Category Archives: lifestyle management

Dealing with fear and anger

The only certainty in life is that change is a constant

– Heraclitus-

Anger is a close ally of fear. With many countries going into their second month of Covid-19 lockdown the strain is beginning to show with spontaneous angry protests in several bigger cities over the weekend.

We are currently experiencing a defining moment in history.  Our world will never be the same again.  During the first stage of a tumultuous change, there is often resistance and denial. Then comes fear. Terrible decisions are made when we are in a hurry and under stress. The reason is simple:

When you are in a state of fear and stress the body is flooded with stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Blood vessels contract, your heartbeat starts racing, the body is in fear and flight mode. The fear reaction in the brain’s amygdala is triggered even before you have time to process and think rationally.

Solutions are found with a relaxed mind

The prefrontal cortex of the brain has no time to process what is happening. In a relaxation mode, the prefrontal cortex can, however, perform its executive function in differentiating between conflicting thoughts and determining future consequences of current activities on a rational level. Solutions are found in an aligned and relaxed mode.

There are wonderful and simple methods of how you can lower your blood pressure and go back into a relaxed state of mind:

  • Emotional shifting is becoming aware of the emotion you are currently feeling. Is it fear, anger, grief, sadness? Define the emotion! Yes, I am afraid and anxious! Then find an image in your mind that can act as an antidote to that fear: A funny video, love for a person close to you, gratitude for all that is good in your life, a wonderful experience that you had recently.
  • When you are under duress it immediately shows in shortness of breath. Place your hands on your lower belly. At the count of one, you inhale, and at the count of one you exhale, feeling that exhaling feeling all the way down into your lower belly. Keep going at least until the count of 21.
  • Some countries are relaxing some of the restrictions, allowing people to go on walks. Take the opportunity and go for a walk in nature. Find a spot where you can tune your senses to a natural sound like the song of a bird or can hear the rustling of leaves in a tree.

How you start your day will determine your day. If you’ve had a bad night with monkeys dancing in your head, you can start with the emotional shift exercise, followed by the meditation. You can also practice a personal mantra. One of my favorites is:

Everything is Grace. Faith over Fear

Prayer is a powerful method of going beyond the self and finding solace, especially if you pray for others who are in a much worse position.

This time is a time that can be compared to winter. It is also a winter of the soul, a time of introspection where minds can go into silence.  The time of hibernation is lying low until the turbulence has passed and remain in trust. This too shall pass in a rebirth that is spring.
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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You are not alone

No Man is an Island’

No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

– John Donne – 

We realize when alone that we are not an island. During these times of crisis separation has become the watchword. It mirrors how far we have become separated in the relationship with ourselves and the natural world around us.

The writings of German philosopher Martin Buber seem particularly poignant. His most famous book “Ich und Du”, published in 1923,  roughly translates to “I and Though” with its central tenet that human life finds its purpose and meaning in relationships.

The separation from the ‘I’

Nature does not take revenge. If we go to war with nature there is merely cause and effect.  Perceiving the world, the earth, or the universe as being separate or external from the “I” is a belief-centered delusion.

Relationship is connection to Soul

Buber argues that ultimately relationship is about our connectedness to the inner soul spirit, God, or the Universe.  Ancient man and the hunter and gatherer societies are still very much aware of the connectedness of the inner spirit with the natural world.

Becoming with the Though

In the relationship with the “Though” there is a “becoming” into the wholeness of purpose and BEING. The essence of life, according to Buber, is found in the relationship with the other. With the emphasis of our culture from the “restrictions and obligations” of community” to the self-fulfillment of “individual freedom” we have fallen from one extreme to the other.

Pseudo-community or meaning is sought by the individual in pseudo-religion and the tribe affiliation to party political institutions. How else can we explain the blind following of the professional populist deceivers and the false prophets of our age?

Anybody who has gone through a divorce will know of the trauma left between two people who once loved each other. In the beginning, there is unconditional love. We see in the other, the Though, a merger or completion. Ideally, the partners support and empower each other in spiritual growth. But we often seek in the other that which has not been healed within. Disappointment is inevitable when the emotional shadows get triggered. The breakdown comes creeping slowly, respect gets lost when we see the other grappling with similar emotional issues. Communication is reduced to the mundane.

The soul journey is exploring the “Though” within. In the Gospel of St. Thomas, discovered at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945, Jesus is quoted as saying:

“See the kingdom in the sky, then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you. ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father.” (Saying 3, p. 654.9-21).
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Covid-19 and empty spaces

Thirty spokes meet in the hub, but the empty space between them is the essence of the wheel.” – Lao Tse – 

In the hurried rat race of our modern culture, we have become so used to treading the treadmill of HAVING that we have forgotten all about the BEING. The spokes of the wheel are what is visible but what is really the essence is that which is invisible and holds everything together.

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It is in those quiet moments of loneliness where we are finally separated from the drumbeat of distraction that we find connection.

Western culture is in a state of spiritual disconnect, expressing itself in the fraying of economic, social, religious and other institutions and the pandemic rise of mental illness. The Covid-19 pandemic was just the trigger. The foundations of the house we have been building has been on shaky ground for some time in the constant pull between externation gratification and inner soul yearning.

Resilience is built from a good sprint and recovery cycle 

A life in imbalance with high stress not compensated by recuperation periods of empty space inevitably leads to a breakdown of the body’s natural defence systems. A healthy sprint and recovery system makes a body resilient to the storms of life. Check out my booklet on Resilience: What makes you strong?

These changes are leaving people anxious, scared, disorientated and confused. The first thing people do in such situations is to find someone to blame: The Chinese having started it all with lack of safety measures in a laboratory in Wuhan, politicians not having reacted early enough or having responded too harshly.

Making the best out of the current situation

If you are a spiritually orientated person you will find that such a mindset won’t get you far and make you feel even more miserable. On a personal level you can start by reflecting on your own mindset:

  • What opportunity lies waiting in the current situation?
  • What friends and associations can I cultivate via zoom or skype?
  • What clutter needs cleared in my immediate surroundings?

On a global level the universe is telling humanity with a major jolt to wake up. We cannot continue with the ways of old. We have to question our mobility patterns and what it means for the environment. We have to move from an exploitative economic system to a sustainable, restorative system.

In terms of the ancient Five Element philosophy, which finds many of its roots in Lao Tse’s teachings, gigantic natural or political disruptions do not come from nowhere but are unavoidable when we fail to see the signs of the elements being in imbalance. Nature is merely trying to restore balance when we initially only see the burned grounds before us. But with time grow the first seedlings from the ashes.

In our HAVING culture we have tried too hard to feed the hungry ghosts, exploiting nature to such a degree that major ecosystems and our entire global climate is in danger of collapse.

Living a life of BEING is being open again for those empty spaces where soul evolution takes place. Before our eyes we are seeing our world changing. Transmuting the emotions of fear and anxiousness and seizing the moment with courage and hope is the challenge.
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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A changed world after lockdown

We are in the fifth week of our lockdown in Spain which has some of the most stringent Coronavirus rules in place. I was stopped a few days ago by police near my home who told me in no uncertain terms that taking doggy for a walk was not allowed if I had a garden where the dog could go outside.

Moving about is embedded in our genes

When this is over I will appreciate all the more my long walks in nature in the nearby Tramuntana mountains of Majorca. I have become more aware that moving about freely and traveling to faraway places has become very much part of our modern lifestyle. It will take a while to fully comprehend how farreaching an effect this is having on what we have perceived as fundamental freedoms. Our movements are likely to remain restricted for some time to come. What this means for the travel industry is anyone’s guess.

The urge to be on the move and discovering new places is embedded in our genes. Our ancestors moved from the trees to walk on the ground to seek new feeding grounds. For thousands of years, humans were nomads moving from place to place. As recently as 500 years ago there were still hunters and gatherers in many parts of Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

Finding authenticity on the journey

Jewish mysticist teachers made a point of sending their students on a journey to broaden their mental and spiritual horizons. It was also a way of teaching the scholar not to become too dependent on the Master and to find their own inner authenticity. Experiential spirituality in the mystic tradition is something awaiting discovery from within and cannot be imposed externally by rules of belief.

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Hiking trail, Majorca

The apprenticeship training of carpenters in Germany has for centuries followed the same tradition. After learning the basic tools of the craft from an experienced “Meister”, the apprentice goes on a “Wanderschaft” or hike to distant places to both finetune his skills and character.

Finding the empty space 

Every pilgrim who has gone on a pilgrimage on the Camino in Spain knows all about the “zoning out” into that empty space that comes when walking alone in nature for several weeks.  Experiential spirituality is a deep personal connection with the divine. Spirituality is all about following and remaining true to your divine purpose. Limitations to “Be-coming” are all too often set by the parameters of doctrine, parental expectations and the constant drum-beat of digital distractions.

When our senses are attuned to nature we find alignment with the universe. There is a close feeling of connectivity to the whole in the seemingly chaotic.

It is all the more reason to look forward again to my next annual pilgrimage. It might not take place at all this year on the Camino because we don’t know if all the restrictions will be lifted by summer. Meanwhile, it will have to be short hikes closer to home.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Dealing with anxiety and fear

Our mind is primarily programmed to focus on the negative. It is part of our survival toolkit as a human species. We are magically drawn to sensational news and images of catastrophes. During this time it is particularly important to protect your mental health and to guard your mind against fear and anxiety.

Guarding the mind against fear and anxiety

The constant dosage of coronavirus trackers with updates on infections and deaths, the lockdowns and drastic measures taken by many countries with the accompanying huge economic fallout is already having a major effect on mental health.

We should be mindful and look after our health during every influenza epidemic because it always has a major impact on the elderly with a weak immune system and those people with a history of poor health.  Bear in mind that we are not reading much about two-thirds of the people who fell ill with the coronavirus who only had mild symptoms and have recovered. 

Learning the lessons from a crisis

Every crisis teaches us something.  We need to look beyond the surface. As a humanity we need to go into deep introspection on what we are doing to our earth and our fellow living beings.  Nature is teaching us that we need to move away from an exploitative to a more sustainable economic model.  Short-term external gratification cannot replace the soul’s yearning for spiritual growth and meaning.

The worst and the best of mankind

A crisis triggers both the worst and the best in mankind. While some folk are fighting over toilet paper and hoarding grocery items others are discovering an entirely new sense of community. We are social animals and need the cooperative support of each other. The image of the Italians singing from the balconies of their homes will be of lasting impact. China is finally clamping down on the meat trade of endangered species, with growing evidence that the virus probably emanated from the endangered pangolin. 

spring flower

Hope springs

Practicing control of emotion and thought

Being locked down in our homes gives us time for reflection on what truly matters. If we stay calm, centered and in alignment with the higher self we can be of much more support to those loved ones around us.  Here are some tips on how to stand guard at the doorway to your soul.

  • Whenever you have a negative thought or feel a negative emotion such as fear replace it with a good thought or happy moment. What image or memory makes your heart expand or makes you laugh?
  • Breathing meditation. Focus your mind on your breathing. At the count of one I inhale and at the count of one I exhale – counting until 21.  Check out my immune-boosting meditation on Podcast.
  • Take a walk in nature – if you can. Find a spot where you can focus your attention on one sound that you find comforting such as a bird singing, rustling of leaves in a tree or water running over a stone in a creek. Just concentrate on that one sound for several minutes.
  • Our environment, our associations and our thoughts have a major impact on our mental well-being.  Radically reduce associations with people who bombard you with negativity. Reduce the consumption of negative media to a minimum. What we read, watch and think is what we become.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Fear and the coronavirus

The coronavirus panic buttons are omnipresent. The fighting over toilet rolls in empty supermarkets to the social ostracising of anyone looking Chinese is telling us something about the fragile state of human society.

Where conspiracy theorists and professional deceivers on social media dominate the narrative fear takes hold.  Fear triggers stress hormones that switch off rational thought, putting the body into fight or flight mode.

Fear and panic stir the darkest sides of human nature with an “everyone for himself” attitude, nationalism, xenophobia and a fallback to the perilous age of pre-Enlightenment.

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Photo by Olesya Yemets on Unsplash

Mass panic takes on its own dynamics and its anyone’s guess how long the economic fallout will be in the next few months: Complete breakdown of the cruise ship industry, and factories closing because of supply chain interruptions?

We know from neurological research that when the mind is under stress or in high emotional turmoil that cognitive and level-headed thought is impossible. You will not perceive or hear the voice of reason if you are in panic mode.

Let’s stick with the facts that come directly from the experts quoted by traditional media: The coronavirus is influenza.  If we take normal precautions the likelihood of becoming infected is relatively small and of dying from it even smaller. The victims so far have been predominantly among the elderly with a weak immune system.  With most people, it is a mild infection.

By early March the global death toll from the virus was just over 3,000 with most of them coming from China.  Both China and Italy have a large elderly population.

Humanity is faced by far greater threats than the coronavirus. Climate change has already claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and livelihoods as a result of flooding, heatwaves and freak storms.  One person dies every 40 seconds from suicide. It is the second leading cause of death in the age group of 15-29-year-olds globally.  And lets just look at the death toll of the normal annual flu: At least 12,000 people have died from influenza between Oct. 1, 2019 through Feb. 1, 2020, and the number of deaths may be as high as 30,000 – just in the United States.

We are all going to die at some point. But in a world of spiritual disconnect, the fear of death is profound. Death is not something we like to talk about. We have banished the experience of it to old age homes and hospices.

Fear of death evaporates with spiritual practice. It comes from the realization that the body is merely a vehicle to higher soul elevation that moves into a different dimension when the sojourn on this earth has come to an end.  Within a different state of consciousness, the mind quietens amid the din of confusion and panic sirens.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Walking your walk

Faith in the biblical sense can truly move mountains. Theresa decides to walk the Camino in an act of defiance after her doctor tells her that the cancer in her body will reduce her lifespan to six months at the most and that she should settle her affairs.

She walks the Camino with soft feet, sending her backpack ahead to the next town with a taxi. She completes her walk and returns home a different woman.

“That was five years ago,” she tells me as we drink our café con leche in one of the many bars dotting the Camino. This time she is walking the Camino the second time.

We are only in the infancy of discovering the true connection between body and mind. So many fellow pilgrims I’ve met on the Camino were told by family, friends, and associates that they would never be able to walk almost 800 kilometers over five weeks. We are capable of so much more than we think possible.

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Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

The Austrian-born Jewish psychiatrist Victor Frankl (1905-1997) is renowned for his breakthrough research on the power of meaning. In his book Nevertheless, Say “Yes” to Life: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp, also known under the bestselling title Man’s Search for Meaning, he narrates several observations in the Nazi death camps.

While incarcerated in Auschwitz, Frankl counseled fellow prisoners with his philosophy that a striving for meaning, even in the most harrowing of circumstances, is what keeps us alive.

Inmates who gave themselves up became suicidal and died, while those who saw some meaning, like telling the world about the Holocaust after liberation, survived.

It was the “will to meaning” that looked to the future, and not to the traumatic events of the past, that sustained people.

Despite losing his wife and nearly all his family in the holocaust, Frankl refused to dwell on the past.

Even in the worst possible situation, man still has freedom of choice and the ability to seek meaning in whatever situation he finds himself in, he argued.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way,” he wrote.

It’s a simple but profound truth. It all begins in the mind.

It is why a cancer patient will very often give up when told of the diagnosis. The word itself is so loaded with fear and mortality that the patient sees no hope. The shocked reaction of family and friends is often not conducive to the healing process either when the patient is asked on a daily basis how “the cancer treatment is going.”

We also know from research that patients who overload their friends and family on a daily basis with all the details of their illness do much worse than those who refuse to mention by name the illness, merely telling everyone that they are in a healing process.

Most fitness and weight-loss programs fail because of a negative mindset.

After an initial loss of weight or a couple of exercise sessions, most people give up and return to old habits because they haven’t found the real reason in their mind why they want to reduce weight or get fit. Some people even end up being more obese because they have subconsciously tricked their mind into putting on more weight. “I don’t want to be fat. I don’t want to be in debt,” are a double-negative with opposite the intended effect.

Reformulating that wish into a realistic feeling that is actually felt as emotion and pictured as an ideal outcome really works.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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The power of choice

As a young newspaper reporter in South Africa in the early 1980s, I once covered a trial of a man accused of brutally raping and murdering a young girl.  Once during the trial, our eyes met and a cold shiver ran down my spine. I had the feeling that I was looking into a dark cold abyss. The man was eventually found guilty and sentenced to death.

Eyes reveal your true nature 

Eyes are a window to the soul and we intuitively feel whether they are kind, compassionate and loving or the direct opposite. We live in a world of polarities. There is good and there is evil.  The pull between the tides, night and day, summer and winter, expansion and withdrawal is part of the yin and yang that make up our world.

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Photo by Patrick Brinksma on Unsplash

 

The story of Good and Evil is deeply embedded in our subconsciousness from the first story in the Bible. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was planted by God with the commandment to Adam and Eve not to eat from it. Pain and evil started in the world when Adam and Eve broke the commandment and ate from the tree. The question often asked is: “Why did God plant the tree in the first place?”

Co-creating with the power of choice 

One of the answers: By giving man the freedom of choice, God separated him from other beings, giving him the power of being a co-creator.  Choice separates us from other beings who do exactly what they have been designed for.  Choice separates us from being mindless zombies to being human with all our doubts, our pains, and emotions. By experiencing the dark night of the soul we appreciate all the more rejuvenation and happiness. It is in the dark night that we often gain the greatest spiritual insight and wisdom.

The lines between good and evil are getting blurred

By seeing and confronting evil we know what needs to be done. But in today’s world of information overload, professional deceivers have been given a massive platform for mind control.  The lines between good and evil get blurred when a lie becomes a truth through repetition in the echo chambers of social media.

Where there is spiritual disconnect, the loss of alignment between the above and the below, lack of purpose, and emotional turmoil the power of evil will manifest itself. Put in another way:  There is evil where there is a complete absence of God. It is that power that destroys the air we breathe, the waters we drink and the earth from which we are nurtured. As within so without.

In the past religion taught us that doing good was by following commandments, certain rituals, and a certain belief system.  It excluded all others who did not follow this belief system.  The preachers, themselves very often fallible human beings, were those who defined right and wrong.

The spirituality of the New Earth is internal rather than external. It is alignment with true self and soul purpose. From that grows the intuitive wisdom and power of discernment. We do the right thing and make the right choices from the base of mindful inner awareness that comes with continuous spiritual practice.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Mastering your emotions

Human relationships are extraordinarily complex and wrought with conflict as we soon realize when we are forced to spend time with people we would never have chosen as friends.

What emotions do you trigger in people?

There are people whose company we enjoy and there are people that make us feel uncomfortable as soon as they enter the room.  Mostly it is about what emotions they trigger within us. Sometimes our mere presence might trigger the demons within another person.

Our narcissistic culture is encouraging the right to vent and rant. Its why we are seeing so much online bullying that is causing great suffering and pain, especially among teenagers.

Putting the need to vent above the relationship

When one person in a relationship puts the need to vent over the impact this has on the long-term relationship, the consequences are inevitable.  A petty difficulty becomes a problem and the downward spiral begins.

The art is to learn mastery over negative thoughts and emotions, and to be giving, kind and living a meaningful, purposeful life.

Awareness is the first step

The root cause of an angry outburst often has its origins in an old pain that has not been transmuted. Leaving the “blame-game” and entering the process of self-reflection sadly mostly only begins after divorce, separation and other trauma.

Becoming aware of what emotion surfaces in any situation is always the first step to self-awareness. What makes me so sad, and so angry? What am I really angry about? Is it about the spilled milk or does that emotion go deeper? It is helpful in such a situation to focus on breathing. Inhale and exhale a few times before you respond to that hurtful email message.

Tapping is another good method of not losing self-love and respect despite being in a cycle of negative emotions. For me,  “Deep Walking”  in nature is one of the best ways of shedding those negative shackles that lie embedded in the subconscious.

Negative people are masters at manipulation!

Negative people are powerful manipulators. They feed on the drama they trigger and the attention from being the talk of the day.

In being human, we all have bad moments whether we are rich, famous, poor, beautiful or just ordinary.  The difference between the happy, successful people and those that are in a permanent cycle of negativity is the ability to transmute every experience and to move on in the understanding that life is cyclical.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

(Read more on this topic in my new book “Deep Walking for Body Mind and Soul” Ebook scheduled for publication by Morgan James in New York on May 5th, 2020. Printed edition scheduled for the major outlets in August 2020)
https://www.reinogevers.com

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Deep Walking to the inner self

Walking the Camino in Spain is a profound experience and many pilgrims have turned their daily journals into books.  Why another Camino book? It was a question I also asked myself before starting my second book on the Camino.

It is almost three decades ago that the actress Shirley Maclean chronicled her pilgrimage in “The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit.”  For Maclean, who was in her 60s at the time, the Camino was an intense spiritual and physical challenge with her journey also taking her back to past lives.

Paulo Coelho, one of the world’s most influential authors, wrote  “The Pilgrimage” in 1986 after walking to Santiago, inspiring numerous people to walk the Camino. German comedian Harpe Kerkeling’s “I’m Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago followed with his bestseller in 2006.

Some of the world’s greatest artists found inspiration on long walks

After walking my twelfth Camino in 2017, I delved into more research and was surprised to find that some of the world’s most creative and talented artists, including Johann Christian Bach, William Blake, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau explored their inner worlds on long walks.

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When a hike turns into a pilgrimage

Several of the many pilgrims I met during my walks said that they started their journey on the Camino as a hike and ended it as a pilgrimage.

In a world of constant digital distraction, the search for new spiritual meaning by “knowing and embracing the true self has become a matter of survival.”  I hope to inspire people to explore their inner world while deep walking in nature.

Walking “things off” in releasing the shadow and hurts of the past, gradually opens the cracks to the soul. By healing the inner we heal the outer. Walking is not only the most effective and underrated form of exercise but can be a real walk to spiritual renewal.

When nature whispers to the soul

Deep Walking on a pilgrimage is not just a walk.  Walking on paths where pilgrims have walked for centuries works on many subtle levels.

A pilgrimage walk is a mindful becoming aware of the simplicity with which nature can heal and whisper to the soul.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

(Read more on this topic in my new book “Deep Walking for Body Mind and Soul” Ebook scheduled for publication by Morgan James in New York on May 5th, 2020. Printed edition scheduled for the major outlets in August 2020)

https://www.reinogevers.com

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