de laatste bosjesmannen

Mindfulness and stress

Statement: we are full of expectations (illusions) about how it should be

Stress is the tension between “what is”
and the expectation we cherish about how it should be.
We experience happiness when life unfolds according to our expectations.
We experience misfortune if life (or the other) is not behaving according to our expectations.

Thinking in coming short
Growing up in a world full of wrong assumptions and 1001 illusions, we get desperately stuck. Instead of looking at our expectations, we project a world around us that is coming short all the time. No one and nothing meets our often invisible desires and like little infants, we are looking for super pleasers. The moment you start to see this clearly, you will find yourself upset. That is continuing to happen to me every now and then: “Did I really step in the same pitfall again?”. Yes Alina, again.

out of controlWrong expectations
Tanzania is such a good example. For months I have been wrestling with this new reality after my emigration. The differences in culture are enormous. Looking back I was plainly unhappy. Nothing was what it had looked like. I got nuts of spending time for all practical things that were asked of me. I got aghast of the overdose of insincere, financial, emotional painful and sometimes cruel experiences. I was shaking on my foundations and being confused I didn’t know anymore who to trust and who not. I felt no control over my own life and it caused a continues feeling of panic (read stress) in me as if I was hanging in the mouth of a cheetah. “I am too honest and sensitive for this country and I don’t know if I can manage”: I desperately shared with Rama, who obviously started to doubt the same more and more.

One day my ex-partner and best friend Ivar, who was getting more and more concerned in the Netherlands and trying to support me, said: “Tanzania is Tanzania and it will continue to do what it always does. How are you going to deal with yourself?”

With other words: how was I going to deal with my wrong expectations? That did the job. In the next few weeks, I started to adjust all expectations, that were causing nothing else then misery. Every day I felt a little bit better. It is mindblowing how fast this can happen.

It is clear the Tanzanian doesn’t get upset by their own society. That is what they are passing on to their children. It is admirable how relaxed they are able to deal with misfortune, corruption and deliberately caused fraud and deception. With humor, they are able to accept life like some absurdist theatre show. Control is an illusion, so Alina, how come do you take everything so serious? … they are asking me.
My guide and smart ass Innocent (28) saw me losing 4 kg of weight some months ago, and he told me then: “Tanzania is going to teach you to really relax”. He was right. It doesn’t mean anything to be in bliss in the Walhalla of the Netherlands. This is the real mindfulness work. It’s do or die.

Despite changing circumstances (recently again someone that seemed a potential friend exposed himself), I caught myself walking around with more inner peace. My head is clear again and with a heart full of love, I again found peace with a world that seemed to be so shortcoming.
“For most of us, it takes 6 to 8 months” my friend H told me yesterday, just coming back from a 2 months visit to her homeland Belgium. Exhausted of all the dishwashing, trying to escape from the endless narcissistic talk of family, friends, and acquaintances, clearly a few kgs lighter, she is overjoyed to be back.

I understand what she means.

Photo’s: Marlon du Toit and Hans Charltz (Sukuma Theatre)

mannen natuur reis Tanzania

Mindfulness hiking

Hiking in nature

lopenIf I am confronted with an issue that triggers much resistance inside me, then I withdraw and start mindfulness hiking in nature. With resistance I mean I am getting ready for the battle.

I give space to all the stories that my mind wants to share with me and I try to discover the hidden worries and the fairy tales they want me to believe. They are all welcome and while hiking, I am in this inner dialogue, until everything is clear and I feel I reached the core of my resistance. Then I have a close look where I am buying the story and where it pulls me in a fantasy or fear. Many times there is an old memory underneath that blinds me for the overdone aspects of my resistance.


All resistance lets go

Mindfulness wandel reis TanzaniaAfter this structured research, I will focus on my senses to show myself what is really going on right here and now, instead of staying fascinated or dwelling in thoughts and feelings that are hardly useful any longer. Hiking in nature makes it easier to stay with my senses and listen to their information because there is less input and there are less triggers I have to deal with. So reality has a better chance to be noticed. To be with my senses, listening to what they tell me about reality and to stay with that is a joy and for me the path to more contentment and relaxation.

When the story has been seen through and recognized as not true, all resistance will let go by itself. However, if the issue is very painful, the same thoughts and feelings like to repeat themselves over and over again. Then maybe they need more determination, which means I have to walk for many days.  Read more