If you have a closer look at all the beauty that Mother Earth produces, you will notice that crystals will come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. And did you know there are over seventy different crystals with various healing qualities? How do you pick your favorite? And which one suits you best? There are a few ways to pick one:
Ask yourself these questions:
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You can also fill in our test! It will tell you exactly which crystal suits you best.
On the 28th of September, we will launch our online course “Working with Crystals”. This course will teach you in 9 modules how the power of crystals can create more balance, energy, confidence, and love and how they can affect your daily life. Sign up now and enjoy our Early Bird Discount, almost a 1000 crystal fans already did the same!
This article is part of our issue 5, 2019 ‘Living lighthearted’
Text: Hanny Roskamp
Seven soft, velvety smoothies in the colors of the seven chakras. Enjoy them slowly, one spoonful at a time…
For 4 bowls:
At least two hours before preparation, put 3 dl coconut yoghurt and a handful of blueberries in the freezer.
Bring water to the boil and pour it on 60 g raw, unsalted cashew nuts. Leave them to steep for 15 minutes. Drain the nuts carefully, then put them in a blender together with 12 fresh lychees, peeled and pitted, plus the frozen yoghurt and berries. Mix everything until you have a thick, soft smoothie. Fill the bowls.
Toppings: grated coconut / edible violets or other purple flowers / lychees / blue lotus tea
For 4 bowls:
At least two hours before preparation, put 200 g mixed summer berries (for instance red, white or black berries, raspberries, blackcurrants) and 200 g fresh pineapple chunks in the freezer.
Put the frozen fruit in a blender together with 1 tsp chia seeds and 2 dl blackberry or blueberry juice. Mix until you have a thick, creamy smoothie. Fill the bowls.
Toppings: nut paste / edible cornflowers or other blue flowers / poppy seed / blackberries
For 4 bowls:
At least two hours before preparation, chop 2 bananas and put them in the freezer. Put the frozen fruit in a blender together with 1 apple, peeled and cut into sections, 2.5 dl oat milk, and 1 tsp Blue Majik spirulina powder. Mix until you have a thick, creamy smoothie. Fill the bowls.
Topping: 1 tsp Blue Majik spirulina powder
For 4 bowls:
Preheat the oven to 160°C. On a baking tray covered with baking paper, put down 50 g cavolo nero, sprinkle with a little olive oil, and bake for 20 minutes until crispy.
In a blender, mix 1 celery stick, chopped, the leaves of 8 sprigs of basil, a generous handful of baby spinach, the flesh of 1 avocado, zest and juice of 2 limes, 1 tbsp matcha powder, 1 dl almond milk, and a handful of ice cubes. Blend until you have a thick, soft smoothie. Fill the bowls.
Toppings: crispy cavolo nero / grapes / pumpkin pips / pumpkin powder / green spirulina powder
For 4 bowls:
At least two hours before preparation, put 200 g fresh pineapple chunks in the freezer.
Preheat the oven to 110°C. Slice 1 lemon very thinly, put the slices on a baking tray lined with baking paper, and dry in the oven for 20 minutes.
Put the frozen pineapple chunks in the blender and add 75 g oatmeal, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp ginger powder, 1 tbsp sunflower seeds, the juice of half a lemon, 2 dl oat milk, and 2 tbsps Greek yoghurt. Blend until you have a thick, soft smoothie, and fill the bowls.
Toppings: dried lemon slices / passion fruit
For 4 bowls:
At least 4 hours before preparation, cut 50 g sweet potato in cubes, put them in a saucepan full of boiling water and boil them for 8 to 10 minutes. Rinse with cold water, put in a ziplock bag and place in the freezer for at least 4 hours. Put 250 g fresh mango chunks in the freezer too. Mix the frozen sweet potato and mango in a blender and add 2 to 3 cm fresh turmeric, peeled and grated; zest and juice of 1 organic orange, 1.5 dl coconut water, 50 g tahini, and 1 tsp cinnamon. Mix until you have a thick, soft smoothie. Fill the bowls.
Toppings: bits of dried mango / orange zest
For 4 bowls:
At least 4 hours before preparation, cut 50 g sweet potato in cubes, put them in a saucepan full of boiling water and boil them for 8 to 10 minutes. Rinse with cold water, drain, and put them in a ziplock bag in the freezer for at least 4 hours. Also put 100 g fresh raspberries in the freezer.
Boil 100 g chopped beetroot until done, then rinse with cold water and drain in a sieve. Put the frozen sweet potato bits in a blender with 1 dl water and mix smoothly. Add the frozen raspberries and the chopped beetroot, and mix until you have a thick, soft smoothie.
Fill the bowls.
Toppings: freeze-dried raspberries / edible pomegranate flowers or other red flowers
This article is part of our issue 21 ‘Practice Peace’
Recipes: Ajda Mehmet
Dance freely and use the tips for music and movement below to focus on specific chakras. There are also some ideas for rituals to match.
Why: To feel more rooted and grounded, to feel safe, to experience your basis.
Music: Ethnic and electronic music with lots of drums and beats. Didgeridoo sounds, low tones.
Movement: Leg and feet movements, emphasizing contact with the floor. As if you use your lower body to feel the ground, push it away, caress it, stamp it or ‘kiss’ it.
Ritual: The element for this chakra is earth. Make an altar with earth, leaves, bits of wood – anything that grows from the soil.
Why: To boost your sensuality, creativity and emotions.
Music: Jazz, soul and Latin: anything that makes your hips move.
Movement: Move your hips/pelvis most of all, in rotating motions and in a rhythmical flow.
Ritual: The element for this chakra is water. Use anything that you associate with water: put down some shells, or simply a container filled with water, to remind you of the quality of fluidity.
Why: This helps you work on your willpower, confidence, finding your identity, and transformation
Music: Pop, hiphop, rap, rock: rebellious music by people who rose up and found their identity.
Movement: This chakra is around your midriff. The movements that go with it come from the martial arts: punch, slap, kick.
Ritual: The element for this chakra is fire, because to burn is also to transform. Place candles in the room, or ashes.
Why: To feel love, gratitude, compassion and peace.
Music: Melodious songs, love songs, often in minor because that makes the feeling go to the heart.
Movement: Open your heart by opening your hands and arms in front of your chest, press your palms together in front of your heart, or swing your arms and hands back and forth together, in parallel.
Ritual: The element for this chakra is air. Use feathers – because birds fly in the air – and heart-shaped things.
Why: For more self-expression, to speak your mind, and to communicate clearly.
Music: Songs you can sing along to, literally to let your voice be heard. For example ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ or ‘Let it be’.
Movement: Allow your whole body to vibrate to the music. Feel your breath flow through your body, tremble, shake everything loose, hum, make some noise.
Ritual: The element for this chakra is sound. Set out bells and singing bowls and let them chime.
Why: When you want to work on your intuition, wisdom, imagination and concentration.
Music: Fusion world music, with various styles, languages and melodies in one track.
Movement: Move your head, face and neck, play with looking inward and outward, and stick out your tongue.
Ritual: The element for this chakra is light. Find some personal items that give you wisdom: jewelry or photographs of loved ones or parents, a story from which you learned. These items bring light into your life.
Why: To experience unity and oneness with the world, animals, people, the universe, everything.
Music: Spiritual music, mantras, overtones, singing bowls, meditation music, healing songs.
Movement: Become aware of the sphere around your body – and around everything. Feel the energy go up and down your spine, feel how all your chakras are working together. Stretch in all directions like a sunstar, like the person in the famous Da Vinci drawing.
Ritual: The element for this chakra is community, the whole. You can use mindfulness here, and if you’re in a group you can form a circle or do a group hug.
This article is part of our issue 21 ‘Practice Peace’
Text: Bianca Bartels
The ocean is vast, deep and fathomless. Sometimes she is smooth as a mirror, other times wild and rough. She is full of life, she takes it and she gives it. Here are eight gifts from the ocean.
Beach walks are great for emptying your head. It’s like you throw your cares to the wind, literally and metaphorically. Do you have something you want to let go of, so your life will get back into a flow? Write your wish on a shell in pencil, or hold the shell while you blow your intention into it, then throw it back into the sea.
For example, you can lovingly return a pattern of behavior that doesn’t serve you any longer to the person it came from (you don’t need to know exactly who that is). Together with the shell you return it to the sea, to the source. Thank it, wish it all the best, and leave the rest to the waves. Would you like to give something to the ocean itself? Do what shaman Little Grandmother does: take a crystal and blow all your love and wishes into it for clean water in which animals and plants can flourish. Then throw it into the waves.
Listening to your own sound can be done with the ujjayi breathing technique from yoga. It’s sometimes called ’the ocean breath’ because it sounds like the murmur of the surf. The sound is created when you ‘slow down’ your breathing in the back of your throat. It makes your body warm and your mind clear. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth while you gently say ‘ahhhhh’. You can feel your throat constricting a little bit. Another way is to imagine you are in front of a mirror breathing condensation on to it. Practice this a few times, then close your mouth and breathe in and out in a ‘murmuring’ way, through your nose, as long and as regularly as you can. Every time you breathe out, gently pull your bellybutton towards your spine.
Rare, shiny, rough-edged or perfectly round, pearls are often thought to be the ocean’s most valuable gift. They are formed inside pearl oysters, but sometimes also in other shells like mussels or sea snails. But they are so rare that you have to open about 15,000 oysters to find one pearl.
The formation of a pearl is a reaction to a grain of sand, a piece of lime or a parasite that makes its way into the soft inside of the shell. The mollusk covers that grain in layers of mother-of-pearl, with which the inside of the shell is also covered. That way it tries to protect the soft lining of the shell, and the result is a beautifully shiny pearl.
Oysters are often likened to the female sex organs, and that explains why they symbolize birth and sexuality. They also symbolize the water from which all life on earth springs. And pearls represent the moon that causes the motion of the tides.
Water gives life and takes lives – people have known this since time immemorial. Every culture that borders on the sea has had the necessary sea gods and goddesses, to be called upon for a good catch of fish, or to be placated for a calm sea journey.
The Greek goddess Aphrodite was born from seafoam. The vengeful Inuit goddess Sedna, who reigned over all sea animals, had to be shown great respect. And the Netherlands, a country largely reclaimed from the sea, used to have a sea goddess called Nehalennia. Temples for her were found in the Scheldt estuary. Seamen who returned safely from a voyage thanked Nehalennia by having votive stones made for her.
Ebb and flow, the waves that roll onto the beach and retreat again: this movement is found not only in the sea, but throughout life. Breathing in and out, giving and receiving, coming and going, expressing yourself and looking inward; the water reminds us that life means movement.
When you tune into that flow, by meditating on it, you can find quiet in a tempest, or comfort, or indeed new energy. Do you not live close to the sea? A CD of sea sounds will bring it into your home.
Also nice to do: create your own mala from treasures you find on the beach, like shells, rocks, or bits of wood. It will help you meditate.
A spiral is an ancient symbol of the journey of life, of growth and rebirth. It’s a shape you see a lot in snails and shells. The journey goes inward, deeper and deeper, right down to the core. The things you have experienced on your way there, the things you’ve learned and mastered, become solidified in the core so you can then bring them out again as wisdom. Every new experience is one you store inside, and you go a little deeper every time you do it.
They are intelligent, curious, playful, sociable, and there are countless stories about them: dolphins protecting or rescuing people and other animals at sea. No wonder a lot of people are into dolphins. The spiritual message of these animals is to do with the power of breathing and sound. Tension in your body, for example, can be released when you forcefully blow out your breath, the way dolphins do when they surface.
Dolphins use something called echolocation: the clicking sounds they make help them to determine their position and to observe shapes. Sound is a creative force. How do you use your words to create your life and to relate to others? Breathe new life into yourself, that’s the message of the dolphins. Combine intelligence with humor. Make a powerful show of who you are once in a while: rise above the surface, break free, be joyful! And never lose your playfulness.
Clean oceans are something we all benefit from, because the ocean’s plant life can contribute to our health. Seaweed and algae are a sustainable source of protein and iron. But the oceans are polluted, so they are usually grown in controlled waters. Oil made from algae is a plant-based replacement for fish oil, a source of omega 3 fatty acids. Algae oil capsules also come in a vegan variety: not made of gelatin, but of seaweed. Kelp is chockfull of minerals, iodine particularly, and also rich in vitamins A, C and E. It’s used as a salt replacement and it makes your skin glow. This is the kind of seaweed you can ingest, but you can also make a kelp powder bath to give your body and mineral boost.
This article is part of our issue 21 ‘Practice Peace’
Text Ingrid Melenberg
Some questions are timeless. And if wise Greek philosophers thought about ways to find happiness 2,000 years ago, why should we reinvent the wheel? Our resident philosopher Anne Wesseling delves into the ancient Greek world and brings us five wise lessons from Aristotle.
“Why would you spend your time studying the ideas of people who have been dead for hundreds of years?” someone once asked me. The answer is simple: because it makes you wiser. Because 2,000 years ago, people wrote sensible things about problems we still encounter every day. Take the Greek philosopher and scientist Aristotle. He was a student of the other great Greek thinker, Plato, and like his teacher, he had his own school of philosophy in Athens in the fourth century BCE. But their ideas could hardly have been more different.
Plato put his faith in theory, but Aristotle was all about practice, and he studied practically everything that crossed his path. We still have lives to lead and could still use some practical wisdom along the way. So here are five wise lessons from Aristotle.
Everything in nature works toward a goal, and that includes people. An acorn’s goal is to become an oak, and a human being’s goal is to become a successful person. That means expressing your true nature. You want to be part of a political community and try to live a good life, but above all, you want to be the best version of yourself that you have in you. This last goal is the most important when it comes to happiness. Happiness is not a goal in its own right, not an item to check off your list so that you can put up your feet and take it easy. Being happy means trying to do whatever you do as well as you can, so that you can be the best possible you.
The things that give us pleasure are the same things that help us to achieve our goals. You say you have no idea of your purpose in life? Then start by investigating what gives you pleasure, because that will point you toward your life’s goal. Look at children: some of them love making music, others are creative, and still others spend all day building huts.
Aristotle wrote a thick book about ethics and virtues—in other words, about how to live. As always, his basic principle is practical: face up to your own weaknesses and work on them. Virtue lies in the middle. Take money, for example: you don’t want to walk around with hole in your pocket, but you don’t want to be a scrooge either. The happy medium is generosity. Likewise, you don’t want to brag, but false modesty is no good either. The happy medium is truthfulness about yourself—you might call it self-confidence. Finding the happy medium isn’t always easy. Consider the case of anger. You don’t want to lose your temper left and right, but if you never get upset, people may take advantage of you. Aristotle writes, “Anybody can become angry—that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, and to the right extent, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way—that is not easy.” (Nicomachean Ethics, Book II). You never stop learning. Finding the happy medium is a question of trial and error.
Being good isn’t a personality trait; it’s a habit. You don’t do good deeds because you’re a virtuous or excellent person. On the contrary, you have those traits because you do the right things. You become brave by doing brave deeds. You become friendly by acting friendly. You become generous by giving things away. In the early stages, it doesn’t happen automatically but takes some thought. But the longer you keep at it, the easier it becomes, until it’s automatic. Don’t expect that to happen from one day to the next; you can go on improving yourself your whole life long. Keep trying. Don’t be discouraged if you fail sometimes. You can always try again. In short, you don’t have permanent personality traits; you acquire those traits through the things you do. (Hey, Aristotle was the inventor of the mindset!)
You can’t be happy without a little help from your friends. There are friends you have fun with, there are friends who are useful to you, and there are friends you admire for their approach to life. The last kind are the best. They give you something to strive for, and you keep each other alert. What’s true of happiness is also true of friendship—it’s a verb. But unlike love, it’s always reciprocal: you can love someone who doesn’t love you back, but friendship runs both ways. It demands loyalty and initiative. You have to be there for friends in need and let them into your life. How do you make friends? Aristotle says, “Do nice things without being asked—and don’t brag about them afterwards, because then you’re mainly doing them for yourself.” By the way, you don’t need a lot of friends. You only have a few really good friends in your lifetime.
Read the whole article in our issue 21 ‘Practice Peace’
Text: Anne Wesseling
Why do women feel strong and cheerful one day, but drained and small the next? The philosophy of yoga tells us it’s because of the moon centers in the body. Discover how knowing more about them can make your life a little easier.
You get up in the morning feeling great, you glow, you’re ready to take on the world and eager to get going. But in the course of the day your mood fades, your energy drains away, and all you want to do is flop on the couch with a book. How can your spirits sink like that, seemingly for no reason? As if a bad mood came falling out of the sky? It’s because of your moon centers, Yogi Bhajan (1929-2004) would say. He’s the one who brought kundalini yoga, a form based on very ancient yoga wisdom from the Himalayas, to the West. The idea in this yoga philosophy is that the moon affects us in a big way, particularly women. In one of Yogi Bhajan’s lectures, which has been preserved, he explained the effect of lunar energy and the various moon centers. There are eleven of them: eleven spots on the female body that pick up the moon’s energy, as it were, and respond to them, not only physically but in other ways too. According to yoga philosophy, we have several bodies: not only a ‘regular’ one but also a mental, an energetic and a spiritual body.
Moon centers are a woman’s most sensitive and erogenous zones, like neck, vagina, clitoris, lower back and inner thighs. The moon’s energy shifts along these spots in a fixed sequence, and the chin is the central spot. This energy shift runs parallel with the phases of the moon, so in a 28-day cycle. It means the lunar energy moves on to the next center in about two and a half days.
In the yoga tradition, emotions and moods are connected with very concrete, specific places in your body, so your mood changes with the phases of the moon. When the moon energy focuses on a woman’s clitoris or vagina, for example, she will be sociable, extrovert and charming. Lunar energy around the belly button and lower back can evoke feelings of vulnerability; lunar energy in a woman’s ear lobes make her extra critical.
The days when this moon center is active are the best of the month. You are at your best: balanced, self-assured and authoritative. You approach the world with confidence, you are quick to understand things, and you won’t let your emotions run away with you. You are the closest to your truth, to your uniqueness, and it gives you strength. Things seem to flow and fall into place perfectly. This is a good time for making decisions, doing presentations and exceeding yourself. And you do all these things effortlessly – you’re on a roll.
This is a time for paying attention to what passes your lips. What do you say? How does the communication go? You have the gift of the gab on days like these, which is nice, because your words carry weight and people listen to you. But there is danger too: your words may uplift and inspire or alienate and destroy. You need to use your sensitivity and be cautious. If in doubt, be silent. On the plus side, your lips are extra sensual, so these are days for kissing!
When the lunar energy focuses on this center, the emphasis is on rationality and values. What is important to you? How can you achieve it? This is a time when you are at your most analytical, ready to debate the things that really matter. It’s a good time to do political work, or discuss what values you want to uphold at work or at home. You get things done.
When the moon center is in the vagina, you are sociable and outgoing, but it has a deeper quality to it as well. You want to connect in a more intimate way and spend time with others to find the core issues and the essence of life. This won’t always work, not with everyone – so maybe you feel the need to be by yourself. It’s a good time to meditate.
You are charming, sociable and outgoing. This is a good time to wear a new dress to a party, make new friends, grab the phone. With the moon energy in this center, it’s not a good time to balance your checkbook or analyze you relationships at home or in the workplace. Go out and use the moon energy to make new contacts, bring people together, and expand your network.
Eyebrows are sensitive, so when the moon exerts her influence there, you are dreamy. You have imagination, you’re creative and you fantasize away. Write, sing, make music, paint, try something new, play with children, do some mind mapping. Dream about the future? Now is the time.
The “pinks of the cheeks” can be a tricky time because you have a tendency to be emotional, fickle or unpredictable. You say things you don’t mean, or they come out wrong – and it will literally bring a blush of shame to your cheeks. This is a time for self-discipline. Try to count to ten before you blurt something out, and put off buying things until you’re absolutely sure you need them. Emotional situations are best avoided right now.
This is a time of carefree joy, a time without limits. It’s a good moment for brainstorms, making plans, and giving free rein to your imagination. You may be less patient with things like chairing meetings, doing precision work or setting boundaries. You feel like flirting and taking risks. You may be a little capricious, but you get away with it.
When the lunar energy is in this center, it’s a sensitive and intimate period. You are open to others, warm and compassionate. A surprise for a loved one, a pan of soup for your neighbor, a helping hand at school: you do it all with love. But watch out, don’t promise too much and only do what you can handle – the lunar energy will shift away in a couple of days!
When the moon center is in the thighs, you’re bursting with energy. These are wonderfully productive days: you get up early, you’re in a flow and you get a lot done. You’re eager to cross off all the things on your to-do list. This is a good time to tidy up loose ends, but also to start planning new projects.
When this moon center is activated, you may feel insecure and very vulnerable to criticism. This is a good time to take a step back and recharge your batteries. Try meditation, writing in your journal, reading a good book, dancing, or seeing a movie. Allow inspiration to come to you.
Read the whole article in our issue 21 ‘Practice Peace’
Text: Anne Wesseling
She wrote the book How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t and she speaks from experience. These days she coaches people using the Brené Brown method and has some twenty thousand followers on Instagram. Here are the seven most important insights according to Andrea Owen.
Take responsibility for your own happiness
“I spent years thinking it was my job to explain to other people how they’d be a lot happier if they changed. I just couldn’t understand why they didn’t get it: they’d be much happier if they just started behaving like I thought they should. But I forgot to look at myself.
The thing is, you’ll never get total control over other people’s behavior and the decisions they make. All you can do is know what is important for you, and show the best you’ve got in any given situation. Learn not to avoid the difficult conversations, but also to draw the line. Say what you have to say without turning nasty or starting a fight or becoming too demanding. Be kind, be honest. That’s taking responsibility for your own happiness.”
Find help for traumas and addictions
“Almost everyone has been through tough times in their childhood, with one or two actually traumatic experiences because they were too young to know how to deal with them. Things like important people dying, or disease, or sexual abuse. We often tend to play down our own bad experiences when we compare them to other people’s that seem much worse. But everything that happened to you when you were too young to have the skills to process it is a trauma. And you really need to get help from a good therapist, because it will not go away by itself. You bring your traumas into every new relationship. You end up in negative behavioral patterns again and again because you keep expecting subconsciously that the thing that happened before will happen again. So you try to protect yourself, and you end up doing it in a way that doesn’t work, that isn’t healthy – for example numbing your feelings with drink or drugs or pills.
I grew up not wanting to feel any of the difficult things like pain and sadness. But the danger is that they transform into anger. Anger is always based on pain. Something or someone has hurt you and you get angry, you attack, you accuse someone or you get nasty. It’s a good idea to do something about that pain instead of pushing it away. You could try some inner child work, or talk to someone you feel safe enough with to tell the whole story. I myself did EMDR and it worked great for me. I used to be pretty skeptical about emotional work with the body; I preferred processing my problems with my mind. But your body holds on to emotional pain and remembers psychological wounds. So you drag them along with you your entire life if you’re not careful.
When I had gone through a tough divorce, emotional body work was a tremendous help to me. I had lost not only my husband but also his children. They had been my family for thirteen years. I had to process all that loss and it was very hard for me to learn to feel the pain. That’s why I had the word ‘surrender’ tattooed on my arm, because that is what I had to do. As soon as I was able to surrender to it, everything changed. It turned out feeling the pain was easier than trying to fight it all the time.”
Know your values
“Your values are a map of your life, or a kind of compass. You want to be proud of who you are. A simple way to start would be by asking yourself: what is important to me in my life?
Suppose your answer is: ‘I love cooking nice dinners and eating with my friends.’ I’d say your value is your creativity, your ability to use your hands. Friendship and connection are also important to you: you have great dinner conversations that way.
Values are never about objects. It’s not about the fantastic food and the beautifully set table, it’s always about the experience you create. Always. Even for people who say: I want a million dollars and a Mercedes. Fine, a lot of people want that, but what you’re probably after is financial stability, safety and status, that kind of thing. And under those there’s an even deeper layer of meaning: being part of it, belonging. We all want to be valued, to know that we matter, to know we have a purpose. So always look for the deeper layer.”
Make sure you have friends who know how to listen
“We humans were not designed to do everything alone, we’re geared for connection. It’s just better for our brain. I’m not just talking about the friends to whom you can brag about all the things you have and do. I’m talking about people you can talk to about the tough stuff. People who are there for you when you are in pain, without offering solutions or advice right away. People who never tell you ‘it could be worse’, or ‘you shouldn’t take it so seriously’; people who don’t start talking about themselves and how hard it is for them.
I’m sure we’ve all done this to others – I confess I have. Like when I said to someone I loved who was going through a tough time: ‘Don’t feel too bad about it. Have you tried this or that?’
If you’re keen to offer advice, check first if it will be appreciated. Say something like: “I could make a suggestion, but tell me what you need.” Or don’t do it, don’t give advice, just say: “That sounds difficult and painful. I don’t know what to say, but I’m really glad you’re confiding in me. Thank you for that.” That’s the kind of friendship I mean.
There are even scientific studies that say it’s good for your health to have friendships like that; they help you heal. So nurture your friendships.”
Be careful how you talk to yourself
“The thoughts that go through your head all day long can be positive or negative. ‘I’ll never make as much money as she does.’ ‘I’ve grown so fat now that I might as well stop exercising.’ ‘Look at that old, wrinkly face.’ ‘How did I get that wrong? I’m such an idiot.’ And so on and so forth. Many people don’t even know they’re doing this, it’s become second nature. For women, their bodies and their looks are the number one reason for talking about themselves, and to themselves, in negative terms. But it really damages your self-esteem and self-respect. Your thoughts turn into your convictions. So if you keep telling yourself you’re ugly, or too stupid to get ahead in the world, you’ll really start to believe it. And then you’ll find proof for it everywhere, even if it’s completely untrue.”
Know your weak spots
“Some situations are triggers: when they occur, you automatically fall into a pit of fear, doubt, self-hatred or embarrassment. Look into that, learn about yourself in situations like that; you cannot cure something you’re not aware of.
My first husband cheated on me and that was the end of our marriage. So that became a very sensitive spot for me: when will he start cheating on me? I have a new husband now and he is as true and faithful as anything. But every time he is even 15 minutes late, I get scared. This is my trigger, it touches a raw nerve. I feel my blood pressure go up, and when he finally gets home I sometimes yell at him for no reason. It’s not fair to him – this was my trigger. Once you are aware of this mechanism, you can come back and say: ‘I’m sorry, it made me insecure when you were late, but you have done nothing wrong. It’s my fault and I just want to say it out loud, to get it out in the open.’
What if you really feel that he is seeing someone else? How can you know whether it’s intuition or trigger? In my first marriage, my intuition told me my husband was cheating on me. And in this marriage I run into triggers that make no sense at all. The difference is: a trigger sends your thoughts round and round in circles: ‘Oh, here we go again, he’s got someone else, we’ll have to get divorced now…’ Your mind goes apeshit. But intuition is calm and quiet, it whispers in your ear. It doesn’t make you sweat or tremble. You just know.”
Learn to feel your emotions and deal with them
“When my father died in 2016 I was so sad that it scared me: would I ever be able to stop crying, would I ever get my brain back? It was overwhelming. But then I told myself: ‘Okay, this is simply my body processing certain information. My father has died, he was terribly important to me, I will never see him again and that is incredibly painful and hard. So my body needs to deal with that one way or another, and it’s called grief. It’s as simple as that.’ It helped me to let my body just do what it wanted to do: cry.
So I give my children lots of space to feel their emotions. We sometimes tend to tell our children: don’t be sad, don’t be angry, come on, it’s no big deal…. but I’ve stopped doing that.
Difficult feelings are often regarded as negative or bad. But every human being will experience a huge variety of emotions in their lives: happiness, joy, fear, shame, humiliation, fury, anger, disappointment, frustration… There’s no way you can go through life with pleasant feelings only. So I tell my children: ‘Whatever you’re feeling, it’s okay, it’s in your body and it’s okay to let it out. You’re still responsible for your behavior, you can’t do bad things, and if you do them anyway you have to make amends and say sorry. But it’s totally okay to feel what you feel.’
I wasn’t raised that way myself, but this is how I do it now. Your body sweats, coughs, yawns… and has emotions. Emotions are simply a way for your body to look after itself.”
Text: Lisette Thooft
This article is part of our issue 21 ‘Practice Peace’
A clean house is what you get when you dust and scrub – it takes care of the ‘earthly dirt’. But there is a more thorough way: space clearing, an energetic cleansing of your home. Heavy energy out, positive energy in, so your surroundings will feel pleasant (again).
You fill your own home with your personal energy. Furniture, photographs and paintings, plants, clothes: everything has its own aura. However, the atmosphere in a room consists of more than tangible things. Maybe the following sounds familiar: you enter the house of friends and feel a heavy atmosphere, and later on it turns out they just had a massive fight. Or you spend the night in a hotel, all the while suppressing the urge to run away screaming. There is no immediate cause, it just doesn’t feel right.
According to the theory of space clearing this is because a room absorbs energy. The energy can come from all sorts of sources: radiation from cellphones or computers, the energy of the earth and the subsoil water, the energy of previous inhabitants, and your own energy. It can be positive and light, but also heavy and negative. The latter can be caused by a sick person lying in a room for a long time, for example, or an office where you had a tough time due to the financial crisis. By space-clearing the house you can remove that kind of energy and create room for positivity and lightness.
Many of us already do this subconsciously. After a long vacation we open all the windows in the house to let in some fresh air and new energy. We light candles on gloomy nights, or we burn essential oils to create a more pleasant atmosphere. If you feel that your house could use an energetic spring cleaning, or if you want to consciously create an environment focused on happiness and well-being, then space clearing is the thing for you.
An approach often used for cleansing rooms involves the four elements: water, fire, earth and air. You can choose one, or some, or all of them. If you want to use the element air, you can hang up a wind chime that jingles softly when the air moves. If you would rather move yourself, you can walk or dance through your house while singing or making music. A more modest way is to sit somewhere and listen to beautiful music or play on a singing bowl.
For using the elements water or earth, fill some pottery bowls with mineral water or salt from the health food shop, and put one in every corner of the room to cleanse it. The salt should be flushed down the toilet after a maximum of 24 hours because it loses its purity eventually. A display of crystals (the earth element) is not only pretty, but also brings new energy to the house. And for those who like playing with fire, you can burn incense, or candles made of pure wax. Choose a corner of the room or make a special small altar to give your creativity free rein with a combination of several elements.
Space clearing in three steps:
1. Slowly walk around a room or the whole house. Gather things intuitively that give you a negative feeling: can they go? Also remove anything that’s old and lifeless, like dried flowers or plants, food past its best-before date, utensils that have become useless.
2. Put bowls of pure salt from the health food shop in every corner of the room. After 24 hours at the most, flush the salt down the toilet.
3. Give the room an energy boost with things you find attractive: flowers, plants, sparkling crystals, scented candles, a bowl of fresh organic fruit.
Text: Astrid Maria Boshuizen
This article is part of our issue 6 ‘Pure’
The ancient Chinese philosophy of feng shui makes it possible for anyone to live in a home where life energy can flow freely. Even if you start with small changes to your environment, you’ll notice the effects right away.
Did you ever stop to think that your house says something about who you are? It displays our dreams and our individuality, but also our frustrations and our shortcomings. Even if your house has plenty of charming touches, the arrangement of the furniture may be a mess, because you’ve lost sight of the big picture. Or maybe you bought a trendy sofa because everybody has one these days, even though you knew deep in your heart it wasn’t for you. The truth is, when you look at your interior, you’re looking at yourself. Sometimes you don’t even notice how your home reflects your own essence until you realize that first. Once you see that, you can set in motion a process that brings you closer to the essentials. Ask yourself who you really are when you let go of things that no longer fit, keeping only what makes you happy and inspires you. We shape our surroundings, and they shape us. That back-and-forth is a source of inspiration.
Nina Elshof is a feng shui master, an author and a teacher. She helps people with the process of finding inspiration,
which is not about making a comfortable or charming home. Nina explains, “That image of feng shui is a misunderstanding.
The basic question is more practical: What’s the function of a room or an object, what is it for? The first step is to have a greater awareness. We often don’t think deeply about the place where we are. We don’t give ourselves the time to pause and pay attention. If we don’t, we underestimate the influence of our surroundings on our well-being and energy level.” Hundreds of years ago, Chinese emperors used feng shui to pursue wealth and power. People sometimes think that this is the art’s main purpose, but it’s not. Nina says, “Feng shui began as a process of discovery, asking what the relationship is between people and their surroundings. The philosophy grew out of a need to explain the world.”
Feng shui has many facets, but it’s as simple or complicated as we make it. You can look at it as a one-two-five system. The one is life energy, known as qi, which forms the basis for everything that comes into existence. The first time the life energy came into motion, it turned into male energy, yang. When that energy came to rest, it became yin, female energy. Yin and yang are the two. When they’re in balance, life energy flows freely, and the qi stays fresh. The five are the elements that make up everything in the cosmos: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. They are connected, each in its own way, to yin and yang. Just as nature is kept in balance by the interplay of the elements, they can also create balance in the home or workplace. Each element is linked to a variety of materials, colors and forms, which offer the freedom to play. The element of metal, for instance, can take the form of an iron chair, but also the round shape of a bowl.
Qi is everywhere: in nature, your home, your office and your car. Mother Nature knows how to make life energy flow, and feng shui applies that knowledge to our surroundings. Would you like a hidden nook for resting in one place? Then give the flow of energy plenty of space somewhere else. It all goes back to the balance between yin and yang. You can sleep most peacefully if your bedroom is full of calm yin energy. Active yang energy belongs in your car or your workplace. Energy can flow more freely if you tidy up — yes, it’s the latest Marie Kondo craze, but it’s also an ancient and important aspect of feng shui. Only items that have a function can stay. But we can define “function” broadly. An object may have a practical purpose, or it may serve to make you happy. Feng shui is a spiritual philosophy, but there’s a logic to how it’s used. Of course a heap of laundry blocks the flow of energy — you can sense that much. And it’s obvious that an old photo of an unhappy love affair no longer serves any purpose.
What makes our surroundings feel right? When does an object belong there? When it supports the essential functions of
human life. That principle is always the same, whether we’re resting or active, at work or at play, nourishing our souls and
bodies or using stored energy to do things that have, or create, meaning. A place is at its best when it perfectly matches its purpose. And this is where feng shui can be so helpful. Our modern age has brought both good and bad. Multitasking is popular; you may eat at your desk or watch TV in your bedroom. But we’re rediscovering what the masters of feng shui have always known. Single-tasking is healthier and more effective. Order is another forgotten pillar of feng shui. These days, everyone seems to want to fill every moment to prove, oh, yes, life’s good, I’m keeping busy, busy, busy. But it’s more effective to restore order and calm in yourself and your surroundings. If you adopt that mindset, you may find it comes as a big relief.
A feng shui expert, often called a master, can help you to create the optimal living environment. You could take on everything
at once, from the attic to the shed, but starting with smaller projects has its advantages. Without much effort, you can make a change that matters. You’ll feel lighter, more cheerful. Things will be easier to find and easier to do. Then the bigger steps
that follow will come naturally, because the energy is flowing. “Improving the life energy in the place where you are will immediately energize your mind and body,” Nina says.
Every change begins with a close look at the starting point. “Open up and observe. Notice shapes, colors and materials. Imagine the place or object is trying to tell you a story about events, ideas and emotions. Look without judging. Accept what is here and now. What do you see and sense? Where is the junk, and what does it mean to you? Maybe it’s something mental or spiritual you haven’t cleared up yet. Are you experiencing inner clutter, a lack of clarity? After careful observation, you can decide what action to take. Get rid of anything that has lost significance to you, its life energy or its function.” If you don’t live alone,
you may have to compromise, but the most important thing is clarity about the function of a place or thing. Then you can add elements that make you happy, bring energy or reinforce that function. Feel free to use your intuition and play with the five elements as you choose your shapes, colors and materials.
So knowing this at the back of your mind, where are you gonna start? The bathroom? The kitchen or your workspace?
Text:Astrid Maria Boshuisen
This article is part of our issue 20 – Take Your Time
The Zodiac has Sun signs, as most people know, but it also has Moon signs. You can be a brave, extrovert Leo, but if the moon was in Pisces at the time of your birth, you can still be sensitive and withdrawn in your responses. Discover the power of your hidden Moon sign.
Apart from the sun, it’s probably the moon that has the strongest bond with Planet Earth. It’s much more powerful than the planets circling around the sun: the moon’s gravitational force causes the tides in all the world’s oceans. A lot of women find that their monthly cycle is somehow synchronized with the phases of the moon. The birthing process is also influenced by it; if you compile the times of birth of lots of people, you find that on average more people are born around a full moon and fewer around a new moon.
So the moon has an honorable and important place within astrology. It is the prime celestial body (officially the moon is not a planet) connected to our emotions. The sign-in which the moon stood when you were born tells you something about the way you deal with emotions. Do you bottle everything up? Are you a hothead, or aloof? One look at the position of the moon and an astrologer can tell some revealing secrets about you.
So the moon horoscope represents a number of things in your life. Vital ones are your mother and the bond you have with her, emotional attachment, and what you are like emotionally. Those things are all linked because your mother is the very first person with whom you bond. Below you’ll find the twelve moon signs explained. There are various websites where you can work out your personal moon sign.
You can be pretty assertive; stifling your emotions is not your thing. Possibly your mother was very young – emotionally – when she raised you. She may have put her own interests first or behaved impulsively. This made you feel unsafe. You learned to fight to get what’s yours.
In your adult life, you quickly get the impression you’re not being looked after. That can create a short circuit in your head, which translates into a fit of anger. But it’s never very deep and you can shake it off. Sports and exercise are a good way of release for you; that helps you keep your emotional balance.
Sometimes you feel people don’t love you enough just as you are. Maybe it’s because you learned that you’re nobody until you have a lot. Your mother has a strong sense of standards and she values material possessions. This may make you feel like you need money or things because they give you a sense of security and self-esteem. But it creates a lot of self-doubt when you need to make decisions; sometimes you try to drown your negative emotions out with comfort food. The trick is to feed your self-esteem in a positive way. Music, gardening, and art give you a stronger emotional balance.
Strong emotions can make you feel confused. You try to get a grip on them by rationally working out what’s going on. That internal dialogue can run wild and distract you from your gut feeling. Maybe your mother showed a lot of appreciation for your intellect and smartness, which encouraged you to develop your rational mind. But that may mean you have a hard time making decisions; you sometimes feel torn and restless inside. Gathering lots of information is what makes you feel safest. The best way to come back to yourself and get in touch with your feelings is to silence your brain for a while through mindfulness or meditation.
Your close ties with your mother give you a head start when it comes to emotions. When you get older, it may prove difficult to find your own way and go against your mother’s wishes. Your bond may be a little too symbiotic and maybe you are tempted to hide in the warm and cozy atmosphere of your home and family. This means you’d miss out on the chance to let nothing but your own feelings guide you and get some experiences in the outside world. You can be very sensitive to the full moon. You respond quite emotionally in most situations. It may sometimes look dramatic, but you’re very resilient precisely because you don’t fight your emotions.
As a child you had a special place within the family; maybe your mother put you on a pedestal or spoiled you rotten. You got all the attention when you did a trick or told a joke. So now you feel safe when you’re the center of attention or when you get your way. If that doesn’t happen, insecurity sets in – are you nice enough or beautiful enough? You try to solve it by drowning out that inner voice, but you risk losing touch with your real emotions that way. Sometimes you lose yourself in dancing, clubbing, and flirting. One way of getting emotionally grounded again is playing with (your) children. It will calm down your wounded ego.
However hard you tried, it was never good enough. It may be because your mother was such a perfectionist: neat clothes, everything in its place, tidy room. That can make you insecure. When that feeling translates itself into your body, a tiny flaw can become a major source of worry. You sometimes lose yourself in rituals just to get your life in order; if something is out of place it can really upset you. Molehills turn into mountains on some days. You also tend to be a workaholic or a health freak. Animals and nature make you feel good because through them you experience unconditional love. That helps to make your self-acceptance grow.
You have a hard time standing up for yourself and you prefer doing everything together. This is why you long for a partner, whether they are good to you or not. Ignoring your own needs is something you learned from your mother. Chances are she was very focused on your father and did some serious self-effacing to make the relationship successful. Stylizing your home can be important to you. It’s a way to create peace and harmony. You tend to approach your emotions in a rational way, thinking: How would someone else see this? That makes it difficult for you to get in touch with your own emotions. Music can help restore that contact.
Sometimes it’s hard for you to trust others and feel safe. You panic occasionally, you withdraw or cut yourself off from the world. Relationships can be quite a challenge for you. There may have been circumstances in your past when your mother left you in the lurch at a crucial moment. Maybe it wasn’t her fault, but that experience hurt you deeply. Perhaps she strikes you as manipulative, and then nothing is what it seems. You can learn to feel safe again by looking into your fears, anger, or resentment. Once you have processed painful memories yourself, you’ll be a master therapist: you can understand exactly what other people feel.
Feeling at home somewhere can be a challenge for you. Your ‘gypsy heart’ makes you restless. Your mother set great store by her religious or cultural identity. Maybe they even seemed more important to her than your emotional needs. She might be from another country and possibly had a hard time adapting to the new culture, making you feel like you were uprooted or ‘different’. Maybe you’re trying to solve it by traveling a lot or roaming from place to place. But real emotional safety is something you can only find inside yourself. Do some introspection, sit quietly, and listen to your inner voice; it’s extremely wise and will give you a ‘lucky touch’.
You feel lonely or depressed sometimes because it seems like you have to carry the load all by yourself. Maybe you were the eldest child and you learned to be responsible at an early age. Your mother emphasized hard work, being tough, and achieving things. Possibly it created a pattern of short-changing yourself emotionally. Money can be a source of stress as if you need a lot of it to feel relaxed and safe. Your real emotions are strong, but you don’t like to trouble other people with them, except when you see others suffering: then you can’t stop your tears from flowing. You can find safety by cherishing your ‘inner child’ and caring for it.
You’ve learned to push away any emotions that are not socially acceptable. This is because your mother seemed to think that friendship and social ideals were more important than personal emotions. If you cried, she told you children in poor countries have much more to cry about. They also have fewer toys than you, which meant you always had to share yours. This can make you feel like you’re not very important to your mother. She becomes more like a friend than a safe haven. Sometimes it’s hard for you to connect with others because they rarely see what really goes on inside of you. And yet profound friendships in which you can show everything about yourself are the best thing that could happen to you.
As a child you may have felt that you were invisible. Your mother lived in a dream world or had problems that kept her from being there for you. You learned to withdraw into your own fantasies. That made you creative, so chances are there’s quite a bit of art or music in your life. Maybe you developed a lot of empathy because your mother needed it. And possibly you miss a solid foundation for everyday life: paying bills, tidying up, cleaning. A good way to develop that is to do practical chores for people who need your help. That activity will help you feel grounded and safe. Spirituality can help you overcome feelings of loneliness.
Text: Hanny Roskamp
This article is part of our issue 17 – From the Heart