A cub of the Divine Lion, somehow I found myself confined in a sheepfold of frailties and limitations. Fear-filled, living long with sheep, day after day I bleated. I forgot my affrighting bellow that banishes all enemy sorrows.
O invincible Lion of the Self! Thou didst drag me to the water hole of meditation, saying: ‘Thou art a lion, not a sheep! Open thine eyes, and roar!’
After Thy hard shakings of spiritual urge, I gazed into the crystal pool of peace. Lo, I saw my face like unto Thine!
I know now that I am a lion of cosmic power. Bleating no more, I shake the error forest with reverberations of Thine almighty voice. In divine freedom I bound through the jungle of earthly delusions, devouring the little creatures of vexing worries and timidities, and the wild hyenas of disbelief.
~ Paramahansa Yogananda (Whispers from Eternity)
“I trust that everything happens for a reason, even if we are not wise enough to see it. When there is no struggle, there is no strength.” Oprah Winfrey
The well-known Greek Philosopher Aristotle, believed that everything happens for a reason, always. And that every experience in your life, was designed to shape you and reform you into the ultimate and greatest version, that could ever imagine yourself to be. The only thing that prevents this, is having the wisdom to see it.
1. In Times of Struggle
Every negative experience; every time of struggle, can then be viewed as an opportunity for tremendous growth. Alike to a caterpillar burrowing from its chrysalis. When all of its forming and changing is complete, its metamorphism has transformed it into a magnificent butterfly. It has shed its former skin, and flown on the wings of new life and a new way of being.
2. In Times of Healing
Some may find it hard to believe that everything happens for a reason, especially when experiencing grief or loss. At the time it may be very difficult to see the blessing in it, as all that is being felt is pain. But it is through our lowest points in life, where we gain the wisdom and allow for new-found strength to emerge. Without loss we wouldn’t appreciate gain, without grief we wouldn’t appreciate love. Without death, we wouldn’t appreciate life and without fear, we wouldn’t appreciate love.
3. In Times of Happiness
By far, the most victorious of all happen stances, when it all comes together in one moment, the AHA moment, as the metaphorical photo finally develops. When we reach the point, after all of the struggles, the self-substantiating realization beams through and we finally see the wisdom behind the subconscious choices we’ve made. Clarity shines through like the morning sun peeking out on the earths horizon.
4. In Times of Chaos
True chaos, cannot be chaos for as long as there is choice involved. Things may appear to be random, but as we all know appearances lie.
“To someone who can’t read, letters on a page appear to be randomly chose when in reality they are precisely ordered.”- Deepak Chopra
Meaningful coincidences and synchronicities may also be viewed as random events with no connection, yet to the eye of the beholder, those events would have a real purpose and meaning.
5. In Times of Reflection
We see the pieces of the puzzle begin to come together, each unfolding a beautiful picture. The pain, the turmoil, the struggles and the victories, each essential building blocks to the molding of who we are today in this present moment.
An unfinished product, always growing, learning and experiencing. And by reflection we see, why it had to happen the way it did.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life”- Steve Jobs
I used to dream, wish and hope for an amazing life—not just an okay life, but a ridiculously amazing life.
When I was younger, that dream had me rolling in style, of course, with fabulous clothes, a big house and a fast car.
As I grew older and wiser, the material wants and needs of my dreams changed—I simply wanted to be inspired and excited to get out of bed.
But that wasn’t happening…I was living within a shell of myself.
Sleep, wake, crawl out of bed, work, eat, sleep and repeat. And repeat. And repeat again. Snooze alert.
I found myself caught in a vortex of boredom with my dreams of a different life on hold. I was stuck. Not unhappy, just stuck, like a pot of overcooked pasta, heavy, uninspired and pasty.
That heaviness was not only settling on my ass, it was finding its way into my heart. And, all I wanted to do was sleep. And eat. And then sleep some more.
The problem was that this wasn’t the first time I experienced this; it was not a new story I was creating where I could put the blame on all the supporting characters. This was my own fault; I had built a decently successful business, had wonderful clients, friends, family and all that fun stuff. I was living in suburbia heaven with a nice car, good home and it was killing me.
Slowly and surely, I was dying inside.
I had worked myself into exhaustion and the stress I put on myself to succeed gifted me with a lovely autoimmune disorder—which was ironic, considering my business was teaching others how to create healthy lifestyles.
I was unmotivated, uninspired and unfulfilled; a walking, talking empty shell. Like a pretty puppet, I moved, acted, responded, but if you had taken the time to knock on my shell, you would have heard a resounding echoing emptiness inside.
So what did I do?
I woke up, took a hard look at my life and told myself to snap out of it. I made the decision to step back into my life, to take the bull by the horns and take charge of myself. No more excuses. No more blame.
It was time to start living from the heart…and it was then that my life started to become a bit more amazing.
It was then that I started to become a bit more amazing.
And, yes, it was that simple. The decision, that is.
I realized that the only way out of my spiraling vortex of un-fulfillment was through me. In order to create the life I dreamed of, I had to be the one to change. I couldn’t blame anyone for my choices, my dissatisfaction or my growing ass. I had to turn the mirror around and face myself.
And at first I peeked, not wanting to face myself. But, as time went on and I did the work needed, that mirror started to shine and reflect a happier me. And now, I can proudly say that I have fully and completely stepped into my life. And I try to do at least one thing to make my life ridiculously amazing each and every day.
Five ways to step into your life and make it ridiculously amazing:
As in, move, breathe and sweat.
You can’t be ridiculously amazing burrowing a hole into your couch or glued to your computer screen. (I know this because I tried. Massive fail! And what makes matters worse, that decently successful business I ran was a fitness business. How sad is that? I was inspiring others to move but couldn’t get myself on board!)
You have to get up and get your ass moving! Get the blood flowing, muscles fired up and the energy levels inspired. And the million excuses you have will come up, shelf them. If you can walk to the fridge, you can move.
I’m not asking you to hop off the couch and run a marathon, go for a walk, dance, do yoga, something. Just move. While you’re at it, move on to number two.
2. Check in and take notice.
One thing that is consistent is that life is continuously changing—and it will pass you by in the blink of an eye if you don’t take notice of it.
Start by checking in and paying attention to the little things that happen on a daily basis. I take the same route everyday to teach and each time I notice something different; it didn’t used to be that way. I used to drive mindlessly to client’s homes or to appointments and find myself 10 km down the highway with no recollection of what just passed me by. I had created a cozy vacuum of numbness that had me periodically checking out of life.
Now, I pay attention. I check in and stay present. Even when I’m doing something I do everyday, it’s become a mini adventure. I’ve noticed that anything can and will happen, but it’s up to me to take notice. So open your eyes, ears and mind. Rediscover your senses.
When you pause and actually notice the little things, what you see might surprise you.
Sweet, juicy, love.
Get the love juice flowing for your friends, family, partner and pets. Basically, anyone or thing that shares your space. Try to sweeten the pot with some unconditional love. Pets, easy. People; maybe not so much so try to practice first and foremost on yourself. Drown yourself in a giant pot of love juice. Be kind and nourishing to yourself in deliciously healthy ways because when we start to treat ourselves as though we are worthy, we set amazing things in motion.
After all, we can’t tap into love if we don’t love ourselves first.
Remember that four letter word?
If you don’t, seek out a niece, nephew, your child or a friend’s child. Watch, listen and learn. Life has enough serious moments without us purposely adding to the mix.
It’s okay to let loose and let your inner child come out and play once in a while. Be silly, dance, sing and laugh a lot. Don’t let anyone dampen your silliness. I did that and it wasn’t fun.
Now I play, a lot, everyday, with my crazy dogs, in the beautiful sea, on my yoga mat and with my boyfriend. They nourish my quirky side and allow me to be me. Which makes me smile a lot.
As a bonus, they’re helping me develop gorgeous laugh lines… much prettier than the frown lines I was working on before.
5. Leap outside your comfort zone.
Don’t think. Get like Nike and just do it! Leap, jump or dive into something that takes you outside your comfort zone, something that scares you a little or a lot.
I did this when I first arrived in Tulum. Shy, deathly afraid of house parties, I became a bit of a hermit back home. Once my shell started to crack open, I forced myself to do things that took me way outside my comfort zone.
The end result was I became more social, less afraid to attend parties or events solo. And it was so extraordinarily freeing, terrifying at times, but once the sweat stopped pouring, I noticed that I was not alone. And no matter what the outcome, I embraced every experience as an opportunity to spread my wings and grow.
Amazing things happen when we open the door to life and let our senses explore. When you step outside your comfort zone and try new things, visit new places, create new adventures, you give back to yourself ten fold. Embrace what comes up when you take a chance on life.
The good with the bad because it will help you grow as a friend, lover, mother or father.
Take charge of your life.
If you’re unsatisfied, do something—your life won’t change unless you create the change.
So get things moving, go dance in the rain, kiss your partner deeply, try a new taste, take the road less travelled, open your eyes and drink in the sights.
There’s beauty to be found in simplicity.
Make the choice to step up to the bat and hit a ridiculously amazing home run in this fabulously messy thing we call life.
It has been proven that highly creative people’s brains work quite differently than other brains. That special brain wiring that can create such wonderful art, music, and writing can often lead to strain in a relationship, because of those differences. If you’ve ever loved a highly creative person, you know that it can seem like they live in their own little word at times, and that thought isn’t far from the truth. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are in love with a highly creative person:
1. Their Minds Don’t Slow Down
The highly creative mind is one that is running at full speed all the time. Although it can be a source of crazy, spontaneous fun – it can also be a burden. Highly creative people rarely keep normal sleep cycles, and are often prone to bouncing from one task to another throughout the day. It can be exhausting to try to keep up.
2. They are Cyclical
The flow of creativity is a cycle, full of highs and lows. Some people may consider this “manic” behavior, but in reality, it is just how the creative process works. Keep this in mind as your partner goes through these natural ebbs and flows. The low periods aren’t permanent.
3. They Need Time Alone
Creative minds need air to breathe. Whether it is their own little work space or an escape to somewhere quiet, they need a time and place to be alone with their thoughts. Some people are inclined to think that if nothing is being said that there is something wrong, but with creative people that is not the case. They are just working within their own head.
4. They are Intensely Focused
When a creative person is on task, they are fiercely intense. The change from being scatter-brained to hyper-focused can be difficult to deal with, so just understand that it is how their brains work. Don’t get frustrated.
5. Emotions Run Deeper
Creative people feel everything on a deeper level. What doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, can be crushing to them. It’s that same passion that goes into whatever they create that drives them to love you, so understand that with the good – comes the bad.
6. They Speak in Stories
Creative people often express themselves in experiences, instead of just saying what they want to say. It is a way of sharing themselves that personifies who they are. At times, it can be difficult to figure out what a creative person is saying, so don’t be afraid to read between the lines.
7. They Battle with Themselves
Being creative can be a serious internal struggle. Motivation, enthusiasm, direction, and drive can all be issues for creative people. Some days it is hard for them just to get out of bed, and other days you can’t get them to slow down. Be patient in the lulls, because there is usually a burst of activity right around the corner.
8. Intuition is Important
Creative people, because of their intense emotional tendencies, tend to rely on intuition over logic. They go with their gut. Some people consider this to be more on the “impulsive” end of the spectrum. The creative mind doesn’t rely on logic to make a decision, it relies on experience and passion.
9. They Struggle with Confidence
When people create, especially for a living, they are always struggling with acceptance. That is art. They have to wear their hearts on their sleeves, and so they always question whether or not what they are producing is good enough. Being supportive is the key to loving a creative person.
10. Growing Up is Hard to Do
Creative people are almost always children at heart. That care-free nature can seem immature and impetuous – but it is all part of the deal. Understand that the aspects of their creative brains that you love are the same ones that make them somewhat irresponsible when it comes to being an adult.
Take these 12 quick and helpful tips to have a better experience at your next class.
Hydrate all day: Drinking water in the middle of your practice can mess with your flow, so arriving hydrated is necessary. Focus on drinking water all day long; you’ll be amazed at what a difference it will make.
Show up early: Rushing into the studio with a harried mind and no time to chill gets your practice off to a rough start. Allow at least 10 more minutes than you think you’ll need to have plenty of time to change clothes, check in with a cool mind, and sip on some tea, if you can!
Dress the part: There’s nothing worse pulling up the waistband of your pants or making sure your top doesn’t spill out of your built-in bra all class long. That’s not where your mind needs to be during your Downward Dog. Wear clothes that are fitted and comfortable, but not so snug that they’re distracting.
Grab props: More advanced yogis sometimes shy away from grabbing props, but there’s no harm in keeping them next to your mat. Grab a block, strap, and blanket before you take your seat. You’ll never know when you’ll need one.
Be quiet before class: I’m known to chat up a storm with fellow yogis in the moments before class, but do you best to stay quiet and turn inwards. Lay on your back or sit up with your eyes close to connect with yourself and prep for class.
Expect nothing: If this is the only piece of advice you take away from this list, you’ve learned a great lesson. Some days you’re going to be able to fly into a crazy arm balance and other days things are going to be more difficult. Every day our bodies are working with something different; don’t expect anything to look or feel a certain way.
Stop judging: You know that checking everyone out in the room isn’t a good use of your time, you might not even be aware of how much you’re comparing your progress to other students in the class. Keep your mind on your mat, and keep your attitude positive and full of possibility.
Breathe deep: It takes years and years to “perfect” your breath. Whenever a pose is feeling difficult or your feel some self-judgment creeping in, take deep ujjayi breaths in and out through your nose. They will help you release any tension or negativity and help you continue class with a more composed, calm perspective.
Listen to your teacher: Obviously, your teacher is going tell you which pose is up next, but don’t tune them out once you’re in a pose! I find that the tiny details or suggestions they offer once you’re in the pose are the real gems. One subtle tip could help you develop a completely new relationship with a pose that seemed too hard — or too easy!
Smile more: Yes, I know; this one is corny, but it works. Once you’re really flowing, your muscles have heated up, and your breath is connected to your movement, get grateful and start smiling. There’s no need to plaster an inauthentic expression across your face for 45 minutes, but there is plenty of opportunity to stop taking yourself so seriously during class. Smile and mean it; you’re taking care of your body just by being in class.
Try something new: If a pose comes around that you always skip or think you’re “not ready” for, try it tonight. The only way we conquer challenging poses is by experiencing the fear and moving through it. You might not nail it right away, but the only way you’ll eventually be able to hold it is if you try.
Stay in Savasana: Don’t leave or mentally check out during Savasana! Let all of your lists and obligations go; I promise they’ll be there after class. That five or 10 minutes of final relaxation is worth it, because you’re worth it.
“The world must be romanticized. In this way the originary meaning may be found again.”
What would you say is your manifesto?
Through photography, film and words we strive to romanticize the individualistic and digitalized world dominated by screens and displays.
We feel that humanity has jumped into virtual reality and we experience the overkill of information and it’s consequences.
It is our mission to bring this hurried world to a standstill, for a moment.
Your photography is full of beautiful landscapes. Where are these locations?
Our pictures have been taken all over the world.
We’ve traveled by car through Europe, stopping in countries such as Slovenia (where we took the nude picture of us in the forest, and our- Die Zwei -name was born. Italy where we swam in lakes and made friends with ducks. Morocco, where we got stuck in the desert, London, where we in the middle of winter swam in an ice cold pond in Hamstead heath. We are two people with one mind. We like to wear each others clothes (or 1 item together, the large trouser) We’d like to live in a tree-house, preferably one 0n every continent.
Love and standstill is my inspiration of the day. Go hug a tree and turn your phone off! Connect!
Sending universal love to all of you and your individual magic that you bring in this world.
LOVE LOVE LOVE !
Mélika Emira Baccouche
I guess we’re all two people. One daylight, and the one we keep in shadow.
— Bruce Wayne/Batman, Batman Forever
My remarks: Being modern, one of American civilization’s greatest weaknesses is its naivete in regards to the dark side of human nature. This reality gets conceptualized in different ways, as for example “the fallen nature of man” and “sin” in Christianity, “yin and yang” in China. This deficit in our culture owes in great part to the Enlightenment, a movement that emphasized a narrow understanding of reason, a reasoning which gives an inadequate account of how we “access” the deepest truths of human existence. Carl Jung is a great bridge for we Westerners to a way of life which can, after all, help us access those truths. A necessary step in this direction, however, is a confrontation with our self. Jung calls the dark side of the self “the shadow”.
Portrayals of the shadow in art: Darth Vadar in Star Wars. The Joker, in The Dark Knight. Mr. Hyde, in Jekyll and Hyde.
From The Portable Jung, edited by Joseph Campell.
Whereas the contents of the personal unconscious are acquired during the individual’s lifetime, the contents of the collective unconscious are invariably archetypes that were present from the beginning. Their relation to the instincts has been discussed elsewhere. The archetypes most clearly characterized from the empirical point of view are those which have the most frequent and the most disturbing influence on the ego. These are the shadow, the anima and the animus. The most accessible of these, and the easiest to experience, is the shadow, for its nature can in large measure be inferred from the contents of the personal unconscious. The only exceptions to this rule are those rather rare cases where the positive qualities of the personality are repressed, and the ego in consequence plays an essentially negative or unfavorable role.
The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge, and it therefore, as a rule, meets with considerable resistance. Indeed, self-knowledge as a psychotherapeutic measure frequently requires much painstaking work extending over a long period.
Closer examination of the dark characteristics – that is, the inferiorities constituting the shadow – reveals that they have an emotional nature, a kind of autonomy, and accordingly an obsessive, or, better, possessive quality. Emotion, incidentally, is not an activity of the individual but something that happens to him. Affects occur usually where adaptation is weakest, and at the same time they reveal the reason for its weakness, namely a certain degree of inferiority and the existence of a lower level of personality. On this lower level with its uncontrolled or scarcely controlled emotions one behaves more or less like a primitive, who is not only the passive victim of his affects, but also singularly incapable of moral judgment.
Although, with insight and good will, the shadow can to some extent be assimilated into the conscious personality, experience shows that there are certain features which offer the most obstinate resistance to oral control and prove almost impossible to influence. These resistances are usually bound up with projections, which are not recognized as such, and their recognition if a moral achievement beyond the ordinary. While some traits peculiar to the shadow can be recognized without too much difficulty as one’s own personal qualities, in this case both insight and good will are unavailing because the cause of the emotion appears to lie, beyond all possibility of doubt, in the other person. No matter how obvious it may be to the neutral observer that it is a matter of projection, there is little hope that the subject will perceive this himself. He must be convinced that he throws a very long shadow before he is willing to withdraw his emotionally-toned projections from their object.
Let us suppose that a certain individual shows no inclination whatever to recognize his projections. The projection-making factor then has a free hand and can realize its object – if it has one – or bring about some other situation characteristic of its power. As we know, it is not the conscious subject but the unconscious which does the projecting. Hence one meets with projections, one does not make them. The effect of projection is to isolate the subject from his environment, since instead of a real relation to it there is now only an illusory one. Projections change the world into the replica of one’s own unknown face. In the last analysis, therefore, they lead to an autoerotic or autistic condition in which one dreams a world whose reality remains forever unattainable. The resultant sentiment d’incompletude and the still worse feelings of sterility are in their turn explained by projection as the malevolence of the environment, and by means of this vicious circle the isolation is intensified. The more projections are thrust in between the subject and the environment, the harder it is for the ego to see through its illusions. A forty-five year old patient who had suffered from a compulsion neurosis since he was twenty and had become completely cut off from the world once said to me: “But I can never admit to myself that I’ve wasted the best twenty-five years of my life!”
It is often tragic to see how blatantly a man bungles his own life and the lives of others yet remains totally incapable of seeing how much the whole tragedy originates in himself, and how he continually feeds it and keeps it going. Not consciously, of course – for consciously he is engaged in bewailing and cursing a faithless world that recedes further and further into the distance. Rather, it is an unconscious factor which spins the illusions that veil his world. And what is being spun is a cocoon, which in the end will completely envelop him.
One might assume that projections like these, which are so very difficult if not impossible to dissolve, would belong to the realm of the shadow – that is, to the negative side of the personality. This assumption becomes untenable after a certain point, because the symbols that then appear no longer refer to the same but to the opposite sex, in a man’s case to a woman and vice versa. The source of projections is no longer the shadow – which is always of the same sex as the subject – but a contrasexual figure. Here we meet the animus of a woman and the anima of a man, two corresponding archetypes whose autonomy and unconsciousness explain the stubbornness of their projections. THough the shadow is a motif as well known to mythology as anima and animus, it represents first and foremost the personal unconscious, and its content can therefore be made conscious without too much difficulty. In this it differs from anima and animus, for whereas the shadow can be seen through and recognized fairly easily, the anima and animus are much further away from consciousness and in normal circumstances are seldom if ever realized. With a little self-criticism, one can see through the shadow – so far as its nature is personal. But when it appears as an archetype, one encounters the same difficulties as with anima and animus. In other words, it is quite the relative evil of his nature, but it is a rare and shattering experience for him to gaze into the face of absolute evil.