Jacaranda tree in Tanzania

The tree and the prudish flowers

An ode to my best and wise friend in Tanzania

When I finish a phonecall with Rama, we useually end with a time-consuming goodbye ritual, which I complete with joy out of respect for him. I see it as a Tanzanian tradition, but to my surprise I catch Rama more then once not even saying goodbye to people after ending a phonecall. So it occurs to my mind lately, it is very possible he thinks also it is a dutch ritual to perform.
Most of the time the ritual is like this:

R: Lala salama (goodnight) Alina
A: Lala salama pia (goodnight to you too) Rama
R: Asante (thanks) Alina
A: Asante pia (jij ook bedankt) Rama
R: Don’t think too much any longer okay?
A: I will try Rama, Thank you.
R: Bye, byebye, byeeeee, bye Alina, bye
A: Bye, byeeee Rama, take care, bye, byebye. Oh don’t forget to call D tomorrow okay?
R: I can do that. Bye
And so on……
Sometimes when we allready finished the ritual, something spontaneously comes up. Yesterday it went like this:
R: Njozi njema (sweet dreams)
A: Njozi Njema……… ehh Rama do you ever have nice dreams?
R: Yes Alina sometimes I have, very nice dreams. But when I have malaria ohh then they are very bad.
A: I never have nice dreams. I wonder therefore about the dreams of other people.
R: Yes Alina I think it will get better when you say sorry to your father.

tree TanzaniaImmediatly I wake up and I have to laugh. Ramaaa? I tell you I don’t have nice dreams and then you say I have to say sorry to my father, who allready died years ago. Crazy man.
R: I remember you told me you didn’t like your father very much Alina.
A: Yes I told you that. I think it was about a year ago. I know you stood up for him in a way and you needed to tell me that the task isn’t easy for fathers. Every day they need to bring food at home, go to the work and be strong. I think you recognized your own daily struggle in him, but why you connect the lack of nice dreams with my father?
R: You put something in your heart there Alina. You closed to him. Say sorry to him for doing that. Then all will be well again and nice dreams will come to you.

I think about the heart meditation I did many times with clients. In pairs they ask each other what hurt they carry in their heart and who hurt them. Then they are allowed to express their pain to that person until everything is said and felt. After making some steps, I ask them to imagine this person says sorry to them for the hurt they caused. Then I ask them to ask that person to forgive them also because the hurt made them close their heart for them. It is a very profound meditation for healing the heart. And while Rama talks to me with that warm, connected voice, I know he is right. My father is still not loved enough by me. And yes it could very well be, this blocks nice dreams too J. Why not?

A: Forgiveness is a strong thing in Christianity Rama. But I don’t like to say sorry if I don’t mean it sincerely like it happens a lot in church. It is not a strategy to me to You confess your sins, the priest gives you absolution and of you go.
R: Not like that Alina.
A: I want to say sorry and feel it sincerely. Then it is a healing energy Rama.
Then Rama tells me this lovely metaphore.
R: It is like the tree Alina. The tree is grounded in the Earth and it can be very muddy when it rains. In the top beautiful flowers are growing. The flowers may say it is very dirty down there and they are not happy with the mud all over the roots of the tree. But the flowers forget the tree takes food from the muddy Earth to make them flower.
R: Alina?
A: I am quiet Rama. Thank you so much. This is so nice.
Lala salama Rama. Paka kesho (tot morgen).
R: Lala salama Alina


Manipulation in relationships

To paste your story on the other person is the beginning of manipulation and disrespectful violence. The story you paste on others is directly connected to your own desires and wishes. You desire something, the other must fulfill it and if this happens in an insufficient way, you will set your reproachful story on the other and start your manipulation of him. If someone is acting in line with your wishes, you probably will paste a positive story on the other. But both stories are about you and not about the other. Looking at both stories you will see your own desires are central.
The misery and worries of our mind are coming from a sense of dependency on other people we carry around. We believe we need the other to be happy. And we tell ourselves happiness depends on the ability of that person to make us happy.  Romantic love is in essence nothing else but the idea that the person we fell in love with can make us more happy than others. When he or she fails, deeply inside we panic and start manipulating the other to force him or her to fulfill our needs better. Read more

mensafari Tanzania

Receiving and relaxing are one

I am learning something lately. I learn really something that I’ve found incredibly difficult. I am learning that receiving and relaxation is one. This lesson is not new but the level goes deeper now. I learn to be on time to say: “listen this is not going to be solved. Here we are really quite different. We will not meet each other, I accept that”. And to my great enjoyment that nagging, sometimes sickening or even ripping feeling inside, what can stick around for hours, lets go of me and I can continue what I was doing before the argument started. Trying to solve everything, explain yourself, repeating the same arguments because you can not believe  someone does not get it, has been many times exhausting and sometimes like hell in my life. Honestly receiving what is truly happening creates relaxation and makes me free.

I learned receiving more how things are thanks to Tanzania. I experience how people leave each other alone in that country in a psychological way. And I experience that if I attempt to do some digging into somebody elses mind, soon I feel uncomfortable by their reactions, especially about myself and what I’m doing. In the beginning I missed it. I felt myself thrown back, even ignored sometimes. I felt alone as if something was missing in depth and connection with the people because I could not communicate my psychological insights with them. It felt like I could not be me at all. But after weeks in Tanzania, I feel a relaxation that results from leaving each other alone. And if there is a problem, then it is discussed. Arguments are not repeated in that conversation and if it is completed, it is finished. Attempts by me to reopen the discussion fail many times. “It was finished yesterday Alina”: they claim.

distance between people

by Paula French

My most pervasive experience with learning to let it be, happened in fact years ago between me and my mother. In 2011 I suddenly realized my mother had come to the end of her live. That touched me deeply. It hit me especially since the relationship with my mother had not been successful from the beginning. As long as I could remember we found ourselves at a great distance from each other. I realized how painful this was, much more painful than the death of someone whom you loved much. My mother was going to leave and I would have to live on with the realization that the relationship between us never worked out. I have cried terribly.

The next day I went to see her. I found her sitting at her table in front of the window in the nursing house, a lonely woman. After some chitchat we fell silent. And in that silence I hear myself say: “mom, you and me it just didn’t work out right? We have not been able to truly meet each other all these years. I feel the need to accept that together with you “. She began to cry. “This is awful”: she said. “I do not think so”: I said gently. “it is what it is”. She paused long. When I left half an hour later and was standing at the door, she looked straight in my eyes and said, “I’m going to try it Alne”.

From that moment on, something changed between us, something relaxed. I went every week to see her. The moments she was victimizing herself, I allowed her, If she was moaning dramatically, I held her hand (this gave me much resistance in the past), I drove her around in her wheelchair and it was no problem to me. Sometimes she could no longer hold her own head up. That struck me in my heart and I carried her head for her, one of my most intimate moments with her. Also my mother had changed to me. The caustic remarks began to stay away. The wary comments, distant looks, the puffings and continuous tension between us disappeared; the hatchet was buried. We were receiving each other finally in how it was and we relaxed.

Nine months later she died and I had found peace inside.


by Lindsey Parker

The moment we both accepted the truth of our relationship, we came to peace with it. Something relaxed. And out of that relaxation we were able to leave each other alone psychologically. Then things became possible for me that I had never been able to give her before; the right to feel a victim, complaining, puffing about me whenever she needed and hold her hand. I am very grateful for these moments.



de bijzondere relatie

The promise of perfection is to gain and keep “the other”

wachtenBy the time I came out of my childhood, I was broken. I ran around like an unfulfilled child, anxious and waiting for “the other” whom stayed extremely absent. From the beginning I experienced my relatively short life as a nightmare by the absence of at least one loving adult who cared for me and provided for me a protective safety. The moment came that I understood I was going down if I continued to wait any longer. I was 19 and from one day to another I made a radical switch of the needy, waiting child to a caring personality. In 20 years to come I developed into a top aid worker because I knew exactly what I had missed. I had crossed out my own needs and was thereby fully capable to receive the other inside me. As a result, I found the bridge to the world again. That saved my life but it didn’t change the fundamental tension that I was carrying inside me.

This fundamental tension rooted into the continuing belief that I needed “the other” to make it in life. And how can you relax when your inner camera is 24 hours a day obsessively focussed on the other because they are unconsciously seen as the primary lifeline? It doesn’t matter if you present yourself as someone who gives or takes in this battle to survive. What matters is what works for you. Because how can you relax if you believe, that you must be perfect to be seen and embraced by the “other”.

In the tireless effort to perfect my personality and become the perfect, wise adult for others, I lost the ability to be able to receive. But that did not matter because I needed nothing. I came a long way, I must say. And still I benefit from the skills that I have developed in that time. I assume you will have your own interpretation of your ideal self.

But how wrong I was!

drinkplaats AfrikaThe deep relaxation that I essentially was looking for, only came when I realized I didn’t need this “other” to be my lifeline. In fact the other has nothing to do with that. The deep relaxation that I actually was looking for, only came when I released the illusion of neediness, and started to see that my real lifeline was given by life itself. When I turned my attention to existence I saw this miraculous event in and around me, giving me oxygen every moment, providing me with food and drinks, regenerating me during my sleep, keeping me warm and giving me space any moment. A completely impersonal but completely loving and intelligent system that gives me everything what I essentially need.

I have been save in the womb of life all my life and so are you, but I did not know it.

And does it matter how perfect you are? Does it matter what you’re doing and how you do it, if it’s not the exclusive relationship with the other that keeps you safe? Do you get less oxygen when your lover dies?

The promise/illusion of perfection is to gain and keep the attention and care of “the other” as your lifeline. To see through this idea is the major liberation to give yourself and it will restore your natural line with existence. It will change everything and give you a new perspective on life. And what a joy that will bring. You are free at last. Please understand this. It is the key to your freedom.

And it is also for this reason that nature as the mirror of your true lifeline, has so much to offer you in your liberation of the deep-rooted idea that you can not survive without “the other”.

Main Photo by Lizanne Croonen for Mindful Adventure

Pelgrimage Ngorongoro

A pilgrimage in Ngorongoro Crater Highland

Pilgrimage Ngorongoro TanzaniaA pilgrimage is traditionally a trip to a place with a particular (often religious) significance. But as a modern Pilgrim you will be going on a journey of inner discovery. Normally you will not go for an ordinary journey from A to B. As the famous Vietnamese Mindfulness founder Thich Nhat Hanh puts it in words: “We appreciate in ourselves to have no purpose or a specific destination, so we don’t have to worry or to hurry. Walking is no means but the goal. Every step you take makes you happy, peaceful and serene”. In that sense, you could say: a pilgrimage is to be, it is embracing this moment, to be  here and now. And the path is a metaphor for life. With ups and downs – it’s all part of it. And while you’re on the way -in fact, we are all constantly on the way -try to do nothing else than to receive life as it presents itself. Admissibility in that you will start making all sorts of delicious discoveries.

While you walk without aiming at a target, you start experiencing each step as a miracle. And that is in fact reality. It is a miracle that you have two legs and two feet that allow you to move over this planet Earth, which is speeding at 70,000 km an hour through the universe. Walk and sit in conscious attention makes us happy. Slowing down helps. The slower you become, the more easy it is to keep focused. Consciously focusing without wanting anything from anybody, will bring this profound feeling of joy alive in your heart.

The modern, active and generally troubled Western person don’t have time to walk in a relaxed way on paths or to sit under a tree doing nothing. We are engaged in an often overactive mind which endlessly fascinates, directs and commands us. We have no idea how this attention we constantly give to our thoughts and feelings lock us up in ourselves and creates a veil between us and the world. We have stopped looking and listening and see the world no longer as a constantly innovative adventure but as a repetitive predictable, mechanical phenomenon where we try to survive.

pelgrimage NgorongoroWalking along paths in bizarre beautiful nature, to sit regularly with yourself alone without a smartphone in your hand, bringing back the “burden” of property to a reasonable minimum and the confrontation with a completely different world and culture than you are used to activates your senses. That way you break during a pilgrimage through your veils. But that’s not it and you’re not there yet.
You still have to open the windows and allow this wondrous reality to enter, to crash inside you, to pour you. And you learn to stay responsive and to do nothing else but receiving what you are given.

How do you open more and more to all those gifts life is giving you permanently?

Most people need help to answer this question, like I was supported years ago. The proces of opening up is what is called awakening, awakening from a dream, awakening from illusion, awakening from the unreal. You can also say in plain language: awakening from all the stories and feelings whom are locking us up in ourselves and slowly brought us down to small minded, unhappy beings.

The moment you start waking up from all the stories you tell yourself you might discover you are living in this wonderful, enjoyable, sensuous, adventurous world. I would love to see everybody to find this out for himself.


Main photo by Lizanne Croonen during our Christmas safari 2016


grateful crocodile

Gratefulness of animals

The first time I became consciously aware of the gratefulness of an animal was when I was 18 years old. I had my first holiday in France with a girlfriend after our graduation. We were sweating in a pedal boat when I found an ordinary sparrow in the water. At first I thought it was dead from drowning but then I saw a little movement. We went ashore and I sat for hours in the shade of a tree with this wet bird in a towel on my lap. I remember my right foot got totally burned in the sun. After some time this bird slowly dried up, came alive and recovered. Then I brought it to the other side of the boulevard, where I spotted a public garden. There I let it go. The sparrow flew up straight forward, then turned around, plunged down and flew a few centimeters over my head away to freedom. And I knew it showed me its gratitude for rescuing it.

workshop Masaï handcraftThe second time happened in Tanzania. I was staying for ten days in the village Endonyowas in Ngorongoro five years ago. I was giving a workshop in modernising traditional Masaï jewelry with the womengroup. It was an inspiring, creative proces together and I was sleeping in a traditional Masaï house inside a boma. One day I was returning to my “cottage” when I saw the neighbours children beating a dog. The dog was sobbing and its tail was between the legs.
dog tanzaniaI got so angry that I shouted at them: “come here”! I called my interpreter, looked at the scared children and explained to them the nature of a dog. “A dog is your friend. He will give his life for you. When hyena, lion or leopard comes this dog,even when you have beaten him, will fight for your life. This dog is the best friend you will ever have”. So treat him with respect and kindness. He deserves that”. Meanwhile I was caressing the dog who was relaxing a little bit.
I clapped my hands and the children darted away, still scared because the white woman was cleary discontent about their behaviour.

Six days later, the evening before I was flying home and everybody in the village had come by to say goodbye, I was sitting in meditation outside to reflect the past days and my feelings about leaving this beautiful land and the villagers.
Then I heard something on my right side. When I opened my eyes I saw the dog standing there in the full moonlight. I felt he knew I was leaving and slowly and carefully he came closer to me. When he reached me I opened my hand to him and he shove his wet nose in my hand. Then he turned around and walked away leaving me touched and grateful for his way to thank me.

During my next visit the Masaï told me the whole village had stopped beating their dogs. I hope so but I am not sure it is true. But I have to say I never saw a beating again in the years that followed.

On the picture: Chito who rescued a heavily wounded crocodile, who refused to leave him ever since.


The most subversive idea of our mind

The cause of all your misery, is rooted in the idea
that you need “the other” to be happy.

What has this idea given you so far?

What I see….
is a trail of destruction through my life, your life and the world.

In fact, it hurts so much when “the other” fails to meet my needs, that this idea …

has created and sustained systems of oppression,
practized many forms of psychological manipulation and violence,
brought down billions of relationships,
has killed billions of people,
tormented and abused billions of animals,
dilapidated the planet.

Come with me to Africa.
In 14 days I show you garanteed, together with the wild nature, what you can do to come out of this terrible idea.

Your alternative is to be free,
Very scary, but no way out


Photo by Lizanne Croonen for Mindful Adventure

happiness byron katie

Keep it real

quote stop comparingDuring a safari of Mindful Adventure we will show you a different perspective  on reality. No matter how strange it may sound to some people, we have learned incorrectly that we are a unique being, thanks to our unique thoughts, feelings and skills. We believe therefore, that we have to search for happiness on the level of our unique personality.
As soon as we believe that happiness can be found within the personality, we will do all we can to improve this personality. And when our personality changes our circumstances (love affair, quantity and quality of our friendships, work, houses, financial position) will improve.

quote happinessIt is very frustrating that acquiring happiness turns out less easy then we might hope. The lack of that coveted State of happiness becomes visible in the desires that we pursue during the day.
It seems like we are caught in a movement that goes from pain to pleasure. Any time we try to swim away from discomfort to situations of convenience, fun and preferably ecstasy as the contemporary Dynamics around “optimal” life shows. And if the day sparkles a little bit less, we will worry soon.

quote happinessUnder the spell of messages like “the secret” we exploded in a renewed enthusiasm to manipulate not only others but now even the universe to fullfil our wishes. Skills as positive thinking promise us that we get what we want when we do that.  Even enlightenment carries the ultimate promise to absolute love and absolute freedom.  We forget that every desire we cherish shows that we are not in connection with the completeness of who we are in essence. The longing for better and more comes from the mind and not your essence.

quote happinessAs soon as I open facebook, quotes come to me who tell me that I can achieve everything I want and that I may long for abundance and countless blessings. On this page you will find a number of examples. I am told that I am the creator and controller of my existence. On this page you meet some examples.

But I’ve learned one thing in my life. Everything I thought I knew and every law that I attributed to life sooner or later was defeated by its opposite.

Also I learned not to surround me with my own “kind” but to love whoever stands in front of my door, even when these people can not offer me what I think I need myself. 

quote get what you wantWe can achieve what we want, assuming that what we want to achieve will bring us happiness, which is a huge illusion. And in our quest for optimum life and happiness, alone or together, we believe that having a good feeling means we are on the right track. We might even believe we have melted with our essence.

Many quotes provoke  us to want even more and reach higher and higher. We are warned not to settle for less then the best that we deserve.

But happiness can not be found at the level of personality. This is because the driving engine under that personality, all our “characteristics (read patterns and habits) and skills manifest from the basic urge to survive. Every thought, every feeling, every wish or desire serves our own survival. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact it is what it is. Our mind is built to survive and what a great tool it is. Yet the moment we forget the mind is our tool and become its servant suffering will be there.
Luckily there is another quality present in us. Something so free and sweet, something so complete in itself, that survival and all fears and desires that are born with it can be recognized no matter what (nice) form it has taken.

The only thing we have to do is distinguish between what manifests itself from reality and what manifests itself from our own thoughts and feelings. Then determine what we believe. Do we believe what we think and feel or do we believe what we actually see, hear, smell, taste and feel with our own skin. Do we believe reality or do we believe what the survival machine tells us?

I think this is why I am attracted by the message of Jeff Foster. He smashes all suppression and nice images about life to pieces. He returns to a very simple message: to be present in full receptivity to all aspects of life of ourselves, to be curious about every colour, every taste, every eyesight, every sound and stay with it until it disappears on its own time. And accepting what comes up and accepting what needs to go. Receptive consciousness means to let go of everything you think you need to feel good.

quote happiness


Try to see it dear ones, this bizarre call of wanting more, more and more, to reach higher, and to hold on to the obsessive focus with what we think we want.

It is okay to relax in the moment. Finally rest, finally happy!



Victoriameer Tanzania

Seven special places in Tanzania

Ukerewe Island in Lake Victoria

For hours I sat here, just with a beer while Msafiri was staying in the hotel with malaria. I am drawn into this peaceful state inside, which sometimes happens to you on an empty summer day. The water made small wave sounds while a few young lads are sitting on a few stones in the Lake, while I’m opening up for the silence that hangs over the water. A little paradise on Earth. Read more

If the heart of a man opens up, everything becomes possible

I am visiting Ikea with my son and his girlfriend. He found a room in Amsterdam and needs some furniture to give himself a nice start. His girlfriend points her finger at a small wooden table, which appears to fit very well in preschool. He doesn’t like it at all but I can see his resistance to say no to her. Finally he realizes it’s his house and he forces himself to say this table is more suitable for the seven dwarfs in Snowwhite. Relieved I take a deep breath.

In Serengeti we lose a tire of the trailer. Read more