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The piece of the puzzle that changed my life: we are not our body, not our thoughts and not our emotions

The piece of the puzzle that changed my life

I like to share my favorite tantra exercise with you. But before I do, there are some basics about tantra I have to explain, so I’m afraid my favorite exercise has to wait for the next blog. For now I will talk about the soul. For me it’s the piece of the puzzle that changed my life.

Let’s start with the soul first. I’ve been brought up by non-religious parents. We never spoke about religion, about spirituality and about what we truly are. The first school I visited religion or spirituality was no topic as well. When the school closed and I had to move I went to a catholic school where even the teacher that taught us about God believed in the Darwin theory. As a kid I sometimes wondered why we are on earth. What our goal is here, where this all leads to. But because it seemed nobody around cared I didn’t speak about it. And I am that old that there was no internet to simple google my question: why are we on earth?

Reading about Buddhism, Shamanism during my travels in Australia and New Zealand I found some pieces of the puzzle. Now studying yoga and walking the yogic path some of those pieces are starting to fit together. The nicest ones and the ones that have changed my look on life are the ones about the soul.

You are not your body

What I like you to do, is stand in front of a mirror and look at yourself. Don’t judge, just look at you and mainly look at your body. Now close your eyes and think back how your body looked like ten years ago, twenty years ago, maybe you can even go thirty or forty years back in time. Has your body always looked like this?

We identify ourselves with our body. A lot of people are only into yoga because it makes them look hot. We spent a lot of money on our body buying creams and other products. Some even have surgeons putting knives in them to look younger or better. We dress up to make our body even look better or the other way around: to hide our body or parts of our body. It’s really important to take care of our body. To keep it healthy. I will explain in a later blog. But hopefully when you look back at how your body was looking years ago you concluded you had the body of a teenager, of a child. You had a bit more or a bit less fat, where smaller, had a bit more or less muscles. So if you can see your body has changed over time, you are not your body, because you are still you. It’s your body that has changed.

You are not your thoughts

What was the first thing you wanted to become in life? A fireman? A ballerina? A football player? The same as your dad or mum? Is that still what you would like to do? For some this might be a yes, for others probably a no. Are there more things in life you’ve changed your mind about? I was very skeptical about yoga when I started. It didn’t really looked like something I would do. Look at me now: I’m travelling around the world full-time; teaching yoga wherever I can. I drank Coca Cola every now and then. Liked the taste of it once a while. Now I know how bad it is for me, I only use it when I really have problems with my stomach, because it kills everything inside. The bad bugs, but the good ones as well.

If you look at your thoughts I hope you see your thoughts change over time. Sometimes in a short period of time, sometimes in a longer period of time, but we all have thoughts that change. So if your thoughts change, you can’t be your thoughts. You are still you, it’s your thoughts that are changing. Like we do with our body we do with our thoughts: we identify ourselves with them. Why? You are not your thoughts.

You are not your emotions

Closely related to our thoughts are our emotions. Think back to your first lover; is that still the person you are with now? How did you feel about him/her back then and how do you feel about him/her now? Has that changed? What made you nervous as a little kid? Is that still the case? What big fear have you over won?

The same way as our thoughts change our emotions change as well. So if your emotions change, you can’t be your emotions. You are still you, it’s your emotions that change.

You are a soul

So if your body changes, your thoughts are changing and your emotions are changing, what are you? You see your body changing, you see your thoughts changing, you see your emotions changing. So you are ‘that’ what sees this all happening. You are the observer. It’s this observer that we call the soul.

Back to Holland

This soul isn’t an Indian thing. I’m Dutch. I’ve studied yoga in India, but I’m born and raised in the Dutch clay. My parents, grandparents, great grandparents have been living there for centuries. Before Christianity took over the people in my part of Europe believed in the soul as well. Some tribes didn’t bury the bodies of the death, but hang them in the trees, giving the soul the chance to escape the body and go to eternity.

The piece of the puzzle that changed my life

So why is this the piece of the puzzle that changed my life? Simple: it has stopped me identifying with all my thoughts, feelings and emotions. I still get angry (hardly), said, disappointed, but I know I have these emotions, I’m not these emotions.

Knowing that I am able to ‘step back’ from these emotions. Look at them as an outsider and see where they are coming from. I’ve been talking about neuro-linguistic bridges before. Most emotions you have now are actually old emotions that are reactivated again. If you want to solve this, you have to solve the old emotion. You want to solve the cause, not the consequence.

An example

An example will make this easier. A few years ago I had a girlfriend, an amazing soul. A yogini. We went to a party of her kundalini yoga friends. It was the first time I met them. We went for a walk and there was a couple walking arm in arm up front. Well at least I thought it was a couple. My girlfriend was chatting to one of her friends and I got involved in a conversation with someone else. So far everything was okay.

Afterwards we had dinner at the house of the guy who organized it. He was the one who was walking up front arm in arm with this girl. After dinner my girlfriend – who had been sitting next to me – went over to the other side of the table to talk with some other friends. I sat down on the couch. It was a L-shaped living room, so I was out of her sight now. There was a girl with a headache and one of the guys started to give her a massage to help her getting rid of her headache. The girl who had walked arm in arm with the organizing guy came into the room. She said: “That looks good. I would like a massage as well. My head hurts to. So do my shoulders.”

Being a massage therapist I offered her to help her and give her a massage. In this case a little Thai yoga massage. She went upstairs and got a duvet. I put everything on the floor and started giving her a massage. After fifteen minutes my girlfriend walked in. She looked at me, her face became all white and the only thing she said – swallowing her anger – was: “I want to go home. Now!”

More angry

I didn’t understood. Told her that I would finish the massage and would drive her home. She set down, even looking more angry. I still was clueless. I guessed it had something to do with the conversation she just had. As soon as we were in the car she turned to me and asked me: “How could you do that?” I still had no idea about what she was talking. I gave massages every day. Together with teaching yoga it’s what I do.

I asked her to explain. She got even angrier. “You gave this girl a massage. I don’t want you to do that.” Now I got upset. I think I’m big enough to decide what I do and don’t do and I hadn’t the idea I crossed any line. I didn’t do anything else as I do day in day out. Helping people to get healthy again.

So there we were. Both angry, driving to her house. When I parked the car, she got out and run upstairs. I set for a while in the car. Breathed in and out. It gave me the time to step back. The time to see that I wasn’t this anger, that there only was anger in me. Calmed down I walked up as well and found her crying on the bed. I made some tea and took her in my arms and hold her for a while. Slowly she calmed down. I asked her to sit down and meditate and ask herself in her meditation why she was so upset. I set down as well and also looked inside.

I was able to see

After a few minutes it popped in my head. I have been in a relationship where my girlfriend always wanted me to stay at home; otherwise she would be lonely. We went out together a lot, but she never liked it if I went out with my friends. For some reason she wasn’t interested in going out with hers any more. I lost a lot of friendships due to that and I wasn’t planning to do so again. So this old, unresolved emotion was reactivated by this new situation. The girlfriend I had now, never limited me in anything up until today. I was now able to see that and by seeing and feeling that I was able to let go of the emotion this first girlfriend caused me and I caused me by staying at home.

When she (the girlfriend I had now) came out of her meditation she confessed that at one point in her life she had been engaged and was going to marry with – what she thought – was the love of her life. Only to find out that the guy was cheating on her with one of his ex-girlfriends. Seeing me giving this girl a massage reactivated that old emotion of her. Where I was thinking the girl of the massage was together with the guy who organized the gathering that girl was actually a flirt. An attractive flirt, so my girlfriend was afraid she would lose me to her.

By that time we were together for half a year. Being a yogi she was able to step back as well and look at her anger and fear as an outsider. Meditating on the problem she could see what had caused it and also could acknowledge that I was somebody else as her ex. By doing so she was able to let go and to free herself of the old emotion that had caused this anger.

Step back

For me this is the piece of the puzzle that changed my life. Every time I become emotional of upset I take time to step back and see what has actually happened and meditate on the cause of my anger. By doing so I can let go of old emotions. Freeing myself from them.

In yoga we always speak about enlightenment. For me this is enlightenment: making my life lighter by throwing out old garbage. It made me enjoy life more and more and it gave me the feeling I have now; the feeling of truly living and of being in the moment.

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