Woehoeee I'm officially a yoga teacher! What a journey that has been.. A quarter of the time I have been very sick and I even ended up in the hospital twice (story of my life.. Seriously, in the Netherlands I have never ended up in a hospital as far as I remember, whereas this has been the third time while travelling, all for relatively similar reasons - maybe subconsciously I am actually quite stressed about these huge life decisions which impacts my physical state or so?). All the time I didn't want to give up and carried myself to the classes, even though I ended up sleeping on the yoga mat. It drove me crazy that I couldn't understand what the universe was trying to tell me. Was I not supposed to do this yoga teacher training? The moment that I finally gave up and only cared about my health, I finally got better.
Looking backwards this has (obviously) had quite an impact on the whole experience. Whereas I'm usually a very outgoing and social person, I have been relatively quiet and much more on myself. This has probably made it even more of an inward journey than it still would have been otherwise. For those who think a yoga teacher training is about learning how to physically do the asanas (yoga postures) and teach these to others - it is much much much more than that.
What is yoga?
The formal translation of the Sanskrit word yoga is 'yoke'. Yoga can be described as a disciplined method (which includes a variety of schools, approaches, methods and techniques) that aim to transform the mind, in order to put it under the control of consciousness. Meditation is a very big part of this. The final goal in yoga is this transformation where you become a transmitter of the Divine Consciousness (also called Moksha, Samadhi or Enlightenment).
Our training has covered a very broad range of interesting topics. Besides our 2x/day practices, we had classes about yoga history, meditation, breathing exercises, energy, chakras, anatomy, ayurveda, nutrition, tantra, trance, mantras, Sanskrit, self development, sharings, etc. The group was so big that we were split in two, and my group had 14 beautiful people. The intensity and nature of the program allowed us to reveal a lot of our true self in a short amount of time, which created a close connection within the group. It was beautiful to experience how a bunch of so many very different people were able to connect so well, while probably most of us would not have crossed paths if we were not put in the same class.
Where for some people it may have been quite a shock to realize that the training was about much more than just the physical aspect, I actually expected this and had chosen this school because of it. But being a full-time yogi for almost a month (no alcohol, mostly vegan/vegetarian, early to bed, etc.) I realize again more than ever how this 'yin' side of me needs a very strong 'yang' to balance itself (read: long nights of party, crazy adventures, etc.). And yoga is all about balance right ;)?! So happily enough I have booked some awesome adventures with Olly & Lau to go to Nowhere in Spain in July (yes, I'll come to Europe, and by-pass Amsterdam in July/August too), and to Oregon Eclipse & Burning Man in the US in August!
Until that time I have not really a clue what I am going to do, except the Australian burn in April. Currently I am enjoying a very relaxing holiday with my mom at Koh Samui, where the toughest choices of our day exist of deciding what to eat and drink, and where to get a massage ;) The stormy weather has cancelled our planned boat trips already twice, so we are really forced to just relax and do nothing. Although to be honest, I'm busy 24/7 with thinking about what might be one of the biggest discoveries in my whole life! It's such a thing that I will dedicate a seperate blog on this topic:
This is changing my life. Big time. I'm shocked. Flabbergasted. Overwhelmed. It's surrealistic. But it explains such an incredible amount of things in my life!
What am I talking about?
I just figured out that I have 'aphantasia'. This phenomenon is still very unknown, and has only got a name since 2015. It means I cannot visualise anything in my mind. Nothing. All but black. Of course this is nothing new to me, because I have had (or better said: NOT had) this all my life. What IS new to me, is that apparently 98% of you ARE able to actually visualise things in your mind. Not just metaphoricly, but for real. This (as I just learned now) is more of a spectrum rather than something binary: some people can picture something vaguely with a lot of effort whereas others are able to visualise as vivid as reality! But even with my greatest efforts I am not able to visualise anything at all...
My mom is laying next to me at the beach here in Thailand while I'm typing this, but when I close my eyes I am not able to picture how she looks like. Of course I know that she has blond hair, freckles, and the same length as me. But I know these as (verbal) facts. Just like I know that the beach has sand and the water has waves. But I cannot picture it in my mind.
This explains so many things in my life:
- Why I am great at logical, structural and abstract thinking, but horrible in visualisation of concepts
- Why I am great at understanding and reproducing very complex things, but horrible in improvisation or making up new things
- My lack of any artistic creativity (except when reproducing something that I have seen and learned to do before, and memorized as a verbal step-by-step to-do list)
- Why I am horrible at remembering faces
- Why I barely remember my dreams (and when I do, I only remember the plot in words rather than anything visual)
- Why I do not notice when something has changed in for example someone's (or even my own) house
How come that I found out now?
Well, during the yoga teacher training I experienced more than ever that my brain works very different compared to many people around me. I remember a couple of years ago Tim and I had this conversation about visualisation, because back then I already felt like I was missing out on something. But somehow we didn't get to this point where we actually figured out the significant difference in our mental experiences. The last month I so often had to 'visualise' things that I started to wonder again whether what they meant was more than just a metaphor I always thought was meant when people talked about anything related to visualisation. Scanning your body? Imagining your breath or energy flowing through your body? Picturing myself in a head stand before doing so? No one could actually really do that right? I started to research on the internet and stumbled upon the following article, which literally could have been written by me:
I can barely describe what I felt while I read through this article. So many pieces fell into place, while at the same time I feel sad and upset that apparantly I am missing out on a major thing in life. I have contacted professor Adam Zeman who is currently researching about this phenomenon, and I have completed a questionnaire for his study on aphantasia. My mom also recognizes herself in it, which explains why we haven't noticed anything 'different' during my childhood (and it might be a genetic thing). Whether it also affects my other senses I haven't entirely figured out yet: I am able to recognise certain tastes and smells, but I am not able to imagine a taste or smell without actually experiencing it at that moment. And regarding music: I can get a song stuck in my head, but that is more like a sing the melody myself (which 'sounds like' my own voice) - I can't actually hear or imagine any instruments or music. But also here I have no idea whether anyone can?!
Very curious to hear everyone's thoughts on this topic, and where you think you are on the spectrum of visualisation.
So here I am - freshly arrived at my cottage home for the upcoming month in Koh Phangan! The photo below shows the first sunset from the terrace of my cottage home for the upcoming month ^_^ not too bad...
What a hectic and crazy weeks I have had! Almost a month of free time sounds like more than enough for preparations, but it has flown by. My first week off (before Christmas) was filled up entirely by arranging things like visa, new driving license (seriously, 10 years have gone by already?!), insurance (way more complicated than you might think: most travel insurances have a max of 1 year, and I plan to go longer; besides, because I go longer than a year I had to emigrate and also have no rights for Dutch health insurance anymore, so had to arrange that seperately as well. And emigrate? Yes, I am currently not officially a Dutch citizen anymore!), vaccinations (most of them I already had since my first world trip, but still needed 2 more), moving out, renting out my house, and a whole list of minor but necessary things. And then in the mean time I was having 7 christmas dinners (don't ask me how, I'm even single now!), a birthday, Ballonnenfeest, a 2-day NYE party, a jazz concert, and 4 goodbye dinner/drinks evenings!
Anyhow, I survived, and so here I am! The journey went very smooth, and me & my backpack even managed to catch my second flight while only having 45 minutes stop-over due to an hour delay on the first flight. And although I got some questions about showing proof when I would leave the country again (uh... one-way ticket?), my innocent face and friendly smile helped me to enter Thailand anyway. I was even able to catch an earlier boat from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan than the one I had pre-booked, and the friendly Thai people easily let me change my ticket without any fees. A pick-up was arranged by my yoga school Samma Karuna, where I had my first motorbike experience (a small Thai man who put my backpack between his legs and was barely able to see the road - sorry mam, dad.. ;) had no choice!). I arrived at Samma Karuna around 2PM on Thursday and have been fighting the rest of the day not to fall asleep. My lack of sleep in the weeks before, and a maximum of 4 hours on the flight itself, made me fall in a coma around 6PM.
After a restless night (something with full moon, a new place, no air conditioning and a jet lag combined I guess), I saw the sunrise from the terrace of my cottage while the full moon was also still in the sky. Wow. I'm in paradise! I spend the day relaxing and reading, and met up with my friend Nikita and her boyfriend Eric (who now live on the island) to go for dinner and to a beach party afterwards at Sandboard where we did some conscious ecstatic dancing <3
Ecstatic dance is a freeform conscious barefeet dance where movement expands, spirit activates, boundaries melt, boredom ceases, creativity breaks out, hope happens, beauty flows, communities collaborate, ritual is reinvented & harmony resonates.
For the weekend I rented a motorbike to explore the island. It's basically the only way to get around, as it's all very hilly and too far spread out to walk. The actual exploration failed on Saturday as I bumped into a guy I met the day before at Samma Karuna when I went for lunch at the Karma Kafe, and we ended up spending the next 10 hours with each other. What an inspirational and interesting beautiful soul! His name is Tobi and he's Swiss/German. The conversations we had were so interesting and in line with my current interests of quantum physics and building bridges between spirituality and science, that I wrote down notes that could keep me busy researching and reading for the next 15 months! I will elaborate on actual content at a later stage when I have spend more time on all this =). After our 5 hour lunch we went to Samma Karuna where we joined a get together to 'Dance for Universal Peace' - ecstatic dancing interacting with each other and with beautiful intentions, ending with a nice ceremony on the beach.
Afterwards Tobi & I went for dinner at a restaurant nearby, where I had for the first time in my life a green curry pizza! I never even thought about the possibility of this, and it's awesome: a combination of two of my favourite (ok, I do have many many favourites) meals! The conversations continued and we ended up talking about the universe & astrology and watching the stars at the beach at Samma Karuna.
Sunday I woke up very early (7AM) to do what I intended to do on Saturday: exploring the island! I jumped on my motorbike and felt an intense happiness as I was cruising all on my own, the whole island still asleep. The North-West side of the island (the more spiritual part, as opposed to the parts where the famous full moon parties take place) is relatively quiet now anyway, due to the floodings that have been there just before I arrived (and are seemingly starting from today onwards again...). I visited the northern part enjoying the amazing view with a mango lassi and went into the 'jungle' to three different waterfalls (Whang Sai, Paradise & Phaeng waterfall). Lunch I had at Orion, another yoga school that is also located at the beach with paradise views and surroundings.
Late afternoon we had the opening ceremony of the yoga teacher training course (YTTC) where we briefly got to know each other and learned about the program for the next four weeks. I had dinner at the school's restaurant afterwards where I ended up in a nice conversation with a guy named Paul, from New Zealand (currently living in Melbourne). He's a doctor, and also into alternative medicine, following a beautiful spiritual path to which I could connect and he gave me more food for thought. If I continue my current rate of in-depth interesting conversations I may need more than my whole life to research and understand all of it! Hopefully I can bring all the knowledge I gain to a new life afterwards ;) After dinner I joined him going to the Dome, an amazing magical place with a sauna cave, fire, music and a beautiful atmosphere.
Currently I just finished my first day of the YTTC. The schedule for the upcoming four weeks consists of an hour meditation starting at 7.15AM, two hours yoga practice, two theory classes, another two hours yoga practice, and another theory class. And that 6x a week, with every week an exam, and also a practical exam at the end. Pretty intense ;) But the first day was great! My class mates are nice and the teachers as well. We started off at a nice speed, but I heard that they will increase gradually so I'm curious what's ahead of me!
Hope to hear from you <3
Love, peace, hugs & happiness!!
Is this really happening? Am I really going to make another world trip?
To be honest, when I came back from my first world trip of 8 months in 2010/2011, I would never have thought to ever do this again for such a long time (and probably even longer). Back then it was relatively 'easy' to just take a sabbatical between my Bachelor and Master, without having any major responsibilities. But now...
Giving up a very good job that I have been enjoying so much, while also having a mortgage?
Why are there so many people that do not dare to live their dreams? This is something that keeps me thinking. Of course there are some obvious factors like the environment in which you grow up, and the love & encouragement you receive from your parents, family & friends, which will likely have a high impact on your decisions in life. But even among those that are privileged with their external factors there are just so many people that see all these bottlenecks that keep them from living their dreams, without even realizing that it's their own mind that creates those bottlenecks. Ok, slight detour... But I will probably get back to this at some point, as I would love to be able to help people overcome their fears, control their own mind rather than being controlled by their own mind, and DARE to live their dreams.
So how did I get to this decision to make another world trip?
The motivation to go is quite different from the first time. Six years ago I was mainly curious to just explore the world, without any particular goals in mind. Although exploring the world will always be one of my key interests, my main focus this time will be on my personal development, and how to leverage everything that I learned and hopefully will learn, to help others become as happy with themselves and with their lives as I am.
This more conscious process of self development has started around 2.5 years ago, when Tim & I had our first break-up, while at the same time I started working at Seabury ánd started practicing yoga. Both yoga and my work actually played a key role in coping with the emotional rollercoaster I have been through in the years that followed. Through yoga I got in closer contact with my body and my feelings, while at work I discovered my lack of proper self-reflection. This combination allowed me to go through a steep learning curve, while also broadening my knowledge by reading and talking a lot about it. In the mean time I became interested in spirituality, communities and universal energy (the Zero Point Field), went on a mystical journey to India, started practicing meditation / mindfulness, and now reached this point where this all has become so important to me that I want to have more time on this great quest of understanding.
So I have quit my job as an aviation consultant, and I will go travelling again to have time to gain & share knowledge from all over the world.
My starting point on this new trip will be Thailand. I'll fly out on the 11th of January and I will begin with a Yoga Teacher Training at Samma Karuna in Koh Phangan on the 16th of January for 4 weeks. And after that we will see wherever the universe brings me! Potential plans include going to a regional burn in Australia in April with Evelien, Jorik, Femke, Alan & some other friends, and making a road trip in the US while going to the Oregon Eclipse & Burning Man in August with Olly, Laurien & Joyce. Besides, my mom & dad will come and visit me wherever I am at that point in time, and maybe you will do as well ;)?
Love, peace & hugs,
Ps. For those of you who know me a bit better it's needless to say, but with my open-mindedness, energy and curiousity I tend to end up in a very broad array of crazy, funny, random and unexpected situations. So I hope I can supplement this inner journey with some great adventures and interesting stories ;) If you would like to get updates when I post a new blog, please enter your e-mail address at the subscribe page!
Pps. Please feel free to leave comments, and also update me on what's going on in your life so we stay in touch <3