re not being present, you’re not really here. And if you’re not here, how could you meet this person here?

Present moment awareness means focusing on here and now. Don’t think of anything else than what’s happening right now. Don’t try to impress or to analyze, don’t think about what could happen next, or what happened before. Just be here with this person. Be open, listen. Observe your reactions without trying to control them. Let what happens happen. :-)

What I've found to be very useful is to always keep a part of my attention in my inner body. The inner body is what you feel when you focus on your body from the inside. Can you feel the inside of your body as one energetic field? If you can’t, practice feeling it, it’s a great sensation!

To learn more about being present and feeling your inner body, read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. He’s the great present moment awareness specialist.

Assault old ladies!

If you want to get better at connecting with people, you need to practice. My advice is not to practice with people in your sexual or romantic target group. This would make it much more difficult. The possibility that they interpret your approach as hitting on them could block you, even if it's not at all the case, and even more so if it is the case. ;-) So, avoid that at first. Practice with other people, you'll feel safer.

The ideal targets (hehehe) are old ladies, in my experience they're always happy to get some attention and to have a nice chat. Usually they're also very friendly. Also people the age of your parents, or much younger people.

Little kids and babies are great connectors. It's very easy to connect with a baby, much easier than with an adult. They haven't all the fearful social conditioning to block them. They're curious and spontaneously offer you toothless smiles and wave you goodbye with their little hands.

They can't speak, but it doesn't matter. Remember it's more about the mindset and the energy than about the words. It's about opening up, staying present, and allowing emotions to flow out of you. You'll feel genuine connection even without words.

So, and now go out and talk to people! :-) Good luck!

(Edit: there's a follow-up to this post here.)

miércoles, 26 de noviembre de 2008

Chit-Chat with Strangers

I love to chat with strangers. You can do it everywhere: on the street, in a shop, while queuing somewhere...

Recently I was at the florist's, looking for flowers to experiment with, when a guy who was looking at the roses turned to me and asked me whether he should buy the red ones or the pink ones.
- For whom are they? I asked.
- For a girl.
- And what do you feel towards her?
- Friendship. She's a friend of mine. It's her birthday. The flowers are meant to be a surprise.
- Don't take the red ones then.
We briefly talked about the language of flowers and what those in front of us meant. I told him I liked the orange roses best.
- But they weren't part of the choice, he said.
- ok, take the pink ones then.
He did, and left with a big smile, wishing me a nice day.

I decided to buy the orange roses. As I was paying, I asked the florist if she likes her job. I was just curious, I wonder how it feels to be a florist. She was very surprised, looks like nobody asks her that question usually. She smiled, a bit puzzled and said yes, it's a nice job. She seemed to suddenly remember that she had a nice job indeed.

Such small talk with strangers is a lovely embellishment of my everyday life. It's nothing life altering or world changing, but I really like it. It makes my strolls through the city more interesting, and my whole life more beautiful.

Small talk isn't necessarily shallow. Strangers often talk with me about their private life, about their feelings, their fears or their relationships. You can become intimate with someone in the space of a minute.

Once in Germany I met an old lady on a bus. She sat down next to me, looking tired. I said "Hello." and smiled, happy to see her. She was such an adorable airy old-fashioned lady with white hair and an umbrella in her hand. She confided to me that she had been attending a tea dance. And she got to dance with a few gentlemen! I grinned. After just five minutes, she was leaning against my shoulder, whispering things into my ear about the gentlemen in her youth. We giggled like two school girls for twenty minutes till I had to alight from the bus. It was a fun bus ride!

When you're being open to communication, other people feel it, even when you're not talking to them. And then weird things happen sometimes. It's magic!

A few days ago I was walking in a neighborhood unknown to me, looking for the location of a tango class. Two young women were walking ahead of me. Suddenly one of them turned to me, claiming "You! You're spying on us!" She was kidding. I laughed.
- Oh crap! Now I got caught!
- You were following us!
- I admit. I even heard everything you just said!
The two laughed. I asked them if they knew the place I was looking for, but they didn't. So I decided to check another street. I thanked them and left.
- Hey! They called after me, And have a nice evening!


Talk to strangers on the street. Open up. It's fun and makes everybody's life nicer. If you think you're too shy, I once was the shyest person on this planet. That's something you can work on. Imagine everybody greeting each other and chit-chatting on the streets. Wouldn't that be wonderful? :-)

viernes, 7 de noviembre de 2008

How To Cure Heartburn?

Today, I feel like writing about something easy. Getting rid of heartburn is easy :-) I used to have massive, chronic heartburn in the past. Now, it never happens to me anymore. Here's how to cure it:

Short-term solution: green clay

I've found green clay to be the best cure for heartburn. Green clay is totally awesome anyway, it's a natural yet very powerful remedy for many ailments. You can use it externally to wash yourself or as a beauty mask to clear the skin. Ingesting it helps with all kinds of digestive worries.

I don't know why or how it works. I often read that green clay binds and neutralizes toxins. I've heard it's rich in minerals. I've also heard it has a high pH level, which would explain why it's so efficient against heartburn. What I know for sure is that it helps!

You can find green clay in wholefood shops and certainly also online. Mix 1-2 spoonful with a glass of cold water and drink it. If it's not enough, repeat. Your heartburn will disappear, I promise.

But of course that's only a short-term solution, once you've managed to mess with your stomach enough to cause heartburn. How to avoid that?

Long-term solution: a diet change

Heartburn is not something you get by accident or coincidence. Swallowing drugs to suppress it might eliminate your discomfort but doesn't address the real issue. If you get heartburn, then your diet sucks, it's as simple as that.

You could experiment a bit with food to identify what causes the heartburn, and then all you need to do is to cut this out of your diet. Be honest with yourself, even if you don't like what you find out.

What I personally found to cause heartburn is:

soda and fruit juices
sugar-fat mixes, like fatty cakes
refined sugar, corn syrup and chemical sweeteners
grains, even unrefined

I'm not surprised, as all this is very unhealthy stuff anyway.

My advice: reduce your consumption of these items - if possible to zero - and eat more raw, organic, whole, fresh fruit and veggies instead. You'll soon forget about heartburn :-)

lunes, 3 de noviembre de 2008

Get Creative in November!

Hi all,

Looks like November is the month of creativity. I'm a bit late with this, but I thought I'd let you know. If you'd like to do something creative this month, here are a few nice opportunities. It's not too late to join!

Join NaNoWriMo

November is the National Novel Writing Month. It should be called InNoWriMo, International Novel Writing Month, though. Every year in November, thousands of people all around the world write a novel.

Everybody can do it, the goal is not to write high-quality prose, it's just to frantically write down whatever pops into your mind as fast as possible, without editing, without trying to be good. You can edit it in December!

If you succeed in producing a 50,000 words first draft by November 30th, midnight, you win.

Of course I signed up :-) I have no clue what I'm going to write about, but I'm sure it's going to be awesome.

If you're interested, have a look at the NaNoWriMo homepage.

Join NaBloPoMo

Similarly, you can go for a 30 days blogging challenge: one blog post a day till November 30th, together with many others. See the NaBloPoMo homepage.


AEDM is the Art Every Day Month, and it's November, too. If you're neither a writer nor a blogger, but would like to get more creative and to share your creations with others, have a look at the AEDM site.

I really like the idea. It's about all kinds of creative activities, be it painting or music or cooking or crafting christmas tree decorations with toilet paper. Sounds like a lot of fun!

Are you blocked?

In case you

think you can't be creative
have some creative dreams that you don't realize for some reason
just want to get more creative in your daily life
or want to improve your ability to solve problems creatively

I highly recommend The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It's an amazing book I'm working through at the moment.

The Artist's Way is a twelve weeks course in discovering or recovering your creativity. It's for blocked artists as well as for all those who just want to be creative. I'll post a review when I'm done with the journey.

So... It's November! Be happy, get creative! :-)

viernes, 31 de octubre de 2008

Meeting an Exhibitionist

Something awesome happened tonight!

I've been going through a big crisis these last few weeks. First, my son died. That's a cat. I found him on the street when he was a little baby and brought him up. As some of you may know, I love animals as much as humans, and I was devastated by his death. He's the first loved one I lost, I'm still deeply grieving. Then, I got dumped. Or at least I suppose so, because the guy I thought was the absolute man of my life suddenly just disappeared without any explanation. I don't even know if he's still alive. I guess he is and simply lacked the courage to tell me the truth. Nevertheless, I've been worried, angry, and of course terribly sad. After that, a second cat family member died! I had known her for 24 years, which is almost my entire life. And last but not least, reading Personal Development for Smart People by Steve Pavlina made me realize that most of the goals I had till now were in fact disempowering goals. I'll write a review of the book later, let's just say for now that I suddenly lost what was keeping me going despite of the grief and pain I was feeling.

Needless to say, my mood hasn't been exactly excellent lately!

Tonight I was feeling particularly grumpy and awful. I couldn't sleep, so I decided to go for a walk, and to withdraw some money at the nearest ATM to buy a big bunch of bananas tomorrow morning for breakfast. On my way to the bank, I saw a guy on the street with his penis in his hand. He said "Oh, sorry!" and hid it. He then asked if he could drive me home as a way of apologizing for his indiscretion. I wasn't really present, for I was busy imagining the horrible things I would do to the alleged man of my life if I had him in front of me now, so I did not really pay attention to this guy. I said "No, thanks" and walked away.

On my way back from the bank, he still was at the same place, this time with his pants completely off! He immediately got dressed and apologized. "I'm sorry, I didn't think you'd come back. I'm going to some other place now, to make sure you won't see me again." I found it odd to meet an exhibitionist who's sorry I saw him! So I laughed and told him "Oh, you can stay where you were, I won't come back, I promise!" "ok, one last time then" he said, and demonstratively showed me his (quite impressive) manly attributes. I couldn't help but grin, but deep down I was still feeling grumpy and wanted nothing but go home. When he added "You have very big boobs" I asked him in a not-so-nice way to leave me alone.

But then I suddenly felt bad. I didn't feel guilty for rejecting him, but it suddenly dawned on me how disconnected I had been feeling lately. I was just seeing this guy as an annoyance, something foreign to me intruding in my life without being planned. I was upset at him for disturbing my thoughts and talking to me, and I judged him for behaving strangely in my eyes, for being so different. Separated from me. Someone else. And a weird one for that matter! Bleh.

I realized how disconnected I was! And said to myself "Hey girl, no pain in the World is worth disconnecting from others in such a way." So I turned to him, ready to see him as a valuable human being, a part of me, a spirit. Some people are fond of talking to spirits, but we shouldn't forget that every person we meet on the street is a spirit, too. There are spirits everywhere! I find incarnated spirits very interesting too, not only those without a body. Sometimes I walk down the street, amazed at all those spirits I meet. "Oh wow, he's a spirit! A spirit just said hello to me! Damn cool. And she's one as well. Incredible!" There's so much BEAUTY in people when you can see the spirit in them.

Fortunately I was able to remember in time that this guy is a manifestation of Consciousness just like me. He's me. I am him. I forgot about my judgmental mood and became present to this person here and now. And it was a great idea, I learned a lot.

First I asked him many questions about being an exhibitionist. I was curious about it of course. I asked him how long he had been doing it, how it began, why he does it, how he feels when he does such things... It was very interesting to hear his take on this. As I understood it, the idea that he could possibly be seen gives him a particular kick, he supposes it's adrenaline. I asked him a lot of questions, trying to understand him, and he answered them all very honestly. I was able to get what he explained on an intellectual level, but I admit that I cannot really understand why he likes it so much, probably because the idea of showing myself naked on the street just doesn't do much for me. I guess I'd need to do it myself once to know how it is.

I discovered a very kind and respectful person. He intentionally kept a lot of physical distance between us in order not to make me feel uncomfortable. I found his attitude towards his exhibitionism to be conscious, thoughtful and responsible. For example, he explained to me that he normally never shows up naked in front of women walking alone on the street, because this could scare them. He only does it with people in cars or in groups, because those feel safe. That's why he apologized so much when I saw him: it was an accident. He couldn't know I'm not scared by such things.

We spent three or four hours together, walking through the city, laughing and talking about all kinds of topics, such as pets, parachute jumping, personal development, the raw food diet, motorbikes, or the best way to commit suicide. During all this time, he had his genitals out of his pants, but I barely noticed because it was so natural for him. Around five in the morning I got really tired. He walked me home and we said goodbye. That's the only moment he came across a little shy. We thanked each other and said both that we had a very nice time.

It's only once I was back home that I realized how much this guy helped me tonight. Now I'm feeling loving and connected again. I'm able to see others as parts of me again. I feel closely connected to all other beings on earth, and I can see how the way I feel influences all others. I also have this fuzzy warm feeling in my chest, as if my heart was very big. I can feel Love flowing through me. I feel that I am enormous, big enough to contain the whole Universe. I am everything that is. This is such a beautiful feeling! I'm so infinitely thankful to this guy for giving me this feeling back. I had lost it lately, without even noticing.

Now I regret that I forgot to part with a handshake and to ask what his name is when we said goodbye. I hope I'll see him again on some other late night walk.

My point with this story is that when you're in a state of disconnectedness, meeting an exhibitionist on the street - or more generally someone whose behavior you don't intuitively understand - can be a quite annoying experience. And if you're more prone to get scared than I am, even a frightening one. Which leads to even greater disconnectedness, because you'll feel offended or grossed out, and you'll close off. But when you're being aligned with Oneness, such an encounter can result in discovering an interesting person, in gaining some new insights, or in experiencing connection and closeness with someone you thought was very different from you at first. Building such a bridge is a wonderful blessing :-)

martes, 14 de octubre de 2008

Are You a Scanner?

I realize that I'm talking about my being a scanner or about my scanner's daybook, while maybe most of you don't know what a scanner is in the first place! So let's fix that.

What the fuck is a scanner?

A scanner is the contrary of a specialist. Scanners are unable to choose one single passion or career, and if they force themselves to do so, they suffer (and their productivity suffers, too). Scanners don't have only one field of interest, they have many of them. They seem to be interested in just everything. They usually have many projects running at the same time, and permanently come up with some great new idea. They also tend not to implement their ideas or not to finish the projects they start.

A scanner is the kind of guy who works with disabled children, studies physics at the distance learning university, learns japanese, draws comics and reads everything he can find about archeology. But it's not like having a job and then a few additional hobbies. The difference between a true scanner and a specialist with hobbies is that for the scanner, nothing is a "hobby". For a scanner, all those things he's interested in are equally important and he just cannot focus mainly or spend most of his time on only one of them, which would be required to do it as his career.

The word "scanner" comes from the book Refuse to Choose! by Barbara Sher. It's a book about scanners and for scanners, to help them cope with life & career without denying the scanner in them. I totally love this book, it has changed my life.

Cyclical scanners vs. serial scanners

Barbara Sher describes different kinds of scanners she identified. The main distinction she makes is between cyclical scanners and serial scanners.

Cyclical scanners have many but stable interests and passions (from 2 to 20+), and they oscillate periodically between all of those. For example a cyclical scanner is someone who starts a painting, then suddenly abandons it to program a computer game. Halfway through the programming work, he goes back to his painting, or starts a new painting. He finishes it, or not, and goes back to program his game. This way he spends his time alternating between programming and painting. In parallel to all this, he may regularly take classes to become a massage therapist.

Serial scanners on the other hand don't go back to a project once they have moved on. They do everything once and never look back. A serial scanner could for example work in a wholefood shop for six months, then quit and take classes in creative writing. After writing a screenplay, or only half of it, she loses interest and volunteers at an orphanage in India for a few months. When she comes back, she starts a business as a self-employed graphic designer. And so on.

Of course most of us are a mix of cyclical and serial scanner to some extent. There are many kinds of scanners out there. What we all have in common is that we hate to pick just one interest and concentrate on it for a long period of time.

What's a "long" period of time is relative. The other criterium Sher uses to classify scanners is their attention span. Among both cyclical and serial scanners, some are able to focus on the same field for a long time, like the serial specialists, who can stick with one career for years till they master it, and then go look for a new challenge. Others switch interests very rapidly. The high-speed indecisives for example always find something more interesting to do after, say, two minutes.

How a scanner ticks

Being a scanner is socially unacceptable nowadays. We are all being drilled to be specialists. As you can imagine, a behavior like the above examples makes it difficult to get a job, to earn a living, or to study. We're often said to be lazy, unstable or weird. In any case we're highly suspect.

That's because most people don't understand how a scanner ticks. When scanners quit, they ARE done. They have gotten what they were looking for, the point is just that what satisfies them is not necessarily what other people would call being done. Scanners all have a good reason to do what they do and to quit when they quit. This reason varies from individual to individual, so each one of us has to find out what keeps him/her going (in both senses).

Some scanners are extremely curious and just want to understand how something works. Once they've figured out how it works, they get bored and quit.
Others get bored and quit when completing the project is only a matter of time and regular effort, but not a matter of developing artful strategies and overcoming challenging difficulties anymore. That's the case for me, for example. When the road to success looks like a highway, damn is that boring. Bye bye!
Some want to discover new things in order to compare, classify and store them in their head like in a big database. I tried out half a dozen martial arts because I enjoyed comparing their tenets and techniques, with no intention of learning any of them in depth.
For some scanners, working somewhere is a way of experiencing other people's lives. They want to know how it feels to be a baker/teacher/accountant/actor, so that's what they do for a little while, but only till they know how it is. That's the reason why I accumulate foreign languages. You don't think in English like you think in German. Learning a new language for me is a way to experience being someone else.

These are some reasons I can identify with, but there are many many more of them. Each scanner has his/her own motivation to do what they do.

Undiagnosed scanners

Undiagnosed scanners are poor devils. I know because I was one of them for many years. When you're a scanner and you don't know that you're a scanner, it's really difficult. You try to pick one thing and stick with it, but you fail. And try again. And fail again. You beat yourself up for being that inconsistent. You think you're lazy. You might even mistrust your own sanity. It can't be that difficult to pick one interest and stick with it, you think, everybody else is doing it too! So why can't you help but switch your major, get interested in things you should not get interested in, and go off-track all the time? Why do you lack concentration like this? How can it happen that you get deadly fed up with your deepest passion at times? You feel weak and completely out of control. When you try to learn discipline and to prevent yourself from going off on a tangent, you get unbearably bored, you suffer, and your productivity drops because you procrastinate like hell.

I switched majors five or six times when I was a student, and left university after many years without any diploma. I studied literature, physics, maths, computer science, law and business, and attended additional classes in psychology, theater, cinema, history, russian, chinese... It was great! I loved it, and learned a lot of very interesting things. And most of the time I wasn't allowed to take the exams because I had failed to submit my work regularly.

I couldn't stand engaging in the same activity all day long, or even every day. This alone would not have been that much of a problem, after all I was talented enough to study only half of the time and still succeed. But I also had the coercive need to ignore my studies for several weeks in a row from time to time, in order to implement other completely unrelated ideas, or to explore some fascinating questions related to my studies that popped into my mind but unfortunately weren't part of the program. This need definitely wasn't compatible with studying.

Before discovering that I'm a scanner, these repeated failures broke my heart. Especially in the case of maths and computer science that I really loved very much. I used to beat myself up a lot for what I thought was a flaw. Now that I know myself better, I can see how being a scanner is a strength and a blessing, not a flaw.

In case what I'm saying resonates with you in some way, don't beat yourself up. Maybe you're just a scanner! Welcome to the Club. :-)

How to get things done as a scanner?

First of all, it IS possible to be productive if you're a scanner. I bet most problems with not completing projects, procrastinating, and so on, stem from a lack of knowledge and/or acceptance of your scanner nature. You lose motivation when you try to force yourself into a specialist's role, when you try by all means to do only one thing at the time and to finish this thing once you begin with it. It's normal that you procrastinate and lose interest then, because this is just not who you are. Working like a specialist is for a scanner a highly ineffective way to work. But if you respect the way you function and organize yourself accordingly, then my bet is that you can very well be productive!

Conventional time management systems aren't really appropriate for scanners. We usually don't implement a project from A to Z in a linear way. We need to do many things at the same time. Working on several projects simultaneously doesn't prevent us from being productive. On the contrary, I've found it to be much more effective. I work more and also more efficiently when I allow myself to freely switch between my projects as often as I feel like switching and to neglect some of them for a while. I usually don't work on the same project on two consecutive days, and I never work on a project for longer than two hours at a single blow.

Barbara Sher developed or gathered from fellow scanners who invented them many awesome organizational tools for scanners that she shares in her book. For each type of scanner there are even particular time management techniques, life plans and job suggestions. I love some of her ideas. Generally, her more right-brained approach inspired me when I planned my new system. If you recognize yourself as a scanner, working with her tools can change your life and boost your productivity like crazy. I highly recommend to read the book. (Edit: a kitchen timer might help, too!)

The scanner's daybook

One tool that she recommends to all scanners is the scanner's daybook. It's some kind of journal to keep track of all your ideas, all your finished and unfinished projects, and of your development as a scanner. My scanner's daybook changed my life!

First, writing in it brought me an incredible relief. At last all those ideas crowding my head got out of there! The anxiety disappeared because I wasn't afraid of forgetting something anymore. The ideas were safe, they were written black on white on the page, I knew they couldn't escape anymore. I got more peaceful. It also was a big relief not to feel the need to implement all of those ideas anymore. I learned to appreciate them for what they are: ideas. I could look at them and think "oh wow, I'm creative, I have so many great ideas!" without getting nervous or thinking that an idea is worthless if no implementation follows. In that sense, writing in my scanner's daybook was a boost for my self-esteem, too.

Second, a scanner's daybook brings many insights. I learned a lot about myself! I thought I was a serial scanner (a sampler), but after journaling for a few weeks, I realized that I'm more of a cyclical scanner (a sybil). Of course I enjoy discovering new things, and I do things that I'll never do anymore. But when I look at all those ideas that I found worthy of writing down, it's quite obvious that many of them are, for example, about doing something creative, be it singing, dancing, writing, designing my own clothes or making sculptures. And many of them are related to personal development: creating PD related websites and eBooks, learning new languages, joining Toastmasters or starting a local PD club. Those I emotionally most resonate with are all about animals in some way: adopting a dog, teaching children how to communicate with animals, having a farm where old or sick animals could live in peace instead of getting killed, and so on. So even though all these projects are very different, it all boils down to only three major areas of interest. Oh wow, this was a big revelation!

Third, the scanner's daybook will help you create your reality and implement your ideas. Since I write in it, I experience many synchronicities related to my projects, even those I don't really think about. Before using the daybook, I had to remember everything and concretely take action on every single project. It was quite tiring. Now everything gets implemented simultaneously and I don't need to remember anything because the opportunities just show up. It doesn't feel like I'm the one implementing my ideas and making it happen. It rather feels like the Universe orchestrates what I write about in my scanner's daybook. I take action not because I decidedly want to but because the opportunity arises and I'm by chance there to catch it. Things just seem to happen and I witness how they happen. It's awesome. The scanner's daybook has a huge creative power!

Goals setting for scanners

If you have many goals, don't tackle them sequentially. Pursue them all at the same time. They will empower each other. Open your scanner's daybook, let your imagination soar and have fun writing everything down. Draw sketches if needed. Then close your book and take the right next inspired action. It doesn't matter to which goal this action belongs. It will all unfold magically :-)

It doesn't matter how many goals you have. You can do it all. Refuse to choose! ;-)

I realize this post is something like a book review of Refuse to Choose!. I'm going to create a new category called Book Reviews and post it in there too. Oh, this gives me the idea of reviewing other great books as well! I already know which ones I'd review. There is this one, and that one... where's my scanner's daybook??


(Edit: the category Book Reviews became the tag book reviews.)

miércoles, 1 de octubre de 2008

Getting Organized

Hear ye! Rose is getting organized! All miracles are possible ;-)

I'm a chaotic and impulsive person. I've always hated self-discipline, schedules, and following rules. I still hate self-discipline, schedules and following rules... but now I need to get organized and productive.


As a scanner I always have many interests and several projects running simultaneously anyway. But lately it has gotten much worse. After defining my life's purpose and my core values, I got many ideas on how to express this message into the World. Then I experienced some more learning and growing. I gained confidence, my doubts faded. Going raw gave me the necessary energy. Eventually all those great projects appeared viable! I got more and more excited about them, and felt more and more pressure to implement my ideas.

But I was too messy to be able to take action efficiently. All those ideas! All those emails! And all those things to do! I felt completely overwhelmed. Most of my energy got lost on desperately trying to figure out what to do next, what to begin with. I was plagued by nagging feelings of guilt, and kept procrastinating out of sheer confusion.

That's why I need to get organized now. I get too many emails and have too many ideas that I want to implement, I cannot insouciantly live for the moment anymore. I know - most people first get productive and then begin to think about their life purpose and all those nebulous things. For me it was the contrary. I never could motivate myself to get productive without having an excellent reason to do so. But now that I have such a reason and know what I want to do, I can learn how to do it. I want to give myself the means to do a great job. So I need to learn a couple skills, and get highly productive!

Managing my Emails

My first step was to figure out how to deal with my emails in a more efficient way. My inbox was always full, it took me ages to reply to some emails, and the whole thing was quite draining. I asked a few people how they do it, and someone told me about the important vs. urgent concept. I think this is Stephen Covey's idea, isn't it?

Now my system is the following: I have five folders called 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

1 is for urgent and important emails.
2 is for urgent but not that important emails.
3 is for important but not really urgent emails.
4 is for emails that are neither urgent nor important.
5 is for emails that need to wait for some date or some event before they can be replied or reacted to.

When I go through my inbox, I move each email to the appropriate folder, unless it's possible to reply in just a few words, like "Thank you very much, I wish you a wonderful day" or "Get lost, you bastard". In this case, I write back immediately. After all emails have been classified, the inbox is empty. Once a day I rapidly skim through all folders to see if some email needs to move to another folder. Then when I have some free time, I go through folders 1-4 and write back, beginning with folder 1, then folder 2, and so on. If I lack time to answer all emails, at least I can be sure that the most urgent and important stuff has been processed.

That's it.

It took me two or three days, but now my inbox and all folders are empty! And I'll never create such an email mess again. :-)

Managing everything else

Inspired by this success, I decided to apply the exact same system to other areas of my life. I use plastic boxes instead of folders, and instead of emails, I work with scraps of paper.

Whenever I think of some task that I need, have or want to do, I write it down on a scrap of paper, and throw this scrap of paper in the "inbox". If I know all the steps required for some project, I write every single step on a distinct scrap of paper, put the first one in the inbox and all others in box 5, the waiting box. Every time one step of the project is completed, the next one gets taken out of the waiting box. Once a day, I check the boxes and if needed redistribute the scraps of paper. And whenever I have some time, I open the first non empty box, and get going.

The good thing is that when I open a box and look at the tasks, I'm free to choose which one I'd like to complete now. This system is not as rigid as, for example, a calendar. I feel a lot more free this way, because even though I pick only something from this particular box, I still can listen to my intuition or improvise depending on my mood, the amount of time I have, the situation... It's much more fun than a to-do list, too. Almost like a lottery! Because of the huge amount of ideas I have, there are plenty of scraps of paper in my boxes. I usually don't remember what is in there exactly, so taking them out and pondering which one I'm going to tackle now is a lot of fun. :-)

Another good thing is that when I get bored with some task, I just put the scrap of paper back in its box, and choose another one. Yippeee! No guilt over not completing a job! This system is totally flexible. I'm free to spend as much or as little time on any task as I feel like to, to switch tasks as often as I want to, and to have as many projects as I'm interested in...

I also appreciate that I can use one single system to manage just everything in my life, be it buying food for the cat, designing my first eBook, or planning my kettlebell training. Such a comprehensive system is a good match for me, because there is no distinction, in my life, between career, hobbies, private life and public life.

The boxes are even big enough to contain letters. So I just put my mail in the same boxes as the scraps of paper.

Getting clear

The challenging part of this management system is that you need to know what's urgent, what's important, and what's not. For me this is no problem, because I know what my purpose is, my values, my goals, my priorities. I have it all together, only the organizational part was missing. I was ripe.

However, I can imagine that if you're not clear about what you truly want in life, or what's really important to you, this system is too foggy. So if you'd like to try it out, first define what urgent means in your world, and what is most important to you.

Big productivity boost

Thanks to this system, my productivity has increased by something like 500% in three days. It feels like playing. I go around with a big grin on my face, loudly claiming "I'm good! I'm so damn good! Yet another completed task! This is so much fun!". To the point that my friend Tom looked at me with a telling mien and observed "Self-praise stinks". :-D

The day I decided to get organized and productive, I immediately ordered a few appropriate books on Amazon. They haven't arrived yet, I guess I won't need them? Maybe they'll teach me some other useful principles. I'll keep you posted, in case I learn something interesting.

I wish you a productive day! :-)

jueves, 4 de septiembre de 2008

Wanna go raw? A few practical tips

This post is for those who already want to go raw. I don't mean to push this diet on anybody.

So you want to go raw? Here a few things that could help you.

A conscious decision

I already stressed the importance of clarity in my previous post. Please go back and ask yourself all the questions I listed there in the paragraph about clarity. Write the answers down. Take some time to think it through.

If you still want to go raw, make the conscious decision to do so, no matter how difficult it could get. I'm saying this because when you get cravings it's easy to fall back, unless you remember that you once very consciously chose to go this path no matter how difficult it could get. If your decision sounds like "I will go raw! Well, unless it becomes painful... " this won't help you much. Don't leave any backdoors open for you to escape your decision in case it gets uncomfortable.

If such a commitment sounds too radical to you, set a time limit for your raw trial. You don't have to go raw at all costs and forever now. You can choose to try it out for thirty days. Or for ten days or even for just two days. The time amount doesn't matter, but decide on it before you start. And then, for this amount of time, stay committed to your decision - no matter how difficult it could get.

A good preparation

Going raw isn't easy. You'll have to overcome a strong, daily habit. You'll have to deal with a lot of social pressure. Always having something raw to eat at hand also requires organization. Not to forget that some substances in cooked foods are highly addictive. Breaking an addiction can get tough, and you'll be surrounded with temptations everywhere. For me personally, going raw was more difficult than quitting smoking.

That's why I think it's important to prepare oneself very well before going raw, not just jump into it spontaneously. Choose a date a few weeks ahead and prepare yourself during this time. Victoria Boutenko recommends drinking green smoothies every day for several weeks before going raw, to give the body nutrients and avoid too severe cravings later. I didn't do that, but maybe it's a good idea.

Here a few more things you can do before D-Day:

A written plan

Making a written plan has helped me tremendously. I found it much easier to go raw when seeing it as a game, or war. Your goal is to beat your opponent! Prepare yourself for the battle. Develop your strategies on paper!

In case you are overweight, you will lose weight. Are you prepared for such an eventuality? Write down what you will do about your weight loss. About new clothes you'll need. About how you will deal with comments from others. Such things. Write everything down.

You're very likely to experience a noticeable energy increase when you go raw. What will you do with this excess energy? You need to find an outlet for it just in case, or else it could overwhelm you so much that you'll return to cooked foods just to stop feeling uncomfortable. Can you think of something you're dreaming of doing but hadn't enough energy to do until now? Or maybe exercising more? Or starting a new creative activity? Find out what you would do with more energy, and write that down, too.

Now the main part of the battle plan:

Observe yourself for a few days and write down what you eat, when you eat it, and why. Don't judge your eating habits, just analyze them.
Based on this, imagine all kinds of situations in which you normally would eat cooked foods, or might feel like eating something even though you're not really hungry, or might get a craving.
Then, for each one of these situations, imagine what you will do in such a moment, instead of eating something cooked. It can be eating raw food if you're being hungry, but it can also be something completely different from eating, like going for a walk, performing ten push-ups or cleansing your chakras. Just pick something that makes sense in that precise situation and keeps you occupied. Write everything down.


Practice visualizing these situations and your desired reaction every day before going raw (but not while you are in those situations themselves). After going raw, when you're in one of the listed situations, all you'll need to do is to apply your great plan. You'll already be conditioned to have your desired reaction. It makes it much easier!

Also visualize your life and yourself as a raw fooder regularly before going raw, as if it were now. What are you wearing, doing, feeling, being, looking like? Imagine everything in details. Here it's helpful to use this emotional main reason for going raw I talked about in my previous post. What's the emotion you're aiming at creating? How do you hope to feel once you've gone raw for this particular reason? Healthy? Balanced? Free? Light? Proud? Productive? When you're visualizing, concentrate on feeling this emotion as if it were already present in your life now.

Support and information

It helps to talk to other raw fooders, to get involved in a raw forum, to join a raw community, to read books about raw foods, etc. Go search for resources on the net. Your intuition will guide you.

Also surround yourself with supportive people in real life. Ask your family/friends to help you. Avoid people who discourage you.

Build a favorable environment for your upcoming shift already before actually making this shift.

When D-Day has come, throw all cooked foods, pots and pans out! And jump into the Unknown. What might help you after D-Day is:


When you go raw you'll probably get a strange feeling of lightness that you're not used to. Like your stomach is empty, even when you're not hungry. This is strange enough! If you let yourself be hungry on top of that, you'll get cravings for heavy cooked things. Eating really really A LOT in the first few weeks helps. Don't worry, as time goes by you'll end up eating less anyway.


Do you already know EFT? It's an awesome technique to deal with unpleasant emotions and/or physical pain. It's often used to treat phobias or cravings. In case you get extremely strong cravings, it could be worth learning EFT and applying it to your cravings. You can find an easy tutorial for beginners (as well as many other resources) on this site.

A few failures

Bitterly failing a few times is extremely useful. I know this sounds like a contradiction to what I said above about leaving no backdoor open. But it's not. If you are fully committed and fail, you'll learn a lot out of it.

My first trial in November 2007 lasted only one week. It showed me that I feel much better on raw foods but that it's not easy. I also learned that eating raw grains is not a good idea for me! My second trial in January 2008 taught me that I had a disempowering mindset. I broke off after two weeks to fix my mindset, which took me a few months. In April, I started trial #3, this time feeling absolutely ready and firmly committed to go raw forever. Nevertheless, I wasn't able to stay 100% raw all the time. I experienced a few disappointing set-backs, and after exactly three months I had to take a break because I couldn't stand losing weight that fast. It taught me that I had unresolved issues that I needed to address first. It also taught me how addictive cooked food really is.

Failing is part of the learning process. You won't learn much if you're not truly committed to your new decision though. Be willing to fail, and give your best to succeed!

Hope this helps a little bit. Good luck :-)

lunes, 1 de septiembre de 2008

Does it take self-discipline to go raw?

No, it doesn't.

I completely lack self-discipline. I hate self-discipline. If it took self-discipline to go raw, I'd never have done it.

So what does it take to go raw?


Most of all, clarity, clarity, and clarity. If you want to go raw, it really helps to know exactly what you want, why you want it, who you are and what this diet change means to you.

So what do you want exactly? 100% raw? 90%? 75%? Why this number?

Why do you want to do it? What are your reasons for wanting to go raw in the first place? Write them down. Writing it down produces another result than just thinking of it. Brainstorm for a while. When I did it, I had over 20 reasons to go raw.

It helps to make it clear to yourself why you want to do it. Look at your reasons and ask yourself which one of them is the main reason, the most important one. Please don't listen to what your mind says. Your mind will pick the most "sensible" reason, the one you think should be the most important one. But that's not necessarily the one that most resonates with you deep down. Listen to your guts, because the day you have a serious craving and are about to give up, reminding yourself of your emotional main reason might save you. Reminding yourself of your logical main reason won't do much for you.

What does going raw mean to you? Is it strictly a health matter, or does it have another signification?

What does food in general mean to you? What is your relationship to cooked food? When and why do you eat exactly?

Who are you as a person? What's your life purpose? What are your core values? How does eating raw fit in?

Can you imagine yourself as a raw fooder? Have you thought of all the negative consequences of going raw? Look at them boldly, and compare with your reasons for wanting to go raw. Do you still really want to go raw?

Know all this and you won't need self-discipline.

Willingness to change

If you want to go raw, you have to welcome change in your life. Even if you choose to cut the cooked food out of your diet very gradually - there's still a point of no return where you'll have to go cold turkey at least for those foods that are addictive (like sugar, grains, meat or dairy). This WILL be a shock.

Going raw will completely mess with your life. Not only will you have to eat different foods, with all the social consequences of that, you'll also experience physical, mental and emotional changes. All raw fooders I know of report an increase in energy, creativity and clarity of mind after going raw. If you're overweight, you'll lose weight. You'll have to find a way to deal with these changes. We are what we eat. On raw foods, you will become another person entirely.

To go raw, you need to welcome this new person. If you're someone who's very uncomfortable with too radical change, you have a problem. You'll need to let go of control, let go of your identification with who you are currently being, and trust that you are safe.


Jumping into the Unknown like this requires some courage. Not much, it's not that terrible ;-) but yes, it's scary at first. I was scared, not knowing what was expecting me. I was especially scared to see my body melt and my weight drop dramatically, so much that I had to take a break. Don't worry, once you've been raw for a while, it's ok. You get used to this new food, to your new habits, your new body and your new personality and won't need any courage anymore. But at first, yes, you need some courage to jump off the cliff.

Curiosity and Strategic thinking

Absolute clarity, the willingness to change, and courage at the beginning, this is what I personally find most important for those who want to go raw. Of course it also helps to be curious, because it'll make experimenting with new foods more fun. And if you enjoy strategic thinking, that's even better. It helps to think of it like a game or a war and to make plans to beat the opponent! But I'll talk about this in my next post, as this one was more about what it takes mentally to go raw, and less about concrete strategies to do so.

I'll share a few practical tips in my next post. If you follow them, you definitely won't need self-discipline.

Have a wonderful day!

viernes, 13 de junio de 2008

Don't Go to the Gym!

I've found the ultimate exercise: gardening. That's what I'm doing daily at the moment, my mother is late with her garden and needs some help.

Gardening is fantastic! It's a versatile activity, you have to perform many different tasks, walking, pushing, pulling, pecking, bending down, stretching, carrying heavy things... You train all muscle groups, I can tell! I'm permanently having sore muscles just everywhere, from the neck to the feet, even in places I didn't think I had muscles... including in my fingers! Have you ever felt the muscles in your fingers at the gym?

Gardening also trains coordination, you have to manipulate things more subtly than you do with a few dumbbells. And it'll increase your stamina. After a while of cleaning your garden, you'll feel your heart work seriously, I assure you. So it's an all-round training, encompassing cardio, muscle building and coordination.

Another benefit: you get sunlight and fresh air. That's much better than to be caged in a room with artificial light and conditioned air smelling like plastic. We need sunlight and fresh air, just like we need to move. It's vital.

Not to forget the greatest benefit: you nourish yourself with your work. You get to eat the delicious organic things you have grown yourself.

I find it really strange and a bit funny to drive to the gym with a car, do some exercise there, come back with the car, and then buy some fruit and veggies, maybe even expensive organic things because they're healthier or more ethical. You pay to exercise, then you pay to eat. Why not exercise in your garden and eat the result of your exercise? You'd save the money for the gym, and the money for the food.

As for the energy, isn't it a big waste to use a lot of gas and pollute the environment with your car in order to go spend a lot of time and energy on some machines with no other purpose and no other result than to do so for its own sake... and then to need someone else to provide you with food?

If I were a gym owner, I'd use all these machines to at least produce some electricity. Imagine all these people in all these gyms all over the country, pushing, pulling and lifting all day long, imagine how much energy gets just wasted this way! No really, what a pity.

Gardening not only is a reasonable, ethical and healthy way to exercise, it's also a fun activity. I never get bored when I'm in the garden! I'd love to have my own and to grow lots of greens and berries in it.

Gardening also strengthens our connection to Nature, that many of us have unfortunately lost.

It can even have a meditative aspect. I always use it as an excellent opportunity to practice present moment awareness, focus on what I'm doing and let go of all thoughts. I feel very peaceful when I'm gardening.

And when you get hungry while working out, you can just eat the next right thing in front of you. Can you eat your dumbbells?

miércoles, 14 de mayo de 2008

Beautiful Tibetan Songs

I'd like to share with you some of my favorite Tibetan songs. They're so beautiful. Don't expect meditating monks though - this is contemporary stuff.

What I noticed first is that there are many songs about the Land of Snows, its identity and its political situation. This one is a very beautiful example. Can't stand watching the images though :( Many youtube comments also reflect the current tensions, like those to this song. This one is the first Tibetan song I discovered.

A few months ago I was sitting in front of my computer doing I don't remember what, when suddenly I heard a voice in my head clearly and distinctly saying "Tibet, music". So I typed exactly this into youtube and found this song. I loved it immediately. I had never heard of Tibetan music before, and was amazed to discover how many great artists and wonderful songs there are!

My absolute favorite Singer is Om Amchok. I love his velvety voice.

My favorite song is called Ngapcho Ngachu, which means "1959", year of the Tibetan uprising. If you like it, also listen to Kyoway Mikchu and Dhel Sem Rolmoe. Om Amchok lives in exile in Canada. You'll find more info about him as well as his newest songs on his MySpace profile.

This here is interesting to watch for westerners. It's a concert with four singers and a colorful choreography in the background. I like it very much.

One of the singers in the previous video is Kunga, his songs are wonderful. Listen to Yi Re Kyo, it's deeply touching. Metok Karpo is another one of my favorites. If you like Kunga, there are many beautiful songs by him on youtube, like Waiting for mother, Drenlu, or Ama. Ama means Mother if I understood it correctly.

Here a very beautiful one by Yadon featuring Kunga: Bashe.

I love Yadon's songs too, especially Kyabjuk and Penchen Gyalwa Mi Sung. He wrote a mother song too, Makye Ama, and a particularly inspiring love song, Rigzin Wangmo.

Here we have another impressive choreography, and a very powerful, terrific song: Gangchen Pa by Drolma Kyab. What a cool guy. Windhorse is another great song. And here's a very nice one: Kyo Shay. Feel the freedom?

I also like a few of Tsering Gyurmey's creations, like Shidey Nyima and Gyatsoe Ting Gyi Norbu. And Khu Sim Sim, I suppose it's a love story with a sad ending? Hey Sonam is light, nice and sounds more like dance music.

If you enjoy such songs, you'll probably like Phurbu T. Namgyal. He lives in the USA and his music sounds way more like happy pop. Here's Kyo Lhang Lhang, Chak Sum Tsel and Nyam Du Dro. Good to dance to!

I always have to dance to this one: it's Kharag Penpa Tsering, Len Chik. This song gives me such strong movement impulses that my body just begins to jiggle and hop. Would love to dance tango to that one!

To finish with something peaceful, here is Techung. His style is more traditional. My favorites songs: Bho Bhang Kyo Lhu, Nyi Lam Nang, Losar, and Land Of Snows.

If you're interested in more Tibetan music, check tibetlink and jigdo's profile on youtube.

May Tibet find Peace and Freedom.

lunes, 4 de febrero de 2008

Baroque Music I - Vivaldi

Guess what my computer's name is? It's Antonio, in honor of Antonio Vivaldi. I love Vivaldi. He's amazing, he's got such a power! Listen to that BOMB. So much energy, so much life! There is just everything in his music. Sometimes he's melancholic, sometimes playful and light. He's painfully sensitive at times, he can be deeply sad, express desolate sorrow, and also sound upbeat and joyous. He's enthusiastic, exuberant, funny and a bit crazy.

He's just beautiful.

I have a burning passion for baroque music in general, and Vivaldi especially. Since one post would not be enough to cover baroque anyway, I'm just going to start with him.

If you don't know this kind of music yet, please take your time and concentrate when you listen to it. You'll probably need a while to get used to it and notice how beautiful it is. At least that's what most people say. I don't know, I fell for baroque within two minutes when I first heard it.

The Four Seasons

You probably know his most famous work, The Four Seasons, even if you don't know that you know it. It's so famous that you can even hear it as background music in the supermarket from time to time, at least in France. Here's the beginning, it'll seem familiar to you: La Primavera (Spring).

There are many different interpretations of this work, this one was Nigel Kennedy. Here another piece, conducted by Fabio Biondi: L'Invierno (Winter). Isn't that totally powerful?

And this one is just amazing! Nigel Kennedy again. Listen to that energy, to that tremendous force! L'Estate (Summer).

On a side note, this last piece inspired many modern musicians. For example here's a techno-remix by Vanessa Mae, and that's Jean-Michel Jarre's version.

Instrumental music

So what did Vivaldi write besides supermarket music? Among other things, a lot of instrumental music. Some nasty people say he wrote the same concerto a thousand times. ;) He mostly wrote lots of concerti indeed, with or without a solo instrument. The Four Seasons are concerti too. Here just a few more.

His concerti generally have three parts: the first one fast, the second one slower and more contemplative, or even sad, and the third one fast again, shorter and brighter than the first one.

This violin concerto is one of the most famous ones. Here the version by Nigel Kennedy (solo violin) and Berlin Philharmoniker:
Part one, Allegro (Allegro = cheerful, lively)
Part two, Largo (Largo = slow) Listen how sensitive and melancholic....
Part three, Presto (Presto = quick, fast) The final firework!

You'll find more nice concerti to listen to later at the bottom of the page, if you like that stuff. I want you to listen to the rest first, before you reach the saturation point.

Vocal music

His vocal music is what I love most about Vivaldi. I'm a fervent fan of baroque singing, and what he created is just amazing. There are operas and other pieces with secular topics, but in my eyes his religious music is the most beautiful ever. Listening to it is for me an extremely intensive and exhalting experience.

I was very lucky to find several nice versions of the aria Cum Dederit on youtube. That's a part of the motet Nisi Dominus and one of my favorite arias ever. In this one, Cum Dederit and Amen are sung by Philippe Jaroussky, a great countertenor. I love this wonderful guy, and I love the Ensemble Matheus and conductor Jean-Christophe Spinosi. It's simple, I'm in HEAVEN when I hear that!!!
Philippe Jaroussky, Cum Dederit, Amen

What you heard in the second part of the previous video is the beginning of Vivaldi's Stabat Mater. It's basically about Maria's pain when she must see her son die on the cross, so it's very sad, and that's why the singer Marie-Nicole Lemieux looks like she's suffering so much. I love the Stabat Mater! Here are two small extracts of Andreas Scholl, another countertenor, singing it. If I'm not wrong, it's with Chiara Banchini and her Ensemble 415, in case you want to buy the CD:
Andreas Scholl, Stabat Mater Dolorosa
Andreas Scholl, O Quam Tristis (which means "oh how sad")

Vivaldi also wrote some choral music. His Gloria is a mix of chorals and arias for one or two singers. This very CD with Alessandrini as conductor is the first bit of baroque music I discovered and it was a revelation. I heard it and fell in love immediately.
Gloria, choral.
Here an extract of another version, in my opinion not so good, but just for you to hear an aria:
Gloria, Laudamus Te

You also have to hear some opera. Listen to Philippe Jaroussky in this fantastic aria, isn't he absolutely wonderful?!
And in that one, he's playing a singers fight together with Marie-Nicole Lemieux, that's SO funny, I LOL every time I watch it: Nel Profondo modified.

Well, that's my Vivaldi. If you like it, here's more material:

More singing

Here the same extracts of Nisi Dominus as above, this time sung by Andreas Scholl with the Australian Brandenbourg Orchestra & Paul Dyer:
Andreas Scholl, Cum Dederit
Andreas Scholl, Amen
I had this CD and absolutely loved it, but someone borrowed it and never gave it back, and of course I don't remember who that was, since I give my things away all the time.

And here's the complete Nisi Dominus by Sara Mingardo, with the Concerto Italiano & Rinaldo Alessandrini. Part two begins with the aria Cum Dederit that we've already listened to twice. It's very interesting to compare the versions!
Nisi Dominus, Part one
Nisi Dominus, Part two
Nisi Dominus, Part three

If you liked Sara Mingardo, the Concerto Italiano & Rinaldo Alessandrini, I found two more complete CDs:

Here's more choral singing: Magnificat. Wonderful, especially in part two the aria Esurientes. I loooove it. Listen to it very loud!
Magnificat, Part one
Magnificat, Part two

And here's a Salve Regina.
Salve Regina, Part one
Salve Regina, Part two
Salve Regina, Part three

More Concerti

This one is very nice: Concerto for 4 violins and strings (Europa Galante & Fabio Biondi).

Here a peaceful Concerto for Lute (Il Giardino Armonico & Giovanni Antonini).

This one with mandolin is so beautiful! (even though I would have played the second part much slower) : Concerto in C Major (Il Giardino Armonico & Giovanni Antonini).

I find this one heavy, suffering, and in the third part conquering and forceful. A darker side of Vivaldi. No matter how he feels, it's beautiful: Allegro - Largo - Allegro (Europa Galante & Fabio Biondi).

A light, fast and playful one: Concerto for strings "Alla rustica" (Europa Galante & Fabio Biondi).

What I love particulary are his concerti for cello. Here you have a very brilliant and elegant one: Allegro - Largo - Allegro (Europa Galante & Fabio Biondi). I don't know about you, but it makes me happy!

martes, 8 de enero de 2008

Dealing with Emotions

Do you feel overwhelmed by your feelings sometimes? Is it difficult for you to react to strong emotions in an appropriate manner? Don't you know how to stop feeling bad? That's a problem I've had for a long, long time. I found a few useful ways to handle it and thought it could be of some value for you to hear about them.

Taking 100% responsibility

First of all, what helped me most is to understand that it's never the other person or the situation itself that creates my emotion: it's my thoughts about this person or situation. We don't all have the same reaction when in the same situation. It's the thoughts and judgments we have about this situation that lead us to have the feelings we have.

This means that no situation and no other person has any power over how I feel. Everything I feel is 100% my own responsibility. The downside is that I can't blame anyone else for what I feel anymore, 'cause what I feel is caused by nothing else than my own thoughts. It's all me. The upside is that I'm in control: by changing my thoughts, I can change my feelings. And another upside is that I'm not forced to react to a given situation in a certain way. I'm free to react just like I want to. It's my choice.

(Edit: more details about this here: Your Feelings are Self-Made)

The old stinky sneaker

One very simple way to apply this elementar wisdom is the old stinky sneaker image. I can't remember if I invented that image myself or read about it somewhere. It doesn't matter. Imagine you're in a given situation and you feel a strong emotion you'd rather not have. For example, someone is insulting you, and you feel angry. Now imagine that this person insulting you is throwing an old, stinky sneaker at your feet. You're free to put that old shoe on, or not. You can put it on, and feel stinky (angry). Or you can let it lie where it is. And feel good. You're not forced to react to the insults. It's your choice.

Visualizing this old sneaker in every unpleasant situation helps me a lot! I just imagine myself saying "No, thanks!" to the person or situation throwing this old shoe at my feet, and then just going away. I'm not forced to put the old shoe on and feel bad. It makes me feel very free to choose consciously if I want to be perturbed at their shoe or not!

What about positive emotions?

Sometimes positive emotions overwhelm me too, and make me feel bad because it's just too much. It's more than I can express or bear inside of me without exploding. I had to find a better reaction than to dance around crying and laughing hysterically altogether. The old stinky sneaker trick helps me in that case too.

I wouldn't call beautiful, moving and happy situations an old stinky sneaker, so I found another image: imagine that the person or situation is smiling at you and handing you a big, gorgeous chocolate cake with whipped cream and cherries on the top of it (or some other cake you like). Eating the entire cake would be too much, obviously. So tell this person or situation "Oh, thank you so much, that's very nice of you! I'll have a piece of it!" And then take only a small piece of the cake. You're not forced to swallow the whole cake. A small piece of this delicious cake is enough to make you happy.

When I use this cake image, I'm able to stay in control of myself and to allow strong positive emotions without being immediately overwhelmed by them.

What if "no thanks" doesn't work?

Sometimes a situation or statement bugs me so much that the old stinky sneaker doesn't work so really well. Just saying "No thanks" somehow is not a solution in that moment. Then I need to take a look at another aspect of feelings and emotions: they're but signals. They show you whether what you think about this person/statement/situation is currently positive or negative. In this respect, they're very useful. A positive feeling is the result of a positive thought. A negative feeling points to a negative thought. Here's a method to get rid of nasty emotions by getting rid of the negative thoughts that are producing them:

Identify the emotion //"oh, I'm feeling angry"
Try to be as precise as possible. Observe the emotion: is it anger, or hate, or are you upset?
Allow the emotion to be //"It's perfectly ok to be angry now. That's all right."
Accept your emotion and welcome it warmly.
Thank the emotion //"Thank you anger for being here and showing me that I'm having negative thoughts that are not profitable to me"
Aknowledge that your emotions are just a signal pointing to your thoughts.
Identify the thoughts //"ok, which thoughts are making me feel angry?"
This part can be difficult for you if you're not used to such exercises. Be patient, you'll get better with time. Maybe it can help you to write your thoughts down. Allow any thought to pop into your mind, even if it sounds ridiculous or childish.
Let the emotion go //"Thanks anger, I don't need you anymore now, go in peace"
Now that you're aware of your underlying thought, you don't need the signal anymore.
Change the thoughts //"Which thought would feel better than that?"
Now look for a thought that would feel a bit better right now. It doesn't have to be realistic, or true. It can be complete nonsense, imaginary or a lie, that's not important. Important is only that when you think this thought, you feel a bit better. Concentrate on the new thought for about twenty seconds. You'll feel better. Then look for another thought that feels even better and concentrate on it for twenty seconds again. And so on.
If you practice this method a bit, you'll notice that you're always able to choose how you feel by deliberately thinking thoughts that make you feel this way. It doesn't just happen to you. You have full control over how you feel, because you have full control over what you think.

What if I can't identify any thoughts?

This happens to me when confronted to very strong emotions. In such a case the physical symptoms are so overwhelming that there are just no thoughts. At least no thoughts I could be aware of. Recently I was looking for nice tibetan songs on youtube and by mistake saw a horrible video where some animals were being killed. I felt so bad that I almost vomited. My chest was burning, I was crying and sweating. The emotion was so strong that the intellectual approach above would not have helped me. More precisely, I wouldn't have been able to apply it.

In such cases I use EFT. EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique, is a very powerful way to deal with emotions. It's easy and fast to learn, it works quickly and it's highly efficient. EFT is a more physical approach of the problem. It can be used to cure physical pain too, btw.

The principle is that a negative emotion is a blockade in your energy system. By tapping some energetic points on your body while focusing on your problem, you remove the blockade and teach your body to let the energy flow even when you think of this problem. It won't solve the problem itself. But you'll feel good even when confronted to that problem again. After this youtube accident, these images were pursueing me. I tapped it every time it came up. I had to do it 3-4 times a day for a few days. But now I can think of that video without having any bad emotions.

I highly recommend EFT to everyone. If you're interested, look at There are infos about the theory behind EFT, a nice free tutorial for beginners, and a lot more.

miércoles, 2 de enero de 2008

Dancing Tango Argentino

I HAVE to tell you about tango! I love dancing tango argentino. When I dance, I have a wonderful feeling of freedom and lightheartedness. I can express myself, express the music, express my feelings about the music and about my partner. That makes me so happy. Every time I dance tango, I feel in love :)

Please read my explanations before you watch the videos. It's important that you know a few things about tango before actually seeing it. If you don't know what's exactly going on, you might find it boring, or ridiculous. Only when you know what that really is will you see how amazing it is.

Tango, the music

Tango music is very beautiful. I'll write more in details about it later in another post, since I'd like to focus on the dance here.

Essentially, there are five music types you can dance tango argentino to:

traditional tango
vals: tango in 3/4
milonga: a related dance, generally faster and more down-to-earth than tango
electrotango: the "modern" tango with electronic instruments
non-tango: everything else :)

Tango can be danced to just everything that has a clear and regular rythm, from Vivaldi to Metallica via lebanese folksongs. My former teachers, who are very conservative, would kill me if they hear that (hope they'll never discover this blog), but I want to dance tango to just everything! Every time I hear a song I like, I immediately have some tango impulses going through my body, and imagine how I would dance tango to that now. Some people however (like my former teachers) categorically refuse to dance to non-tango, or even to electrotango.

You'll hear some examples in a moment.

Tango, the dance

What is tango argentino?

Tango argentino is essentially walking around together. One plays the leading role, the other one the following role. Traditionally "the man leads, the woman seduces". But that's changing nowadays. You'll find women dancing with women, men with men, and women leading men. What I would love to try is do both and switch roles several times during the dance :)

How does it work?

There are no fixed figures in tango argentino. The leaders have to improvise everything. They invent the dance in the very moment they dance it. And they have to lead everything. In some dances, when the leading person doesn't lead anything new, the following person just keeps on with the base step. That's different in tango argentino. There is no base step. When the leading person doesn't lead anything new, the following person does... nothing at all. Not even shift their weight from one foot to the other. Since everything is improvised, the following person never knows what comes next. Every step is unique, you don't know what the next one will be. That's very exciting!

How do the leaders lead?

With their chest. The chests communicate with each other. The leaders give move impulses with their chest, or open some space for the follower in a particular direction. The impulse the followers receive goes through their body into the legs, and since the legs are (ideally) totally relaxed, they just follow the law of gravitation and move.

That's why a high technical level is required, so that the impulses flow correctly. You mustn't lose the connection between the chests, or else leading becomes impossible. If you're having a bad posture, the energy can't flow correctly through your body, and you won't communicate well. If your back isn't straight, the impulses will get lost somewhere before they reach your legs. If your legs aren't relaxed enough, they won't move freely. As the leader, if your leading impulses aren't clear enough, the follower will perform unfinished, confused moves - or do something you didn't intend. It's all about communication!

Another aspect is that leading means giving impulses, no orders. It's just a proposition. The followers can block certain moves, they are no passive puppets. They have a great influence on the dance. And they use the leader's propositions to improvise as well. With the impulse they get, they're free to do whatever they want. If I get an impulse to move laterally, I can choose to move immediately and close my legs, or I can let one leg hang behind, or do fancy things with my feet along the way. I can slow down in the middle of my move, or even completely stop. The leader has to wait for me. There are thousands of ways you can go one single step. That's where many factors play a role, like your personality, your creativity, the music, the chemistry with your partner...

This very precise and very intensive communication with a partner on a physical, energetical level is an amazing experience!

What does it look like?

There are many different tango argentino styles, like tango nuevo, tango de salón... But if you're not familiar with tango, going into the details wouldn't make any sense here. (and if you are, you already know about that) When you'll watch the videos, you'll notice that some dancers always stand on their own axis, whereas others strongly lean against their partner. Some dance very close, in tight embrace, whereas others let a lot of free space between them. Some make wide moves or particular moves that others don't use. Everything is possible! It's a matter of style. But the elementar principles are the same.

Now that you know what tango is about (according to me), you will appreciate what you see much more. You may watch the videos now :)

Take a look at this one and bear in mind that everything is improvised, everything is lead. Isn't such a communication just amazing? The music is traditional tango, a very beautiful song called Poema (poem): Geraldine Rojas & Javier Rodrigues.

And now I'll show you El Indio, a very cool dancer, to give you an idea about how freely you can improvise and how many fun things you can do: El Indio plays around.

I promised I would give you examples of all music styles. Here you have an example of a milonga: Geraldine Rojas & Javier Rodrigues again. Listen, how fast and lively. And watch what he leads, at that incredible pace...

That's a vals: Adriana salgado y Orlando Reyes. I chose this one because I absolutely wanted you to hear Desde el Alma, that's one of my favorite songs.

And here we have some electrotango: Mariano "Chicho" Frúmboli & Eugenia Parilla. That's the kind of stuff I particularly love dancing to!

Last but not least, I even found a video with non-tango: Klaus Petritsch & Karen Garnett dance to Tom Jones.

As you could see, tango argentino is multifaceted. If you like it, take a look at these:

Here Geraldine Rojas again, with another partner. The video is a bit dark, I'm sorry, but the dance is brilliant: Geraldine Rojas & Ezequiel Paludi.

Finally you mustn't miss Carlos Gavito & Maria Plazaola. Sexy, huh?

So! Aren't you convinced, now, that tango argentino is incredibly fantastic?! Wanna dance with me? :)

Tango dancing parties are called milongas. Every milonga traditionally ends with a special song called La Cumparsita. To close this post, here you have a cumparsita.

I chose one with Eduardo Cappussi and Mariana Flores. They dance very well, but are also very good at performing tango parodies...

Eduardo Cappussi & Mariana Flores.