Author: Noorthe from the Netherlands

When I arrived here, I felt afraid. The first evening in the castle I met Ingrid. We had a powerful collision. She told me what we do here in the castle, we practice karma yoga, which is the practice of making your own ego-needs less important than that of the group or the higher purpose. She explained me this while holding my arm. This was frightening for me, because my storybook tells this gesture to be aggressive and unsafe. She told me, I could look at it in two different ways: I could make it bad and underline the horror written in my story book. Or I could think ´oh, how she has a strong personality´. This night in bed I was so confused, going through the pages of my story book to see if I have a reference to deal with this. I was deciding for myself if she was a crazy narcissist, or she had something genius about her that I could not recognize yet. Either way, I realize now that I was just going in circles with my mind, walking the everlasting loop of ideas and thoughts I had collected. I was stuck in a box, and by using my mind I could not recognize this pattern.

The next day at the breakfast table, I was crying. I was told the burn- out which I had been struggling with the past year was all in my head. And on top of that, it was said that my crying was just a cry for attention.

Ok. That seems pretty tough and direct, right?

It appeared to be just what I needed.

I was aware of my stubborn nature. The strategy I came up with to deal with being here was to put my stubborn ideas aside, and give these new ego-triggering ideas a chance. I opened my story book and made room for new chapters.

From this day on, 6 days a week I´ve been working 6 hours a day. This was very hard for me in the beginning. My overactive mind would make up all kinds of problems. I did not realize at the time that it was my mind that was bothering me. Luckily, Jim and Ingrid were kind enough to point out to me: ´Stop worrying so much, you are worrying too much.´ and then of course, I would worry about worrying too much.

In the morning from 6 to 7 we would do an exercise. The exercises vary from hatha yoga to meditation, power walks to Zumba, and we even did a family constellation once.

One subject that gets brought up a lot is group dynamics. We get a speech about it from time to time. We´ve been told about the importance of a group that works well together.

In our current society, and particularly the younger generation, we dismiss the importance of the group. We are all told that we are single beings, special and unique. Of course this is true, but it is only one side of the medallion. I realise this view is incomplete, there is something missing.

My ego was so dominant, coming up with issues about my own importance like ´am I getting enough, am I enough? ´. This would consume so much energy, it would leave me feeling depleted and scared.

After 3 days I reached a turning point. For this change to be able to manifest I needed: 1 an open mind, 2: new input, 3: discipline to practice and integrate these new ideas.

Because of the structure and pressure provided here, my trigger points were able to surface. It gave me a foundation to incorporate a new way of relating to things as well.

From here on I started practising living from the heart. I used my heart as a tool to gain happiness. I gained this by opening my heart, and giving love and understanding to others. Somewhere in the background my ego was screaming to me. But I understand now, that love is a lot bigger, and way more powerful. I am able to move away from the loop of the mind, able to move away from the story of my past.

This is where the story of the group comes in. It gives me so much joy to wake up in the morning and meet other people at the breakfast table. When my heart is open, joy flows from it naturally when connecting with others. I realise we are not individuals, we are something that works together, reacts to the moods of one another, changes and flows. This is what group dynamic is. However, the joy that can be felt within a group is largely liable to the mind-set of the individuals. If we choose to work together, to let love and happiness flourish in our hearts, a light and positively charging energy will be born from it. In contrast, if the individuals choose to remain stuck in their pain and ego- patterns, if they are afraid and are not willing to open up their minds to a new idea, the birth of a joyous energy will stay out. In the latter situation, disharmonies in the group are palpable. Which then triggers more negativity.

So what I practice now, is to give from an open heart. Feeling and giving love, feeling thankful. And I watch my world change. Now there is no reason to feel bad, to despair or fall back into depression. The meaning I give to my world, my interaction, my jobs and tasks I what I make of it. When I am scared, it will feel bad. If I let go, allow joy to flow to me in the here and now, realise my problems are only ghosts generated in the mind, I am able to see that life is simple and light. I feel good.

I watch my trees going into bloom, butterflies flying around and feel the sun kissing my face. I am blessed. Life is good, it is what you make it.