Friday, 25 December 2009

Inspiration for 2010? Uk's great examples on transition

Being back in London, back from India, the mountains and Tibetan refuge in Dharamsala, the inspiring organic learning community and probably the accumulated time of 8 months with various communities and life styles, I felt like coming off a roller coaster with many intense spinning loops that make you feel all dizzy when you are back on the ground. That kind where you knees get all wabbly and it takes some moments of deep breath and a firm grip to the handrail to reorient yourself to your environment and go back to carry on doing what you were doing before you went onto the ride in the first place.

It became very clear to me, that moving back into urban life - well pretty much London's fast paced metropolitan life - where things are very different, it will be rather difficult for me to carry on doing things the way I was doing them before I left and also really I don't want to.

Manish's term of 'Home Activism' stuck with me, where the way you life your life - not on the streets, in the public but for yourself and with your family and friends, can make a huge difference. I think the film below on transition towns in the UK and in the world (there are 256 transition towns in the world) is a good reminder at the end of 2009, of all the great energy and great stories of people and communities moving into more wholesome living across the country in the UK and inspiring more and more places in the world to follow the initial move of Totnes.
(The film is about 45 min long and worthwhile seeing in one go)

'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.'
- Margaret Mead

Sunday, 13 December 2009

The evolutionary case for the 'Survival of the kindest'

Via Paul Fernhout, from Science Daily in P2P Foundation

“Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, are challenging long-held beliefs that human beings are wired to be selfish. In a wide range of studies, social scientists are amassing a growing body of evidence to show we are evolving to become more compassionate and collaborative in our quest to survive and thrive.

In contrast to “every man for himself” interpretations of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, Dacher Keltner, a UC Berkeley psychologist and author of “Born to be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life,” and his fellow social scientists are building the case that humans are successful as a species precisely because of our nurturing, altruistic and compassionate traits.

They call it “survival of the kindest.”

“Because of our very vulnerable offspring, the fundamental task for human survival and gene replication is to take care of others,” said Keltner, co-director of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. “Human beings have survived as a species because we have evolved the capacities to care for those in need and to cooperate. As Darwin long ago surmised, sympathy is our strongest instinct.”

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Rethinking Education - understanding the biology of learning

I met Jinan almost at the end of my 2 months trip in India. He was one of those special visitors stopping by at Shikshantar who I should meet up with said Manish, saying I would like Jinan. Manish, the founder of Shikshantar, always seemed to have an extraordinary antenna for who to put in touch with each other, or around which particular topic. In my case he's always been spot on, actually more than that, I almost felt that he had an ability for some form of pre-emergent sensing, as if he was a pinch ahead of us, maybe without even realising himself.
I just came back from spending a couple of days outside of Udaipur, celebrating Diwali with an Indian family in a nearby village and by that time had already forgotten Manish's special announced guest. When I entered Shikshantar I saw an older man with a long white beard, somehow Sufi like, sitting on the big rug in the light near the big window with lots of people around him, listening to his stories and looking at the art albums he brought along. I was curious what everyone was looking at, what they were listening to and so fascinated by.

When I approached the group I saw the images he brought along in a book of a workshop he led. It was filled with images and creations of artisans, of potters and of children from the numerous villages he had visited in the past 20 years. The images were portraying the beauty of their creations, of their work, their plays. There were clay figures, tiles, images and objects made from leaves, twigs, colour arrangements and others.

Jinan was immediately captivating though I only really got to know him and his stories on the following day, when I had the chance to interview him for an article in the learning bulletin which Shikshantar publishes on a regular bases. Manish suggested I speak to him about what he called "biology of learning" as it would fit quite well with the theme of the next bulletin being centred around that topic and the challenges of cognition.

Speaking to Jinan has been a tremendous pleasure. I felt I couldn't have met him at a better point of time in my trip. I very strongly resonated with his interests around natural processes of creativity using all our senses and our capacity to experience the world, on aesthetics and creative learning, on child development and human life cycles in the context of Nature and community. Hearing about his experiences and insights from spending the last 20 years in rural India with indigenous tribes and illiterate communities, felt like receiving a huge gift, a gift of affirmation to something that has been with me throughout my travel, like finding some of the responses to the questions which I have carried with me for some time now without ever articulating them, but carrying them with me with a sense of unease, doubt or discomfort but also with an inspiration for a different way of living, creating and upbringing of our youth which has not arrived in our very conscious, sorted and clearly articulated world yet.

Thank you Jinan for a true inspiration you have brought to so many of us who had the chance to meet you these days!

(Part 1 total length - 12:01 mins)

(Part 2 total length - 17:05 mins)

( Part 3 total length - 14:13 mins)

( Part 4 total length - 5 mins)

Jinan's website

Unlearning and Uplearning - making sense of the world around us

One of the most preciously valued explorations I have had while travelling and in particular while being at Shikshantar was the contemplation on how we learn and make sense of the world around us. In the last couple of months I was finding my own pace
and intuitive way of engaging with my environment. Through dance and movement or play and immersion in Nature I slowly began to experience different ways of learning, 're-sensitising the senses' and bringing learning back into whole body and being. Shikshantar was a great place to enhance that experience even further and to meet like minded people who are on the same path of exploring wholesome learning and learning spaces in community with others.

The same day I arrived, I slid straight into a film making workshop. I met a good crowd of creative people who did exciting stuff though it all felt like a film passively passing by. I still felt the exhaustion of travelling for 20 hrs and the jetlag, being
13.5 hours behind on West coast Pacific time, so amidst the various dynamic interactions among the participants, I decided to take it easy and observe the activities with a comforting distance to where the action was. It didn't take long before I was invited to join a group which was about to enter a conversation on vulnerability and how to craft a film around that sensitive topic. Whether you are an unannounced spontaneous visitor just entering the door or you are more of an intern-like guest as I was - one immediately gets to dive in and be hands-on in Shikshantar. This learning community is a hands-on place pretty much everyday, engaging with the making and creating of the experience rather than the debating and intellectual exploration of it, though Shikshantar does have numerous thought provoking interesting resources in writings and films to offer to anyone seriously being interested in "developing learning systems that liberate the full potential of human beings." as they put it.

From the very beginning of my stay, through conversations and further resources I got to step back from my habitual way of seeing things and through that also got confronted with the
question of deschooling or unschooling society. How is the way we educate our children through institutionalised schooling restraining us from having more wholesome and more real experiences in our lifes? Does it truly support society and in
dividuals to develop creativity, innovation and ethos or does it perpetuate a soulless and artificial biorhythm of eat, sleep, work and shop where the whole life purpose seems to centre around making more money, to do more shopping to keep the wasteful production and the economic growth going?

Along the way I was wondering, what do we really need to be nourished and in more harmony with our natural world and with each other? Not just nourished in a physical sense of what type of food we are eating - though I surprisingly also learned a lot about that, but nourished to fully live. Shikshantar through their very practical hands-on culture, has provided a space, a fertile ground for creativity and a lot of stimuli to challenge our fundamental assumptions about how to live our lifes but also giving great examples of how it could be different.

The Creative Commons Movement Magazine YES! Powerful ideas, practical actions wrote an article on Shikshantar and Udaipur as a learning city. The article is titled: Udaipur hands down skills. Shikshantar was also highlighted by the magazine as one of the top ten intiatives around world on Radical Acts of Education.

The film below is one of many films made by Shikshantar - Swapathgami Films. It portrays the essence of the learning community.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Swapathgami – making your own paths of learning and living

Since October I am based in northern India in Udaipur staying for 2 months at Shikshantar – a community of co-learners and co-creators of alternative ways to living a healthy sustainable life. People in the Shikshantar community are also called swapathgamis, people who are exploring pathways outside of institutionalised structures. As swapathgamis they walked out from unhealthy and isolating life styles, ‘trusting their own creative intelligence over the prescribed lives of the ready-made world.’ - More about that here in on one of their published issues.
Shikshantar was found 12 years ago coming from a place of deep concern for what is happening in the world and fundamental critique to existing institutions and systems and their capacity to solve the complex problems the world is facing. Shikshantar’s approaches to learning and simply living have been strongly influenced by the way local villagers live around Udaipur. Its prime motivation was to create a space where alternative or more appropriately healthier ways of living could be explored both theoretically but also hands-on doing and living it every day. Since then Shikshantar – through providing a safe, trusting and creative space to everyone – has inspired locals and passing guests from all over the world to create the same in people’s homes and personal lives, as one of the founder put it the other day "to see your own house as a live space of activism, your own activism to creating a difference in the world."

Since my arrival here I met interesting people, initiatives and gained a lot of insights into different forms of alternative education, healthy local nutrition and growing your own food e.g. through urban community gardens or by creating your own green roof top and more than anything else how to live a life that hardly produces any waste, best known as zero waste management.

Zero Waste Management and living a healthy life

I am thrilled – in the month that I am living on my own in Udaipur I don’t think I even filled half a bag with non-degradable garbage. 80% of what I am throwing out is compost which I dispose on a big compost pile just outside the house. Even though the extensive packaging of products and food in my home country increasingly annoyed me, I don’t think I have ever quite had the full experience of doing without. Here I buy my vegetables and fruits almost daily fresh from little movable stalls or sellers on the ground, which are all nearby. In fact one can find a veggie or fruit seller almost at every corner, we have one that is ringing a bell and announcing his arrival when he passes our house. This makes it quite easy for me to always eat freshly and local products thus maintaining a super healthy vegan diet while avoiding plastic or other packaging. I usually carry 1 or 2 bags with me to be ready to buy food along the way. One simple thing that impressed me at the very beginning was seeing people here have their self-made little sized cotton bags for loose fruits and veggies. How simple is that? – I have never even thought about making little cotton bags for myself, it hardly takes time to create these and saves the hassle of having to pack your apples or other small items into more useless plastic.

(A bit of a side note here, the other day I listened to an alternative radio programme promoting a newly released film – a documentary called "Addicted to plastic". The film which is based on wide scientific research talks about the effects of plastic on the human body. One thing that stuck with me then is that average life span of a plastic bag, meaning the time its actually been is use, is in average no more than 10 mins.)

The milk – though I am currently experimenting how I am doing without - I can get from a milk store down the street which sells fresh milk out of big metal barrels. I can bring my own small pot with a lid or kettle in the morning without having to use any of their packaging (liquids are also sold in plastic bags) to carry it home. At another local food store I can get local grains, rice and pulses which they sell per kg from huge bags and again are unpackaged, one only has to remember to take along enough small bags from home. All of the above and Shikshantar’s inspiration to change who you are by changing what you eat, by also offering daily delicious healthy and mostly vegan lunches, which include local grains, zero oil preparation and seasonal veggies and fruits left me with a great experience of being able to eat well – taking good care of my health, while reducing massive amounts of waste. Who would have thought living biologically and environmentally sustainable could be that easy?

The initial reaction to all of that might be that this is India, where things are of course very different, but my experience has been such an eye-opener that I started believing that minimizing my consumption cycle is possible in any country – it all started within my own mind of what I think I need in which way and being clear what I want to break out from. This I think is the hardest obstacle to take in the end, overcoming your habits which you have had for so many years and became a second skin you got comfortable with.

The relevance to ‘minimize my consumption cycle’ has been one of the greatest insights since my arrival here. With that I am referring to start living more connected to the land again, if possible most preferably grow my own vegetables, collect my compost and make my own soil, buying locally grown products, etc. Like this complex and large cycles of dietary needs, can be massively simplified. The other simplification of my every day consumption cycle and a massive contribution to zero waste management is to consider which things do I really need and which ones could I make on my own? In the time that I stayed here and with various passing visitors and smaller demonstrations I was fortunate to see Aloe Vera masks and soaps being hand made, bags being sown from recycled clothes or other various utensils and jewellery was made from usually as garbage considered items, such as old magazines, coconut shells, plastic, and so on.

All of this really triggered my imagination and creativity, generating various ideas how I could simplify my life back at home to bring more of that energy and approaches to zero waste management back into my house and local communities. While bursting with that strong drive to bring these newly gained habits back to my everyday life in London, I frequently had flashbacks remembering how my grandparents in Hungary and Poland still live the life that to some extend I am trying to return to. My family in Hungary has almost all their dishes and pottery being hand made by my grandma, the curtains and other textiles in the house being sown and the food that is prepared for lunch or dinner is coming straight from the garden (earlier blogentry fromHungary on that). I also remember my mother telling me stories of her upbringing in a small village in the mountains in Poland where life was pretty much what we would call self-sufficient, sustainable or organic, just this was normal way of living without any particular labelling yet. When travelling through Romania and Bulgaria in August, I realised in probably many more Eastern European countries lif for the majority of the populations is exactly still that. The very unfortunate side of things is that most people there are all very eager to modernize their lives by adapting to our processed, disconnected and wasteful living standards in the name of progress.

There is a really great short documentary on the story of stuff (20 min long) - I totally recommend seeing it!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Becoming Shapeless - Bodywork in California

End of August I arrived in Petaluma, the North Bay Area of California and one hour north of San Francisco. I took a break from travelling for a month and was very lucky to find a nice quiet place outside the city. I visited two seminars at the Strozzi Institute on Embodied Learning and Leadership and for the first time also started taking Aikido classes.

While my trip before then has been much around reconnecting to my past and roots, visiting family and friends and about being in Nature, my stay in California was very much about exploring the being in the presence - mainly about paying attention to the body, on bodily conditioned patterns we develop over time, practices and movements. Spending the last weeks in Petaluma and the Strozzi ranch has been quite an impacting and uplifting experience, as it has helped me to integrate different embodied energies and enhance body-mind integration. At one point in the middle of the seminar I remember waking up the next day and having the sensation of feeling ‘shapeless’. As it was mentioned to us the next day “some might feel shapeless as they are moving away from one shape – their conditioned patterns to a new shape”.

My trip to Petaluma was totally unplanned, my plan was to go from Istanbul straight to India and from there spend the last months in Brazil. End of July I felt a strong pull to get in touch with the Strozzi Institute and explore the possibilities, the conversations went that well that I spontaneously booked a flight and changed plans to visit India in October. It seemed to be exactly what I needed to bring my previous experiences and reflections nicely together.

I find it rather difficult to articulate all of that in an easy comprehensible way, given that most of what I am talking about was a “felt experience in the body” in the realm of body and emotional intelligence as opposed to insights and understanding in the realm of mind intelligence. The work of the last couple of weeks has also showed me how much I still use to live in my head and how difficult it is to let go of my ‘mind habits’ even after all the somatic experiences and practices of the last year that helped me so much already in becoming more body aware and intuitive, I still feel the distance and continuous path to full integration.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

San Francisco

Aikido Magic at the Strozzi Dojo

For the month, that I am staying in Petaluma, CA, I am going to Aikido classes 3 times a week and absolutely love it. Last week after class, I wrote down the following ...

I experienced Aikido today like music making, as vibrant, flowing, dynamic and magic.
I had this experience of forgetting about my body and just connecting my centre and energy to somebody elses centre and energy....exploring this with curiousity, like tuning an instrument to find the right tone, I tuned in to another persons vibration to find the right tone, to create movement. Not my arms or legs were making the moves and leading the person to the ground but my energy coming from the centre which hit the right tone and found alignment in and with someone else. When this tone was hit and alignment found, it was easy to move the other to the ground without hardly moving your arms or using any strenghts, just coming naturally from your centre of gravitas, your hara or source.

To cope with the moves, I had to almost forget my limbs and focus on my centre and energy flow and welcome the other, connecting to the other persons energy flow (ki). Let the body move as it wanted to move. An amazing experience of intuition and Ki.

There was a lot of magic in my Aikido class, I learned a lot today taking on moves that looked so damn hard. Its amazing how all these experienced teachers and blackbelt practitioners were taking care of me, with much patience letting me experience the moves and also allowing me to try these on them, with the right amount of exploration and guidance, always reminding me to recenter as the core strenghts and reconnect to the flow of the other, feeling into his body, his spine, almost anatomically moving down within the "opponents" body. The more welcoming, accepting, relaxed and connected I was with the other, the more powerful the moves and the falls. The one falling then experienced me as gentle and almost warm towards them, holding in a way but also very powerful in executing the moves.

Aikido is the "Way of Peace," or "Way of Unifying Life Energy" a martial art aimed at harmonizing the body and spirit with the natural forces of the universe. (The Secrets of Aikido, John Stevens). Ai means "to come together, to blend, to join, to harmonize" and ki, which has different meanings but in this context means "spirit" or "disposition".

Aiki as the universal principle that brings all together, reflects the grand design of the cosmos, the union of body mind and spirit and to live together in harmony in a state of mutual accord.
Morihei Ueshiba - the founder of Aikido had a vision of aiki that corresponds closely to to the notions of integritas (wholeness) and consonantia (harmony) in Western Philosophy. Integration between - between body and spirit, self and other, humankind and nature, truth and beauty - is a condition that all people should strive for, and integrity is a moral state as well: those who are whole can act in the best and fairest manner.

Reading this lines again - I feel like Aikido is the context for my stay in California and beyond, as everything that I experience, I find in Aikido and everything that I learn and notice in Aikido, I see show up in life. There is invaluable learning in the moves and the relationship with one another that I experienced in the dojo, that I am looking to integrate into my everyday life. Looking forward to contiuinng the practice in London.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Aikido Magic

I experience Aikido today like music making, as vibrant, flowing, dynamic and magic.

I had this experience of forgetting about my body and just connecting my centre and energy to somebody elses centre and energy....exploring this with curiousity, like tuning an instrument to find the right tone, I tuned in to another persons vibration to find the right tone, to create movement. Not my arms or legs were making the moves and leading the person to the ground but my energy coming from the centre which hit the right tone and found alignment in and with someone else. When this tone was hit and alignment found, it was easy to move the other to the ground without hardly moving your arms, or using any strenghts, just coming naturally from your centre of gravitas, your hara and source.

To cope with the moves, I had to almost forget my limbs and focus on my centre and energy flow and welcoming and connecting to the other persons energy flow. Let the body move as it wants to move. An amazing experience of intuition and Ki.

There was a lot of magic in my Aikido class today and I thought you might like to read about it ;) I learned a lot today taking on moves that looked so damn hard. Its amazing how all these experienced teachers and blackbelt practitioners were taking care of me, with much patience letting me experience the moves and also allowing me to try these on them, with the right amount of exploration and guidance, always reminding me to recenter as the core strenghts and reconnect to the flow of the other, feeling into this body, his spine, almost anatomically moving down within the "opponents" body. The more welcoming, accepting, relaxed and connected I was with the other the more powerful the moves and the falls.The one falling experiences me as gentle and almost warm towards them, holding in a way but also very powerful in executing the moves.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Budapest to Istanbul

This entry is mostly flips - short videos with impressions from my trip - hope you can see it all alright.

Back in Budapest

Early August I arrived back in Budapest, travelling by train from Munich overnight in a wonderfully comfy sleeping wagon which I had all to myself. There were enough empty wagons, so the ladies from my cabin decided to take another one for themselves. That was probably the best travel comfort I ever had while travelling low budget and eco friendly.

Truong and Bettina - arrived shortly after from Berlin and as we made it back into town from the airport we went straight into birthday celebrations and a Hungarian warm welcome with Palinka. The day finished as it started with even more Palinka. (Sorry no subtitles yet on the flip below)

Palinka from mokoflip on Vimeo.

Romania - Transylvania
Few days later we sat in an overnight train to Bresov, Transylvania, where the hiking and journey to Istanbul began. Being in the South Carpathian mountains and forest - the largest mountain range in Europe with up to 2,500 m (8,202 ft) - has been one of the best experience of my trip so far. At some point Truong and Bettina moved on to the Danube Delta at the Black Sea and I continued another week on my own, enjoying the hike up and down the mountains through endless wild forests which still have bears and wolfes. I must have walked between 8 - 12 miles a day in average. I think I have never done that much walking in a week time and for me who has been more or less glued to a bike most of my life, this was quite an experience. I enjoyed the path more than reaching a particular destination, taking my own pace, sometime superslow and steep, sometimes running downhill or discovering interesting things along the way. Leaving Romania left me incredibly grounded and content.

Some impressions on the flip...

Tree hug from mokoflip on Vimeo.

Bridge over waterfall from mokoflip on Vimeo.

Dance in the woods from mokoflip on Vimeo.

- Transit
From Bucharest to Istanbul I took a train which took 20 hours in total, leaving noon on Friday and arriving 8 am the other day. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Bulgaria we had a little stop over. Some fellow travellers from Slovakia and great musicians with bikes gave an uplifting performance and helped change the mood immediately. All the people left the train curiously to see them. We all loved it and the music magically helped the people to open up and connect more easily.

Waiting for the train in Bulgaria from mokoflip on Vimeo.

On the train from Bucharest to Istanbul I met Matz. Matz is also from Germany and it turns out, that he lived in Istanbul for 1.5 years! He even spoke some Turkish, very impressive. We had a nice relaxing day on one of the islands in the Marmara sea.

Why Istanbul? from mokoflip on Vimeo.

Meeting Truong and Bettina back in Istanbul, we had a good last nights dinner before my departure to San Francisco - eating really good fish dürüms in the heart of Istanbul.

Fish Durum from mokoflip on Vimeo.

Friday, 7 August 2009

The first 3 months - Making decisions can sometimes be the hardest…

Suppose you had the revolution you are talking and dreaming about. Suppose your side won, and you had the society you wanted. How would you start living, you personally, in that kind of society, start living that way now! Whatever you would do then, do it now!" (Paul Goodman)

Speaking to people about my trip always triggers all these wonderful associations with taking time off from regular routine at home. People seem to immediately imagine amazing time away, where you are free to do whatever you want to, have responsibilities, lean back, relax and enjoy yourself and all the things you usually don’t have time for, like travelling around the world, meeting friends, reflect on where you are in your life etc…at least definitely I have imagined a lot of that and was part of what made me go.

I had some of my toughest times the last months sometime feeling totally lost in “the everything is possible space”, where I could speak about going to Israel one week and then think of Mozambique the other. Where I could think of having proper beach holidays at some point, but at same time see myself in Dojo for a month, meditating and practicing martial arts, see friends or spend a considerable time by myself in the mountains. It’s great to be on this sort of daydream- excursion when one sits in the bus on the way to work but actually sitting in front of my laptop having to make decisions arranging my route, knowing that I now finally have the time and some financial resource, freedom can be a burden indeed. Questions have been in the back of my mind…What am I REALLY drawn to do and WHY? Out of the huge list of the things I love doing and feel I want to follow, where do I want to put my focus? How do I invest my little money wisely?

Laying the path as I walk – enjoying the Learning Journey

As the sabbatical proceeded, I learned to slow down and be increasingly present to my intentions even in smaller every day activities. I learned a great deal about what my real purpose of the trip is and how I am crafting this learning journey as I am taking one step after the other.

“Paying attention to what we are doing provides a spaciousness that allows
self-inquiry to take place.” (Richard Strozzi-Heckler

I had to smile when I recently read the line above in a book, the first 2 months of my trip, every morning and evening I captured in much detail the activities and intentions of the day and reflections on those at the end of the day. This has helped a lot to shift my attention and awareness to be more sensitive to what enjoy in the moment. It's not a very forward looking energy, rather a very grounded in-the-moment-quality, most of the times pretty unconscious. I guess you know that feeling of when you least think about it you seem to have the best results or right decisions?. In retrospective it usually makes sense, I then ocassionally get some post-realisations like a “oh that’s why!” or “Yeah, all seemed to perfectly fit after all!”

Slowing down takes soo much time– after the first 3 months, basically 1st third of my trip, I can slowly feel at ease with the a more in-the-moment-focused attention and experience of living.

My legs are tingling to run but my sight is blurred – finding courage

The difficult part came when I needed to align or consolidate this approach to the actual material and commercial world of great deals or when getting involved with other people’s decision making processes that affected mine! How far ahead can I really plan while still make grounded decisions on future travel arrangements or any future plans?

It was a little disturbing to have wasted some money on good-deal-pre-booked train tickets within expensive Europe when then at that time my entire body really asked for something else than going French-Breton dancing in Moulins-sur-Allier (and I honestly was looking forward to go for months).

The urge or necessity to plan ahead in the world we live in, in the last couple of weeks increasingly turned out to be an incredibly uncomfortable place to be in especially after having experienced how much richer and aligned my life has become when not jumping ahead of myself too much. There were a couple of days when I was glued to the computer, researching flights and felt incredibly pressured to make decisions. I was still waiting to hear back from my contacts in India (a learning village I was going to visit) and in California (a ranch and great institute for Body work). I was very, very excited and felt quite special about visiting both places and from both I was still awaiting the final green light and ok about a last minute swops of dates from my side because “it felt right”.
At the same time a lovely and very patient travel agent, who by then has spent a lot of time checking flights, connections and deals and came down to ensuring me the final offer is an amazing deal which indeed it was. Travelling to all the remaining countries I wanted to go to (India, Brazil and to California) for only about 1000 bucks was hardly worth arguing about. Of course as life has it – it only lasted till end of day which was then about 4 hours remaining before the close of offices on a Friday afternoon and still had no reply from either India or California. Incredibly hectic! This whole felt marathon of arrangements, search for options and communication etc made me be stuck and numb for days – holding breath all this time and losing any capacity to make any grounded decision even though I so wanted to complete this, likethe last run of finalising a proposal or thesis. By Tuesday I finally had enough from sitting at my desk, I gave up went into the garden and started seeing the sky and breathing again. There was nothing I could nor even wanted to do anymore. I didn’t hear back from both places until coincidently both came back to me almost the same time, the Friday after only. By then of course the deal was gone but it didn’t bother me anymore. I felt absolutely content with the decision made to go for the swop of order, both confirmed they were fine with that too. Once all the clarity was in place, booking the remaining flights was really peanuts and probably done in less than 30 min.

I was really getting the complexity of not just aligning yourself but aligning yourself with your environment. More than anything else, I felt it is a lot about having the courage to go with something I was sensing is right to me but haven’t yet entirely comprehended or come to peace with in my mind to feel confident enough to run with it. Having the courage to change plans, go against my and other perceived rights and wrongs, my judgements, go with something that might be seen less popular, say no to friends, or to invest quite a lot of money into something which wasn’t part of the story or visible at the horizon in the first place but somehow quietly called me has been invaluable to me still feeling like I am on course, more strongly so than ever before.

Returning to the starting place – getting ready for the next 3 months

Being back in Budapest the place where my journey started 3 months ago, turns out to be a good move. Remembering how different my time and exploration has been then but also tapping back into the serene, nurturing and lively place that Budapest always is to me. I feel I have found a lot of treasures, a bit like puzzle pieces. The difficult part is not to isolate them and clearly define each piece but to put them together to a fitting, elegantly balancing colourful image, which makes up the life I want to live. It makes me think I shouldn’t zoom in too much to identify the details with much precision but keep maintaining a peripheral view as long as possible before working on the details – like an artist working on a picture over a period of time.

The treasures of my first three months in a nutshell

Honour and maintain building relationships with important people in your life. It’s been invaluable to spend time with family and stay in touch with friends. Reconnecting and deepening the relationship– meaning actually getting to know them with fresh eyes and a new perspective.
Staying in touch with home and everyday life to some extent to not run risk to disconnect too much from the normal world but rather strive for an embodied new experience and routine of living which I can easily bring back and integrate into my everyday life in London.
Keep telling your story as it is unfolding to be present to it and to keep it alive for yourself and others, but also to see how it is developing, like a song and a melody that is written and maturing overtime.
Tune in and keep being true to present moment energy. Am I really doing what I ought to be doing now? Just because I felt right about it yesterday or two hours ago doesn't mean it’s still right for me now. It is also important to keep paying attention to finding a balance between trusting and following your intuition while still knowing when to keep commitments, being grounded and down to earth when taking decisions.
Find balance between spending time on your own and time with others.
Turning criticism, fear and doubt – most of my own – into learning, a gate to overcome and grow. My shadows keep coming back and pulling me regardless where I go. It’s a bit like fighting the demons at a gate in a computer game where you gain extra powers once you manage to beat them and get to the next adventure. ]
Be protective about daily balance between routine, practises and fun times. Time to lean back to relax and enjoy my trip as if there was no tomorrow – Checking-in regularly with myself e.g. through centring and other practices to increase body awareness have helped me a lot to also get a better sense of my present mood and emotions.
Trust yourself like no other – following your intuitive pace and flow. Criticism and doubt from others can hurt. It can be spot on but also can be totally off the shore. Staying with my intent and energy, my pace and inner sense even , when I trust my friends and respect their judgement and plausible views about where I am at, - has helped me to stay in a grounded place, feeling right and content about the steps I am taking. Silence and paying close attention to how I feel about something is my secret union with my most trusted advisor.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Travelling back to Hungary

After leaving Dover, mid July I stayed at a friends place in Paris in a quartier (Maisons-Laffitte) which very interestingly has probably more horses than cars. It’s known for its horses, course, stalls and everything around horse sport. This was totally new to me. It’s nothing unusual to see people riding horses early morning in Hyde Park, near Buckingham palace. Obviously I thought, aristocracy in Britain is still more present in the 21st century than anywhere else in Europe, but France? Being in this part of Paris, indeed one could see horse trails, stalls and horses everywhere. Amazing. Walking down a park in a residential area, I passed this concours where some people practised horse jumping on Bastille Day.

In Maisons-Laffitte, a suburb in Paris

I couldn't find any place to stay in France and I decided to go back to Germany and see my family instead, which was a great decision. I got to see my brother the last week before he would be off to Argentina for 8 months. I wasn’t very innocent in his decision making process to go to Argentina. Argentina is fab, I could go visit him and really in the end it was a good chance to go abroad before he'll graduates from Uni soon and serious life and business starts kicking in. Being back in Germany for that long since I have left, and being around old childhood places, meeting old familiar faces rather surprisingly was odd and great at the same time. Reconnecting with places and people from my past, also allowed me see experiences, people and even myself in a new light.

Andrea and I studied archaeology in Bonn

Poppelsdorfer Castle in Bonn

Me on Mattes funky bike in Cologne

One night I went to a birthday and it turned out to be a proper pub night in Cologne. I thought I wouldn’t know anyone except for Mattes and didn’t expect to stay very long. The minute I entered the pub I stumbled into one friend I haven’t seen in 15 years and then another friend from elementary I haven’t seen in 22 years and like this a chain of further reunions and exciting conversations moved on and on. It was amazing, my whole mood and energy changed instantly from being a quick visitor to being very excited and super happy to meeting so many familiar faces, having hours and hours of talks and laughter, remembering times which were hidden under a lot of dust in the deepest corners of my memory, almost rotten to be forgotten forever. I ended up staying till early morning, chatting and playing my favourite during school time “kicker” – table soccer which I used to be really good at and hey nice surprise, still do pretty well in.

English Garden, Munich

My last stop in Germany was to visit friends in Munich, whom I lived with in Ecuador 8 years ago in an AIESEC intern flat and haven’t seen since. Their story is one of the most beautiful and touching that I could think of. When I was about to leave Ecuador in October, the two recently met and fell in love with each other. He was European and she Ecuadorian. It was all still very, very fresh and exciting but also difficult as they were facing difficulties to be with each other under the reign of a rather strict, traditional Ecuadorian father. Only a month after I have left Ecuador, in November I heard the news that two have married to free themselves from the restrictions they were facing otherwise and give themselves and their relationship the space to unfold more freely. Then they were both in their mid twenties, still studying in two different countries, having to face a long distance relationship for a period of time. Having had the chance to hear how they mastered all the challenges in the past years, moving countries, completing studies, reconciliating the divide and conflict in the family as a result of their courageous decision and dealing with complicated burocratic formalities and citizenship, I met an amazing couple and very strong love which has left me with huge inspiration for what their courage, trust and strong will could create for their lives.

Synchronise went life!

While I was spending some days in Paris I also finally got to finish my website synchronise, which promotes some of my work and the work of others, mainly coaching, learning design and facilitation. The further development of this platform and approach to mind-body work will be strongly influenced by the learning journey I am on and studies on Embodied Learning along the way. Regardless of its future developments, the timings seems to be just great to offer support to others as a “travel-coach” and do some of the work virtually while still enjoying my journey.
Speaking to friends, young professionals and other Londoners it seems with the current times of uncertainty and changes in our economical, ecological and even social landscape, more and more people are asking themselves who they are and what their life and work is about. Some even took of time, same as I to explore these questions while travelling and our paths might cross somewhere. Looking forward to supporting others on their journey wherever they are.

If you have any friends in your circles who are on a similar journey and might be interested in further support from a travel-cooach like me, please forward a hint orthe link to my website.

Many thanks!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Everything has a deep dream

I've spent many years learning how to fix life,
only to discover at the end of the day
that life is not broken.

There is a hidden seed of greater wholeness
in everyone & everything.
We serve life best when we water it and befriend it.
When we listen before we act.

In befriending life, we do not make things happen
according to our own design -
we uncover something that is already happening in
us and around us and create conditions that enable it.

Everything is moving towards its place of wholeness
always struggling against odds.

Everythings has a deep dream of itself
& its fulfillment.

by Rachel Naomi Remen

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Bienvenue en Paris on Bastille Day - 14 July

Monday the 13th I left the UK again, this part of the trip now by train or boat, started off with the intention to first go to Southern France, Le grand Bal d'Europen, one week of dancing and camping near Lyon before heading back to Eastern Europe via Germany.

Just shortly before leaving I somehow felt increasingly uncomfortable with idea of the dance, the masses, yeah even the camping ... rather confusing and unsettling. I was looking forward to the dancing and french charme for so long - as a matter of fact, the only part of my travel where all the train tickets were booked in advance -in the end somehow the timing didnt seem right. When I was describing my unsettling feeling to a friend, saying "I'd rather do something else, maybe spend some time at the sea, read and catch up with some writing", he simply and apathetically replied: "Well, then why dont you?"...hmm, true! Until then I felt pretty stuck, going up the walls feeling urged to make quick decisions, it simply took someone else to ask me that question of "well what else would you prefer doing? or why not change plans?" to see the horizon behind the clouds again, to open up new possibilities, yeah why not change plans? So I decided to first see my friend Brian in Paris as planned and then look for a place at the sea side instead.

Somehow good timing as I got to arrive the night before the grand Bastille Day, with grandiose celebrations, fireworks and bands playing on the streets. It was great to see that a nation possibly could come together at one day of celebrations, where the streets in the centre of its capital are blocked and everyone, old and young gathering at various places like the Place du Bastille to meet, to dance, to celebrate. I was wondering if there is anything comparable in Germany? Couldn't think of anything. Couldn't quite think of anything in any of the countries I have lived in, except for the very orange Queens Day in the Netherlands which always is quite spectacular. In these moments like these of beautiful european atmosphere of a warm and still very light summer night I just love being in Europe, a few hours south, west or east and you'll find a new rich culture, sometimes language, and its rhythms, traditions and celebrations. Exquisite.

Being in another big Metropole, Paris is also always good for hilarious surprises, like this very hairy Mama, chatting to the police.

Very hairy in Paris from mokoflip on Vimeo.

The next day, the news mentioned that 137 cars were burned in the country over night. I don't get the whole care burning tradition that seems to be a very french thing. The other interesting cultural encounter, the massive parade that day which was also broadcasted on TV. There were state guests, from neighbouring countries and the "Chief Guest of Honour" of this years parade, the Indian Prime Minister of India, Mr. Singh.

As a matter of fact even the Indian armed forces "as a significant landmark in their history" led the massive Bastille Day military parade, - the first time that they were marching on a republic day or a national day of a country.

I couldn't help but sense the taste of Imperialism from when it was still prestigious to have numerous colonies and impose your divine culture to the rest of the world. There were military parades, horses shows, thousands of flags and more french tricolore in the sky from military planes flying over the Champs Elysee. I was wondering how Mr Singh must have felt seeing all the pompos show that day.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Visiting the UK: Storytelling, Dancing, Social Transformation and wonderful Nature

End of June I returned to the UK to visit friends and a couple of interesting events, such as the story telling weekend in Embercombe which I wrote about earlier, a 5 day retreat in East Sussex called Bodysong: Dance, Bodywork and reunion with the Feminine and a weekend with Don Beck and Spiral Dynamics in Action to create a vision for an Integral Brittannia.
I also took the chance to take some time off from London, visiting a friend in Shropshire and going camping in Wales' stunning Nature.

View Part II: UK in a larger map

Exploring ShinSomatics in East-Sussex
A friend of mine introduced me to various somatic practises who are coming from performing dances and bring a more feminine approach to body work, e.g. Sondra Fraleigh's work in Somatic Movement Tharapy and Education and ShinSomatics (in contrary to other somatic practises coming from the more masculine traits of martial arts - mainly Aikido).

I got hooked very quickly. The promise of the retreat, to tune in to my intrinsic creativity, connecting with powerful femal energy, deepen my mindbody wisdom through an embodied experience of the natural world, healing dances and an experience of transformation through gentle hands-on bodywork was definitly something I didn't want to say no to...Having been there, I am now considering to pursue this work further to become a certified practitioner myself.

Coming straight from the beautiful spot in Devon, I arrived at the rolling hills of the South Downs in Firle, East Sussex. The old house we gathered in, was right next to the famous Charleston Farm, which used to be a meeting place for artists and intellectuals such as Virginia Wolf and known as the Bloomsbury Group. Our Georgian country house called Tilton House, had its own very fitting story to tell. During the time of the Bloomsbury group gathering, it was inhabited by a famous balley dancer Lydia Lopokova from Russia, who was said to sometime be watched dancing naked on the loan during full moon.

The week was in particular special as it gave me a new experience of sensing and comprehending through the body which is rather hard to conecptualise or articulate in words. We didn't move or exercise a lot but it seems the subtle movements and hands-on work had quite an effect on all of us - organising and reorganising the body. Early evenings we were exhausted and to bed early every night. Coming out of the week I did feel I got a lot more sensitised to different people's body presence and energy, allowing myself to be more intuitive with others and more present.

Being back in London, at Don Becks grand seminar, I found it rather tiring to only operate from the head again, looking at theories, discussing big issues and sitting back to back in a room facing a lot of monologues. Shropshire and Wales were a welcoming change and seeing Snowdonia's National Park totally exceeded my expectations! The pic below with the lake is at Tal-Y-Llyn and the camp I stayed at was called CWMRHWYDDFOR Farm Camp!!! Any ideas how to pronounce that?

Moko in Wales from mokoflip on Vimeo.

Cool bands at the Brighton Loop Festival!

Enchanting Emiliana Torrini came last on Sunday and was a true delight to see. I didn't know her that well and was taken immediately by her charm, that witty spark in her eyes, her uplifting voice and captivating lyrics. Definitly a feast to see!!!

Emiliana Torrini 'Sunny Road' from Tom Lindsay on Vimeo.

Wicked Witchy Fever Ray - great band!

When I Grow Up from Fever Ray on Vimeo.

Exhilarating and defnitly my favourite group of the year, Portico Quartet!
And my main reason for visiting the Brighton Loop in the first place, what a shame they played almost first that day, while I was still having lunch with a friend right next door. Uargh! By the time we entred the venue, we heard the last hang sounds as they were just saying good bye to their fans.

Portico Quartet create wonderfully refreshing modern Jazz. They played at the southbank outside the NFT before they were discovered and the same year made it to the best Jazz Band 2007.

Having seen the rest of the day (and Emiliana was indeed a treasure), Portico's amazing 21st century classy tunes just had to be celebrated at the end of the day - whoever arranged the flow of the day - wake up to true talent man!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Storytelling as a vehicle for transformation

I went to a story telling weekend in Embercombe, hearing and telling stories in Nature and around the fire place. Mac the founder of Embercombe is a true master at storytelling and I learned a lot of ancient beautiful English myths.

Telling stories, personal but also stories of others can be a very compelling way to express where what you care about, where you come from, paint a picture of what you envision could be created to engage people, open their hearts and minds

Stories – as a seed for transformation - e.g. encouraging people to move from a consumer society to a citizens sustaining life society. Changing the stories by which we define ourselves (e.g. around scarcity and security) can change the human nature. Asking oneself what story am I part of? What story is unfolding or better do I want to see unfolding? Am I telling the story of tragedy or comedy? The outcome will be different depending on whether my energy and storytelling goes into the one or the other.

Positive empowering stories will also impact your energy and being. Storytelling in the end is so much about being in the moment, present and connected to really express your authentic self. In the end the content matters less than the very special place where the story comes from.

“Who you are speak so loudly that I cannot hear a word you say”

Some story telling tips:
- An exquisite example of a bigger picture is more powerful than the full story (being concise)
- Always speak from your heart and authentic self – it’s not a performance
- You determine the pace and rhythm of your story
- Know what message you have for your audience
- The more personal the more universal

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

On change

“If there is a solution to the problem, there is no need to worry. If there is no solution, there is no sense in worrying either.”
The Dalai Lama

I was reading an article the other day on Emergence, Community of Practices and Social Innovation. The article gave a perspective and guidance on how to deal with the complexity of changes in society, on the first sight it seemed an interesting piece of document, when I read it again it left me rather critical feeling, the language and approach seemed again so linear and old school. Nevertheless it evoked a series of reflections for me coming from personal experience on change and from stories and writing which have inspired me. A lot of my recent conversations with people have been around trying to find confidence and better ways to cope with the un-known and finding one’s place in the world. Implicit in all these conversation was the question around how to deal with and how to create change.

Rather than worry about critical mass to change the world, I think it is important to foster critical connections (inner and outer). We don’t need to convince large numbers of people to change; instead, we need pursue our inner journey and connect with kindred spirits. Through tapping into our internal wisdom and the collective wisdom coming from these relationships, we will cultivate a new way of living which will also affect the needed change in society on a larger scale.

When speaking of change we often think of changing systems, the way people think, changing politics, and we think of the ways of doing so, e.g. by building networks, communities of practice and action to bring forward new emerging systems which help transform our way of lives and the way society functions. There is an implication that only together by “joining up forces” we can achieve something big and bring about change. This assumption slightly takes away attention from our individual abilities to bring about change for ourselves and others. The ‘I’ is never really separated from the ‘We’, both our being and actions are influencing the We, same as culture and behaviours of the We always influence the I. It’s an intertwined dance.

It is healthy and nurturing to connect with kindred spirits and foster critical connections, cultivating and deepening relationships and through these allow a collective creative space to unfold where through co-sensing and co-presencing we move to co-creation, which brings about new realities. In this process (Theory U) through embodied mindfulness, conscious in-depth experiences, reflections and authentic sharing new systems will emerge more purposefully.

Equally important for the changes and conditions we are seeking to shape, is the cultivation of our internal condition of being, like a garden that we cultivate, paying attention, nurturing it with water or sun, growing it with compost and harvesting and celebrating its fruit, in its ever reoccurring cycle. This cycle of growth and the quality of our internal soil is strongly intertwined and influenced by with the cycles of growth and qualities of soil we find in the different communities we live in. If we don’t feel nurtured in our communities it is more difficult to nurture and maintain a healthy internal condition and equally more difficult to foster and be of service to our community and the best possible way we can be in service of.

David Bohm is talking about this interdependency between our being and the being of our community in his book “Thought as a system”. He describes how our current situation and the systems we are living in, is created and perpetuated by our thoughts.

“We started out saying the trouble is that the world is in chaos but I think we end up saying that thought is in chaos. That’s each one of us. And that is the cause of the world being in chaos. Then chaos of the world comes back adds to the chaos of thought.” (D. Bohm)

This system consists of our emotions, our body, our culture, and whole society and is all one process which cannot be broken apart. It’s a system – a set of connected things and parts that are mutually interdependent. This system pervades our whole activity. Often we are so used to seeing ourselves a certain way that we can’t get through the layers of ‘habitual identity’ to look through the jungle and find out what’s underneath, who am I? What do I need? What is my work? … connecting with our deeper purpose and calling.

"We may need to lose sight of who we thought we were in order to become who we are."
Barbara Hamilton

Through turning our attention to our deepest inner creative force, listening to develop an internal seeing using all our senses to be able to follow our rhythm and true calling, we create the conditions not only needed for ourselves but also for our environment and for society in large.

"The integrity of the entire universe is influenced by the degree of wholeness we attain individually." B.H.

This is where I feel next to our inner individual exploration, it is then again important to maintain the balance of the cycle of the We and the I. Not forgetting to reaching out, listening to the experiences of ‘fellow transitioners’, to their stories about who they are following their rhythms, articulating and sharing your own experiences and stories with others. Nurturing yourself and growing your inner garden beyond your ‘habitual identity’ and gradually and organically in interplay with your community cultivating common ground and a new way of living. This is the new emerging path, an impulse I am sensing and currently following, hopefully catalyzing and fostering a new order of living.

I often feel we have all wisdom within us to guide ourselves and yet we are stretching our throats like ostriches looking for theories, models, trying to grasp something that is outside us, looking for something or someone to follow and guide us.


Why does the soul not fly
when it hears the call?

Why does a fish, gasping on land,
but near the water,
not move back into the sea?...

What keeps us from joining the dance
the dust particles do?

Look at their subtle motions
in sunlight.

We are out of our cages
with our wings spread
yet we do not lift off.

We keep collecting rocks and broken bits
of pottery like children
pretending they are merchants.

We should split the sack
of this culture
and stick our heads out.

Look around.
Leave your childhood.

Reach your right hand up
and take this book from the air.
You know right from left don't you?

A voice speaks to your clarity.
Move into the moment of your death.
Consider what you truly want.

Now call out commands yourself.
You are the king. Phrase your question,
and expect the grace of an answer.